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gazeta.ru, December 8, 2003

Chubais predicts dark times

By Ilya Zhegulev

According to the preliminary results of the State Duma elections held in Russia on Sunday, 7 December, the pro-Putin United Russia party secured as much as 36.7 per cent of votes, leaving its rivals far behind.

Ballot papers cast by voters in the State Duma elections held in Russia on Sunday had still not been completed when the main characters of the unfolding drama - the Union of the Right-Wing Forces (SPS), and the Motherland bloc - publicly exchanged threats, pledging to continue their fight until the bitter end. To begin with, Rogozin will continue to push for Anatoly Chubais's dismissal from the post of the chairman of the country's power grid monopoly; meanwhile Chubais has reiterated his pledge to purge the house of national-socialists.

The Communists, Zhirinovsky's nationalist Liberal-Democratic Party (LDPR), and the Motherland bloc of Sergei Glazyev and Dmitry Rogozin secured 12.8, 12 and 8.9 per cent of voters respectively, according to the preliminary results issued by the Central Election Commission at 08h00 on Monday.

It remains uncertain whether the liberal Union of Rightist Forces and YABLOKO, with 3.9 and 4.3 per cent of votes respectively, will manage to clear the all-important 5 percent hurdle required to enter the State Duma.

The first to comment on the outcome of Sunday's vote were SPS representatives. Commenting on preliminary results, Anatoly Chubais, co-chairman of the Union of Right-Wing Forces, said this would completely change the political picture in the country and the consequences could be quite dramatic."

"This, beyond doubt, is redistribution of the political field of influence," with "leftist and brown forces" coming to power, Chubais warned. SPS leader Boris Nemtsov stated that "the new Duma will consist mostly of bureaucrats and national-socialists", making the Russian president the only guarantor of political stability in Russia.

He said ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Motherland (Rodina), a new party combining leftwing economics and nationalism, could deliver Putin the two-thirds vote needed for constitutional change. That could allow him, inter alia, to extend his rule to a third term. Thus, with the help of the new Duma the Kremlin "may change the Constitution, that is, the constitutional order of Russia".

The president is "not yet ready" to change the constitutional order, but "his desire to change the Constitution in the likeness of Turkmenistan and Belarus will grow stronger as 2008 comes nearer," noted Nemtsov.

Despite their party's defeat, SPS leaders are not going to give up. "No defeat will stop us. Even if the results are the worst for us, this will mean we have lost a battle, but this does not mean that we have lost the war," Anatoly Chubais said, adding: "We have enough potential and will to transform our defeat into later victory."

Chubais believes that now the time has come to thoroughly analyze the poll results. "One needs to reconsider the entire strategy of the democratic forces in Russia," Chubais said. SPS leaders are convinced that one of their gravest mistakes was abandoning the idea of merging with YABLOKO before the polls.

An alliance with YABLOKO still remains one of the priority tasks on the SPS agenda, Chubais said. However, the YABLOKO leader Grigory Yavlinsky on Sunday evening again ruled out any form of alliance with the SPS.

The second key task for the next four years, asserts Chubais, must be based on the struggle against and full annihilation of national-socialists in the State Duma.

At the same time, the SPS said their observers had not registered any grave violations during Sunday's voting. The Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, however, called Sunday's polls a farce and accused the Kremlin of fraud. Zyuganov complained that his campaign had been largely ignored by the state-controlled media. Voting, he said, was rife with fraud. "This is a shameful farce which has nothing in common with the country's interests or democracy," he said.

Addressing the journalists who had gathered at the Communist Party's election headquarters on Sunday evening Zyuganov said: "You all are taking part in a disgusting performance, for some reason called elections." The Communist leader called the new Duma "the union of thievish oligarchs, corrupt bureaucrats and Zhirinovsky".

Still, Zyuganov pins great hopes on his former comrade, Sergei Glazyev, foreboding an imminent split in the Rogozin-Glazyev Motherland. "This is no bloc. Glazyev and Rogozin have always voted on opposite sides. How they will do this in the new Duma is a big question," Zyuganov noted in an interview to Gazeta.Ru on Monday.

LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, without concealing his satisfaction with the outcome of the Sunday polls, has already expressed hope to establish friendly ties with United Russia.

"This is the only party with which we will be able to make contact in the future parliament," Zhirinovsky said in televised comments broadcasted by Rossia TV. "We have fought the CPRF, YABLOKO for 10 years, and the SPS for the past four years. The calmest relations we have had have been with United Russia".

Zhirinovsky said his party would demand at least four top jobs in the State Duma, including the post of deputy speaker, as well as the posts of chairmen of the Duma's committees for social policy, education and information.

Sergei Glazyev and Dmitry Rogozin, co-chairmen of the Motherland bloc, founded only three months before the elections in what the communists said was a Kremlin ruse to steal votes from them, too, have shared their plans for the future. First and foremost, Rogozin pledged to eradicate the oligarchs and return wealth to the people.

"This does not mean there won't be any of them left physically, but that we will have no oligarchy, that is, the power of a few. What we will have is the power of many," Rogozin explained, adding that if his programme is implemented, major businesses will no longer be allowed "to buy with their money, politicians and seats in parties." The first target of Rogozin's attack will be Anatoly Chubais. "We intend to press both for his resignation from the post of the head of RAO UES [Unified Energy Systems] and for his exit from politics," Rogozin said.

YABLOKO's Grigory Yavlinsky, commenting on Motherland' success, said that this bloc had partially secured the votes of LDPR and CPRF supporters: "There is a group of voters who are not satisfied with the communists and therefore earlier they voted for LDPR. However, they grew tired of the LDPR and decided this time to cast their ballots for Rodina [Motherland]."

United Russia leaders proved most reluctant to comment on the outcome of the polls. The pro-Kremlin party leader Boris Gryzlov noted that the party had achieved high results owing to its real deeds. "We have done everything to start resolving real tasks as early as today," he said in comments carried by the First Channel.

"Our work of four years in the State Duma has been correctly evaluated. Speaking of the election campaign, many parties fought for seats in the Duma. However, we fought for Russia," said Gryzlov.


See also:

State Duma elections 2003

gazeta.ru, December 8, 2003

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