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Vedomosti, December 19, 2003

No Volunteers
Leaders of political parties refuse to challenge Putin

By Vitaly Ivanov

Gennadi Zyuganov, chairman of the Central Committee of the CPRF, said on December 15 that deciding not to run in the presidential race was only one of his options. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky announced the same day that he was not planning to take part in what he called an "undemocratic" election.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) joined Zyuganov and Yavlinsky yesterday. He said he had not made up his mind as to whether to run for president. Zhirinovsky attributed his doubts to Zyuganov's potential refusal to participate. LDPR member Alexei Mitrofanov explained that challenging Zyuganov is vital for Zhirinovsky, as the LDPR
intends to oust the Communist Party as the main opposition party.

Yabloko deputy leader Sergei Mitrokhin says that the party congress scheduled for December 20-21 will consider at least three scenarios.

Firstly, the congress may nominate a presidential candidate (Yavlinsky may be nominated). Secondly, it may decide for a single candidate to represent both Yabloko and the Union of
Right-Wing Forces (SPS). Thirdly, the congress may decide to have no presidential candidate at all.

Sources in Yabloko and the SPS say that negotiations over a single candidate are deadlocked. Boris Nemtsov, who has submitted his resignation as chairman of the SPS federal political council, considers the possibility of a single candidate less likely than both parties staying out of the election. He believes that the SPS and Yabloko should urge their supporters to vote against all candidates.

Gleb Pavlovsky of the Effective Policy Foundation says that if Yavlinsky isn't in the race, this will have a negative effect on competition, and therefore voter turnout. Turnout needs to be at
least 50%.

"Why establish a party if it doesn't participate in the elections?" Alexander Veshnyakov of the Central Electoral Commission said yesterday.

Insiders say that Yavlinsky will probably be nominated, despite his own statement to the contrary and despite the fact that his candidacy is disliked by leaders of the SPS.

Pavlovsky is certain that the presidential election will be valid, as we aren't exactly short of potential presidential candidates, you know."


See also:

Presidential elections 2004

Vedomosti, December 19, 2003

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