[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

The Moscow Times, January 9, 2004

10 Candidates in a One-Horse Race

By Francesca Mereu

Nine candidates, including SPS leader Irina Khakamada and Rodina leader Sergei Glazyev, met a year-end deadline to register to run against President Vladimir Putin in the March presidential election. But many of the challengers are Putin allies or are running at the Kremlin's request, so the election is shaping up to be a one-horse race, political analysts said Thursday.

Central Elections Commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov said this week that the 10 candidates have been tentatively approved to participate in the March 14 election after meeting the Dec. 28 deadline.

Eight of the candidates, including Khakamada, Glazyev and Putin, now have until the end of January to collect the 2 million signatures needed to get their names on the ballot. The other two candidates -- relative unknowns Oleg Malyshkin of the Liberal Democratic Party and Nikolai Kharitonov of the Communist Party -- were registered by their parties, which have seats in the State Duma and, as such, are not required to collect the signatures.

Khakamada apparently only entered the race at the urging of a Kremlin set on giving the election a semblance of democracy, analysts said.

"She is one of the few decent figures taking part in this race, and the Kremlin is interested in having someone like her challenging Putin," said Vladimir Pribylovsky, president of the Panorama think tank.

He predicted that the Kremlin would probably help her collect the 2 million signatures and give her access to state-controlled media.

Khakamada's SPS, or Union of Right Forces, party failed to break the 5 percent barrier to get seats in the Duma last month, and the liberal reformer did not get re-elected after losing in a single-mandate race in St. Petersburg.

SPS and the liberal Yabloko party, which also failed to break the 5 percent barrier, tried unsuccessfully last month to come up with a single presidential candidate to run against Putin. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, who has run in every post-Soviet presidential election, decided not to participate this time, and his party is not fielding a candidate.

Glazyev, a nationalist-minded economist, appears to also be running at the Kremlin's urging -- thus allowing the Kremlin to say that the candidates represent a broad band of the political spectrum, from Communists to liberals to nationalists, analysts said.

Among the other candidates that analysts believe are running with the Kremlin's blessing are former Central Bank chief Viktor Gerashchenko, who was registered by the Russian Regions Party, part of the Rodina bloc; flamboyant pharmaceutical multimillionaire Vladimir Bryntsalov; and Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov.

Mironov said he was running "to show that the president is not alone." "When a leader who is trusted goes into battle, he must not be left alone. One must stand beside him," Mironov was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying.

Bryntsalov is a member of the main council of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party and finished in 10th place in the 1996 presidential election.

Rodina representatives could not be reached for comment Thursday on why the bloc was not directly backing Glazyev or Gerashchenko.

Businessman Boris Berezovsky, who is in Britain after being granted asylum there last year, is fielding his ally Ivan Rybkin.

The 10th candidate in this year's race is Kaliningrad businessman Anzori Aksentyev-Kikalishvili.

German Sterligov, a coffin magnate who has unsuccessfully ran for Krasnoyarsk governor and Moscow mayor, was denied registration. The Central Elections Commission said an appendix to the application Sterligov submitted was not notarized.

Sterligov has appealed to the Constitutional Court, which is to consider the case Monday.

LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who ran in the 1996 and 2000 elections, has given little reason for his decision not to run this year. The day after the Dec. 7 Duma elections -- when preliminary results showed that LDPR had done astoundingly well, taking 11.45 percent of the vote -- Zhirinovsky announced that he would run. But he later changed his mind and said he would back his former bodyguard, one-time boxer Malyshkin.

Dmitry Orlov, political analyst at the Center for Political Technologies think tank, said Zhirinovsky has good reason not to run. "He does not want to directly address his polemic talent against the president," he said.

In 2000, well-known politicians like Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov and Yavlinsky were also in the race, but this year Zhirinovsky "would be the only person in a position to offer a direct challenge to the president, and he does not want that," Orlov said.

Despite being in the political opposition, LDPR has always backed the Kremlin in the Duma.

Zyuganov refused to run after the Communists suffered disappointing losses in Duma elections, securing only 12.61 percent of the vote, and he is thought to have put forward Kharitonov's candidacy.


See also:

the original at

Presidential elections 2004

The Moscow Times, January 9, 2004

[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

Project Director: Vyacheslav Erohin e-mail: admin@yabloko.ru Director: Olga Radayeva, e-mail: english@yabloko.ru
Administrator: Vlad Smirnov, e-mail: vladislav.smirnov@yabloko.ru