Most if not all of the SPS saw Unity’s alliance with the Reds as a betrayal of pre-election understandings. But betrayal is old hat to the SPS leaders who served at or near the top of government under former President Boris Yeltsin. Former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais and former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko sponsored the pro-Putin resolution. Kirienko said the SPS endorsement of Putin is intended to help the acting president toward a clear majority on March 26 and avoid a run-off with the likely second-place finisher, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov. Disaffected SPS members suspected an effort by Chubais and Kirienko to pass from humiliation through ingratiation to reinstatement, in the cabinet of the first Putin administration.

Some SPS leaders would not eat the bowl of toads. Former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, former Acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, and Duma deputy Irina Khakamada, all members of the SPS coordinating council, abstained on the pro-Putin vote. Three small groups under the SPS umbrella (the Democratic Russia party, the Democratic Russia movement, and the Free Democrats of Russia) announced their support for Konstantin Titov, the governor of the Samara region, an SPS member who is running for president against Putin. Polls show support for Titov down around one percent..