Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 229

The coalition, however, also faces serious obstacles. One is that it appears to have, thus far, little support in Russia’s regions: Only one regional leader, Tver Governor Vladimir Platov, showed up for yesterday’s meeting, along with a small group of mayors. In contrast, twenty governors have reportedly already joined Otechestvo, the new “centrist” movement headed by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Twelve of them sit on the Otechestvo’s organizing committee (Kommersant daily, December 9).

Another obstacle faced by this new center-right coalition is the fact that some of its leaders, particularly Gaidar and Chubais, are associated with “monetarist” economics and privatization, both of which have become dirty words for many Russians, and with some of Russia’s unpopular oligarchs. The daily “Segodnya,” citing unnamed sources, reported that the coalition has recommended that Gaidar, whom some consider overly pedantic and thus unable to speak “in the language of the people” refrain from making speeches (Segodnya, December 11). For his part, Boris Fedorov told reporters that he would not want to “be in a party headed by Gaidar or Chubais,” but that Nemtsov and Kirienko, whose images are less damaged, are another matter (Moscow Times, December 11). Even Nemtsov and Kirienko, however, may be associated in at least some voters’ minds with the August collapse of the ruble, given that it happened on their watch.

Like Fedorov, other members of the coalition are apparently aware that baggage from the past must be dealt with. Another participant in yesterday’s meeting–Sergei Filatov, a former presidential administration chief who now heads a group called “Congress of the Intelligentsia”–was quoted as saying that the coalition must “tell the whole truth” about the reasons for the collapse of liberal reforms (Vremya MN, December 11). For his part, Nemtsov stressed that the coalition would be funded by “membership dues,” not contributions from the “oligarchs,” while Gaidar said the coalition would fight against “nomenklatura capitalism”–by which he meant “the covert alliance of the nomenklatura and the KPRF [the Communist Party of the Russian Federation], which in many regions is one and the same” (Novye Izvestia, Nezavisimaya gazeta, December 11).

Another problem for the coalition is that, at least so far, Our Home is Russia and Yabloko have rejected its overtures. Nemtsov yesterday took an indirect jab at Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky,. He said that while the coalition had no disagreement with Yabloko and that there were “real possibilities for close contacts,” the main obstacle was “some leaders’ political ambitions.”