The Central Election Commission (CEC) yesterday refused to register Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a State Duma deputy and head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), to participate in the March 26 presidential election. The CEC charged that the ultranationalist leader had failed to declare a Moscow apartment belonging to his son Igor Lebedev, who heads the LDPR faction in the Duma. Prior to last year’s State Duma elections, the CEC barred the LDPR from running due to problems in the income and property declarations presented by two of the party’s top three candidates. Zhirinovsky subsequently formed a new party, but the Supreme Court then ruled that the CEC’s initial decision to bar the LDPR had been wrong. Over the course of this controversy, Zhirinovsky got into several televised shouting matches with CEC Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov. Zhirinovsky said that he would appeal yesterday’s decision to Russia’s Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Samara Governor Konstantin Titov was registered yesterday as a candidate in the March 26 presidential contest. Titov’s registration passed without incident (Russian agencies, February 17).
The decision to bar Zhirinovsky will undoubtedly give a further boost to Acting President Vladimir Putin, whose poll numbers already dwarf those of all other possible contenders for the presidency. If the Supreme Court upholds the CEC’s decision and Zhirinovsky is not reinstated as a candidate, Putin can probably count on receiving most of his votes. Zhirinovsky won 5.7 percent of the vote in the first round of the 1996 presidential elections.
RUSSIAN FORCES CONTROL MOST OF THE VEDENO GORGE.