Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 149

The much-discussed coalition between Fatherland, the political movement headed by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, and All Russia, the bloc unofficially headed by Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, would appear to be close to becoming a reality. A source with All Russia reportedly said yesterday that the new coalition would be announced today, but that a “final decision” on a coalition with Luzhkov’s movement would have to await All Russia’s congress, which is scheduled for August 21. The name of the coalition, the same source said, would probably be Our Fatherland-All Russia, and its optimal leadership scenario would be a Luzhkov-Shaimiev-Primakov triumvirate (Russian agencies, August 2). Former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov himself has called for a coalition including Fatherland, All Russia and the Agrarian Party, but has not yet committed himself to any group, or even revealed whether he plans to reenter politics.

At the same time, St. Petersburg Governor Aleksandr Yakovlev, the de facto number two man in All Russia, said yesterday that there was no need for the planned coalition to have only one leader, and added that Primakov and Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin together might fill the leadership role. Yakovlev’s mention of Stepashin, while surprising, was not original. Last month, another leading member of All Russia, Sergei Sobyanin, who heads the legislative council in the Khanty-Mansy region, brought up the possibility of Stepashin joining (Vremya-MN, August 3). It is difficult, however, to imagine Stepashin joining a coalition which includes the Kremlin’s main current foe–Luzhkov–without incurring the wrath of the Kremlin and losing his job. It might be that All Russia’s leadership is trying to woo both Stepashin and Primakov into joining the coalition as leaders, at the expense of Luzhkov.

Whatever the case, Stepashin was reportedly scheduled to meet today to meet with members of All Russia’s political council (Russian agencies, August 3).

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, currently chairman of the board of the Gazprom gas monopoly and head of the Russia is Our Home movement, met with Yeltsin today. The two discussed, among other things, the preparations for the December parliamentary elections and next year’s presidential contest. Yeltsin was quoted as saying that Chernomyrdin “has a powerful election team and we are greatly interested in him” (Russian agencies, August 3).

Russia is Our Home has shied away from joining a recently formed coalition which includes Anatoly Chubais’ Right Cause, Sergei Kirienko’s New Force and Samara Governor Konstantin Titov’s Voice of Russia. There have also been rumors that Russia is Our Home has been holding talks with All Russia and Fatherland. The Kremlin would undoubtedly disapprove of Russia is Our Home joining with the latter two blocs, and Yeltsin may have made this clear in his meeting today with Chernomyrdin.