Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 198

On Monday, the leaders of six center-left parties met in Moscow to sign an agreement on forming a coalition. The effort was led by Andrei Nikolaev, the former head of Russia’s borderguards service, who now sits in the State Duma and heads the Union of People’s Power and Labor. Nikolaev has openly backed Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov as Russia’s next president. Among the signatories were eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fedorov, head of the Party of Workers’ Self-Government, who ran for president in 1996, and former Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko, who heads the Reforms-New Course movement. Shumeiko, once a member of Yeltsin’s inner circle, called Luzhkov the “most suitable and desirable” presidential candidate. Other leaders of the new coalition also spoke out in support of the Moscow mayor. Luzhkov, meanwhile, spoke yesterday at a Moscow State University conference devoted to political centrism. He said Russia must choose a “third path” between “total socialism and vulgar liberalism,” and attacked Western countries for “forcing their will on Third World countries” and “trying to deprive developing states of the opportunity to produce high technologies, turning them into exporters of resources.” Luzhkov accused the West of trying to “shove Russia into the Third World as well,” warning that “Russia is not a Panama or a Grenada or even an Iraq.” (Russian agencies, October 26).

Coalition building efforts are also happening on the right flank of the spectrum. Sergei Yushenkov, deputy chairman of the Russia’s Democratic Choice, which is headed by Yegor Gaidar, said Monday that members of various democratic parties and movements are working on a coalition to contest the 1999 State Duma elections. According to Yushenkov, participants include former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Fedorov (who heads the “Forward, Russia!” movement), Galina Starovoitova (head of Democratic Russia), and Aleksandr Yakovlev (head of the Russian Social Democratic Party).

Yushenkov said potential “liberal-conservative” coalition would hold talks with Viktor Chernomyrdin, former prime minister and head of “Russia is Our Home.” Yushenkov said that while Yabloko, headed by Grigory Yavlinsky, will put forward its own slate of candidates in 1999, discussions are underway on coordinating and mutually supporting candidates in single-mandate districts (Russian agencies, October 26).