Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 223

The warming relations between ROH and Otechestvo would appear to deal yet another blow to the Gaidar-Chubais coalition, which had been counting on an alliance with ROH. This comes on the heels of yesterday’s rumor that former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko was in negotiations with Luzhkov about forming an alliance. However Andrei Polyakov, Kirienko’s press secretary, said yesterday that he knew nothing about such negotiations. Saratov Governor Dmitri Ayatskov said that he is ready to join Otechestvo’s organizing committee, but that while he had been talking to Luzhkov, he had not received any concrete proposal from the Moscow mayor (Russian agencies, December 2). Ayatskov’s name appeared last Friday (November 27) in a press release announcing the formation of the Gaidar-Chubais coalition, but he immediately disavowed any connection with the initiative, saying his name had been used without his permission.

Several leading political analysts weighed in yesterday with their take on Gaidar-Chubais initiative. Georgy Satarov, a former Yeltsin aide who currently heads the Indem think-tank, said that 20 percent of the Russian population holds “center-right” views, but that the ambitions of Russia’s democrats would prevent them from uniting any time soon. Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Politika Foundation, said Russia’s Democratic Choice, the party led by Gaidar, would receive no more than 1-2 percent of the vote were it to contest next year’s parliamentary elections on its own. If the party unites with smaller democratic groups, it might, according to Nikonov, get 7 percent of the vote, which would give it parliamentary representation. Nikonov added, however, that Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko and even, to some extent, Luzhkov’s Otechestvo, already represent the center-right. “Neither Grigory Yavlinsky nor Yuri Luzhkov have reason to unite with outspoken monetarists,” Nolonov said, “because such a union would lose votes for any centrist” (Russian agencies, December 3).

It is significant that both Satarov and Nikonov rate the Gaidar-Chubais coalition’s prospects as poor, given that both men have worked in the Kremlin and have had close ties in the past with “young reformers” like Chubais. Nikonov was a member of Yeltsin electoral team in 1996, which Chubais headed.

Meanwhile, in a less surprising prediction, given the source, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said yesterday that the center-right coalition led by Gaidar and Chubais will never get off the ground, and that its initiators have “no prospects whatsoever” (Russian agencies, December 2).