LED BY LEBED, PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDERS LOOK BEYOND DUMA ELECTIONS
Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 126
. Although the parliamentary election campaign is still far from its peak, some of its participants are already looking ahead to next year’s presidential election. Yabloko leader and economic reformer Grigory Yavlinsky has formally declared his candidacy: "Regardless of how this matter [registration of Yabloko’s slate] is resolved, I will definitely run for president if presidential elections are held. I will run for president and will definitely win," Yavlinsky told a news conference. (1)
Economist Stanislav Shatalin, the failed moderate reformer of the late Gorbachev era, now running for the Duma on Col. General Boris Gromov’s Fatherland slate, has also declared his presidential candidacy. In a written address to voters, also distributed to the media, Shatalin announces his "firm intention" to run for president, in order to prevent "politicians of all colors and shades…from leading the Russian people to extinction." (2)
The strongest, albeit undeclared, presidential challenger to Yeltsin is Lt. General (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed, whose popularity rating in the Public Opinion Foundation’s monthly survey for October rose to a record 32 percent. Trailing Lebed in that survey are Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, also a potential presidential contender, with a 23 percent rating, and Yavlinsky with 22 percent. These three leading figures have gained support at the expense of others, including Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who dropped to 10.5 percent in the October survey. (3) Corroborating Lebed’s status, noted poll taker Dmitri Olshansky announced yesterday that his Strategic Analysis and Forecast Center’s latest surveys show the Congress of Russian Communities markedly gaining in voter support, chiefly because of Lebed’s personal popularity. (4)
It is hardly surprising that presidential hopefuls should be declaring their intentions in the midst of the campaign for the Duma, almost appearing to regard the legislative election as a test run for the presidential one. The stakes in the 1996 election are substantially higher, given that the presidency enjoys far larger powers than the legislative branch.