President Yeltsin is expected to vote on Sunday, December 14, in elections for the Moscow City Duma. He will probably do so in the sanitarium, however, not in the glare of public attention. Moscow’s legislative elections are important not only because Moscow is Russia’s richest and most populated municipality, but also because the elections are being seen as a referendum on Mayor Yury Luzhkov’s government and on his prospects as a potential presidential candidate. For this reason, Sunday’s vote has been dubbed "a local election of federal significance." (Ekspert, December 1)
The Moscow Duma has until now been a tame and ineffectual organization living in Luzhkov’s pocket. Sunday’s election will see more than 600 candidates and four electoral blocs competing for 35 seats. In deference to Luzhkov’s personal popularity, all the blocs are expressing support for his policies. However, the bloc led by Nikolai Gonchar, a former Moscow city politician, has staked out a platform of guarded criticism of Luzhkov and the way he runs the city. Sunday’s election is significant, too, because liberal reformers such as Russia’s Democratic Choice and Yabloko have for the first time agreed to cooperate and not to stand against each other in the individual constituencies. (For details, see Vladimir Mironov, "The Upcoming Moscow City Duma Elections," in the Jamestown Foundation’s Prism, December 5)
Russia Decides Against Western Bank Loan.