Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 106

Sobchak, a law professor who rose to national prominence as a democratic reformer in the late 1980s, had been mayor since 1991. He fancied himself a "cat that walks by itself" and this, according to Izvestiya, proved his undoing. Sobchak had aligned himself with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, then czar of the Russian gas industry, which enabled St. Petersburg to obtain cheap energy. But Sobchak’s association with Chernomyrdin antagonized Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who covets Chernomyrdin’s job and who is aligned with hard-liners in Yeltsin’s entourage. (Izvestiya, May 30)

Sobchak said openly during the campaign that he believed Luzhkov was gunning for him and was financing the campaign of his rival. Yakovlev, in contrast, frequently boasted of his good relations with the Moscow mayor. Sobchak also alleged that Yakovlev was backed by former KGB officers close to Yeltsin, including the influential head of the presidential bodyguards, General Aleksandr Korzhakov. "There are forces in Moscow that don’t want to see an independent St. Petersburg," Sobchak said in a recent TV interview. The election results may therefore be seen as a blow to the independence of St. Petersburg, a nail in Chernomyrdin’s coffin, and a boost to Luzhkov’s hopes of becoming prime minister in a future Yeltsin government. They also underline the fact that the dominant role is being played in post-Communist Russia not by political parties and civil society, but by shadowy "clans" which inextricably unite political and financial interests. So far, the only true political party with any real organizational strength in Russia is the Communist party.

Servile Russian Media Promote Yeltsin.