The potential importance of a coalition between Chernomyrdin and Lebed, backed with Berezovsky’s money, can hardly be overestimated. Conventional wisdom has it that the next president of the Russian Federation will be whoever defeats Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the left-wing Popular Patriotic Union, in the second round of the 2000 elections. In recent weeks, there have been signs that Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov might be that person, especially as the outlines of a center-left alliance between Luzhkov, Ayatskov and General Andrei Nikolaev’s “Union of People’s Power and Labor” have started to emerge. Other potential members are Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev, Svyatoslav Fedorov’s Party of Workers’ Self-Management, Aleksandr Rutskoi’s “Derzhava” Movement, Dmitri Rogozin’s Congress of Russian Communities, Sergei Glazyev’s Russian Democratic Party, Sergei Baburin’s Russian National Alliance, Martin Shakkum’s Social National Party and Yuri Petrov’s Union of Realists. (Izvestia, July 25)
The self-aggrandizing Ayatskov likely sees himself as prime minister to Luzhkov’s president. Whether the “letter of the four” will yield a workable coalition is likely to depend–among other factors– on whether Chernomyrdin would be willing to lay aside his professed presidential ambitions to play prime minister to the far more charismatic Lebed.
CHECHNYA COMPLAINS ABOUT RUSSIAN EXERCISES ON ITS BORDER.