Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 152

According to the results of a survey taken by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), which were released yesterday, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov remains in significantly good favor with the Russian people. The respondents were asked to name the five or six Russian politicians they most trust. Primakov was mentioned most often, with 26 percent. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov came in second, with 17 percent, marginally higher than the third-place winner, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov. In fourth was Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky with 15 percent, followed by Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin with 13 percent.

VTsIOM also found that if the elections for the State Duma were held this Sunday (without, that is, Primakov in the picture), Zyuganov’s Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) would receive 34 percent of the vote, and Luzhkov’s Fatherland movement only 16 percent. However, were Primakov to agree to head the KPRF ticket, the party would receive 40 percent. If he agreed to head Fatherland, it would receive 28 percent of the vote (Russian agencies, August 5; Izvestia, August 6). Both the KPRF and, especially, Fatherland have been courting Primakov.

The poll did not take into account the new Fatherland-All Russia coalition, but its results suggest two things–first, how weak the Kremlin’s position is, given that the four most trusted politicians in the country are, or at least are perceived to be, Yeltsin opponents; second, that having Primakov on the ticket would hugely improve Fatherland’s prospects. It is thus understandable why the Kremlin is waiting with trepidation for Primakov to decide with whom he will throw in his lot. Indeed, it has been suggested that if Primakov does not enter the ranks of Fatherland-All Russia, the coalition will lose its “political weight” and thus not represent a threat to the Kremlin. Unnamed high-level sources have said that if Primakov does get on board, the Kremlin could take “extraordinary” measures, including canceling the parliamentary elections. Such plans, however, are only contingencies and–so far–are not being actively developed (Nezavisimaya gazeta, August 6).