Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 146

The field of Russia’s presidential aspirants suddenly crowded up at the weekend as major political figures announced their intention to run for the presidency in 1996.

Yabloko leader Grigori Yavlinsky declared that he would officially launch his presidential candidacy following the Duma elections, that his supporters have already collected 800,000 out of the required 1 million signatures, and that he is confident of winning the presidency.

Former CPSU and USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev told Novaya ezhednevnaya gazeta that he has decided to run for the presidency at the wish, he said, of people in the Russian provinces.

Federation Council member Pyotr Romanov, a leading figure of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and known to entertain presidential ambitions, accepted nomination as a presidential candidate by an initiative group called the Assembly of People’s Patriotic Forces.

Romanov’s fellow – Siberian Aman Tuleyev, chairman of the Kemerovo oblast legislative assembly and a supporter of radical communist factions, announced that he would run for president of Russia if Boris Yeltsin seeks reelection.

Former vice president Aleksandr Rutskoi, confirming that he would run for president, also announced that he would quit politics if he loses.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky formally declared his presidential candidacy at a news conference in Vladivostok.

Federation Council vice chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov announced that his supporters are urging him to run for president and that he is "calmly assessing his chances;" he implied that he would run if Yeltsin does not.

Lt. General (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed, considered one of the strongest potential candidates for the presidency, told an audience in Volgograd that he expects the new Duma to be "good for nothing" and that he proposes to "spare time, money, and nerves by disbanding the Duma within two days of its election." Lebed has repeatedly said that he would make a decision about his presidential candidacy only after the Duma elections. (5)

Most of these politicians were known to covet the presidency. The timing of this flood of announcements appears related in part to President Boris Yeltsin’s condition. His illness probably spurred at least some of the candidates into deciding to run for president, while the president’s release from the hospital and his convalescence allowed them to declare their candidacies with some decency. The timing, only two weeks before the Duma election, further suggests that major political forces consider the presidential election more important.

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