Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 225

Russian press outlets sympathetic to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and Fatherland-All Russia (OVR)–meaning, for the most part, those belonging to Vladimir Gusinsky’s Media-Most empire–appear more desperate in trying to counter the attacks on Luzhkov and the other OVR leader, Yevgeny Primakov, in the pro-Kremlin press. Yesterday evening, Itogi–the weekly news analysis program on NTV, which is part of Media-Most–began to attack the veracity of the public opinion polls indicating rapid rises in support for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and for Unity, the pro-Kremlin election coalition headed by Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu. At the end of last month, one poll showed that Unity’s support had risen from 8 percent to 14 percent, displacing OVR as the second most popular party in Russia (behind the Communist Party of the Russian Federation). Over the weekend, new polls showed a similar rapid rise in Unity’s popularity. A Russian expert on polls, sociologist Boris Grushin, cast doubt on the validity of the pre-election polls now being taken, alleging that a majority of them were aimed at manipulating the electorate. Itogi also featured a segment suggesting that the actual vote count for the December 19 election might be manipulated (NTV, December 5).

NTV seems to have moved into more open opposition to Putin. Itogi host Yevgeny Kiselev made much of the fact that Zavtra, the flagship newspaper of the “national-patriotic” (some would say fascist-communist) opposition, has openly embraced Putin and Unity. Kiselev quoted from a recent issue of Zavtra, which praised Putin for pushing ahead with the war in Chechnya against Western opposition, thereby reversing a decade of Western “occupation” (NTV, December 5).