Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 158

Leaders of the Union of Right-Wing Forces, the center-right coalition whose formation was announced just last week, met in Moscow yesterday and signed official founding documents. Among the signatories were former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, who heads the New Force movement, former acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, who heads Democratic Choice of Russia, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, who heads the Young Russian movement, and Samara Governor Konstantin Titov, who heads the Voice of Russia bloc. Titov was elected head of the Union’s political council, and will be in charge of formulating its political strategy, while United Energy System chief Anatoly Chubais will be in charge of its electoral headquarters. Another top member of the new coalition is Pavel Krasheninnikov, whom President Boris Yeltsin recently sacked as justice minister. Krasheninnikov will be fourth on the coalition’s list of candidates for the December parliamentary election, behind Kirienko, Nemtsov and Irina Khakamada, who once headed a government committee for supporting small business and now leads the Common Cause movement. Also among the top ten candidates on the coalition’s list will be human rights activist Sergei Kovalev (Russian agencies, August 29).

Judging by the comments of some of the gathered leaders, there is still much residual rancor over the decisions of former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who heads the Our Home is Russia movement, and former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, not to join the Union. Chubais said that Chernomyrdin’s decision would cost the former prime minister and his movement dearly (Russian agencies, August 29).

Last week, Stepashin joined up with Yabloko, the rival liberal grouping headed by Grigory Yavlinsky. For his part, Chernomyrdin and Boris Fedorov–who has served in a variety of posts, including finance minister, and heads the “Forward, Russia!” movement–announced that they would join forces before this year’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for December. The top four candidates for this coalition will be Chernomyrdin, Vladimir Ryzhkov (who heads Russia is Our Home’s faction in the State Duma), Saratov Governor Viktor Ayatskov and Boris Fedorov (Russian agencies, August 27).

Chubais said yesterday that Fedorov would come to regret his decision (Russian agencies, August 29) but refused to criticize Stepashin. Yegor Gaidar, however, went after Stepashin’s new allies in Yabloko, calling Yavlinsky’s movement a “center-left” party which, he claimed, has in recent years always voted with the communists on key votes.