Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 128

On November 4, Russia’s Supreme Court ordered the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to register the list of candidates of the reformist Yabloko movement. The day before, the court had ordered the TsIK to register the list of the nationalist Derzhava movement, overturning the commission’s earlier decision to disqualify both movements for technical infringements. The court’s decision is not subject to appeal. It paves the way for Yabloko, led by the reformist economist Grigori Yavlinsky, and Derzhava, led by former Russian vice president Aleksandr Rutskoi, to participate in the December parliamentary elections. (3)

Because the decision of the Electoral Commission was so speedily overturned, Yabloko’s election prospects seem likely only to have been enhanced by the publicity it has gained. Yabloko is the only reformist party with wide popular support. Yavlinsky says this is because it appeals to a section of the population for which no other party caters: "the middle class that lost out in the reforms." (4) While other reformist parties appeal mainly to the "new Russians" (the bankers and businessmen who have done well in Russia’s current version of free markets) or to Russia’s small, urban intelligentsia, Yabloko and the Communist Party make their pitch to the many Russians who are not experiencing the "feel-good" factor. The Communists draw their support from blue-collar workers and pensioners, but Yabloko’s platform of democratic reform, demonopolization and social safety nets is aimed at the many doctors, scientists, teachers, engineers and skilled workers whose living standards have fallen since the transition to the free market began.

Some analysts believe that the court’s decision marks a step backward for the development of the rule of law in Russia. Yabloko was disqualified because it was in breach of the regulations and, these analysts argue, the Supreme Court granted the movement’s appeal not on legal grounds but for political reasons.

( Acknowledging the decision of the Supreme Court, Nikolai Ryabov, chairman of the Central Electoral Commission said on 4 November that his commission had already registered Derzhava, and that it would "consider" registering the 187 candidates on Yabloko’s list on November 6. By November 5, the commission had registered 37 parties out of a total of 43 hopefuls. But Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Russian Communist Party, told Interfax he believed the attempt to disqualify Yabloko had been only a first move in an effort to get the December elections canceled and to prolong Yeltsin’s term in office until the year 2000.) (5)