The latest opinion poll conducted by the "Public Opinion" polling organization on October 4-5 predicts that Boris Nemtsov is the popular choice to win the presidential election due in 2000. If the election was held now, 7 percent of those questioned said they would vote for Grigory Yavlinsky; 9 percent for Yury Luzhkov; 13 percent for Aleksandr Lebed; 17 percent for Boris Nemtsov; and 18 percent for Gennady Zyuganov. But, in a run-off between Nemtsov and Zyuganov, Nemtsov would get 41 percent and Zyuganov 29 percent. (NTV, October 12) Of these candidates, only Yavlinsky and Lebed have declared their intention to run, while Nemtsov and Luzhkov have repeatedly denied that they have presidential ambitions.
Many Russian political pundits seem to be finding it hard to imagine life after Yeltsin and to take seriously his statement in Strasbourg last week that he will not seek a third term. Interviewed on Russian TV last night, Segodnya columnist Leonid Radzikhovsky said the fact the Yeltsin said he would not seek a third term because that was ruled out by the constitution suggested that there will soon be an appeal to the Constitutional Court — "most likely from one of the regions" — asking for a ruling on this point. If the Court says Yeltsin could stand again, the president will almost certainly do so, Radzikhovsky predicted.
Political commentator Andrei Fedorov observed that, even if Yeltsin does not run in 2000, the range of candidates will be very similar to the 1996 presidential election. He discounted predictions that some of Russia’s regional leaders will put themselves forward by pointing out that, because of Russia’s lack of a developed party system, regional leaders do not have either the funds or the necessary support to organize a nationwide campaign.
Vitaly Tretyakov of Nezavisimaya gazeta pointed out that much will depend on who it is that Yeltsin himself chooses to anoint as his successor. He predicted that it would be either Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin or, in an interesting new twist, Yeltsin’s daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko. He said neither could solve Russia’s problems but that both would appeal to the present establishment since they would not threaten its leading members in the way that either Nemtsov or Luzhkov would do. (NTV, October 12)
Yeltsin Subordinates Prisons to Justice Ministry.