Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 153

The attempts, apparently backed by the Kremlin, to form a broad center-right coalition to challenge Fatherland-All Russia have foundered. This effort was to have brought together Right Cause (the movement headed by United Energy Systems chief Anatoly Chubais and former Acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar), New Force (headed by former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko) and Russia is Our Home (headed by former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin). Sergei Stepashin, who was fired earlier this month as prime minister, had been talked up as the proposed coalition’s leader. Chernomyrdin, Kirienko and Chubais, a former first deputy prime minister and Russia’s privatization architect, met at Stepashin’s dacha on August 20 to forge an agreement, with a “declaration of cooperation” to have been announced the following day (Russian agencies, August 20).

Instead, Kirienko and Chubais announced on August 21 that Russia is Our Home had opted out. New Force and Right Cause, however, would continue, and soon announce the top three members of their coalition’s list of candidates. Kirienko said that the efforts to form a wide center-right coalition had failed because there had been an attempt to form a new “party of power”–the term used for Russia is Our Home when it was formed in 1995–and that such a party was “unacceptable.” Kirienko said that the coalition must be a “new right opposition.” Another top member of Right Cause, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, echoed Kirienko in charging that the leaders of Russia is Our Home had wanted to create “another party of the Russian nomenklatura” (Russian agencies, August 22).

According to press reports over the last week, Chernomyrdin consistently expressed his unwillingness to join a coalition including such figures as Yegor Gaidar and was quoted as having said on August 20, “Right Cause? There is no such cause” (Moscow Times, August 21). An anonymous source in Kirienko’s camp was quoted the following day as saying that over the course of the negotiations, a serious conflict had developed between Gaidar and Vladimir Ryzhkov, the young leader of Russia is Our Home’s State Duma faction. Ryzhkov, for his part, said yesterday that Russia is Our Home had shown flexibility during the negotiations, dropping its insistence that Chernomyrdin lead the coalition and proposing Stepashin instead. Ryzhkov also indicated that Russia is Our Home would now work on its own to form a center-right coalition. He named Voice of Russia (the movement headed by Samara Governor Konstantin Titov), Kirienko’s New Force (the “Forward, Russia!” movement of former Finance Minister Boris Fedorov), and even All Russia (part of the rival Luzhkov-Primakov centrist coalition) as possible allies (Russian agencies, August 22).

The center-right therefore appears to have split into two rival camps–a development undoubtedly seen as good news by Luzhkov, Primakov and the other leaders of Fatherland-All Russia. Meanwhile, Sergei Stepashin announced on August 21 that he would run as an independent for a Duma seat representing a district in St. Petersburg (Russian agencies, August 21).