Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 204

There have been rumors in Moscow that Media-MOST chief Vladimir Gusinsky, founder of Most-Bank, would like to see Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky join forces with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. Thus, it was interesting to note the op-ed piece in today’s “Moscow Times,” the Russian capital’s main English-language newspaper. In it, Igor Malashenko, former head of NTV television and now Media-MOST’s deputy for political relations, argued that Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed and Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov may have peaked early in their presidential bids. The way may now thus be open, the item suggested, for Yavlinsky to capture the hearts and minds of Russia’s large number of “centrist” voters, who are anti-Communist but oppose the Yeltsinite status quo. While Malashenko’s piece focused on the possibilities of Yavlinsky becoming president, he wrote: “Many experts believe that the best-case scenario for Yavlinsky is to perform convincingly in the first round of a presidential election and then to bargain for the position of prime minister, enjoying strong popular support under any new president” (Moscow Times, October 4). Yavlinsky recently charged that Primakov’s cabinet is mired in corruption, but continues to support the prime minister as a factor for stability.

Meanwhile, NTV’s weekly news program “Itogi” reported Sunday night the results of the most recent weekly poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation. It found that if presidential elections had been held on November 1, 18 percent of the voters would have voted for Zyuganov, 13 percent for Yevgeny Primakov, 11 percent for Luzhkov, 11 percent for Lebed and 9 percent for Yavlinsky. Without Primakov on the list, Zyuganov would have won 20 percent. The poll showed Luzhkov and Lebed dropping in the ratings from last week, and Yavlinsky gaining. The poll was taken from 1500 respondents in twenty-nine regions (NTV, November 1).