Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 223

Otechestvo, the centrist bloc formed last month by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, appears to be gaining momentum. In a newspaper interview published today, Aleksandr Shokhin, who leads the Russia is Our Home (ROH) faction in the State Duma, outlined various possible forms of cooperation between his movement and Luzhkov’s. Shokhin said he had been authorized by ROH to explore the possibility of concluding a “nonaggression” pact with Otechestvo and carrying out “joint political actions,” including cooperation in putting forth candidates for single-mandate districts in next year’s parliamentary elections. Shokhin said that since Otechestvo has no representation in parliament, ROH is prepared to represent the new bloc’s interests, including lobbying for legislation in both groups’ interests. Shokhin said that ROH would also consider “delegating” some of its Duma members to Otechestvo so that the new bloc would have official status as a Duma faction. He also hinted–without saying so directly–that Viktor Chernomyrdin, the former prime minister and ROH founder, should consider bowing out of the presidential race in favor of Luzhkov, in return for a senior position in a potential Luzhkov government (Segodnya, December 3).

In a press conference yesterday, Shokhin said ROH deputies would be meeting with Luzhkov. ROH leaders also plan to meet tomorrow with Valentin Yumashev, head of President Boris Yeltsin’s administration to discuss relations between the movement and the Kremlin. One newspaper reported today that Shokhin was “strongly offended” by last week’s announcement from Oleg Sysuev, first deputy head of the presidential administration, that Yeltsin and his administration would be supporting the new “center-right” coalition set up by former Acting Premier Yegor Gaidar and privatization architect Anatoly Chubais (Kommersant daily, December 3).