Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 190

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and self-styled ultra-nationalist, is busy setting up a new electoral coalition in the wake of the Central Election Commission’s (CEC) refusal earlier this week to register the LDPR for December’s parliamentary vote. Two small LDPR affiliates, the Spiritual Revival Party and the Russian Union of Free Youth, yesterday voted to create a new organization–the Zhirinovsky Bloc–and confirmed a list of candidates to put forward for the December vote. The top three candidates will be Zhirinovsky himself, Oleg Finko (an LDPR member who heads the State Duma’s committee on information policy) and Yegor Solomatin, another LDPR Duma deputy (Russian agencies, October 13).

The CEC disqualified the LDPR on October 11 after determining that there were problems with income and property declarations submitted by thirty-six of its proposed candidates. The violators included two of the party’s top troika of candidates. Krasnoyarsk aluminum magnate Anatoly Bykov was accused of not revealing the ownership of a house, and State Duma deputy Mikhail Musatov of failing to list three Mercedes (Russian agencies, October 13). Bykov is currently on the run from an arrest warrant. The LDPR list also included Sergei Mikhailov, reputedly the Russian mafia boss known as Mikhas. In December 1998 a Swiss court found Mikhailov innocent of charges that he had been involved in organized crime activities.

The Zhirinovsky Bloc must complete its registration–including approval of its candidates income and property declarations–by October 24.

The LDPR faction in the State Duma has been an important source of votes for Kremlin initiatives, often providing the votes needed to pass such initiatives. On the other hand, its open embrace of figures like Bykov and Mikhailov has increasingly made it an embarrassment to the Kremlin, which may explain the CEC’s rather hard line toward the party. It will be interesting to see whether the election commission registers the Zhirinovsky Bloc. It may very well do so, given that the Kremlin may have even fewer allies in the Duma which emerges after the December vote than it has in the current one.