Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 193

Russia’s Central Elections Commission (CEC) yesterday registered the Zhirinovsky Bloc for participation in Russia’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for December. Ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky had hastily cobbled together the new bloc last week, after the Commission refused to register his Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) due to the failure of some of its candidates to declare all of their property. The new bloc will field eighty-four candidates. In order to pass muster with the CEC, some of the more controversial candidates from the LDPR list, including fugitive aluminum magnate Anatoly Bykov and reputed mobster Sergei Mikhailov, were dropped (Russian agencies, October 18).

While CEC Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov said last week that he doubted that Zhirinovsky would be able to register a new bloc by the October 24 deadline, the bloc’s quick and relatively painless registration may very well have been facilitated–or at least encouraged–by the Kremlin. Zhirinovsky’s LDPR has consistently provided the Kremlin with the necessary votes needed to pass Kremlin-backed initiatives in the State Duma (see the Monitor, October 14). It would make little sense for President Boris Yeltsin and his inner circle to jettison such an asset, particularly now that Zhirinovsky has made the necessary cosmetic changes in his list of candidates. On the other hand, the ratings of the LDPR and Zhirinovsky himself have dropped steadily. It remains to be seen whether his new bloc will win the 5 percent necessary to win party representation in the next Duma.