Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 104

Vladimir Zhirinovsky offered yesterday to form an electoral coalition with Gennady Zyuganov and Aleksandr Lebed which, he said, would assure Communist party leader Zyuganov of victory in the first round of next month’s presidential election. Zhirinovsky proposed Zyuganov for president, himself for prime minister, and Lebed for defense minister. (Interfax, Russian Television, May 29) Zyuganov has so far shown no sign of taking up Zhirinovsky’s offer, and Lebed has repeatedly said that he will go it alone, but Zhirinovsky has, with characteristic acumen, put his finger on Zyuganov’s weak spot.

With Boris Yeltsin riding high in the polls following his Chechen initiative, Zyuganov needs to start counting every vote. Zyuganov has built an impressive coalition of Communist and nationalist forces, but any votes that go to Zhirinovsky and Lebed will be taken from him, not from Yeltsin. (This is why Yeltsin has made no serious effort to strike a deal with either man.) Zyuganov, whose background and alliances mark him out as a nationalist even more than a Communist, is unlikely to find common ground with Zhirinovsky, whose sentiments are chauvinistic rather than nationalistic. But, as a way of squeezing more votes out of the electorate, an alliance with Lebed would be a logical next move for Zyuganov.

Zyuganov Hints at Possible Deal with "Third Force."