THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN THE CENTRAL MEDIA

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THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN THE CENTRAL MEDIA

Considering the development of the political situation in Russia, the central media are paying a lot of attention to the Yeltsin-Primakov-Berezovsky political triangle. Referring to certain well-informed sources, Obshchaya Gazeta says that Yeltsin allegedly appealed to Primakov not to participate in the presidential race and not to hinder the Kremlin’s candidate when the President offered Primakov the premiership. The condition was accepted, but soon the Kremlin started to suspect Primakov of breaking his promise. This was the reason for the recent strange meeting between Yeltsin and Primakov which was severely curtailed before being shown on TV. According to Obshchaya Gazeta, “Primakov was ready for the meeting and took the initiative into his own hands,” deviating from the scenario prepared by the president’s people. The “demonstrative whipping” was a failure. However, the president’s people are sure that the premier broke his agreement with the president and ought to be punished. According to the newspaper, an information war against the premier is being prepared. It is well known that Primakov takes attacks in the media rather badly, and therefore Yeltsin’s people will wait patiently until the premier gives way to his feelings and starts making mistakes, which he cannot do while he is working in cold blood like a machine.

According to the weekly Rossiyskie Vesti, Yeltsin is jealous of Primakov not only about power in Russia. According to the newspaper, “There are some ideological problems.” Yeltsin cannot help thinking about his place in the history of Russia, which depends on the results of the parliamentary and presidential elections. “To allow the victory of the Communists in 1999 and the victory of Primakov, who depends on the Communists, means to cross out his entire life.” Therefore, according to Rossiyskie Vesti, there are currently two main tasks facing the president and his close subordinates. The first is to deprive the Communists of any opportunity to finance their electoral campaign with budget money. And the second is to promote the Kremlin’s candidate for president. Rossiyskie Vesti enumerate the features which the Kremlin’s candidate should possess. He must be young (born after the war), not a Communist, and he must be loyal to Yeltsin. For all that, he must have good chances of being elected. According to the paper, there are only two people in the current Russian political establishment who meet those requirements. However, the paper does not venture to name them in order to allow readers to guess the names by themselves.

Izvestia, pondering the causes of the political opposition between Primakov and Berezovsky, states that the ideological basis of the upcoming election will be very simple: “Love for the people, a left-centrist orientation, social protection, the native producer, and delicate sighs about the future are what is in fashion now. In other words, the elections will be boring.” However, Izvestia notes that all the aforementioned will only be true if Primakov does not participate in the elections. If Primakov makes up his mind to take part in the presidential election, there will be no talk of boredom, especially for Boris Berezovsky, since great troubles will be in store for him in this case. Izvestia holds that Primakov is the only probable candidate for the presidency with whom Berezovsky will not come to an understanding. As the newspaper comments, “Primakov is a person of the old generation, and therefore he is not very talkative on the topic of the relationship between oligarchs and the government, but to all appearances the situation of businesses serving the greater politics seems right to him.” Thus, according to Izvestia, there does not seem to be a single item on which Primakov and Berezovsky can agree.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, as usual, scrutinizes every stage of the political opposition between Primakov and Berezovsky. On March 4, Nezavisimaya Gazeta asserted that “the political myth about Primakov being the indispensable premier has been debunked, since political stability is not enough to fight an economic crisis.” Nezavisimaya Gazeta named five possible successors to Primakov as premier: Interior Minister Stepashin, Foreign Minister Ivanov, Duma Speaker Seleznev, the President’s Economic Advisor Alexander Voloshin, and even Nikolai Aksenenko, the Minister of Roads and Transportation. A day later, on March 6, the paper published the following subtitle to an article: “Berezovsky is ousted in fact, and the crisis remains in fact.” However, Nezavisimaya Gazeta holds that Yeltsin will soon find a counterweight to this decision, since his principle of checks and balances did not work this time, i.e. Yeltsin yielded to the pressure of the Communists. In other words, the president will allegedly soon make up for Berezovsky’s dismissal by firing some of the Communist ministers. In Nezavisimaya Gazeta’s article about Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, one of the possible participants in the presidential race, it stated that Luzhkov should “move leftward,” or else he will fail. According to the newspaper, the current post-crisis reality is provoking Luzhkov’s movement leftwards. Economic statistics show that Moscow has surpassed the majority of Russian regions in the pace of the decline of industrial production. Moscow’s financial prosperity has cost “its status as an industrial and intellectual center of science and its transformation into a petty bourgeois city of wholesale and retail trade, intermediary speculations, usury capital, and the expanding entertainment industry.” Consequently, Moscow’s model of development is allegedly inadmissible for Russia: “What kind of experience can Moscow impart to the rest of the country except for the organization of fairs and carnivals?” Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes that the Ulyanovsk region has become the leader in industrial growth, since that region “employs regional approaches toward merging the merits of socialism and capitalism.” Due to this, the Ulyanovsk region has outpaced the majority of Russian regions, where a “liberal kind of reformation is being held.” Therefore, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, “Luzhkov’s economic intuition must tell him that, notwithstanding his right-wing political affections, he ought to turn to the left, or else his participation in the upcoming election will bring about a strategic defeat for him.”

In an article devoted to Vladimir Gusinsky, a prominent TV oligarch, Parlamentskaya Gazeta asserts that the basic figure in the presidential election will be Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, on whom Gusinsky depends. However, the Media-Most holding intends to handle the electoral campaigns of three candidates: Chernomyrdin, Yavlinsky, and Lebed. The holding will earn money from Chernomyrdin as an unpromising but rich candidate and spend it on Yavlinsky and Lebed. According to Parlamentskaya Gazeta, Gusinsky’s expenses on the latter two candidates will amount to approximately $500 million. The newspaper says that Igor Malashenko recommended that Gusinsky support Yavlinsky after he met with some influential American politicians, members of Congress, and officials of the US Presidential Administration. Moreover, Parlamentskaya Gazeta says that large funds, including the financial assistance of the World Jewish Congress, have been promised to promote Yavlinsky.

According to the newspaper Izvestia, only three political forces, the Communist party (CPRF), Otechestvo (Fatherland), and Yabloko are sure to gain seats in the Duma in the election. The rating of Lebed’s party is declining rapidly, and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) obtains more supporters during elections than before them, and therefore, according to Izvestia, its chances are 50:50. The other parties have practically no chance of getting into the Duma in the current distribution of forces. However, a force majeur circumstance may be able to change the course of the electoral race. The chief among them is Yevgeny Primakov. If the Premier decides to create his own electoral bloc, the chances of this movement, as those of every party of power in Russia, will thrown into question. Furthermore, the future of the regional bloc led by Samara Governor Konstantin Titov is not yet clear. “Everybody wants to ingratiate themselves with regional leaders, and therefore the latter will imitate independence until 2000 in order not to be mistaken regarding the future winner of the presidential election.” However, at the moment the regional movement has a zero rating. Another unclear factor is the reformers: Kirienko, Chubais, Gaidar, Nemtsov, and Boris Fedorov. Time will tell whether they will be successful in uniting their forces and financial resources. As a result, the composition of the future Duma may vary from “a tolerable one (the CPRF, Otechestvo, Yabloko, Primakov’s bloc, liberal reformers) to a threatening one (the CPRF, Otechestvo, Yabloko, the Nazis, the LDPR).”

The newspaper Vremya MN notes that the test period, after which the Communists are to sum up the results of their cooperation with the government, is over. Vremya MN announces that a conference devoted to this issue is scheduled for March 11. The Communists are allegedly sure of their strength. If the President insists on purging the cabinet, they will forestall him and revoke Maslyukov themselves. Thereafter, the Duma will give the government two votes of no confidence, after which the President will dissolve the Duma. Consequently, a pre-term election will have to be held. “The Communists consider themselves to be the most ready for this scenario, and therefore they will allegedly be victorious.” As for the dismissal of CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky, Vremya MN notes that it cannot be called an epilogue of the crisis. “It is understood both in the Kremlin and in the White House.”

Last week, a series of publications were dedicated to the financial support of the upcoming electoral campaign. Komsomolskaya Pravda of March 2 and 3, in articles under the common title “The Gold of Parties” analyzes the financial capacities of parties likely to participate in the parliamentary election. The newspaper notes that each deputy’s seat of the 1995 convocation cost $200,000-$500,000. “The plans to pump budgetary money to parties are known. The same plans are currently in place with some amendments connected with the peculiarities of the present situation.”

For instance, the financial resources of the CPRF have even improved after the crisis. “The center of activity is being shifted to the regions, where the Communists’ positions are much stronger than in the center.” The paper also announces that the CPRF is a paragon of business management. Petty officials work either for petty earnings of “for the idea”. As for the higher levels, they are governed by fear: “If we reject Zyuganov’s people now, we may suffer if they gain power.” Therefore, printing houses print leaflets and placards for the Communists on credit, and the directors of industrial enterprises allow the Communists to establish their departments on the premises of their enterprises and pay only a symbolic fee for them. Komsomolskaya Pravda writes that the LDPR earns money chiefly by lobbying certain bills and candidates. This party is also subsidized by medium-sized businessmen whom Zhirinovsky tenderly calls “young wolves” for their links with criminal structures, to put it mildly.

As for Yavlinsky, it is well known that Gusinsky and his Media-Most intends to finance his campaign. But some of Yavlinsky’s rivals are tracing his financial relations with LUKoil and the concern Sistema.

Luzhkov’s bloc Otechestvo also depends on Sistema. Furthermore, unlike governors who regard Otechestvo with some suspicion, mayors of many large cities support Luzhkov, and this support is apparently not merely moral.

As Komsomolskaya Pravda puts it, Primakov would make the “ideal bridegroom” for every party, since he controls budgetary enterprises and the Pension Fund, let alone various non-budgetary funds.

Komsomolskaya Pravda calls the right-wing radicals and Lebed’s movement outsiders. Commenting on the negotiations between these two movements about a possible alliance between them, the newspaper states: “Before the crisis, this alliance would have been the richest, since most large-scale businessmen support the ideology of the Right Cause. But inasmuch as the large-scale businessmen are now concerned with their own survival, the right wing has to think about money itself.”

Vremya MN holds a very curious opinion about the financial support of the election. As is known, most of the problems with the negotiations with the IMF are connected with the fact that international financial organizations are uncertain about the further destiny of new credits. “When Mr. Maslyukov in fact starts governing the development budget with its 20 billion rubles and Gennady Kulik takes pains to ‘efficiently govern’ the agricultural-industrial complex, it is natural to remember the model of the administrative distribution economy, which acquires a special urgency in a parliamentary election year. If budgetary money is sent to some specific firms on the orders of high-ranking officials, nothing will prevent these firms from allocating the money to certain parties.” Thus, it turns out that if the IMF allots money to Russia, it will give the Agrarian party the opportunity to sponge on the Agriculture Discounted Crediting Fund, and the Communists will get the chance to feed on the development budget which is industriously guarded by them. Thus, the IMF may help the left shack up on top of the power pyramid for a long time.

The weekly Moskovskie Novosti describes the fever of party building that has captivated the country. It is impossible to enumerate all the parties and movements which have been created recently: Diggers of the Underground Planet, the Dovgan-Holding, The Smirnovs’ Party, Thatcherists of Russia, the Russian Orthodox Party, Warriors of the Fatherland, etc. Their aims are also various. Having created parties of their own, many prominent politicians are buying insurance for themselves to get into the Duma (such as Irina Khakamada with her Common Cause or Vladimir Lysenko with his Republican Party). For businessmen, creating a party is first of all a chance to hold an advertising campaign. For other participants in this affair, it is an opportunity to show off, make useful acquaintances, and perhaps start their own businesses. Moskovskie Novosti compares party building fever with gold fever. “It engenders an infrastructure immediately, of course an illegal one.” Further, the weekly presents some figures: the “black price” to create a party is $10,000, to create a movement $4,000. The weekly explains that movements are cheaper because a party has fixed membership, and it is necessary to present 5,000 signatures of members. If a movement gets onto the list of 132 organizations that have managed to register themselves with the Justice Ministry before December 17, 1998, it may be sold, and the leader of the movement may retire to the sidelines, having taken 100% of the profit. “All movements that are registered later will have to merge with other political structures. But those which have the ‘coveted license’ can easily trade their right to participate in the elections.” It is also possible to continue the electoral business: to gather 200,000 signatures on the first stage of an electoral campaign simply by buying a CD with a ready database for $5,000. Such databases were created before the 1996 election. The data are certainly obsolete, “but you will be thoroughly checked up only if law enforcement agencies have a grudge against you.” If you have become the leader of a movement, you have the right to free time on the TV, which costs about $300,000. At least the leader can count on money from the Central Electoral Committee which amounts to $25,000. “For a proper campaign it is not much, but for a business it is a good contribution.”

Obshchaya Gazeta analyzes the chances of General Makashov and his supporters to get into the Duma. His chances are not high, unless some democratic media assist him. Poles show that, although “32% of respondents hold that power in Russia is concentrated in the hands of Jews,” only 13% of them agree with the statement that all the current problems of Russia are caused by Jews. According to the paper, the fear of the enslavement of Russians by some other nation is insignificant against the background of such phobias as fear of losing one’s job, fear of the indiscriminate expansion of crime, etc. Moreover, 60% of ethnic Russians regard Russia as a “home for different peoples who must have equal rights.” Thus, according to Obshchaya Gazeta, “Makashov’s forces hardly have a chance for a December triumph.” Only 5-7% of voters have radical nationalistic tendencies. It is necessary to have gigantic funds to surpass the 5% barrier in such a starting position, and Makashov’s people do not have any. “As is seen from their latest publications, they are counting on the help of their adversaries, who have both money and time to provide these insignificant figures with the image and fame of sufferers for the sake of the Faith and the Fatherland.”

THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION IN THE CENTRAL MEDIA

According to the newspaper Izvestia, only three political forces, the Communist party (CPRF), Otechestvo (Fatherland), and Yabloko are sure to gain seats in the Duma in the election. The rating of Lebed’s party is declining rapidly, and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) obtains more supporters during elections than before them, and therefore, according to Izvestia, its chances are 50:50. The other parties have practically no chance of getting into the Duma in the current distribution of forces. However, a force majeur circumstance may be able to change the course of the electoral race. The chief among them is Yevgeny Primakov. If the Premier decides to create his own electoral bloc, the chances of this movement, as those of every party of power in Russia, will thrown into question. Furthermore, the future of the regional bloc led by Samara Governor Konstantin Titov is not yet clear. “Everybody wants to ingratiate themselves with regional leaders, and therefore the latter will imitate independence until 2000 in order not to be mistaken regarding the future winner of the presidential election.” However, at the moment the regional movement has a zero rating. Another unclear factor is the reformers: Kirienko, Chubais, Gaidar, Nemtsov, and Boris Fedorov. Time will tell whether they will be successful in uniting their forces and financial resources. As a result, the composition of the future Duma may vary from “a tolerable one (the CPRF, Otechestvo, Yabloko, Primakov’s bloc, liberal reformers) to a threatening one (the CPRF, Otechestvo, Yabloko, the Nazis, the LDPR).”

The newspaper Vremya MN notes that the test period, after which the Communists are to sum up the results of their cooperation with the government, is over. Vremya MN announces that a conference devoted to this issue is scheduled for March 11. The Communists are allegedly sure of their strength. If the President insists on purging the cabinet, they will forestall him and revoke Maslyukov themselves. Thereafter, the Duma will give the government two votes of no confidence, after which the President will dissolve the Duma. Consequently, a pre-term election will have to be held. “The Communists consider themselves to be the most ready for this scenario, and therefore they will allegedly be victorious.” As for the dismissal of CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky, Vremya MN notes that it cannot be called an epilogue of the crisis. “It is understood both in the Kremlin and in the White House.”

Last week, a series of publications were dedicated to the financial support of the upcoming electoral campaign. Komsomolskaya Pravda of March 2 and 3, in articles under the common title “The Gold of Parties” analyzes the financial capacities of parties likely to participate in the parliamentary election. The newspaper notes that each deputy’s seat of the 1995 convocation cost $200,000-$500,000. “The plans to pump budgetary money to parties are known. The same plans are currently in place with some amendments connected with the peculiarities of the present situation.”

For instance, the financial resources of the CPRF have even improved after the crisis. “The center of activity is being shifted to the regions, where the Communists’ positions are much stronger than in the center.” The paper also announces that the CPRF is a paragon of business management. Petty officials work either for petty earnings of “for the idea”. As for the higher levels, they are governed by fear: “If we reject Zyuganov’s people now, we may suffer if they gain power.” Therefore, printing houses print leaflets and placards for the Communists on credit, and the directors of industrial enterprises allow the Communists to establish their departments on the premises of their enterprises and pay only a symbolic fee for them. Komsomolskaya Pravda writes that the LDPR earns money chiefly by lobbying certain bills and candidates. This party is also subsidized by medium-sized businessmen whom Zhirinovsky tenderly calls “young wolves” for their links with criminal structures, to put it mildly.

As for Yavlinsky, it is well known that Gusinsky and his Media-Most intends to finance his campaign. But some of Yavlinsky’s rivals are tracing his financial relations with LUKoil and the concern Sistema.

Luzhkov’s bloc Otechestvo also depends on Sistema. Furthermore, unlike governors who regard Otechestvo with some suspicion, mayors of many large cities support Luzhkov, and this support is apparently not merely moral.

As Komsomolskaya Pravda puts it, Primakov would make the “ideal bridegroom” for every party, since he controls budgetary enterprises and the Pension Fund, let alone various non-budgetary funds.

Komsomolskaya Pravda calls the right-wing radicals and Lebed’s movement outsiders. Commenting on the negotiations between these two movements about a possible alliance between them, the newspaper states: “Before the crisis, this alliance would have been the richest, since most large-scale businessmen support the ideology of the Right Cause. But inasmuch as the large-scale businessmen are now concerned with their own survival, the right wing has to think about money itself.”

Vremya MN holds a very curious opinion about the financial support of the election. As is known, most of the problems with the negotiations with the IMF are connected with the fact that international financial organizations are uncertain about the further destiny of new credits. “When Mr. Maslyukov in fact starts governing the development budget with its 20 billion rubles and Gennady Kulik takes pains to ‘efficiently govern’ the agricultural-industrial complex, it is natural to remember the model of the administrative distribution economy, which acquires a special urgency in a parliamentary election year. If budgetary money is sent to some specific firms on the orders of high-ranking officials, nothing will prevent these firms from allocating the money to certain parties.” Thus, it turns out that if the IMF allots money to Russia, it will give the Agrarian party the opportunity to sponge on the Agriculture Discounted Crediting Fund, and the Communists will get the chance to feed on the development budget which is industriously guarded by them. Thus, the IMF may help the left shack up on top of the power pyramid for a long time.

The weekly Moskovskie Novosti describes the fever of party building that has captivated the country. It is impossible to enumerate all the parties and movements which have been created recently: Diggers of the Underground Planet, the Dovgan-Holding, The Smirnovs’ Party, Thatcherists of Russia, the Russian Orthodox Party, Warriors of the Fatherland, etc. Their aims are also various. Having created parties of their own, many prominent politicians are buying insurance for themselves to get into the Duma (such as Irina Khakamada with her Common Cause or Vladimir Lysenko with his Republican Party). For businessmen, creating a party is first of all a chance to hold an advertising campaign. For other participants in this affair, it is an opportunity to show off, make useful acquaintances, and perhaps start their own businesses. Moskovskie Novosti compares party building fever with gold fever. “It engenders an infrastructure immediately, of course an illegal one.” Further, the weekly presents some figures: the “black price” to create a party is $10,000, to create a movement $4,000. The weekly explains that movements are cheaper because a party has fixed membership, and it is necessary to present 5,000 signatures of members. If a movement gets onto the list of 132 organizations that have managed to register themselves with the Justice Ministry before December 17, 1998, it may be sold, and the leader of the movement may retire to the sidelines, having taken 100% of the profit. “All movements that are registered later will have to merge with other political structures. But those which have the ‘coveted license’ can easily trade their right to participate in the elections.” It is also possible to continue the electoral business: to gather 200,000 signatures on the first stage of an electoral campaign simply by buying a CD with a ready database for $5,000. Such databases were created before the 1996 election. The data are certainly obsolete, “but you will be thoroughly checked up only if law enforcement agencies have a grudge against you.” If you have become the leader of a movement, you have the right to free time on the TV, which costs about $300,000. At least the leader can count on money from the Central Electoral Committee which amounts to $25,000. “For a proper campaign it is not much, but for a business it is a good contribution.”

Obshchaya Gazeta analyzes the chances of General Makashov and his supporters to get into the Duma. His chances are not high, unless some democratic media assist him. Poles show that, although “32% of respondents hold that power in Russia is concentrated in the hands of Jews,” only 13% of them agree with the statement that all the current problems of Russia are caused by Jews. According to the paper, the fear of the enslavement of Russians by some other nation is insignificant against the background of such phobias as fear of losing one’s job, fear of the indiscriminate expansion of crime, etc. Moreover, 60% of ethnic Russians regard Russia as a “home for different peoples who must have equal rights.” Thus, according to Obshchaya Gazeta, “Makashov’s forces hardly have a chance for a December triumph.” Only 5-7% of voters have radical nationalistic tendencies. It is necessary to have gigantic funds to surpass the 5% barrier in such a starting position, and Makashov’s people do not have any. “As is seen from their latest publications, they are counting on the help of their adversaries, who have both money and time to provide these insignificant figures with the image and fame of sufferers for the sake of the Faith and the Fatherland.”

 

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