CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION COUNTS CANDIDATES

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CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION COUNTS CANDIDATES

NTV, Segodnya, February 12, 2000, 22:00

At the Central Election Commission (CEC) today they were working out the likely number of presidential candidates – or at least, the maximum number. There will definitely be no more than 21 of them. That’s final.

CEC Chairman Alexander Veshniakov: Only 21 people have any chance of being registered. Why? Because only 22 campaign groups have taken all the required steps for it.

True, some initiative groups were still nominating candidates today at the CEC, but these were merely formalities. Only those nominees who opened campaign accounts at Sberbank (Savings Bank) by February 9 now remain in the game.

To date, two would-be presidents – Gennadii Zyuganov and Aleksei Podberezkin – already have the official status of candidates. The CEC will decide on the registration of Vladimir Putin and Aman Tuleev on February 15; then it will look at Stanislav Govorukhin, Konstantin Titov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and Herman Khrustalev. By tomorrow, this list may expand to include Yuri Skuratov, Evgenii Savostianov, and Umar Dzhabrailov; that is, if these people manage to submit their signature lists by 6 p.m. Moscow time.

Two would-be presidents submitted their lists today. Boxes of signature lists in support of Grigorii Yavlinsky were delivered to the CEC by Sergei Ivanenko, deputy leader of the Yabloko faction in the Duma.

Sergei Ivanenko: The only real alternative to Vladimir Putin in this election is Grigorii Yavlinsky. As for the Communists, all the recent events in the Duma, and the alliance between the Communists and Unity, show that Gennadii Zyuganov is a “puppet” candidate.

The names of all presidential candidates should be known to the CEC by Monday or Tuesday. Then the major phase of the election campaign will officially begin. But some observers see this phase itself as just a formality.

LUZHKOV AND FATHERLAND MAKE PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

NTV, Segodnya, February 12, 2000, 12:00

The Central Council of the Fatherland movement is meeting in Moscow today. Yuri Luzhkov made a policy statement, and Georgy Boos summed up the Duma election campaign of Fatherland – All Russia and noted some mistakes which had been made.

Of course, the main event was Yuri Luzhkov’s speech. As usual, he expressed his views about the situation in Russia today, and – of course – could not refrain from mentioning such an important issue as Chechnya. Yuri Luzhkov considers the Russian government’s current course of action in Chechnya to be a mistake.

It should be recalled that Fatherland at first supported a parallel approach to the Chechnya situation: a combination of military action and political settlement. Fatherland supported a containment zone, and political action aimed at creating a third force within Chechnya; then Russia would have avoided losing servicemen, and avoided the problem of 200,000 refugees, which is a real humanitarian disaster.

Luzhkov considers the central issue in domestic politics today to be the relationship between the state and the people. He sees two main dangers in this area.

Luzhkov: It is essential for us to anticipate the dangers lying ahead of us. The first is the danger that the fight against corruption and crime could turn into another witch-hunt, a new 1937. Therefore we are ready to support the government in this fight, but only as long as it remains within the framework of the law and democracy. The second danger is that in Russia, any consolidation of society carries the risk of falling into old, established patterns of servile group-think.

Neither Luzhkov nor Primakov will run for the presidency, despite all appeals from citizens for them to do so. Yuri Luzhkov noted that all attacks in the media during last year’s parliamentary election campaign were aimed at removing these two promising candidates from the presidential race; and now there is only one candidate with a chance – acting President Vladimir Putin.

Luzhkov: I don’t want to make an assessment of the programs and policies of such candidates as Zyuganov, Yavlinsky, or Zhirinovsky; especially since they all took part in the last presidential election, and they’re all well known. Of course, public attention is focused mainly on Putin at present – and here, unfortunately, we have a blank page. Essentially, we know almost nothing about Putin – what he will do as president, in which direction he will take Russia.

So Yuri Luzhkov knows nothing about Putin. He has no advice for his colleagues, and today the Central Council of Fatherland decided that Fatherland regional branches should decide for themselves which candidate to support in the presidential election.

As for the future of Fatherland, it was decided today to transform the movement into a party. That’s the first task. The second task is to participate in regional elections. Note that within the next two years there will be about 40 elections for governor in various Russian regions. This makes it a very important political goal.

UNITY-COMMUNISTS ALLIANCE IS MORE THAN A TACTICAL MOVE

TV-Tsentr, Nedelya, February 12, 2000, 20:00

The Duma is once again working at full strength. After boycotting previous Duma sessions, the factions Fatherland – All Russia, Union of Right Forces, and Yabloko are back at work.

In order to save face, and to preserve the political authority of their factions, the leaders of the Duma minority must urgently produce some legislation initiatives.

On Friday the Duma approved the preliminary schedule of work for its spring season. There are 513 items of legislation on the agenda, 78 of them top-priority. About a third of the 513 items have been submitted by the government. There’s plenty to fight over.

Although the Duma minority, during its boycott, had categorically refused to accept any official Duma posts, the distribution of portfolios continued this week. And here a new tactic was used by the Duma majority – or rather, an old, forgotten tactic: with some success, they started shaping the image of the enemy in the Duma. Not an enemy faction, but individual enemies.

On Wednesday Mikhail Zadornov was voted down for deputy chair of the Budget Committee, amidst accusations that he was one of those responsible for the default of August 17, 1998. Boris Gryzlov personally opened the lack-lustre witch-hunt by declaring, in old-fashioned terms, that “it is considered that Zadornov made many errors in his previous positions”.

On Friday, Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Lukin were voted down for deputy speakers. During the debate, the Communists called Nemtsov an enemy of Russia. Aleksei Mitrofanov of the LDPR accused Lukin of being pro-American; thus basically also accusing him of being an enemy of Russia.

On the other hand, efforts to create the image of friends – or at least fellow-travellers – are no less successful. On Wednesday, Pavel Krasheninnikov of the Union of Right Forces easily became head of Legislation Committee. Georgy Boos of Fatherland – All Russia was elected as a deputy speaker by a suspiciously overwhelming majority. It was almost like Yeltsin’s system of checks and balances.

Therefore, the Duma scandal hasn’t ended – it’s just gone underground, remaining as dangerous as a glowing ember. A small but significant detail: voting against Mikhail Zadornov for deputy speaker were not only the Communists and LDPR, but also Unity. This was no isolated lapse. It was a logical continuation of the alliance between the Communists and Unity – not a tactical alliance, but a full-scale political alliance.

Next Wednesday, February 16, the Union of Right Forces and Yabloko will probably nominate Nemtsov and Lukin once again. It is highly likely that they will be rejected again, since the majority has already labelled them as the enemy. Gennadii Zyuganov said openly on Friday: “The Duma has voted no confidence in them.”

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