Candidate lists: patterns and profiles

An overview of parties and their candidate lists for the Duma election in December: what kind of candidates have been recruited, celebrity candidates, business candidates, and a comparison of income and asset declarations submitted in 2003 and 2007.

Predictably enough, United Russia has the most candidates who represent the incumbent authorities. Its candidate lists include 65 regional leaders, over 20 mayors of regional capital cities, five Federation Council members, 192 current Duma members, about 80 members of regional parliaments, about 20 federal officials and almost 40 regional officials.

Then again, not even United Russia could manage to recruit every single regional leader in Russia: 14 of them are absent from its candidate lists. In three cases (the Penza, Saratov, and Smolensk regions) the official story is that these regional leaders are heading United Russia’s lists in regional legislature elections held simultaneously with the Duma election. As party political strategists admit, the remaining 11 regions (including Ingushetia, Karachaevo-Cherkesia, Stavropol territory, Perm territory, Volgograd region, Voronezh region, Ryazan region) are somewhat problematic for United Russia – the regional leaders are either in opposition or insufficiently authoritative.

Although Just Russia still retains the status of second Kremlin party, it hasn’t managed to recruit a single regional leader for its candidate lists. So its “steam engine” candidates are as follows: the party’s leader, Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov; three of Mironov’s fellow senators; Culture Minister Alexander Sokolov; and the mayors of Stavropol and Samara.

Just Russia also has 33 current Duma members and over 120 regional lawmakers. It’s worth noting that some of Just Russia’s candidates used to hold fairly prominent places in other Duma factions: former United Russia members Alexander Ageyev and Mikhail Yemelianov, former Communists Svetlana Goryacheva and Elena Drapeko, former LDPR members Alexei Mitrofanov and Yegor Solomatin, and former Yabloko member Sergei Popov.

The other parties clearly can’t boast of so many nationally well-known candidates or access to federal administrative resources. Consequently, the parties already represented in the Duma are relying on their tried and tested lawmakers: for example, the Communist Party (CPRF) has 40 current Duma members on its lists, the LDPR has 27, and the Patriots of Russia party has 11. The parties that don’t have factions in the present Duma can only rely on regional lawmakers of officials, or a variety of yesterday’s heroes – from former RSFSR people’s deputies Viktor Aksiuchits and Ilya Konstantinov (Social Justice Party) to former Communist Vasili Shandybin and former RSFSR prime minister Ivan Silayev (Agrarian Party). All the same, Just Russia has the greatest number of former office-holders, including ex-governors Viktor Stepanov (Karelia), Yuri Spiridonov (Komi), Valery Zubov (Krasnoyarsk territory), and Vladimir Tikhonov (Ivanovo region).

Also in demand are people who haven’t been seen in federal politics before, but are capable of attracting votes because they are celebrities in other fields. For example, the LDPR has bolstered its top three with businessman Andrei Lugovoi, accused by Britain of involvement in the murder of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko. The Civil Force candidate list has Mark Rozovsky, creative director of the Nikitsky Gates Theater in Moscow, and Maksim Kononenko, creator and author of the website. Union of Right Forces (SPS) candidates include Denis Dragunsky, son of a famous children’s author, and Alexander Byalko, legendary member of the “What? Where? When?” club. The Patriots of Russia party has actor Sergei Makhovikov, known to television audiences for his leading roles in “Blind Man” and “The Captain’s Children,” as well as Olympic long jump champion Tatiana Lebedeva.

Even parties already represented in parliament aren’t hesitating to recruit sports and entertainment celebrities for their candidate lists. Third on the CPRF list for St. Petersburg is Vladimir Bortko, who directed the movie “The Dog’s Heart” and the mini-series versions of “The Idiot” and “The Master and Margarita.” Just Russia has actors Valery Zolotukhin, Rimma Markova, and Alexander Mikhailov (Perm, Tomsk, and Chita lists respectively), as well as singers Edit Piekh and Olga Voronets (seventh and eighth on the Nizhny Novgorod list), composer Grigori Gladkov (third on one of the Moscow region lists), figure skater Elena Berezhnaya (Stavropol territory), and hockey players Viktor Tikhonov (Saratov region) and Alexander Yakushev (Moscow).

United Russia, apparently thinking of Sochi’s successful bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics, seems to have decided to concentrate on athletes. Its candidate lists include skier Yevgenia Medvedeva, biathletes Ivan Cherezov and Svetlana Ishmuratova, speed-skater Svetlana Zhurova, gymnasts Svetlana Khorkina and Alina Kabayeva, figure-skater Anton Sikharulidze (his partner, Elena Berezhnaya, is a Just Russia candidate), and runner Yuri Borzakovsky. The performing arts have only two representatives on United Russia’s lists: singer Nikolai Rastorguyev and ballet dancer Svetlana Zakharova from the Bolshoi Theater.

As usual, there are plenty of business representatives on the candidate lists; however, not all of the richest candidates are identified as businesspeople.

For example, Vladimir Artyakov’s income and asset declaration shows that his income for 2006 was higher than that of any other Duma candidate – but he appears on United Russia’s list as governor of the Samara region, not the chief executive of AvtoVAZ, even though he left AvtoVAZ to become governor as recently as August 2007. The CPRF’s richest candidate, former YUKOS co-owner Sergei Muravlenko, is identified as an ordinary member of the Duma’s natural resource committee, not as a business executive. On Just Russia’s list, despite the presence of business representatives from well-known companies in the oil, gas, and electricity sectors, the highest income is reported by Sergei Petrov (head of the little-known OOO S. Petrov company in Moscow), who made 506 million rubles in 2006.

Not counting these “rough spots,” the collection of business candidates seems much the same as usual. The business candidates for the two Kremlin parties, United Russia and Just Russia, are mostly from oil, gas, and metals corporations. The CPRF, the LDPR, and Yabloko have more candidates from small and medium-sized companies, although these candidates often downplay the fact that they are business representatives. The SPS and the Agrarian Party are relying on sector-specific business candidates – from the electricity industry and agriculture, respectively.

Six of the 11 parties in the 2007 election also took part in the Duma election of 2003. We decided to compare their latest income and asset declarations with the equivalent documents from four years ago.

The most striking revelation is that the combined incomes of United Russia’s candidates add up to a sum that is 668 million rubles less than four years ago, and their combined bank accounts are down by 4.2 billion rubles. The average income of a United Russia candidate is 41% of what it was four years ago, and the average candidate’s bank account holds only 1.3% of what it did then. This is not because United Russia has become any less popular among business candidates. The average figures were boosted in 2003 by the presence of Khazret Sovmen, president of Adygea, who declared an income of 9.4 billion rubles and bank deposits of 9.5 billion rubles. Sovmen alone accounted for 90% of United Russia candidate incomes and assets in 2003. This year, United Russia’s richest candidate (Vladimir Artyakov) reported an income of only 1.4 billion rubles in 2006; and the most substantial bank account on United Russia’s list holds 1.3 billion rubles. This accounts for the drop in the average figures for United Russia’s candidates.

What’s more, some money has been invested in real estate over the past few years; this seems sensible from a business standpoint. The total amount of land owned by United Russia’s candidates is 716 times greater than in 2003.

The CPRF, the LDPR, Yabloko, and the Agrarian Party have seen their total candidate incomes rise – mostly due to having more candidates on their lists this year; the average income of CPRF candidates has increased, while the average incomes of Agrarian Party and Yabloko candidates have fallen. A sharp rise in the incomes of LDPR candidates is worth noting: the average income for 2006 is almost eight times greater than the figure for 2002, and total candidate incomes add up to a figure 13.6 times higher.

Total candidate incomes for the SPS have dropped by 55 million rubles, and its average income has decreased by a third. The SPS can take consolation from the fact that the amount of land owned by its candidates has risen almost a thousand-fold (now higher than United Russia’s figure). The total amount of land owned by LDPR candidates is only 3.25% of what it was four years ago.

Yabloko has also seen the total bank deposits of its candidates shrink in the past four years: from 1.5 billion rubles in 2003 to 43 million rubles this year. Once again, the explanation for this comes down to an individual: in 2003, Yabloko’s candidate list included Konstantin Kagalovsky, who had 1.48 billion rubles in his bank accounts. Yabloko no longer has such a candidate. The other parties have seen their total bank deposits increase – by as much as 440% in the Agrarian Party’s case.

Average assets for the candidates of established parties – apartments, houses, cars – remain practically unchanged (overall, most parties have recorded a slight rise in prosperity as measured by these indicators). The increase in total assets is largely due to parties having more people on their candidate lists.

Social inequality seems to be gradually disappearing from the political map. In 2003, total candidate incomes for the richest party (United Russia) were 455 times greater than the total incomes of the poorest party, while this year there is only a 150-fold difference.

The total incomes for 2006 of all Duma candidates on 11 party lists add up to 14,692,302,372 rubles, or about $540 million (at 2006 exchange rates). That’s slightly more than 2006 federal budget funding for space research and exploration (12 billion rubles).

The bank accounts of all Duma candidates hold a combined total of 11,501,980,054 rubles – approximately equal to all state spending on the maintenance of the Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops personnel (200,000 people) in 2006.

Duma candidates own 3,092 plots of land with a total area of 226,115 hectares, or 2,261 square kilometers. That’s about the size of Luxembourg (2,600 square kilometers).

The 4,685 candidates own 3,752 apartments (total area: 288,526 square meters), 1,612 country houses and dacha properties (355,519 square meters), and 1,076 garages (39,688 square meters).

If all these combined indicators are divided by the total number of candidates, the income and asset profile of the average Duma candidate looks like this: a monthly income of 261,336 rubles; 2.46 million rubles in the bank; owning 48 hectares of land; living in an apartment measuring 62 square meters; vacationing at a dacha measuring 76 square meters; parking the car in a garage measuring eight square meters.

A comparison of these figures with the incomes and assets of ordinary citizens makes it safe to say that Duma candidates would pass the property census easily, and that there is no threat of any proles or homeless people being elected to the Duma.