Many Russian Parties Are called

THE RUSSIAN VOTE

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

THIRTEEN parties, many actually blocs of several parties and movements, have been officially registered to compete in the Dec. 12 elections for Russia's Federal Assembly, the new two-chamber parliament. The most likely to gain seats, listed in rough ideological order from supporters of liberal reforms to their opponents, are: Russia's Choice

The strongest, best known and most pro-government of the electoral blocs, Russia's Choice is an alliance of seven political organizations. At its core are two groups - Democratic Russia, created in 1990 as the leading pro-democracy force in Russia, and Russia's Choice, organized this year by Yegor Gaidar, the architect of the government's market reforms.

The Russia's Choice leadership and candidate list includes eight Cabinet members, among them Deputy Premier and head of the privatization effort Anatoly Chubais, Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, and aide to President Boris Yeltsin, Gennady Burbulis.

Recommended: Pope-Putin visit: Is church détente in the works?

Russia's Choice is considered the closest to President Yeltsin although he has not endorsed any party. It is well-financed by entrepreneurs and commercial banks and has received extensive favorable coverage on the state-run broadcast media. Its base of support is strongest in major urban areas, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, where reforms have had the most visible impact.

Russia's Choice stands for accelerating the existing reform process, more rapid privatization, and tougher anti-inflation measures. It supports a strong state, less sovereignty for Russia's regions, and endorses the new draft constitution.

Basically pro-Western in foreign policy orientation, it also seeks a more assertive Russian stance, particularly toward the former Soviet republics. Yavlinsky-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc

Formed only after the announcement of elections, this bloc is led by economist Grigory Yavlinsky, the author of the 500-day plan for market reforms in 1990. After Yeltsin decided to appoint Gaidar, rather than Mr. Yavlinsky, as his prime minister in the fall of 1991, Yavlinsky became a critic of Russian government reform policies, though from a pro-market stance.

The bloc has gained a significant following in a short period of time, favored by those who back market and democratic reforms but who are looking for an alternative to the government and Deputy Premier Gaidar.

The bloc has the participation of two smaller reformist parties, the Republic Party of Russia and the Social Democratic Party of Russia. But it is most identified with its leaders who include Yuri Boldyrev, a young St. Petersburg radical who quit a position as head of the anticorruption office of the Yeltsin government in protest, and Vladimir Lukin, the former head of the parliament's committee on foreign affairs and current Russian ambassador to Washington. Mr. Lukin advocates a moderate nationalist stance and is critical of Foreign Minister Kozyrev for being too obsequious toward the United States.

Yavlinsky previously advocated the preservation of the Soviet Union and now supports a close economic union utilizing the single ruble currency. He has criticized the Gaidar reforms, stressing priority on privatization and a slower change in the state economic structure ahead of tough anti-inflation measures. He promises a less painful path to the market economy and is critical of the draft constitution for putting too much power in the hands of the president. Russian Movement for Democratic Reforms

The movement began in the summer of 1991 as an organization uniting reformist elements in the Soviet Communist Party, including such figures as Alexander Yakovlev, Eduard Shevardnadze, and Arkady Volsky. Diminished in size and influence, it remains a platform for several pro-reform figures from that era, including former Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov and St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak.

The movement basically supports Yeltsin's reforms, backing a rapid shift to a market economy and the emergent entrepreneurial class. Mr. Popov has favored a strong central government and abolishing the republics within the Russian Federation. Mr. Sobchak, a lawyer, was a prominent figure in drafting the new constitution. Party of Russian Unity and Concord

Created and led by Deputy Premier Sergei Shakhrai, the Party of Russian Unity claims to stand for Russia's regional governments as well as the government's more conservative wing, best represented by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Mr. Shakhrai, the president's chief legal adviser, is a key architect of Yeltsin's policy toward nationalities and the future of Russia's federal structure.

Other key figures in the party list include Deputy Premier Alexander Shokhin, who is in charge of foreign economic policy and advocates a more protectionist policy as well as forcing former Soviet republics to follow Russia's lead, and presidential adviser Sergei Stankevich, a prominent advocate of a more assertive nationalist foreign policy.

The party has sought support in regions and in the ethnic-based republics. It is a potential partner in a coalition government with Russia's Choice and other pro-reform parties.

Party propaganda has stressed Russian national pride and social conservatism as major themes. It seeks to distinguish itself from Russia's Choice by backing a more gradual approach to reforms and more support for state-run industry. Civic Union

This group originally formed in 1992 as a coalition of the Democratic Party of Russia, the People's Party of Free Russia headed by Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The Civic Union is now largely reduced to the Industrialists Union, an organization consisting mainly of directors of large state-run industry led by Arkady Volsky.

Civic Union has backing from many enterprise directors but it has shown little ability to generate popular support, despite buying a large amount of time on television for its election campaign broadcasts.

Civic Union supports the market transition but strongly opposes the government's ``shock therapy'' policies. It seeks to slow privatization, ensure a flow of credits to state-run industry, protect domestic producers against foreign competition and index wages and prices. Civic Union seeks to re-establish the Soviet Union, in some ``voluntary'' form, moving immediately to a close economic federation. Democratic Party of Russia

Anticommunist Nikolai Travkin organized this party in 1990, as one of the first new political parties formed in Russia. Originally part of the Democratic Russia movement, it left because of opposition to dissolution of the Soviet Union and later joined the more conservative Civic Union, which it left earlier this year to disassociate itself from Mr. Rutskoi's anti-Yeltsin stance.

The Democratic Party has a strong network of regional party organizations, due to its relatively long existence and inner discipline, but no clear ideological identity. It supports private property and the market but attacks the current reforms for liberalizing prices under conditions of a state monopoly over most production. It calls generally for restoration of state regulation and for defense of the living standards of average Russians.

The party harshly attacks Yeltsin and his constitution, accusing him of promoting personal dictatorship. Agrarian Party

The party is the outgrowth of the Agrarian Union, a parliamentary grouping consisting of heads of collective and state farms and state agro-industry. It has a strong base in Russia's still-largely collectivized rural sector.

The Agrarian Union was a key part of Russian Unity, the banned anti-Yeltsin bloc in the former parliament. Many members of that group and the banned nationalist National Salvation Front are running under the Agrarian Party banner. It is also very closely identified in membership and program with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

The party calls for massive state support for agriculture. While acknowledging the right for private property to exist, it favors preservation of collective farms and criticizes Yeltsin's decree on land privatization. It opposes Yeltsin's economic reforms. Communist Party of the Russian Federation

The largest and most moderate of the various Communist groups that emerged as successors to the banned Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Formed in 1993 as a united grouping of several communist organizations, it is led by Gennady Zyuganov, who has a more nationalist approach and was a leader of the National Salvation Front.

The Communists were part of the anti-Yeltsin bloc in the former parliament but were not involved in the armed resistance in October. Initially banned after those events, it was allowed to resume participation in the elections.

The Communists back a mixed economy, a reformed socialism that would include some forms of private ownership. They strongly oppose the current market reforms. They lament the demise of the Soviet Union and advocate a return to some form of union. The Party accuses Yeltsin of preparing a dicatorship and calls for rejection of his constitution. Liberal Democratic Party of Russia

The most extremist party in the election, the LDP is the creation of neo-fascist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who won 6 million votes in the 1991 Russian presidential race. Mr. Zhirinovsky claims to be an anticommunist and vaguely in favor of a market economy.

But his main appeal is Russian nationalism, calling for restoration of the Russian Empire, the protection of Russians living in former Soviet republics, and return of Russia as a superpower. He has toned down some of his rhetoric for his well-financed campaign and is an effective campaigner on television.

While close to the communist and nationalist parties, Zhirinovsky has also carved out his own stance. He supports the Yeltsin constitution, saying he is in favor of a strong presidential system, and supported the dissolution of the former parliament.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...