Book Chapter

Russian Election Watch No. 7, August 4, 1995

August 4, 1995, No. 7

To help track significant developments affecting Russian elections, the Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project offers a simplified summary of recent political events, including a "betting chart." Individual''s estimates of the likelihood of Russian elections and their results are presented as numerical estimated probabilities not because anyone entertains illusions about precision, but to make the estimators state their bets as clearly as possible.

I. Estimated Probabilities of Duma Elections in December 1995

A. Individuals Likelihood Change From Last Week

Graham Allison (6/17): 80%
SDI Project

Sergei Grigoriev (7/7): 65%
SDI Project Fellow
Former Spokesman for Gorbachev

Matthew Lantz (8/4) 80%
SDI Project

B. Recent Events that Favor Parliamentary Elections:

ELECTION SET FOR DECEMBER 17TH: From his hospital bed, President Boris Yeltsin decreed the Dec. 17th election date. Political parties now have the right to hold meetings, to nominate candidates, and to collect the 200,000 signatures necessary for registration (due 50 days before the election). It remains undetermined if the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, will also hold elections. The announcement for the election was not in itself unexpected, but the fact it came a month earlier than necessary by law surprised some. (omri 7/17/95)

PARTY LEADERS'' REACTION TO SETTING OF ELECTIONS: Yegor Gaidar (Russia''s Democratic Choice): The edict makes the situation more comprehensible and predictable; Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal Democratic Party): We are happy the constitution works; Mikhail Lapshin (Agrarian Party): In 1993 we won a beachhead, and there are grounds for hoping to broaden it; Ivan Rybkin (Duma Speaker, Rybkin Bloc): This will stop the rumors elections will not be held. (Segodnya, 7/15/95)

PARTY SPENDING CAPS PLANNED: According to the Justice Ministry, 259 political parties currently have the right to participate in elections. Parties can spend no more than Rb4.37 billion ($950,000) during the course of the campaign, according to a draft by the Central Election Commission (CEC). Parties also cannot accept foreign contributions, although no mechanism exists to prevent transfers from abroad. (omri 7/27)

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES ELECTION LEGISLATION: With the minimum 90 members present, the upper house approved having future members elected. Candidates will be nominated by local executive and legislative branches. Vladimir Shumeiko, the leader of the Council, has promised Yeltsin will veto the law because the Russian constitution describes the upper house as being formed, not elected. The case may go to the Constitutional Court. (omri 7/28/95)

C. Recent Events That Raise Doubts About Parliamentary Elections:

REDISTRICTING DISPUTE CONTINUES: Although the Duma approved the boundary legislation on July 14, the Federation Council rejected it on July 21st. The parliament may need a special session to pass the legislation by the required deadline of August 31st. If the parliament does not pass the legislation, the CEC claims it will use the old 1993 boundaries. The boundary legislation is proving problematic for political parties that planned to hold party congresses in August to name candidates for regions and to form party lists. The Communists, Yabloko, and New Regional Policy Groups are attempting to call a special session of the Duma for August 11 to override the Federation Council veto with 300 votes. They could also try to pass another law which after two weeks would be sent directly to the president, since the Federation Council is on recess. The groups fear if the law is not passed, Yeltsin will declare the December elections invalid if he is unhappy with the results. (omri 7/27/95, 8/1/95, 8/3/95)

ALEXANDER SOBYANIN ON FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS AND THE CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION: Sobyanin, an expert on Russian political foundations and a former member of the CEC, says local electoral commissions charged with running the December election will be controlled by the local executive branches. Local executives record elections returns in pencil and erase undesirable figures when precinct reports are tabulated. The fixing does not occur at polling stations because of observers present. The CEC is controlled by Yeltsin, even though the Duma and Federation Council are represented on it. The CEC only rubber stamps the results it receives and does not check the precinct reports. (omri 7/14/95)

IZVESTIA ON PROBLEMS WITH CAMPAIGN FINANCING: Article on August 1 claims election law encourages wealthy candidates to engage in deceptive practices by setting the maximum amount of money that can be spent on his/her own campaign too low. Limit is 1000 times the monthly wage or Rb43.7 million ($9732). No spending caps exist, however, on the most expensive part of a campaign; gathering signatures, where individuals must collect 5000 and blocs must collect 200,000. (omri 8/2/95)

CONTROVERSIAL CEC PROPOSAL TO RESTRICT CAMPAIGN COVERAGE: Proposal would allow only state-owned radio and TV to devote air time to campaign related appearances or commercials. After November 15, they could offer free air time to campaigns and accept political advertisements. Private media sources, such as NTV and Russian Public TV (ORT) would be prohibited from broadcasting political advertisement of any kind. The proposal has been criticized by all media including, Anatoly Lysenko, head of the state-run Russian TV claiming, "such restrictions would lead to an official and unofficial campaign." (omri 8/3/95)

II. Estimated Probabilities of Presidential Elections in June

A. Individual Likelihood Change From Last Week

Graham Allison 55%
Sergei Grigoriev 60%
Matthew Lantz 50%

B. New Evidence:

GEORGY SATAROV, MEMBER OF PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL AND ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR LIAISON WITH PARLIAMENT ON YELTSIN AND ELECTIONS: "Boris Nikolayevich is free not to contest the elections, but as far as his aides are concerned, work for the future is needed. In any event, this work will be done just the same." Satarov refused to reveal what was being done for the presidential election campaign and claimed no competition existed between Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin, but refused to name Chernomyrdin as Yeltsin''s designated successor. Satarov is concerned about ballot rigging. President Yeltsin plans a whole series of meetings on the subject of how the upcoming elections should proceed. (Segodnya, 7/15/95)

III. If Duma Elections are Held in December, What are the Likely Outcomes?

A. Individuals

Sergei Grigoriev Matthew Lantz
CP-RF 20% CP-RF 22%
Cherno 15% Agparty 13%
Yabloko 15% Cherno 12%
Com/Nat. Coalition Lebed 12%
(RKO, DPR) 13% Yabloko 10%
Agparty 12% LDPR 9%
Rybkin 8% RChoice 6%
Women of R 7% Women of R 6%
LDPR 5% Rybkin 5%
RChoice 5% Nationalists 5%

B. New Evidence:

UPDATE ON FORMATION OF RYBKIN BLOC: The center-left bloc has been formed without the Agrarian party. The coalition includes around 50 small parties, none of which are currently in the Duma. It plans to hold its founding congress by August 20. Previous attempts at a congress had to be delayed "to think things over." The draft agreement for the "voting association" states the parties "are guided by a critical attitude toward the socio-economic reforms underway in the country and strive to propose to the people a constructive program for emerging from the crisis...rejecting both attempts to turn the country''s development back and the liberal experimentation paid for by the pauperization of millions of countrymen." The bloc, led by Rybkin seeks to be a foundation for a "mighty political center." Boris Gromov, a general has joined the bloc. (Segodnya, 7/12, 7/21/95, 7/25/95, omri 7/24/95)

INSIDE OUR HOME IS RUSSIA (ROH), ALEXANDER SHOKIN INTERVIEW: "We are racking our brains over how to more effectively campaign for these seats...I do not like that ROH is perceived by the public as the party of power." Says ROH program will differ from government''s because party needs to reach a broader base and must plan for the longer term. Party will have stronger emphasis on the state role in the economy and accumulating capital. It also will stress seeing rules of the political game are observed. (Obshchaya Gazeta 7/12/95)

CHERNOMYRDIN CAMPAIGNING IN SIBERIA FOR OUR HOME IS RUSSIA AGAINST FAR RIGHT: In Yakutsk, the Prime Minister stated the rise of the far right must be stopped in the December 17th election. "One must not stand aside when the far right is thriving in the country...Some already say they will come to power and square accounts with those who are coordinating the country''s policies now." (Boston Globe, 7/16/95)


YURI SKOKOV AND ALEXANDER LEBED CAMPAIGN IN ST. PETERSBURG FOR CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNITIES PARTY (RKO): The two top men for the RKO appeared harmonious. They stated they would concentrate on the upcoming parliamentary election over future presidential elections. They also expected attempts to alter the vote, as occurred in 1993. Hope to gain 15-20% of the vote, or at least as much as Our Home is Russia. Feel Chernomyrdin''s Bloc will not gain more than 7-8% of the vote without illegal CEC help. (Kommersant Daily, 7/20/95)

YEGOR GAIDAR RENEWS CALL FOR DEMOCRATIC UNITY: Responding to an Izvestia article where Grigory Yavlinksy argued disunity among democratic forces is not a tragedy, Gaidar claimed differences in the democratic camp should be set aside until more fundamental issues are resolved, such as will there be a market, private property, and democracy. (omri 7/20/95)

RUSSIA''S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE STARTS FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN: Gaidar''s party sent out a letter to several hundred government and private organizations. The letter offers a sliding scale of access to the party for potential supporters. When donating 10 million roubles ($2200), one receives information on party progress; when donating 500 million roubles ($110,000) the donor will earn a meeting with party officials to discuss forms of competition. (omri 7/26/69)

UNITED COMMUNISTS? Several Communist parties are attempting to form an united Communist bloc for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The bloc would be called "Communists of Russia", claims the First Secretary of the Russian Communist Worker''s Party, Viktor Tyulkin. However, the largest Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov''s Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CP-RF) has not joined fearing uniting with the left-wing Communist parties would cost centrist votes. (omri 7/27/95)

AGRARIANS SHIFT RELATIONS TOWARD GOVERNMENT: The traditional appeasement policy has given way to a more aggressive policy of active deterrence. Leaders of the party are becoming increasingly anti-government. Typically within the party all high posts have been invulnerable, as long as the leaders tow the party-line dominated by the collective farm chiefs. However, with the approaching elections, a new wave of Agrarian politicians, led by Nikolai Kharitonov, are endorsing a tough manner of political leadership and reluctance to compromise with the government for economic concessions. (Kommersant Daily, 7/11/95)

SERGEI BABURIN''S NATIONALIST "RUSSIA''S PEOPLE''S UNION" (RPU) INVITES NIKOLAI RYZHKOV TO LEAD FEDERAL LIST IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS: Ryzhkov headed the USSR government under Gorbachev. Baburin gave up his first spot on the list "in the name of the unity of patriotic and leftist forces" in elections. Other patriotic blocks have joined the alliance. (Kommersant Daily 7/14/95, omri 7/19/95)

IV. If June Presidential Elections. What Outcome?

A. Individuals

Graham Allison Matthew Lantz Sergei Grigoriev

Yeltsin 25% Cherno 30% Lebed 25-30%
Cherno 20% Lebed 18% Cherno 20%
Rybkin 10% Yeltsin 15% Yavlinksy 15%
Yavlinsky 10% Yavlinsky 14% Ryzhkokv 10%
Lebed 10% Zhirinovsky 6% Yeltsin 10%
Other 25% Zyuganov 5% Zyuganov 8%
Rybkin 3% Zhirinovsky 5%
Luzhkov 3%
Other 6%

V. Poll Results For Elections.

Interfax reports on July 17, 1995 the results of a telephone opinion poll of 1000 residents of southern and southwestern districts of Moscow conducted by the Russian Constitutional Reforms Fund. Results state if elections held today, only 6 parties would clear the 5% hurdle:

Yabloko 12%
Russia''s Democratic Choice 9%
Party of Worker''s Self Government 7%
(Eye Surgeon Svyatoslav Fedorov''s Bloc)
Women of Russia 5.7%
LDPR 5.4%
Our Home Is Russia 5.4%
Dem. Party of Russia 4.8%
CP-RF 4.5%
Forward Russia (B. Fedorov) 4.5%

(Lack of strong showing by Communists shows this is an urban poll and
should not be assumed to represent the entire country.)

Presidential Candidates:

Yuri Luzhkov (Mayor of Moscow) 17.9%
Svyatoslav Fedorov (eye surgeon) 13.6%
General Alexander Lebed 11.9%
Grigory Yavlinsky 10.8%
Viktor Chernomyrdin 8.0%

Ratio between those who are trusted and those who are not

+15.5 S. Fedorov
+ 7.1 A. Lebed
- 4.5 G. Yavlinsky
- 11 V. Chernomyrdin
- 29.9 Sergei Kovalyev (Human Rights Monitor)
- 36.4 Y. Gaidar
- 38.5 Ivan Rybkin (Duma Speaker)

Moscow News predicts elections in July 7-13 issue. Breaks blocs into four
large groups:


Electorate: in large cities, intellegensia, employees in private sector, educated, young.
Prediction: Max. 20% of Duma; 70-80 seats, max. of 100 seats

Parties: Yabloko: max. 10%, will not ally with others. Strength: Parliamentary elections step toward the presidential elections. Weakness: few regional organizations or candidates.

Forward Russia!: Fedorov''s party; unlikely to clear 5%. Populist party plays on offended sympathies, "one actor theater," practically no apparat or team.
Russia''s Democratic Choice: 25 seats, declining electorate, list of "formers," role in next Duma diminished to that of current DPR, or PRES.


Electorate: Large and small cities, intellectuals and skilled workers, 30-49 years old.

Prediction: Max. 25% of Duma 100-200 seats, but divided between variety of candidates from Lebed to Chernomyrdin. Strength is in districts.

Parties: Unclear who will clear 5% hurdle, perhaps Democratic Party of Russia, Women of Russia, or the Realists.

Government Center (Chernomyrdin and Rybkin blocs): Unknown future, it is unlikely the premier and speaker''s blocs will get into the Duma at the same time, because of a small electorate.


Electorate: embraces small towns, country-side, some cities, workers, farmers, Central Black Earth Region, 50+ years old.

Prediction: 15-20% of Duma. Total of 110-120 mandates.

Parties: CP-RF: Could greatly increase position. Important
because no significant Presidential candidate. Could get 1/5 of seats, 45 from mandate and another 20-30 from the districts.

Agrarian Party: Will decrease from 1993. Will
clear 5%. Likely 20 list seats and 25 districts.


Electorate: small, middle-size towns, workers, military, 30-50
years old.

Prediction: 15-20% of Duma, 40-45 mandates plus 10-15 from districts, with some 20 radicals from districts, as well.

Parties: LDPR: Zhirinovsky will get at least 10% of the vote.
Will get present numbers or up.

Rutskoi: Will clear 5% and could get as much as

Moskovskaya Pravda on July 25th reports poll taken on July 19/20 by Express Sociological Services of 786 Muscovites over the phone. Results showed that most people support December elections and more people than previously are preparing to vote in them.

"Do you think it wise to extend the powers of the Russian parliament for further two

Feb. 1995 July 1995
Yes 17% 13%
No 64% 71%
Undecided 19% 16%

"If election takes place on the date determined by the Constitution, would you

Feb. 1995 July 1995
Yes 38% 49%
No 27% 20%
Undecided 35% 31%

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: SDI Staff. “Russian Election Watch No. 7, August 4, 1995.” .