June 6, 1996

June 6, 1996 | FYI on

Who's Who in the Russian Presidential Elections

(Archived document, may contain errors)

No. 107 June 6, 1996


By Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Senior Policy Analyst


On June 16, Russian voters across I I time zones will vote for their next president. This will be a hard choice. The decision Russians will make is not only about the personalities of the candidates. It also is about what direction Russia will take in domestic and international policy. At stake is noth ing less than whether there will be continued cooperation or renewed conflict between Russia and the West.

Boris Yeltsin, the incumbent, presided over the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union but now faces a resurgent Communist Party calling for the restoration of the Soviet Union. Yeltsin's op ponent is Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Communist Party. Yeltsin was trailing Zyuganov in the polls until midMay, but now they are running neckandneck, with each candidate receiving a 28 30 percent approval rating. There are other contenders in the presidential election as well: for example, liberal economist Grigory Yavlinsky, the most proreforin and proWestern of all the candidates, including Yeltsin; na tionalist General Alexander Lebed; neofascist Vladimir Zhirinovsky; and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The freemarket, democratic alternative personified by Yavlinsky remains weak. He is expected to receive only 8 10 percent of the vote. While surprises are always possible, the race appears to have come down to a choice between Boris Yeltsin and Gennady Zyuganov. Yeltsin's record has been marred by the unsuccessful war in the breakaway republic of Chechnya and the skyrocketing levels of crime and corruption, while communist turned nationalist Gennady Zyuganov has been compared to a Russian Slobodan Milosevic armed with nuclear weapons. I With almost onethird of the voters still undecided and popular discontent with Russia's current situation so widespread, it will be difficult, though not impossible, for Yeltsin to win.

I Alexander Yanov, Weimar Russia and What Can We Do About It (New York, N.Y.: Slovo/WoTd, 1995).

Electoral Behavior. According to recent polls, over 70 percent of the Russian people blame Boris Yeltsin for their difficult economic situation; 92 percent consider their economy to be in "bad" or "critical" condition.2 In a poll taken in January 1996, 56 percent of the respondents said Yeltsin should resign immediately. This distress is understandable. While privatization has occurred, the main beneficiaries have been the old communist elite and the criminal element. With the rule of law conspicuously absent, Russian society has fallen prey to an unprecedented wave of crime and corruption. Many in the elec torate believe that the situation is Yeltsin's fault, and so are attracted to the communists. IndeedA over 50 percent of those polled indicated that they would not fear a Communist Party takeover. In fact, many see the communists as the only party capable of providing a social safety net and safe 4 guards against rampant crime. The elderly, who make up Russia's most active voting bloc, are staunchly procommunist, nostal gic for a mythic Soviet past, and opposed to reforms by a margin of two to one. By contrast, young voters under 30 years old tend to be proreform, but their support for Yeltsin is soft, and their turn out is expected to be low. Election Mechanics. Russian law allows anyone who registers and collects one million signa tures to run for president. The Central Electoral Commission (CEC), nominated jointly by both houses of the Russian parliament and the president, approves the signatures and certifies the candi dates as eligible to run. In 1996, 42 candidates threw their hats in the ring, and I I were approved by the CEC. A voter turnout below 50 percent would invalidate the election, in which case Yeltsin would remain in office and new elections would have to be scheduled within three months. Russian elections are conducted by paper ballot: preprinted sheets of paper on which voters check off the names of their preferred candidates. The results are aggregated by local and regional electoral commissions and then transferred electronically to a central computer run by the CEC. Re portedly, the security service in charge of electronic communications (known by the Russian acro nym FAPSI) is in charge of the data processing. It is controlled by the Yeltsin administration, a fact which raises some questions concerning the reliability of the vote count. In the runoff, scheduled for 15 days after the results of the first round are counted if no candidate wins a clear majority, the two top candidates will face each other. Presumably, they will be Boris Yeltsin and Gennady Zyuganov. Currently, Yeltsin is slowly pulling ahead of his formidable rival.


At 65 years of age, Boris Yeltsin has all the advantages and handicaps of incumbency. While he is blamed for falling living standards and other social ills, he is also a known quantity and a guarantor of stability. Despite his communist roots, Yeltsin has cast himself as an anticommunist during this campaign. 5 Certain sectors of Russian society, especially the business elite and intellectuals, fear a r, n mmuri * st restoration and prefer Yeltsin as the lesser of two evils. Yeltsin is particularly strong with urban, educated voters under 35 years old and with the business community.

2 Professor Richard Rose, Centre for the Study of Public Policy, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, presentation at International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Washington, D.C., April 24, 1996. 3 Ibid. 4 See Ariel Cohen, "Crime and Corruption in Russia and Eurasia: A Tbreat to Democracy and International Security," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1025, March 17, 1995. 5 Yeltsin was first secretary of the Sverdlovsk regional party committee, first secretary of the Moscow city party committee, and a nonvoting member of the Politburo under Mikhail Gorbachev.

But Yeltsin's anticornmunist claims are somewhat disingenuous. The survivors in his administra tion are former party apparatchiks or communist industrial managers, including hardline chief of staff Nikolay Yegorov, Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, and many others. Radical reformers have not fared nearly as well. Over the past four years, they have been forced out of the Yeltsin government, and Sovietera nomenklatura now oc cupy most of the key posts. This phenomenon was epitomized by the nomination of the hardline Russian Foreign Intelligence Service chief, Yevgenii Primakov, to the post of Foreign Minister in the fall of 1995. Primakov spent a lifetime in the Soviet foreign intelligence service, becoming one of Leonid Brezhnev's top Middle Eastern policyrnakers. He has personal ties to the Islamic funda mentalist regime in Tehran, as well as to both Iraq's Saddarn Hussein and Libya's Muammar Qad hafi. Yeltsin increasingly has adopted old communist symbols as a way to take votes away from Zyuganov. For example, he gave an order to have the old red banners flown during the most recent celebration of VE day on May 9. Moreover, surrounded by generals, he delivered a speech from the podium on top of Lenin's mausoleum and addressed the veterans as "comrades." He has become more favorably disposed to the idea of interfering in the Russian "near abroad." Indeed, Russian troops are stationed in Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, and TaJikistan, and Russia is pursuing an ambitious policy of integrating the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the loose con federation formed upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 199 1. This integration includes coop eration between the former KGB security services as well as among border guard troops, joint air defenses, and farreaching economic policy coordination. Yeltsin has brought in a number of leading politicians, including some democrats, to work on his campaign. His former chief of staff, Sergei Filatov, former First Deputy Prime Minister and archi tect of privatization Anatoly Chubais, and Independence Television (NTV) Executive Director Vic tor Malashenko are among the leading Russian liberals working for him. Former acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar has endorsed Yeltsin, despite their bitter disagreements over the war in Chechnya. In addition to the pitfalls faced by any incumbent, Yeltsin has made several mistakes that have come to haunt him. First, he still has not ended the fighting in Chechnya, despite the recent cease fire which may or may not hold. Even if Chechnya remains a part of the Russian Federation, the high casualty figures (over 30,000 dead and more than 400,000 refugees) and the sheer brutality of the war will dog Yeltsin throughout the election. 6 Yeltsin's Defense Minister, Pavel Grachev, is extremely unpopular not only inside the Russian armed forces, but with the general population as well. He is held responsible for the abysmal per formance of the Russian military in Chechnya and for the widespread and growing corruption. Gra chev is famous for his opulent lifestyle and goes by the nickname "Pashka the Mercedes." Reformers want to replace Grachev with a civilian, but they have been thwarted by military leaders who resist both civilian control of the armed forces and overdue reforms of the bloated and rusty Russian war machine. Yeltsin apparently either prefers to stick with the loyal and controllable Gra chev or is incapable of finding a suitable replacement. One of Yeltsin's biggest political failures has been his refusal to create a political party of his own. The 500,000strong communists are the leading political force in the country, beating the Yelt sin campaign in grassroots organizing, turnoutthevote tactics, and preelection meetings. Yeltsin controls the electronic media and the state budget. Everywhere he goes, he promises state subsidies

6 The war may cost Yeltsin the support of young voters, who refuse increasingly to fight in Chechnya and hope that Zyuganov will stop the war. for enterprises and other wouldbe constituencies. But most Russian voters are fed up with his prom ises. Lacking a political base outside of government, Yeltsin may discoveras Central and East European reform governments already havethat controlling the media is no guarantee of victory. Rampant crime and corruption continue to plague Yeltsin's presidency. He could use a crime fighter in a prominent position, such as head of the Ministry of the Interior (MVD) or head of the In ternal Security Services (FSB). Instead, the current Minister of the Interior, who is in charge of the police, is known more for opposing privatization and denouncing foreigners than for combating crime. General Mikhail Barsukov, Director of the FSB and Yeltsin's confidante, has lately em barked on a spycatching mission, hurting Russia's relations with the West in the process. His latest &$success" was uncovering an alleged British spy ring. Yet the arrest may have been little more than a coverup for Russian organized crime outfits supplying the Irish Republican Army (IRA) with weapons, and possibly with nuclear materials.7 Yeltsin's lack of leadership in the war on crime has been a great handicap, raising serious questions about the extent of corruption in his administration.

GENNADY ZYUGANOV: THE COMMUNIST CHALLENGER Yeltsin's main challenger is Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov.8 The 52yearold Zyuganov is a quintessential Communist Party apparatchik who rose steadily through the ranks of the Soviet power structure, only to have it destroyed by Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika. Zyuganov believes in the imminent collapse of Western civilization. He refers to the West as "ul tramaterialist, selfish and spiritless" and regards the reforms of the 1980s as the greatest treason executed against Russia by Western intelligence agencies and their agents in Russia (the reformers). He also has condemned both former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin as trai tors.

Zyuganov deeply distrusts the West and is preoccupied with restoring Russia's "old glory." He ar ticulates the frustration of those who see Russia as a wounded superpower betrayed by its leadership and relegated by scheming adversaries to the sidelines of history. Parallels between preHitler Ger many, which had just lost World War I, and Russia, which was defeated in the Cold War, are too ob vious to be ignored.9 Russian communists and nationalists, like the German Nazis before them, are appealing to the sort of militant and xenophobic nationalism that leads inevitably to disastrous mili tary adventures. Zyuganov has revised communist ideology, making it more nationalistic and imperialistic than in the Soviet era. He offers an ideolog to fill the spiritual void left by the collapse of the USSR something Yeltsin has failed to do. But Zyuganov's message is poisonous. He speaks and writes about aWestern conspiracy, led by the U.S. and aimed at destroying first the Soviet Union and then Russia. As Zyuganov tells it, Gorbachev and Yeltsin are traitors, and the U.S. is the embodiment of all that is evil in the world; corrupt and materialistic, the U.S. and the West are doomed. At the same time, however, Zyuganov and his aides talk about the need for trade and investment with the West, and Zyuganov touts himself as a pragmatic, even probusiness Russian leader when speaking to Westerners. Like Lenin, Stalin, and Brezhnev before him, Zyuganov talks the tough antiWestern line at home but tries to portray himself as an innocuous reformer interested in Western investment when talking to Western audiences.

7 Terence Nelan, "Ibe Plot Thickens," Time Daily, May 13, 1996, CompuServe. 8 For a detailed profile of Zyuganov, see Evguenii S. Volk, "Who Are You, Comrade Zyuganov?" Heritage Foundation F. YL No. 108, June 6, 1996. 9 Yanov, Weimar Russia. 10 David Remnick, "Hammer, Sickle, and Book," The New York Review of Books, May 23, 1996, p. 46. Flirting with God. In their attempt to build a broad nationalistcommunist coalition, the "new" communists have even dropped the traditional atheism from their party's platform. Today, an open believer can be a member of the party, but only if he is a member of "the three Russian traditional denominations"Orthodoxy, Islam, or Buddhism. This newly professed religious tolerance does not apply to Protestants, Catholics, or Jews, however, despite their deep roots in Russia. According to the communistsponsored draft law on religion (vetoed previously by President Yeltsin), these mi nority denominations would become subject to severe regulation by the state. Unchecked, the com munists conceivably could move to ban Westernbased Protestant denominations outright. In order to steal religion's thunder, Zyuganov has announced that the socialist ideas he espouses are grounded in the 2,000yearold Christian tradition and have deep roots in the Russian Orthodox Church. While not personally charismatic, Zyuganov is a master tactician whose organizational skills have won grudging praise from his opponents. He organized the resurgence of the Communist Party after the blow it suffered in the 1991 coup. He won in court against proceedings initiated by the Yeltsin administration to ban the party in 1993 and then led the party to electoral victory in the Duma elec tions of December 1995. Zyuganov also is credited with building a broad coalition with the national ists for the 1996 presidential elections. The Communist Party has the strongest organization in Russia. No one, including President Yelt sin, can match its network of political hacks, propagandists, union organizers, and influence ped dlers. The party enjoys unparalleled popularity in the cashstarved military, obsolete heavy industry, and inefficient agricultural sectors and has largely restored its network of grassroots cells in facto ries, schools, universities, and government offices. As in Soviet times, membership is by coopta tion only, and three recommendations from party members in good standing are needed in order to join. Thus, the party is not a mass political movement in the Western sense. Zyuganov is considered a moderate by Communist Party standards, and there are many, both within and outside the party, who are more hardline than he. Some of these allies, such as Viktor Anpilov, head of the MarxistLeninist "Labor Russia" movement, support Zyuganov only on condi tion that he drop any kind of social democratic rhetoric. Anpilov believes in shooting and jailing po litical opponents and is vitriolic in his denunciations of the West. In the future, Zyuganov may be challenged and replaced by a more orthodox communist; he also could be challenged successfully by such other contenders as Valentian Kuptsov, former chairman and current number two figure in the party, or Duma Chairman Gennady Seleznev. While Yeltsin and Zyuganov most probably will remain the two frontrunners for the presidency, three other candidates could break into the second round of elections. If Yeltsin stumblesfor ex ample, if he is incapacitated or there is a major terrorist event, possibly triggered by the war in Chechnyaone of the following candidates could appeal to Russian voters and cut Yeltsin out of the runoff elections.


Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of "Yabloko," a reformist party with social democratic leanings and the only freemarket party left in the Duma, is projected to receive about 10 percent of the popu lar vote in the first round of the upcoming elections. His supporters are those who did not gain prop erty or power in the economic reform but still have anticommunist, profree market, and democratic convictions. His core support is in large cities, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, among students, the intelligentsia, and some entrepreneurs. Yavlinsky rose to prominence by attack ing former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar and President Yeltsin for mistakes committed during the implementation of economic reforms, although today he admits that Gaidar's reforms were "mostly correct." He is the author of the reformist 500day program, which was rejected by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 and never implemented. Born in Lviv, Ukraine, and 44 years old, Yavlinsky is the most Westernized of all the presidential candidates. He speaks English well and has a longstanding academic relationship with Harvard Uni versity's Kennedy School of Government. Western freemarket economists sometimes consider his policies too Keynesian and inflationary, and many of the policies he advocates, such as raising pen sions and salaries in the state sector, could lead to increased public spending and inflation if imple mented. Yavlinsky strongly opposes the war in Chechnya, and his criticism of Yeltsin's policies in Chech nya have split traditional democratic reformers. Those who support the war, such as former Finance Minister Boris Fedorov, also support Boris Yeltsin; those who oppose the warfor example, An drey Sakharov's widow Elena Bonner and Yeltsin's former Human Rights Commissioner, Sergei A. Kovalevsupport Yavlinsky. Yavlinsky criticizes the Yeltsin administration for violating human rights (especially in the Chechen conflict), allowing corruption to spread, and neglecting the rule of law. He also favors full economic integration of the Commonwealth of Independent States under the aegis of Russia. Such a merger would include a common market of goods, services, and labor, and possibly a single currency. At the same time, however, Yavlinsky recognizes the need for these countries to preserve their independence. Yavlinsky lacks a strong party machine, is a poor campaigner, and has largely run out of funds. In addition, many in the democratic camp have not forgiven his vitriolic attacks on former Yeltsin Prime Minister and democrat Yegor Gaidar. Today, it does not appear that Yavlinsky can beat either Yeltsin or Zyuganov in the first round of elections; therefore, he is unlikely to be a strong chal lenger in the second round. Yeltsin and Yavlinsky have conducted negotiations that could lead to Yavlinsky's withdrawing his candidacy in favor of Yeltsin, but these talks so far have been inconclusive. Yeltsin, hoping to re ceive several million of Yavlinsky's votes, has stated that, if reelected he would offer Yavlinsky the post of First Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic reform. 12 This post, formerly occu pied by the dynamic Anatoly Chubais, is occupied currently by industrialist Vladimir Kadannikov, who lacks strong credentials as a reformer. Yavlinsky is holding out, hoping for a strong showing in the first round of the elections, and possibly that he will be offered the post of Prime Minister if Yeltsin's position seems desperate enough. As his price for supporting Yeltsin for president, Yavlin sky also is demanding an end to the war in Chechnya and the firing of some the hardliners in the current administration.

Yavlinsky could win in his campaign dealings with Yeltsin, or he could destroy his political fu ture and reputation. If his demands are accepted, and if he can secure some guarantees that Yeltsin will not fire him, he could jumpstart the economic reforms, end the war in Chechnya, and become the recognized leader of the democratic camp, greatly enhancing his chances of becoming the next president of Russia. He also could be pushed aside by Yeltsin after the election, meeting the same fate as Gaidar and Chubais. In short, lacking a strong political party machine, financial support, and executive experience, Yavlinsky could join the Yeltsin administration without enough power to ac complish anything, condemning himself to a swift political demise.

11 Speech at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., September 6, 1995. 12 Open Media Research Institute Daily DigestVol. 2, No. 97, May 20,1996. VLADIMIR ZHIRINOVSKY: THE WILD CARD

Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky became an internationally recognized figure when his organiza tion, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), gained almost 25 percent of Russia's electoral vote in the State Duma elections on December 12, 1993. His main slogans in the 1993 campaign were "I will not allow anybody to abuse Russians" and "I will make Russia rise from its knees." Zhirinovsky was a military intelligence officer before becoming a lawyer. He later worked for a KGBrun organization which established and maintained contact with foreign students. Allegations by Mikhail Gorbachev and Alexander Yakovlev, as well as these early intelligence connections and mysterious cash inflows early in his party's activities, indicate that the Russian security services launched his political career. In the December 1995 Duma elections, Zhirinovsky garnered over 10 percent of the vote, well ahead of predictions. He is projected to receive about the same percentage, or somewhat less, in the June presidential elections. Today, he is running the most lowprofile campaign in his political history, freely proclaiming that Yeltsin is going to be reelected. This is most uncharacteristic behavior for the ambitious Zhiri novsky, who normally would conduct the most aggressive campaign, heavily emphasizing media coverage and mass rallies. Many observers speculate that his passivity indicates that the Russian se curity services may still control Zhirinovsky, and that Yeltsin's entourage has been able to neutral ize him as a threat. Moscowbased observers believe that Zhirinovsky either was bought off or was blackmailed into silence. Meanwhile, Zhirinovsky states publicly that he is focusing his political ef fort on the year 2000, building his party and leaving someone else to take responsibility for the dis astrous situation of the Russian state. The name of Zhirinovsky's party is dangerously misleading. Many Westerners probably assume the Liberal Democrats really are liberal and democratic. In fact, however, they are neither; if any thing, they are national socialists. Launched in the latter years of the Soviet Union with the encour agement and participation of top Conimunist Party and KGB officials, the LDPR is an ultranationalist party that stands for Russian imperial revival. While declaring limited support for markets and private property, Zhirinovsky favors a large government sector in the economy and a strong militaryindustrial complex. His statements on the restoration of the Russian Empire, includ ing Alaska, Poland, and Finland, are particularly troublesome. In his book The Last Thrust South, he said that he will not rest until Russian soldiers wash their boots in the Indian Ocean. His foreign political allies include Jean Marie Le Pen's French National Front, the German and Austrian Neo Nazis, and Saddarn Hussein's Ba'ath party. Publicly audacious, Zhirinovsky has become one of the most successful postcommunist politi cians. The LDPR today is the secondlargest political party in Russia, second only to the commu nists. With many regional and local organizations and several party newspapers, its organization is larger than anything the reformers, or even President Yeltsin himself, can claim. A gifted speaker with a sense of humor and a penchant for oneliners, Zhirinovsky is probably Russia's best political campaigner. He performs well on television and is entertaining when interviewed. He also has gained popularity with many young voters through his intensive use of pop and rock music and his regular and open discussion of sex. He shamelessly promotes himself through brand names, such as Zhirinovsky vodka and clothing, and owns a Zhirinovsky store in Moscow which sells Zhirinovsky Tshirts, rock and punk music, and even Zhirinovsky matchboxes. Zhirinovsky's past election successes have sent chills through Russians, Eastern Europeans, and citizens of the former Soviet republics. He stands for the restoration of the Russian Empire as a uni tary state, and for an aggressive foreign policy in Central Europe and the Middle East. He. would ac complish this through military power, which could lead to a major clash with the West. Any sign of his advance to the pinnacle of power in Russia would be tantamount to a political earthquake.


General Alexander Ivanovich Lebed emerged at the front of Russia's political stage in 1994 1995, when he served as commander of the 14th Army Russian troops occupying part of Moldova. For a while, he was the most popular politician in Russia. Currently, he is polling at about 5 percent. Lebed was the classmate of current Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, who was also Lebed's com mander and mentor in the paratrooper academy in the city of Ryazan. Initially, his career was at tached to Grachev's; they both fought, for example, in Afghanistan. As the USSR was collapsing, Lebed was involved in "peacemaking" operations, suppressing popular rebellions in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Lithuania. Lebed positioned himself as a tough crime fighter, the outsider who feels the pain of ordinary peo ple and of the military rank and file. He fought the appointment of the notoriously corrupt General Matvey Burlakov as first deputy defense minister in the fall of 1994, with the result that Burlakov was fired. To protest corruption in the TransDniester region, he resigned from the parliament of this ethnically Slavic enclave. While the Soviet and Russian military was collapsing, Lebed managed to build and train a surprisingly fit military force. Lebed retired from command of the 14th Army in June of 1995, losing the aura of the persecuted hero speaking for the disgruntled Russian army. He is seen by some in the career military as having pushed the army toward confrontation with the defense minister and the president, eroding themili tary's neutrality and its position "outside of politics." Lebed also is faulted by some for using his command to boost his political image. 13 Lebed's political career has turned out to be less spectacular than his military adventures. He is not only blunt, but abrasive. He has stated publicly that "to conduct diplomatic negotiations with some parliament to receive power and "maneuver" is not his style. 14 "For idiots who did not get it the first time," he once told a press conference, "I repeat, I do not comment on Chechnya." During the December 1995 Duma elections, Lebed was vice chairman of the nationalist Union of Russian Communities, headed by Sovietera industrial stalwart Yurii Skokov. The general and his party did poorly in these elections, primarily because of Skokov's mismanagement of the campaign. The Union failed to garner enough votes to be represented in the Duma, damaging Lebed's stature as a challenger for the presidency in the upcoming elections of 1996. If he ever did become president or even defense minister, Lebed might push Russia toward con frontation with her neighbors and the West. He has said repeatedly that enlarging NATO to include Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia would be a casus belli for World War III. "The West is wiping its feet all over Russia," he has said. He is deeply suspicious of the West, and particu larly of the U.S., and as the quintessential Soviet military man sees Russia expressing herself as a Great Power only through military strength and territorial aggrandizement. Still, he seems to have mellowed, tends to identify himself as an anticommunist and antiestablishment, and has received a crash course in market economics from the Moscow liberal economists. Despite his appeal, the majority of the Russian public believes that an activeduty or even a for mer military man should not be president. Lebed's chances today do not seem particularly high, though he could siphon off some of Zyuganov's and Yeltsin's support.

13 Personal interviews, Moscow, May 1995. 14 Ibid. "THIRD TIER" CANDIDATES

All of the following candidates are registered to run in the elections, although none appears to have a good chance of achieving a strong showing in the first round. Aman Geldy Tuleev. This hardline communist leader was born in Krasnovodsk, Turkmenistan, in 1944. A graduate of the Novosibirsk Railroad Engineering Institute, he served from March 1990 to October 1993 as speaker of the Kemerovo Region Soviet. In 199 1, Tuleyev ran for president of Russia, finishing fifth. Since April 1994, he has served as speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Kemerovo Region. Tuleyev is a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federa tion. For reasons probably better known to party insiders, he has promised to withdraw his candi dacy and endorse Gennady Zyuganov but has not yet pulled out of the race. Tuleev is close to Zyuganov politically and is seen as a reserve player for the communists. Martin Shakkum. A dark horse candidate with ties to the powerful Russian military industry, Mar tin Shakkum was born in the Moscow region in 195 1. He graduated from a military engineering academy, earned a degree in civil engineering by correspondence, and holds a Ph.D. in political science. He worked for the Institute of Space Research from 1976 to 1978, after which he held a sequence of managerial positions in construction (in the Mosinzhremont and Glavmosoblstroy staterun companies). In 1990, Shakkum became CEO of the RIDA joint enterprise. He currently is first vice president of the International Fund of Economic and Social Reforms (the Reform Fund), which started out as moderately reformist but now takes increasingly hardline positions. In 19921993, Shakkurn served as a consultant to former Vice Premier Georgy Khizha, who was in charge of the militaryindustrial complex in the Yeltsin cabinet and known as a hardliner. Since April 1996, Shakkum has led the Russian Socialist Popular Party. He is a nationalist and antiWestern politician. Vladimir Bryntsalov. This colorful candidate represents the nascent Russian business class. Brynt salov was born in 1946 in the city of Cherkessk in Stavropol province. After graduating from the Novocherkassk Polytechnic Institute in 1969, he taught at the Cherkassk Polytechnic College and then worked in construction. In 1987, he started an agricultural cooperative. Toward the end of the 1980s, Bryntsalov became head of the Moscow Drug Manufacturers' Association, which later became Ferane, a major jointstock enterprise. A multimillionaire, Bryntsalov is a Duma member (elected in December 1995) and both founder and leader (since April 1996) of the Rus sian Socialist Party. Bryntsalov espouses a combination of nationalist and socialist views. Yuri Vlasov. This nationalist candidate was born in 1935. He was the superheavyweight world champion in weightlifting in 1959, 1961, 1962, and 1963, and Olympic superheavyweight cham pion in 1960. Vlasov set many weightlifting records and was nicknamed "the strongest man on Earth." He also was the young Arnold Schwarzenegger's role model. A 1959 graduate of the Zhukovsky AirForce Engineering Academy, he later became a writer. Yuri Vlasov presents himself as a "patriot" fighting communism and the Zionist conspiracy against the Russian people. He participated in the December 1995 parliamentary elections on the list of the leftist Power to the People but failed to gain a seat in the Duma, losing to Konstantin N. Borovoi, a prominent businessman and leader of the rightofcenter Party of Economic Free dom, in Tushino. Svyatoslav Fyodorov. Fyodorov is a successful and prosperous eye surgeon who recently has gone into politics, polling at only about 6 percent in the current presidential race. He was something of a national hero even under Brezhnev. In 1995, he formed his centrist Workers' SelfGovernment Party. He advocates the mass creation of joint stock companies to guarantee workers a share of profits, the removal of most taxes, and a ban on the export of most raw materials. He presents himself as a third force in Russian politics, claiming that he draws his inspiration from former U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot and China's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. Mikhail Gorbachev. The former Soviet leader is still popular in the West for his role in ending the Cold War and bringing about the end of the Communist Party's monopoly on power. But his popularity at home is close to zero, and no major political force has ventured to back him. Only some aging Moscow intellectuals sing his praises, and even the newshungry Russian media are ignoring the man who helped bring down the Soviet empire. His chances in the elections are close to zero.


The fact that the presidential elections are taking place at all indicates how far Russia has pro gressed on the road to freedom. But the fact that there is no viable democratic, profree market front runner demonstrates how long it will be before Russia achieves genuine democracy. Russian democrats, with the exception of the leftofcenter Grigory Yavlinsky and his Yabloko, erred in failing to create a viable political party. This failure has contributed significantly to their loss of voter appeal. Unfortunately, the June elections present the Russian voters with a rather unhappy choice. If they vote for Yeltsin, they will be choosing haphazard reforms accompanied by lawlessness and corrup tion. If the communists win, the majority of Russian voters may be choosing a massive renationali zation of property and an attempt to restore the Russian empire. A communist victory in Russia this summer would be a major setback for democracy, although it would not necessarily be a vote of no confidence against free markets and democracy. The Yeltsin administration's implementation of reform has been extremely inept, mired in a degree of corrup tion unprecedented even by Russian standards. Instead of attaining a market economy, the Russian voters have been confronted largely by a caricature, in many cases presided over by the same old So viet nomenklatura clad in new suits and driving new cars. A communist ascendancy most probably would result not in a new totalitarianism ,, but in severe crisis and the final disillusionment of the Russian people with the communist idea. Despite diffi culties and setbacks, the ideas behind free markets and political democracy are developing roots in Russia, especially among the young generation. Neither the old nor the "new" communist and na tionalist ideologies appears to have the power to mobilize the people and resources of today's Rus sia to create a second version of the Soviet Brave New World.

15 Conclusion reached by ProfessoTMancur Olson at a May 16,1996, Heritage Foundation panel on the upcoming Russian presidential elections.

About the Author

Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Visiting Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy