Russian Elections: Rybkin Fails to Create Bloc

RUSSIA’S MOST POWER-ful politicians believe that they would benefit considerably from creating two parties, rather than just one, to ensure their reelection in the December parliamentary elections and the 1996 presidential elections. That strategy for retaining power is spelled out explicitly in a document apparently prepared by President Boris Yeltsin’s analytical staff and published in Nezavisimaya gazeta.1One pro-government bloc campaigning alone would not be able to attract support along Russia’s entire political spectrum, in particular leaving the resources of the so-called left-center untapped. Moreover, if only one bloc were established, it would bear the brunt of the population’s dissatisfaction and criticism and would be forced to campaign with a considerable handicap. Most important, if the president and his allies created only one party, there would be attempts within the political establishment to set up an alternative bloc that would be associated with those members of the ruling elite who did not want to support Yeltsin directly. The authors of the campaign document believed the alternative bloc should instead have some support from the president so that he could prevent the new formation from adopting strong anti-government policies.