Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russia Report: February 23, 2004

23 February 2004, Volume 4, Number 6
By Laura Belin

Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader and three-time presidential candidate Vladimir Zhirinovskii has so far been frustrated in his attempts to represent obscure LDPR member Oleg Malyshkin in this year's presidential debates. Only the candidates or their official campaign agents can appear in the debates, and the Central Election Commission (TsIK) on 17 February denied Zhirinovskii registration as a campaign agent. The TsIK determined that Zhirinovskii, one of the State Duma's deputy speakers, is a "Class A" official who is prohibited by law from certain types of campaign activities. Zhirinovskii has vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court, telling Ekho Moskvy on 17 February that the TsIK wrongly interpreted the law. According to the LDPR leader, the law on presidential elections was adopted in January 2003, but in May of last year the parliament eliminated "Duma deputy" from the list of posts that qualify as "Class A" officials.

As frustrating as exclusion from the debates may be to Zhirinovskii, the fact remains that he can continue to campaign on radio and television this year, even if the Supreme Court rejects his appeal. When the LDPR cleared the 5 percent threshold in last December's State Duma election, it gained the right not only to nominate a presidential candidate, but also to delegate representatives to appear in free-air-time slots that are not set aside for debates. Zhirinovskii is delivering televised monologues on Malyshkin's behalf and speaking alongside Malyshkin during some recorded slots.

State radio stations, including Radio Mayak on 16 February and 17 February, have aired the following recording:

Voice-over: Vote for presidential candidate from the LDPR Oleg Malyshkin. State Duma Deputy Speaker and LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii.

Zhirinovskii: The LDPR has participated in Russian presidential elections four times. I participated three times -- I fought [former President Boris] Yeltsin twice and was [President Vladimir] Putin's competitor in 2000. Now we are putting forward another candidate: Oleg Aleksandrovich Malyshkin. He's one of the people, an ordinary [ethnic] Russian, a coal miner. I hope that all miners will vote for him, since he worked in a mine for five years. He was the head of a raion administration and knows what self-government is, knows what a local hospital is, a local house of culture, sports complex, asphalt, traffic police, market, work. That is, he understands from the ground up, so to speak, all the problems that are raised at a high state level.

Voice-over: LDPR candidate for the Russian presidency Oleg Malyshkin.

Malyshkin: Free medical treatment should be for everyone in our country, but what's happening now? Exactly 200 kilometers from Moscow, what's going on in the city and raion hospitals? People are bringing their own medicine, their own slippers, their own pillows, their own blankets, their own food. It hasn't yet come to dragging their own doctors along with them. And what's going on [in the hospitals]? They've all set up their own mini-pharmacies, which are siphoning money from our citizens. Funds are allocated for free, vital medications, and they should reach our sick citizens.

Zhirinovskii: All sportsmen should vote for him, because he is a master at football, and we have a lot of football fans. In his time he was captain of a football team in Rostov. He is a master at boxing. Almost all boys and men respect this sport and follow the matches.

Malyshkin: Two years ago the slogan "Everyone to the [sports] stadium" for good health, was proclaimed [reference to an initiative of Putin's]. Well, did everybody run to the stadium? Everyone's keeping their mouths shut, waiting for a financial infusion into developing physical fitness and sports. Why did we bury what was good not long ago? Let's revive physical fitness clubs at every enterprise. Let's really compete in having a healthy way of life, so that at competitions at various levels there are no VIP tents where they lay on food and drink. What example are we setting for the ordinary citizens of our country?

Zhirinovskii: Malyshkin, I and the LDPR: we'll be for you, for all the dissatisfied, for the ordinary people, for the poor people!

Voice-over: Vote for the LDPR candidate for the Russian presidency, Oleg Malyshkin.

Oleg Aleksandrovich Malyshkin first came to national attention at the end of last year when he was involved in a fistfight during a televised election debate shown on the NTV program "Svoboda slova" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 2003). After the fight, LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii wrote to the network promising that he would send his bodyguard, Malyshkin, back to his home province of Rostov Oblast. Zhirinovskii apparently rethought his promise and instead put forward Malyshkin as the party's nominee for the presidency. Malyshkin, for his part, told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 14 January that if the situation were repeated he would quickly come to Zhirinovskii's defense again. When questioned about the fight by his mother, Malyshkin said "Mama, the chief was in danger, my duty is to defend his life," according to "Moskovskie novosti," No. 2.

Although Malyshkin is frequently described in the press as a former boxer, his wife Nadezhda told the Rostov-na-Donu newspaper "Dona" on 28 January that he is not really a boxer but a soccer player. Malyshkin attended the Novocherkassk Polytechnic Institute where he studied mine engineering; however, upon graduating he took up soccer instead. When he became too old to play soccer competitively he worked briefly in the mines as a stoker, but then turned to coaching children and, later, adults in soccer.

According to Nadezhda, he spent a brief period in the alcohol-supply business, which ended when one of his competitors persuaded local prosecutors to launch a criminal investigation against him. "Moskovskie novosti," No. 2, published a different version of events. It reported that Malyshkin was detained for two days on charges of "machinations" with soccer money. After he was released while promising not to leave the area, he fled to Moscow where he began working for Zhirinovskii. How he first came to know Zhirinovskii is not clear from press accounts.

According to his official party biography, after Malyshkin joined the party in 1991, all of his professional activities were connected with the party structure. In 1997, Malyshkin won election as the head of the Tatsinkii Raion in Rostov Oblast under the LDPR party banner, where he served until 2001. The event which gained the most publicity during that period was when he brought armed men to resolve a dispute with a grain-elevator operator. He did not seek re-election in Rostov and, in 2001, he returned to Moscow to become director of the party's apparatus, according to the party's website. In 2003, he was elected to the State Duma from LDPR's party list.

Malyshkin told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 14 January that he was not greatly surprised when Zhirinovskii put his name forward as the party's presidential candidate, because the decision had been reached jointly at a party Supreme Council. According to Malyshkin, Zhirinovskii wanted to show that the LDPR is not based on a single personality but is a team.

When asked about her husband's odd career trajectory -- soccer player, coal furnace stoker, raion administration head, and now presidential candidate, Nadezhda noted that when her husband first went to work for LDPR he was Zhirinovskii's bodyguard, and later Zhirinovskii "trusted him to resolve economic issues." Her husband, she says, is "very smart" and has "thoughts as fast as lightning." (Julie A. Corwin)

In the Russian presidential elections of 1996 and 2000, Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov sought to broaden his popular support by playing down traditional Communist rhetoric and campaign themes. He rarely, if ever, mentioned the KPRF by name, preferring to campaign as the representative of "popular-patriotic forces." So as not to scare off non-Communist opponents of Boris Yeltsin's regime, Zyuganov seldom spoke of nationalizing private property and never pledged to lead the country toward socialism.

This year, Communist-backed candidate Nikolai Kharitonov is taking a different tack. His speeches during televised debates and recorded monologues dwell on themes that appeal to traditional Communist supporters. The approach reflects the current political reality for the KPRF: since the party has no chance of winning the presidency, there is little to be gained by wooing moderates or "swing voters." Kharitonov's campaign rhetoric reflects a typical strategy for a parliamentary election in a multiparty system: fire up your base. And rightly so. After its crushing defeat in the December elections to the State Duma, the KPRF needs a good turnout on 14 March in order to shake its image of a party in decline.

The following recorded monologue aired during Kharitonov's free air time on Radio Rossii on 13 February, as well as on Radio Mayak and Radio Yunost on 16 February: "Respected comrades, respected voters of Russia. I, Nikolai Kharitonov, a Siberian, the son of peasants, am contesting these elections in order to return to the people what the thieving reforms stole from them. The first document I will sign as Russian president -- I promise you this -- will be a decree nationalizing the natural resources and key sectors of Russian industry. I agreed to run for president on behalf of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in order to turn the face of power toward you, in order to put the power vertical under the control of the people. We will do away with the arbitrary rule of bureaucrats, the stealing of speculators and the abuses [bespredel] of the bandits once and for all. We will reunite the divided [ethnic] Russian people and restore the historic brotherhood of nations. The foundation of my program for Russia's revival are four questions that patriots of Russia, led by the KPRF, tried to put to a referendum.

"First: The country's land, forests, mineral wealth, and other natural resources should belong to the whole Russian people, the state. The purchase and sale of farmland, with the exception of personal plots, gardens, dacha, and garage lots, is impermissible.

"Second: The cost of rent, electricity, and other communal services should not exceed 10 percent of a family's combined income.

"Third: Salaries and pensions may not be lower than the subsistence minimum, as established by a special law.

"Fourth: Energy sector and defense enterprises, as well as railways, which provide national security and a decent life to Russian citizens, should belong to the state.

"I know how to get down to business, how to increase the state budget by several times, how to raise up [industrial] production, increase wages, pensions and stipends, help the strong defend the weak. I have a program for quickly bringing the country out of crisis. I have a team of highly qualified specialists who are ready to form a new government tomorrow if need be, a government of national salvation. And I will not waste a day dithering. I will act in the interests of the majority. Compatriots, we've had enough of living by foreign ideas, bowing to the West or East. Russia has always had its own path, it has chosen that path from life, from many centuries of traditions, and life says that we have only one road today: forward. It's the road to socialism, to social justice. Vote for Nikolai Kharitonov, for the native land and the people's will."

At the conclusion of the monologue, a voice-over says: "For the native land and the people's will! Candidate for the post of Russian Federation president, Nikolai Kharitonov." (Laura Belin)

THE CANDIDATES (in alphabetical order)
Sergei Yurevich Glazev (43)

Party affiliation: self-nominated (chairman of the Motherland-People's Patriotic Union)

Glazev was born in Zaporozhe, Ukraine, and came to Moscow State University to study economics in 1983. In 1987 he was part of an economic study group that included Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais and former acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar. He served less than a year in Gaidar's government as international economic relations minister and later, while serving as a deputy in the State Duma, he turned against policies of Gaidar and Chubais. In 1995, Glazev again changed allegiances, appearing on the party list for the Communist Party. In 2000, he was elected to the Duma from the party list of the newly launched Motherland bloc. "Moskovskii komsomolets" noted that Glazev has made many powerful enemies during his political career. Both Chubais and Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov consider him a traitor. And, he may have alienated his alleged supporters in the presidential administration, because he reportedly promised that he would not run in the 2004 presidential election.

Irina Mutsuovna Khakamada (48)

Party affiliation: self-nominated (member of the political council of the Union of Rightist Forces)

Khakamada was born in Moscow. Her father, a Japanese Communist Party official, immigrated to Russia for political reasons. She has an economics degree from Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow and did graduate work in economics at Moscow State University. In 1984 she defended her dissertation. In 1989 she became co-chairman of the S+P cooperative, which turned out to be a highly successful venture. In 1989, together with Konstantin Borovoi, the cooperative's chairman, she worked on creating a Russian stock and commodities exchange. In 1992, she and Borovoi created the Party for Economic Freedom. In 1993, she entered the State Duma on the party list for the bloc Avgust. She won three consecutive terms in the Duma, winding up in 1999 with the Union of Rightist Forces faction with a position as deputy speaker. According to "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 3 February, her nickname among her fellow faction members was "samurai in a blouse," a nickname which reflected her toughness in political battles.

Nikolai Mikhailovich Kharitonov (55)

Party affiliation: Communist

Kharitonov was born in Novosibirsk, the region from which he was elected to serve in the State Duma last December. A former sovkhoz director, he has served in the State Duma since 1993 and, in the previous Duma, was the leader of the Agro-Industrial group. According to "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 2 February, Kharitonov's colleagues believe he has two great loves: Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and Cheka founder Feliks Dzerzhinskii. His long battle to restore the monument to Dzerzhinskii on Lyubyanka Square in central Moscow has perhaps brought him the most public attention, at least before his current run for the presidency. According to "Moskovskii komsomolets," Kharitonov has been happy to play second fiddle to Zyuganov in the Duma and never challenges his authority. However, "Versiya" No. 5 reported that Kharitonov has had several arguments with Zyuganov, complaining about how little money the party is providing his campaign.

Oleg Aleksandrovich Malyshkin (52)

Party affiliation: Liberal Democratic Party of Russia

Malyshkin spent the bulk of his professional life in sports, and turned to politics only in 1991, at the age of 40, when he joined the Liberal Democratic Party and worked in the party structure in Moscow. In 1997, he won election as head of the Tatsinkii Raion in Rostov Oblast under the LDPR party banner, where he served until 2001. In 2001, he returned to Moscow to become director of the party's apparatus, according to the party's website. In 2003, he was elected to the State Duma from the LDPR party list (see "Profile" above).

Sergei Mikhailovich Mironov (51)

Party affiliation: self-nominated (leader of the Russian Party of Life),,

Mironov was born near the city of Leningrad, where he studied and worked until he was appointed to the Federation Council to represent St. Petersburg in December 2000. In 1980, he graduated from the Plekhanov Mining University in Leningrad. In 1998, he received a law degree from St. Petersburg State University. According to "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 3 February, Mironov and Putin first crossed paths when Putin was heading the mayoral administration's committee for external economic relations. Mironov was executive director of the first Revival of St. Petersburg company, which co-sponsored St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak's campaign in 1996. In 1994, Mironov was elected to the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly and he was reelected in 1998. He was Putin's regional campaign manager in the spring of 2000, according to "Vremya novostei" on 29 November 2001. Since being elected Federation Council chairman in December 2001, Mironov has shown his loyalty to Putin on several occasions. Within six months of holding the position, he proposed Putin's term from four to seven years and also suggested that Putin be elected three times.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (51)

Party affiliation: self-nominated (close ties to Unified Russia),

The popular incumbent president was born in Leningrad. At a young age, he reportedly decided that he would like to join the KGB and, as luck would have it, he was recruited for the agency while studying at Leningrad State University's law school. He worked in the agency's foreign intelligence unit, serving in Leningrad and Dresden. In 1990, he switched to politics and became an assistant to Anatolii Sobchak, who was then chairman of the Leningrad Soviet. From 1991-96 he served in St. Petersburg Mayor Sobchak's administration, rising to the position of first deputy mayor. In 1996, he moved to Moscow to work in the presidential administration, of which he was named first deputy head in May 1998. Then he was named director of the Federal Security Service, the successor organization of the KGB. In August 1999 he was named prime minister, and became acting president in late December of that year when President Boris Yeltsin abruptly resigned, naming Putin as his successor.

Ivan Petrovich Rybkin (57)

Party affiliation: self-nominated (leader of the pro-Berezovskii wing of Liberal Russia)

Rybkin was born in Voronezh Oblast and was educated in Volgograd at the Volograd Agricultural Institute, where he graduated in 1968. At 24 he joined the Communist Party and taught at the institute for 13 years. He then entered local politics, serving on the Volgograd City Council. Rybkin was elected to the State Duma in 1993 and became the lower chamber's speaker, a position which may have marked the peak of his political career. He was reelected to the Duma in 1995 from a single-mandate district in Voronezh, but his party, the Bloc of Ivan Rybkin, polled only 1.1 percent. In October 1996, he left the Duma to become secretary of the Security Council. During his tenure as secretary he helped negotiate the controversial Russian-Chechen treaty that was signed in May 1997. It was also during his time at the council that he forged an alliance with oligarch Boris Berezovskii. That the friendship had revived was evident in July 2003, when Rybkin was named leader of the pro-Berezovskii wing of the Liberal Russia party. Later the same year, Rybkin declared his candidacy for the presidency with financial support from Berezovskii.

State Duma deputies voted unanimously on 18 February on first reading to approve amendments to the Criminal Code that would increase the punishments for people convicted of terrorist acts, Russian news agencies reported. Under the bill, which was sponsored by Unified Russia, individuals convicted of carrying out particularly severe acts of terrorism would receive life imprisonment. First Deputy Speaker Lyubov Sliska, also of Unified Russia, said she differs from her colleagues and supports allowing the death penalty for such offenses, ITAR-TASS reported. Earlier, Deputy Vladimir Katrenko, deputy chairman of the Unified Russia Duma faction, said it is possible that his faction's presidium will soon raise the idea of introducing the death penalty for terrorism, with the caveat that it could only be imposed after a jury trial (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 February 2004). JAC

A proposed amendment to the constitution increasing the presidential term from four to seven years received only 51 of the 300 votes necessary during the 18 February State Duma session, Interfax and RIA-Novosti reported. The Duma Council, which is dominated by members of the Unified Russia party, put the bill on the legislature's agenda early this month. Aleksei Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies told RosBalt that the legislature took up the issue now, during the run-up to the 14 March presidential election, so Putin can prove to voters that he does not want to become another Josef Stalin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 February 2004). JAC

Also on 18 February, deputies voted to reject a bill in its second reading that would increase from one year to up to two years the time an individual convicted of drunk driving could be deprived of his driver's license, ITAR-TASS reported. Vladislav Reznik, chairman of the Banking Committee, said the bill would give too much discretion to traffic police. The bill passed in its first reading last October. JAC

IN: The State Duma voted on 13 February to approve former State Duma Deputy (Yabloko) and former Russian Ambassador to the United States Vladimir Lukin as Russia's new ombudsman for human rights, Interfax reported. President Putin nominated Lukin, who will replace Oleg Mironov. In compliance with the law that requires that the ombudsman not belong to any party, Lukin is resigning as a member of Yabloko.

IN: State Duma deputies voted on 13 February to confirm former State Duma Deputy (Union of Rightist Forces) Yelena Mizulina as the Duma's representative to the Constitutional Court, Russian news agencies reported. Mizulina was elected to the previous Duma on Yabloko's party list, but later switched parties to join the Union of Rightist Forces.

OUT: The Russian Regions party held a congress on 15 February at which presidential candidate Sergei Glazev resigned as the party's co-chairman and former Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko was named to replace him, ITAR-TASS reported. Congress delegates also decided to rename the party Motherland, the name of the bloc to which it belonged during the December State Duma elections.

RESHUFFLED: At a closed session of the SPS Political Council on 10 February, four new secretaries were elected, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 11 February. Former State Duma Deputies Nikolai Travkin and Boris Nadezhdin, Unified Energy Systems (EES) executive Leonid Gozman, and Federation Council representative for Kostroma Ivan Starikov will form the party's new leadership.

UNITED: Five independent Duma deputies have joined together as an informal group: Yabloko party members Mikhail Zadornov, Sergei Popov, and Galina Khovanskaya, Liberal Russia party leader Viktor Pokhmelkin, and independent Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov, "Vedomosti" reported on 19 February. Fifty-five members are needed under the Duma's new rules to form an official deputy's group.

IN: Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov appointed Yelena Danilova as deputy minister for economic development and trade, "Vremya novostei" reported on 19 February. Danilova will replace Roald Piskopell, who retired. She will oversee external economic relations. She previously headed the Department for Trade Policy and Multilateral Negotiations at the ministry. The previous day, ITAR-TASS reported that Doku Zavgaev, Russia's ambassador to Tanzania, has been named as deputy foreign minister in charge of business administration and financial issues at the Foreign Ministry. Zavgaev served as a pro-Moscow prime minister of Chechnya from October 1995 to late 1996.

19 February: The cabinet will examine the preliminary results of the first stage of the administrative reform of the Russian federal government

20 February: Presidential-election ballot papers to be printed

21 February: The Party of Russian Regions and the Socialist Unified party will hold a joint conference to discuss the Motherland bloc

23 February: Defenders of the Fatherland federal holiday

23 February: 60th anniversary of the 1944 deportation of the Chechen people by Stalin's secret police

24 February: Next hearing in the St. Petersburg trial of the accused murderers of State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova

26 February: Yukos's board of directors will make a final decision on its de-merger with Sibneft

27 February: Early voting in presidential election to begin for citizens in remote areas of the Russian Federation

28 February: Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul visits Russia to meet with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov

March: Audit Chamber investigators will start on-site inspections in a probe of federal budget expenditures in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, which is headed by oligarch Roman Abramovich

6 March: A founding congress for the political party to be formed by the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees

8 March: International Women's Day observed

9-14 March: Further publication of results of opinion polls about the presidential election banned

11 March: EU-Russia ministerial troika to be held in Dublin

14 March: Election for president of the Russian Federation

14 March: Gubernatorial elections in Voronezh, Murmansk, Chita, and Arkhangelsk oblasts; Altai and Krasnodar krais; and Koryak Autonomous Okrug

14 March: Republican-level presidential election in Udmurtia

14 March: Repeat State Duma elections in single-mandate districts in Ulyanovsk and Sverdlovsk oblasts and St. Petersburg where no candidates succeeded in garnering sufficient votes on 7 December

25 March: Date by which prosecutors must either complete their criminal investigation of former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii or ask a Moscow court to extend his period of pretrial detention

26 March: Date by which official presidential-election results are to be released

30 March: Date by which prosecutors must either complete their criminal investigation of Menatep Chairman Platon Lebedev or ask a Moscow court to extend his period of pretrial detention

31 March: Date by which prosecutors must either complete their criminal investigation of St. Petersburg legislator and accused murder conspirator Yurii Shutov or ask a St. Petersburg court to extend his period of pretrial detention

End of March: NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to visit Russia, according to Interfax

1 April: Administrative reform of Russian federal government will be completed, according to Deputy Prime Minister Boris Aleshin

4 April: Second round of federal presidential election to be held if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the 14 March first round

4-5 April: Foreign ministers of five Caspian states, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Iran, to meet in Moscow

23 April: First anniversary of the murder of State Duma Deputy Sergei Yushenkov

June: Communist Party will hold congress to hear reports and elect new party officials

1 June: New deadline for exchanging Soviet-era passports for new Russian passports

19 June: End of State Duma's spring session.