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Russia Report: December 5, 2003

5 December 2003, Volume 3, Number 48

THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION VOTES. Get comprehensive analysis and all the breaking news about the Russian elections at RFE/RL's dedicated webpage "Russia Votes 2003-04":
By Francesca Mereu

Imagine a ship sailing without a captain. That is what Unified Russia looks like since its main architect, Aleksandr Voloshin, resigned as chief of the presidential administration last month.

"Unified Russia has never been a united force, but only a conglomerate of different bureaucratic clans, and now without the main puppeteer the equilibrium is broken," said Yurii Korgunyuk, the editor of the political weekly bulletin "Partinfo."

Voloshin, known as a master of maneuvers, was the brains behind the pro-Kremlin party. He was the man who thought out the party's ideology (or rather "the lack of ideology," as many put it), and the one who had always been able to find a compromise to placate the different forces, with different interests, composing the pro-Kremlin coalition.

After Voloshin's resignation, President Vladimir Putin immediately appointed Dmitrii Medvedev to replace him and promoted Dmitrii Kozak to be first deputy head of the presidential administration. Vladislav Surkov, who was Voloshin's deputy and his trusted man, is considered likely to stay through the State Duma elections on 7 December. Surkov was responsible for coordinating with the pro-Kremlin bloc in the Duma. Now Surkov is working at Unified Russia headquarters and is overseeing the parliamentary campaign in the regions.

Medvedev and Kozak, who graduated from the same Leningrad law school as Putin and who worked with him in the St. Petersburg city administration in the early 1990s, are supposed to continue the work Voloshin and Surkov began with the "party of power."

"They are good lawyers, but inexperienced puppeteers," Korgunyuk said, pointing out that diplomacy and maneuvering are required to keep together a party as heterogeneous as Unified Russia. Korgunyuk said Medvedev and Kozak lack the human capital that Voloshin had. "Voloshin's contacts were his strength and thanks to them he was always able to find compromises and to find people to put in the right places. But what do 'siloviki' have, except their links with Putin? They don't have their people, especially in business circles," Korgunyuk said.

Voloshin is believed to have stepped down after realizing that he was losing his influence inside the administration. He reportedly was no longer able to defend the interests of his group, the "Family" (officials appointed during Boris Yeltsin's presidency, along with their allies in the business community) from the onslaught of the siloviki, a group of officials with roots in military/security agencies, which appeared with President Putin.

The arrest of Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovskii is widely believed to have been the last straw for Voloshin, who was incensed that the siloviki made that decision without informing him.

Voloshin and Surkov have been working for more than two years to create Unified Russia's party list, which is filled with people linked to the Family clan. Now even if the siloviki prevail over the Family in the Unified Russia party leadership, they will remain poorly represented in the party list.

Businesses magnates of the Yeltsin era who are involved with Unified Russia include Russian Aluminum head Oleg Deripaska, who has two representatives on the Unified Russia party list; Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Governor Roman Abramovich, who controls the oil giant Sibneft and has two representatives on the Unified Russia list; and Interros head Vladimir Potanin, who has one representative on the list. These businessmen provide crucial financing for the party. They benefit by having a lobby group to push for legislation they support in the next Duma.

According to experts and media reports, those close to the siloviki clan within the Unified Russia leadership include the secretary of the party's General Council, Valerii Bogomolov, who is the former head of the Federation Council's staff department; the chairman of the executive committee, Yurii Volkov, an ex-senator; and Boris Gryzlov, the party leader who doubles as interior minister.

"Who is Bogomolov? He was no one when he was working at the Federation Council and is no one now. He has no resources, so when the list was created no one thought about his interests. Where are his links? What can he offer the party during the campaign? What region will he be able to attract and how many votes can he bring? If none, it means he is useless," Korgunyuk said.

Now Unified Russia finds itself in a very awkward situation, according to Vladimir Pribylovskii, the head of the Panorama think tank. He says most people on the list "represent a clan which has lost control over the party." But with the elections a few days away and the lists already registered at the Central Election Commission, the siloviki have no time to rectify the situation. "Even if they wanted to put in their own people, they wouldn't have known who to put in, since they are only used to choking people and not to building relations with them. The contacts Voloshin has were built over a long time," Korgunyuk said.

The only change the party made was the controversial expulsion of Vladimir Dubov, a Yukos shareholder who was running on the fourth spot in the Central-Volzhsk regional party list. The siloviki are thought to have engineered that move as the criminal cases connected to the oil company gained momentum.

The Unified Russia party list has also representatives of a third clan, known as the "regional barons" group, which is headed by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev. Luzhkov controls the Fatherland-Unified Russia Duma faction and Shaimiev controls part of the Russian Regions faction, a Duma coalition of deputies elected in single-mandate districts. Unified Russia comprises Unity, Fatherland-Unified Russia, and Russian Regions.

Both Pribylovskii and Korgunyuk agree that Voloshin's people have a good chance of staying in the party, but only if they show loyalty to the siloviki. Otherwise, they will receive marginal posts in the next Duma and will be kicked out of the party at some point in the future. "We will see the result of this turmoil [in 2007] when we will have a new 'party of power' and, as usual in this country, it will bear a different name," Pribylovskii said.

But independent analyst Andrei Piontkovskii predicted that Unified Russia will fall apart before 2007. "Already in the next Duma we will have different factions. We shouldn't forget that Luzhkov's Fatherland-Unified Russia has nothing in common with the siloviki," he said.

Voloshin's resignation is likely to take its toll on Unified Russia's performance in the next elections as well, according to the analysts.

Unified Russia's refusal to take part in the televised debates similarly stems from the loss of its "behind-the-scenes leadership," Korgunyuk said. While Voloshin and Surkov were actively involved, Unified Russia could pretend it was a whole force, with its own ideology. But after they stopped working on party affairs, "it soon became clear that there was no one even able to take part in the debates, because the party had no one able to suggest what to say," Korgunyuk said.

Experts agree that Surkov has lost his enthusiasm; even if he is still working for the party, he is not motivated to try as hard as before. "Why would he try to help the siloviki? He knows that he is doomed to leave his post after the elections. Why should he work as before? So that the siloviki can reap the fruits of his labor?" Korgunyuk said.

What's more, Khodorkovskii's arrest has put the party in an awkward situation, since Unified Russia had no choice but to fully support the action of the authorities. So six weeks before the elections, the party exchanged its center-right stance, calling for stability in the business community, for a more populist position denouncing the oligarchs and the savage privatization of the early 1990s. But according to research carried out by "The Moscow Times," some 20 percent of people on the Unified Russia party list have direct links with big business, while 7 percent of them represent small to medium-sized regional businesses.

Unified Russia's position is now indistinguishable from that of the People's Party and the Motherland bloc led by former Communist economist Sergei Glazev and Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Dmitrii Rogozin. Both the People's Party and Motherland are campaigning with slogans against the oligarchs, and both are widely believed to have the backing of the siloviki, with the goal of capturing the protest vote and taking votes away from the Communists. "Voters are now confused. Those who would have voted for Unified Russia as a party able to guarantee stability for private capital don't know for whom to cast their ballot now," Piontkovskii said.

Korgunyuk agreed, saying that the party is likely to lose votes because of the conflict the siloviki have provoked between the power structures and the business community. "You really need a good plan to take the party out of the crisis it was put in by the siloviki-backed arrest of Khodorkovskii. I don't even know whether puppeteers like Voloshin and Surkov would be able to help at this point," Korgunyuk said.

Unified Russia is the biggest faction in the current Duma, with more than 140 of the 450 seats. It was created in February 2002 when Fatherland-All Russia merged with Unity. The two parties were rivals in the 1999 Duma campaign, with the Kremlin creating Unity two months before the vote to counter Fatherland-All Russia. Unity's only ideology was to back then-Prime Minister Putin.

Francesca Mereu is a journalist with "The Moscow Times."

By Francesca Mereu

In a final push before the 7 December parliamentary elections, political parties are pulling out all the stops to lure voters. Communist Party (KPRF) candidates are taking part in televised debates while campaigning door-to-door to promise a better future. Unified Russia's leaders are travelling around the country calling for a "strong and Unified Russia." Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) are flooding mailboxes with leaflets denouncing the "corrupt oligarch system" and bureaucracy. At the same time, political advertisements designed to appeal to a wide range of voter cover billboards and flood television sets.

"We are overwhelmed with slogans and ads, but this is the most important stage of the campaign," said Vladimir Yevstafev, the head of the Russian Association of Advertising Agencies (RARA). "Many people decide at the last moment for whom to cast their ballot."

In Russia's fourth nationwide parliamentary election, campaign specialists have improved their methods. Parties seeking to get their message across employ a wide array of techniques.

The KPRF is betting on the televised debates, where they repeat their campaign slogan calling for social justice and criticizing the present "anti-people regime." "This is the first time in years that we have the chance to use television to illustrate our program, and this is really helping to increase our rating," said Ivan Melnikov, the Communist Party's deputy head, who is in charge of coordinating events at election headquarters.

In spite of his party's enthusiasm for television, Melnikov said the KPRF will use only the free airtime provided by law, since buying airtime on central television networks is "too expensive." The party has purchased 10 minutes of airtime on stations in the main regions, where a new spot will debut featuring young people dressed in red, rapping, "KPRF: a party for young people." "Of course we would like to take part in NTV's 'Svoboda slova' [Freedom of Speech] show," Melnikov said. "But we can't afford it."

According to election law, state channels are required to provide every party on the ballot with roughly an hour of free airtime. Owned by Gazprom-Media, NTV is not technically a state channel and so participants are required to pay for airtime, which runs about $26,000 for five minutes. As the elections near, airtime becomes increasingly expensive -- 20 minutes on "Freedom of Speech" on 5 December will cost $260,000.

The Communists have not abandoned their traditional face-to-face style of campaigning, an approach that should help the party keep within its budget of 100 million rubles (a little more than $3 million) for the entire campaign, Melnikov said. According to the election law passed in 2001, parties cannot spend more than 250,000 minimum wages, or a little more than $3 million. "The Communists' winning card has always been meetings and door-to-door campaigning, and this has always brought them good results," Yevstafev said.

Whereas the Communists are betting on slogans against the present "regime," their main opponent, Unified Russia, has opted out of the televised debates to run its slogan calling for a "strong and Unified Russia."

"Our leaders consider [the debates] cheap populism that is not worth wasting time on," Unified Russia spokeswoman Tatyana Marchenko. "We chose to focus on the regions instead. It is there that our candidates meet people and explain the party program to them."

Unified Russia's leaders are travelling around the country. Party leader Sergei Shoigu, the No. 2 candidate on the federal party list, went to Tyumen last week to speak to young people in a local theater. Dressed casually and wearing a yellow cap with Unified Russia's slogans printed on it, Shoigu pointed out how the party cares about young people: "We know what your problems are.... You are the future of our country. I wish you a fun time."

Unified Russia is also relying on billboards to convey its message. Billboards in the country's major cities display portraits of different party leaders. One series of billboards in particular focuses on the hat that each leader wears. The words "We defend you" are written under the service cap of party leader Boris Gryzlov, who doubles as interior minister. It reads "We rescue you" under the helmet of Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov wears his trademark black leather cap, accompanied by the words "We build." And under the traditional Tatar hat of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, the words "We grow crops" send the desired message.

"The slogans are successful," Marchenko said. "In a few words people understand what our leaders are able to do. Our campaign is based on underlying positive things; it seems to be working very well."

Testimonials, according to Marchenko, are another "successful way of advertising" that the party is using across the country. "Why do you need to choose?" asks a simply dressed Russian woman in ads that run on every television channel several times a day. "I've already made my choice. I'm for the president and therefore I'm for Unified Russia."

The spots are designed to have a certain populist appeal. "People like seeing average people like them talking to them on television and expressing an opinion they share," Marchenko said.

Testimonials were first used in Russia during Boris Yeltsin's re-election campaign in 1996. "They are a winning card," said the RARA's Yevstafev, "Since people see other people like themselves and don't perceive it as an ad."

Unified Russia is conducting a campaign in 162 of the country's single-mandate districts. According to campaign experts, the cost per district runs anywhere from $80,000 to $235,000.

The liberal Yabloko party and the SPS are using what Igor Mintusov, the head of the Nikkolo M public relations agency, called "new techniques for Russia," such as direct phone calls or direct mailings. Yabloko uses its direct-phone-call campaign to explain its platform to voters. The party follows up by mailing out booklets with useful information, such as phone numbers of useful government offices, general advice on how to fight bureaucracy in everyday life, and booklets with the portrait of party leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and the slogan "Russia will fight poverty" or "Russia will fight corruption." At the same time, Yavlinskii travels around the country calling for "a better Duma more oriented on social problems," and criticizing the "criminal-oligarch system," while Yabloko deputy head Sergei Mitrokhin calls for better policies on ecological problems.

"Yabloko's campaign should have been more focused on what the party did in the past four years. Instead they have spread that silly ad with Yavlinskii's portrait. Who cares about him?" said Vladimir Pribylovskii, the head of the Panorama think tank.

Galina Mikhaleva, the head of the party's analytical center, said that Yabloko, after the arrest of its main sponsor, Mikhail Khodorkovskii, has run out of funding. "With the money left, we paid for two minutes of ad time on ORT to run on 5 December. It cost us $720,000."

Meanwhile, the SPS is trotting out numerous television spots slamming "corruption and bureaucracy." Among the party's preferred spots, SPS spokeswoman Liliya Tubovaya said, is one where party leaders Boris Nemtsov, Irina Khakamada, and Anatolii Chubais fly in a plane and by turns illustrate the party's ideology -- "Corruption and red tape are ruining Russia." "The spot is full of symbolism," Tubovaya said. "The plane flying symbolizes Russia flying to the future."

At the same time, co-Chairman Chubais (who is also the chief executive of Russia's electricity monopoly, Unified Energy Systems) sent direct mailings to voters explaining why their vote is important for the party. "These methods have proved to be very successful, since voters feel that candidates are addressing them directly," Mintusov said.

SPS is also relying heavily on the charisma of its leaders coming across in televised debates, especially Nemtsov, along with Chubais. "They are the most active players in our campaign and they can speak well in a convincing way," Tubovaya said.

The Motherland National-Patriotic Union bloc, headed by former Communist-affiliated Sergei Glazev and Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Dmitrii Rogozin, is focusing on television spots that denounce "oligarchs" and call on "oligarchs to pay the natural rent." In a spot showing Glazev and Rogozin sitting at a table, Rogozin says "I don't like those oligarchs." "If you don't like them, don't eat them," Glazev replies.

"Parties are using any kind of way to get their message across. Even hints at cannibalism are fine," Pribylovskii said.

The final advertisements will air on the evening of 5 December. According to the 2001 election law, a moratorium on campaigning is imposed two days before the elections in order to give voters time to mull over their decisions.

By Laura Belin

Some political tourists change their party affiliations when they change their opinions or their stance toward the powers that be. Others, like Sergei Glazev, have a consistent message and are merely searching for a better platform. Though he has covered a lot of ground in his political career, campaigning on a different party list in each of the four elections to the State Duma, Glazev has always played the same role: chief economist for a party strongly opposed to the government's policies.

Glazev never ran for the USSR or RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies during the perestroika period. Instead, he associated with other young reform-minded economists, including Anatolii Chubais and Yegor Gaidar. In December 1991 he became first deputy chairman of the Russian government's Committee on International Economic Relations, which became a full-fledged ministry in January 1992.

Many young people left their government posts when Gaidar resigned as acting prime minister in December 1992, but Glazev moved to the top of the Ministry on International Economic Relations in the government of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. He held that job until 21 September 1993, when he resigned to protest President Boris Yeltsin's infamous decree dissolving the opposition-dominated Supreme Soviet.

Glazev was among those politicians advocating early elections for president and parliament to resolve the 1993 standoff, but Yeltsin instead ordered the Supreme Soviet to be blockaded and eventually shelled. During the short campaign for the first State Duma, Glazev joined the party list of Nikolai Travkin's Democratic Party of Russia (DPR), which was anticommunist but also anti-Yeltsin. He put together the DPR's economic platform.

When the DPR gained 5.5 percent of the party-list vote in December 1993, Glazev earned a seat in the lower house of parliament. Travkin's party received control of the Duma's Economic Policy Committee, and Glazev became its chairman.

By now it was clear how far Glazev's views had moved away from those of economists like Gaidar and Chubais. Under his leadership, the Duma Economic Policy Committee continually criticized government policies. In 1993 and 1994, Glazev was even an economic consultant for former Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, a principal nemesis of Yeltsin's during the clash with the parliament, according to a profile of Glazev published by the Panorama analytical center in 2000.

Meanwhile, Travkin was inclined to cooperate with the government and accepted the post of minister without portfolio in April 1994. Glazev and other colleagues began to work against Travkin and compelled him to resign as head of the DPR in December 1994. Glazev and fellow Duma Deputy Stanislav Govorukhin then became co-leaders of the party, which remained implacably opposed to Yeltsin and his government.

The Duma's rules at the time allowed any registered faction to put a vote of no confidence on the agenda. The small DPR faction used that provision so many times that even other opposition groups such as the Communist Party (KPRF) became annoyed. Eventually the Duma changed its rules to require at least 90 of the chamber's 450 deputies to endorse a no-confidence vote before one could be put on the agenda.

The DPR had only narrowly cleared the 5 percent threshold in 1993, and in the absence of its founder Travkin, its prospects for repeating that feat in 1995 were dim. Glazev and Govorukhin differed over election strategy, and in August 1995 they decided to part ways -- temporarily, they said at the time. Glazev became the No. 3 candidate for the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) and the brains behind the KRO's economic platform.

Political commentators in 1995 expected the KRO to perform well, perhaps second in the party-list voting. However, the party stumbled during the campaign. The biggest mistake was putting charismatic retired Lieutenant General Aleksandr Lebed second on the party list, behind the gray Yurii Skokov, a former Security Council secretary who had worked closely with Yeltsin.

The KRO gained a disappointing 4.31 percent of the vote in December 1995. The results were disastrous for Glazev, who had not campaigned in a single-mandate district out of confidence that he would enter the Duma from the KRO party list. In contrast, Govorukhin won a single-mandate district and regained a seat in the Duma, despite the fact that his Bloc of Stanislav Govorukhin won less than 1 percent of the party-list vote.

Glazev and other party leaders charged that fraud robbed the KRO of its rightful place in the parliament, but their complaints did not change the official returns.

During the 1996 presidential campaign, Glazev helped organize efforts to support a "third force" alternative to Yeltsin and Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov. When that movement failed to coalesce, he helped prepare an economic platform for presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed.

Yeltsin appointed Lebed secretary of the Security Council after the first round of the presidential election, and Lebed soon brought in Glazev as head of the Economic Security Department of the Security Council's apparatus. But Glazev only held that job for two months, until Yeltsin fired Lebed.

Glazev took a position in the Federation Council's apparatus in December 1996, a job he held through 1999. Another veteran of the 1995 KRO debacle, Dmitrii Rogozin, won a Duma by-election in a single-mandate district in 1997. Glazev opted to wait for the next opportunity to run on a party list.

An official biography of Glazev states that he viewed a "serious party" as the only way to "solve the country's serious problems." A more cynical observer might note that only a "serious party" could get Glazev his old job back. Having never campaigned for a single-mandate district, much less won one, he had no local bastion of support. In any event, most of the Duma committee chairmanships go to deputies affiliated with political parties, rather than those who campaigned as independents.

In 1999, Glazev hitched his wagon to the only party that absolutely could not fail to clear the 5 percent threshold: the KPRF. It was a stunning move for an economist whose associates from the 1980s tended to support parties in the "democratic" camp. Yet the views of Glazev and KPRF leaders were less far apart than they appeared. Glazev had long advocated more state intervention in the economy, while the KPRF leaders had already given up most elements of socialist ideology. Glazev became the KPRF's No. 3 candidate and drafted the economic sections of the party's election platform, which was more market-oriented than the 1995 version had been.

The KPRF provided a rock-solid guarantee that Glazev would gain a seat in the new Duma. What did the Communist leaders get out of the deal? Glazev's credentials as an economist made the party look more respectable. In addition, the KPRF adopted the Soviet tradition of showcasing well-known non-Communists as allies, if not formal members, of the Communist Party. The presence of a big name who is not a party member underscores that the KPRF has a broad base of support.

During the 1995 parliamentary campaign, Aman Tuleev played the part of senior "fellow traveler" in the No. 3 spot on the KPRF list. By 1999, however, he was governor of Kemerovo Oblast and had lost the trust of some in the Communist leadership. Recruiting Glazev meant that Tuleev could be relegated to the No. 4 slot on the KPRF list.

Glazev appeared frequently on television on behalf of the KPRF in 1999. On election day, the Communists won 24.3 percent of the party-list vote, more than any other party that year and slightly up from 22.3 percent in 1995. Glazev joined the Communist Duma faction and became chairman of the Duma's Economic Policy Committee in early 2000. In June of the same year he became a co-chairman of the Communist-led umbrella movement National-Patriotic Union of Russia.

His political niche was secure until Duma Banking Committee Chairman Aleksandr Shokhin announced in March 2002 that he was leaving the legislature to work for the private firm Renaissance Capital. Shokhin's move triggered a reshuffling of Duma committees, and pro-Kremlin Duma factions seized on the opportunity to muscle out the Communists (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 26 March and 9 April 2002).

When the dust settled, the KPRF, which had more members than any other Duma faction, was left with no committee chairmanships. Union of Rightist Forces member Grigorii Tomchin replaced Glazev at the helm of the Economic Policy Committee.

Glazev remained in the Communist Duma faction and ran for governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai in September 2002 following the death of Aleksandr Lebed. Backed by the Communists, he finished a strong third with 22 percent of the vote, fueling speculation that he could be a future presidential candidate representing leftist parties.

As the 2003 parliamentary elections approached, Glazev decided to form his own electoral bloc rather than return to the KPRF party list. He teamed up with Rogozin again to establish the Motherland bloc, which combines leftist and nationalist politicians and slogans. Glazev tops the Motherland list, but since the new bloc is a long shot to win 5 percent of the party-list vote, he is also running for a single-mandate district in Moscow Oblast.

Like several rivals in this year's Duma campaign, Motherland's campaign rhetoric bashes "oligarchs" and corruption. The bloc has also employed some gimmicks, such as offering a 15 million-ruble ($500,000) reward for information leading to the capture of Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev.

Glazev has not targeted the KPRF during the campaign, although some analysts believe that the siloviki in President Putin's camp are backing Motherland in order to divide the left-leaning electorate. As is so often the case in Russian politics, the opposite rumor is also circulating around Moscow, namely that Kremlin officials worry about Glazev emerging as a leftist presidential candidate and are displeased that he is competing against Unified Russia.

Regardless of who supports Glazev behind the scenes, his strategy this year is a gamble. He could lose his single-mandate district, where one rival is a well-funded candidate from Unified Russia, and end up without a Duma seat, as in 1995. Or, he could win his district but be left without enough allies to secure a senior parliamentary post.

That said, running on the KPRF list again would have carried risks as well. The party's prospects look less bright than they did in 1999, and Glazev may wish to run for governor or president someday as a social democrat or nationalist rather than as a Communist.

Win or lose this year, Glazev is likely to remain one of Russia's most prominent economists outside the "democratic" wing of the political spectrum, and so will probably live to fight another day.

Laura Belin has covered Russian politics since 1995. Her profiles of other Russian political tourists can be found at RFE/RL's dedicated webpage "Russia Votes 2003-04":

The Duma passed a number of bills during its final session on 28 November, including the final reading of the 2004 budget, Russian media reported. The budget, which passed by a vote of 245-151, sets expenditures at 2.66 trillion rubles (about $89.24 billion) and projects budget revenues to be 2.74 trillion rubles ($92.02 billion), RBK reported on 28 November. The roughly $2.8 billion budget surplus will go toward a new stabilization fund designed to cushion the economy against falling world oil prices. The Duma also passed a bill establishing the legal, financial, and organizational framework for insuring individual bank deposits. The bill stipulates compensating depositors for losses up to 100,000 rubles. reported on 28 November that the Duma's centrist majority managed to keep two controversial legislative initiatives off the final session's agenda: Liberal Russia leader Viktor Pokhmelkin's bill to end obligatory automobile insurance, and a call by Motherland-Patriotic Union bloc leaders Sergei Glazev and Dmitrii Rogozin to dismiss Unified Energy Systems head Chubais. (Jonas Bernstein)

OUT: Former Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Factory head Anatolii Bykov lost his registration as a Communist Party candidate in a Krasnoyarsk Krai single-mandate district in accordance with a 30 November ruling by the Krasnoyarsk Krai Court. A rival candidate, Aleksandr Klyukin of Unified Russia, brought the case, alleging that Bykov submitted inaccurate registration documents and violated other election rules.

OUT: Former Russian Vice President and Kursk Oblast Governor Aleksandr Rutskoi lost his bid to remain on the ballot in a single-mandate district in Kursk in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling on 29 November. The court upheld a complaint by rival candidate Nikolai Ivanov, a Communist, who charged that Rutskoi's registration documents included inaccurate information about his workplace.

OUT: Former Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov lost his place on the Communist Party's Urals regional party list in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling on 28 November. The Party of Pensioners-Social Justice bloc had requested Skuratov's removal on the grounds that he allegedly concealed his job as a professor in his registration documents. Skuratov has also been refused registration as a candidate for a Duma seat representing a single-mandate district in the Agin-Buryatskii Autonomous Okrug.

OUT: Nizhnii Novgorod businessman Andrei Klimentev on 28 November lost his Supreme Court appeal against a Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Court decision that nullified his registration as a candidate in a single-mandate district in Nizhnii Novgorod. Klimentev allegedly submitted petitions with forged signatures during the registration process.

SENTENCED: Sergei Mavrodi, founder of the notorious MMM pyramid scheme, received a 13-month prison sentence following a hearing in a Moscow raion court on 2 December. Mavrodi was arrested in January after five years on the run and several months later was indicted on charges of forging documents. He still faces two other criminal investigations and could receive longer prison sentences if convicted of tax evasion or large-scale fraud.

7 December: Bashkortostan will hold a presidential election

7 December: Gubernatorial elections in Moscow, Tver, Yaroslavl, Kirov, Orenburg, Tambov, Sakhalin, and Novosibirsk oblasts

7 December: Perm Oblast and Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug will hold referendums on merging the two regions

7 December: Moscow, Yekaterinburg, and Tyumen will hold mayoral elections

7 December: Kabardino-Balkaria will hold republican parliamentary elections

7 December: State Duma elections will be held

10 December: Federation Council to set date for presidential election

11 December: Last plenary session of the current Duma

14-19 December: Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan to visit Russia

15-17 December: Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to visit Tokyo

29 December: Lenin's tomb will reopen after repair work has been completed, according to RIA-Novosti

30 December: Date by which cases against Menatep head Platon Lebedev and Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii are to be submitted to the courts, according to separate Moscow court decisions

January: President Putin to visit Kazakhstan

16 January: The Vyborg city court to begin hearing a case challenging the legality of the election of Federation Council representative Grigorii Naginskii by the Leningrad Oblast legislature.