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Monday, 20 December, 1999, 15:44 GMT
Russian media marvels at right-wing surge

Awaiting results at Moscow's election information centre Awaiting results at Moscow's election information centre

The Kremlin's apparent success in outmanoeuvring the Communists in the parliamentary elections has prompted Russian observers to wonder at the seemingly unstoppable forward march of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Russia at the Polls
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The surprisingly strong showing for former Prime Minister Sergey Kiriyenko's Union of Right Forces also provoked at least one newspaper to conclude that Russia was no longer nostalgic for its Communist past.

"The Kremlin has taken the Duma," said the headline of the leading article in the daily Segodnya.

"Putin has won the first round of the presidential elections."

The voter has stated that ... he does not feel nostalgic for the Communists.
"In a country governed by an unpredictable president there cannot be predictable voters. The Russians, who en masse criticised the Kremlin regime, in a single impulse voted for a new pro-Kremlin party: the Bear (Unity)", said the paper.

No nostalgia

"Nothing to be ashamed of," said the headline in Vesti. "An important role in the elections was played by the voter who once more stated that, despite the poverty imposed on him, unlike the Poles, Lithuanians and Bulgarians he does not feel nostalgic for the Communists."

"Young Russia," said another headline in the paper. "Russia took the elixir of youth on 19th December," it said, in an apparent reference to Srgey Kiriyenko's Union of Right-Wing Forces.

"Brezhnev's birthday - 19th December - turned into the wake of the gerontocracy ... A large number of votes went to the young, ginger-haired, cheeky and overly clever ones - those who were politically incorrect in boasting of their youth and erudition and, on top of everything, made frequent references to Europe," the paper said, apparently alluding to the Kremlin's former financial supremo Anatoly Chubais, who is a close ally of Kiriyenko.

'An oil Duma'

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, owned by the influential industrialist and media tycoon Boris Berezovskiy, said the electorate had "voted for an oil Duma".

"The fuel-and-energy lobby intends to set up its own committee in the Duma. The elections have yielded sensational results, not only in terms of the confrontation between different political forces, but also quite interesting information concerning the country's economy... Over 80 representatives of oil and gas companies, coal-mining and power-engineering industries have rushed into the Duma."

Primakov lost everything.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta
The paper's editor Vitaliy Tretyakov said former Prime Minister Yevgeniy Primakov, leader of the Fatherland-All Russia bloc, had been dealt a crushing blow.

"The defeat of Primakov, let down not so much by [Moscow Mayor Yuriy] Luzhkov as by his own advisers, is very great from the moral standpoint. Luzhkov at least kept Moscow for himself, if of course the Moscow election results are not contested in court. But Primakov lost everything: his high rating, his chances for the presidency and even perhaps his leadership of Fatherland-All Russia," Mr Tretyakov wrote.

However, elsewhere the paper noted that Primakov had "won in the embassies".

"The employees of Russian foreign missions remain sympathetic to their former boss," it said, commenting on the widespread support for Primakov among Russians who had voted abroad.

Soldiers back Kremlin

Itar-Tass news agency reported that 52% of the soldiers serving in Chechnya had voted for the pro-Kremlin Unity bloc, compared with 22% who voted for the Communists.

Meanwhile, preliminary results showed that 38 per cent of the sailors in the Black Sea Fleet voted for Fatherland-All Russia and 31 per cent for Unity, the agency reported.

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:
20 Dec 99 |  Europe
Analysis: Putin - next stop president?
20 Dec 99 |  Europe
Sudden rise of the Unity party

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