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Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 02:54 GMT
Russian press reflects on election shock

An election poster for the Fatherland-All Russia party Parties such as Fatherland-All Russia may prove unpredictable

With the final results of the parliamentary elections coming in, Russia's newspapers delivered their verdict on the poll outcome:

The leading article in the liberal Izvestiya says that, although the Communists have lost seats in the Duma, the government's supporters will not have a clear majority.

It says new parties like Unity and Fatherland-All Russia may prove unpredictable because of their "shapeless ideologies and flabby structures".

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The paper identifies two likely problems - the candidacy of a new Duma speaker and the composition of a new cabinet of ministers.

In reshaping the latter, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will have to show great political flexibility as he will have to satisfy both the Kremlin and the parliament, the article concludes.

A different political reality

Vladimir Putin Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will have to show great political flexibility
The official government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta has several euphoric headlines on its front page: "A single and indivisible Russia looking forward to well-being and prosperity"; "United and indivisible authorities, standing firm for our interests in the multi-polar world"; "Enlightened patriotism, multi-ethnic and civic unity."

The paper notes that "it is the first time in the history of modern Russian parliamentarianism that a pro-government majority can be formed in the lower chamber, thereby creating a totally different political reality".

The paper says that the success of Unity was undoubtedly the success of Putin.

The voters showed their trust in the prime minister personally and in the policy his cabinet is implementing.

"It is also clear that in Russia the pendulum of history has swung to the right, which is graphically demonstrated by the success of the Union of Right Forces."

New generation makes its mark

The mass-circulation Komsomolskaya Pravda for younger readers writes of a "new generation" choosing a "new Duma".

The article says that in the past 10 years, a new generation has emerged in Russia. This has adopted "the values of market economy, democracy and free society reflected in the results of the elections to the State Duma".

The paper believes that even if the Communists are still to have the largest faction in the Duma, their result is "an unequivocal defeat". Their electorate is continuing to shrink and they have "no appeal to the new generation".

The party of ex-premier Yevgeny Primakov, Fatherland-All Russia, has likewise suffered from relying upon nostalgia for the values of the old Soviet administrative system.

"The new generation has chosen the future," the paper writes.

Like other papers, Komsomolskaya Pravda ascribes the success of Unity and the Union of Right Forces to the fact that they enjoy Mr Putin's public support.

Power of Kremlin election machine

The paper remarks that the Duma "seems to have got... for the first time in recent Russian history a pro-government faction likely to control up to a half of the votes".

Looking ahead to the presidential election in June, it voices concern that this may turn into a one-horse race featuring Mr Putin.

Another newspaper, the moderate Segodnya describes as an "injection of liberalism in Russia" the "sensational" results achieved by Unity and the Union of Right Forces. The paper says that "all the Communist Party's former allies" have been "jettisoned".

However, Segodnya is worried by the fact that it did not take much to sway public opinion the way the Kremlin wanted.

"The effective hyping of Vladimir Putin and... Unity on the basis of the Chechen war alone, about which voters really knew nothing, turned the situation around."

The article concludes that "given such efficiency in using administrative and information resources, anyone at all could become president".

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
Kremlin elated over Duma vote
20 Dec 99 |  Europe
Analysis: Putin, next stop president?
20 Dec 99 |  Europe
Russian media marvels at right-wing surge
20 Dec 99 |  Europe
Sudden rise of the Unity party

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