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The battle for president
Click on the right to find out more about the key issues facing Russia, and how they affect the elections.

The Battle for President

The parliamentary election is widely seen as having been a rehearsal for Russia's watershed presidential election in June 2000. This election, at the start of the new century, will mark the end of the Yeltsin era, in which the Soviet system that prevailed for most of the 20th Century was thoroughly dismantled.

The next president will have a big influence on the future shape of Russian society, and the direction in which its infant capitalism develops.

Attention is focused on the presidential election, because the Russian constitution provides the head of state with greater powers than the parliament. Russian politics is also dominated by personalities rather than parties, few of which have put down strong roots. A new generation of political leaders has already begun to emerge. They include a number whose political careers only began after Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika reforms of the late 1980s.

Those who did well in the parliamentary election will have a better chance of finding wealthy backers for a presidential election campaign. Those who did less well, primarily the leaders of the Fatherland-All Russia alliance, Yevgeny Primakov and Yury Luzhkov, have lost some credibility.

Over the course of the next presidential term, which lasts until 2004, Russia's middle class is likely to grow, and memories of the Soviet Union will continue to fade. The result could be a major shift in the political climate.