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Crime
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Crime



The rise in crime and corruption over the eight years since the collapse of the Soviet Union is for most voters a major source of dissatisfaction, and one that has traditionally reduced support for Boris Yeltsin and his government. However, this election was overshadowed by two crimes in particular - a series of apartment block bombings in Russian cities, and an insurrection by Chechen warlords in the southern republic of Dagestan. The Russian government won huge credit from voters for its decisive response - the military intervention in Chechnya.

Other candidates who stood to benefit from being seen as fighters against crime were Yevgeny Primakov and Sergey Stepashin.

But for the mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, the crime issue may have been a handicap. The capital has earned a reputation for lawlessness during his period in office. An ongoing investigation into his wife's business dealings may also have dented his image. However, Mr Luzhkov may have been seen by some as a victim, more than a culprit. Boris Yeltsin's former security chief, Alexander Korzhakov, launched his own campaign for a parliamentary seat by claiming that the business tycoon and Kremlin-insider Boris Berezovsky had repeatedly asked him to organise Mr Luzhkov's assassination. Mr Berezovsky described the claim as "gibberish".

Accusations of criminal activity, denials, and counter-accusations - founded or unfounded - are one of the staples of Russian political life, especially at election time. Russians realise that shady businessmen have often sought election in order to benefit from parliamentary immunity. This time the Central Election Commission vetted lists of candidates more closely, and rejected some who submitted dubious declarations of income and property.