Russian Main page Russia at the polls World Front page
BBC News Online
Russian Elections 1999
The elections are as much a contest between personalities, and the power blocs they control, as a conventional electoral race between parties. Click the names on the right for an at-a-glance guide to the key figures and political groupings.
FATHERLAND-ALL-RUSSIA
UNITY
UNION OF RIGHT-WING FORCES
YABLOKO
OUR HOME IS RUSSIA
THE COMMUNIST PARTY
Boris YELTSIN
Yury LUZHKOV
Yevgeny PRIMAKOV
Vladimir PUTIN
Grigory YAVLINSKY
Gennady ZYUGANOV
Aleksander LEBED
Vladimir
ZHIRINOVSKY

Vladimir Putin



Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin became Prime Minister in August, the fifth man to hold this position in 17 months. A little-known figure before his appointment to head the Federal Security Service in July 1998, he was a surprise choice for the premiership. Still more surprising was Mr Yeltsin's prediction that Mr Putin would succeed him as president. However, since taking office Mr Putin's popularity has soared, thanks to Russia's successful military operation in Chechnya.

Aged 47, Mr Putin began his career as an intelligence officer in Germany. He later became deputy mayor of his home city, St Petersburg. It was here he met the economist, Anatoly Chubais, who later introduced him to President Yeltsin's inner circle, paving the way for his meteoric rise.

His popularity rests on Russia's successful military campaign in Chechnya, for which he has taken personal responsibility, and his refusal to listen to Western calls for restraint. He has not yet proven his ability to handle the Russian economy, or the country's pressing social problems. Serious reversals in Chechnya could therefore cause his popularity to decline as quickly as it rose.