Russian voters give support to Putin's war campaign

ELECTIONS: Yeltsin's chosen successor receives electorate support as early returns show pro-Putin Unity party and Communists fighting it out

RUSSIANS APPEARED to have given a strong vote of confidence to Boris Yeltsin's chosen successor, the Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, by opting for the parties he endorsed in yesterday's elections for a new State Duma.

Results were preliminary but last night analysts said the vote amounted to a plebiscite and that if Mr Putin, 47, were to stand for president today, he would become undisputed master of the Kremlin. An obscure administrator before August, when he took office, the former KGB agent has risen by restoring Russian pride through the assault on Chechnya. The outcome of the elections was also a vote of approval for the "anti-terrorist campaign", which the West has criticised.

Two exit polls and the first preliminary results from the Far East and Siberia showed that two parties that enthusiastically backed Mr Putin had won combined support greater than that of the leading opposition party, the Communists.

The unofficial nationwide polls put the Communists, who have a following of mostly elderly voters, ahead with 28 per cent, while the new pro-Putin Unity or "Bear" Party had 24 per cent. But when votes of the Union of Rightist Forces (URF) were added, it gave an extra 11 per cent to Mr Putin's backers.

Official preliminary results, based on votes counted east of the Urals - 10 per cent of the national total - put Unity in first place with 27 per cent, compared to 25 per cent for the Communists, while giving the URF 7 per cent. Results will change as the counting moves westward across this country of 11 time zones. But analysts said a gratifying result for Mr Putin was guaranteed.

The result seemed extraordinary, considering that Unity, led by Mr Putin's friend Sergei Shoigu, the Emergencies Minister, has only existed for two months. But, having been created by the Kremlin to provide a loyal Duma contingent, it enjoyed massive financing and had the full weight of the pro-Kremlin media behind it.

The real election sensation was the success of the URF, led by the former prime minister Sergei Kiriyenko, who presided over the August 1998 economic crash. Pundits had more or less written off him and his pro-market party.

But after he said he would be backing Mr Putin for president, Mr Kiriyenko received generous air time on pro-Kremlin channels. In his four months in office Mr Putin has devoted himself almost entirely to the Chechnya problem, while leaving the economy to drift. It appears Mr Putin envisages Mr Kiriyenko taking a leading role in the future running of the economy.

A scenario in which Mr Putin was president, Mr Shoigu prime minister and Mr Kiriyenko economy supremo would represent the victory of the younger generation over the old guard in Russia.

The man most disheartened last night was almost certainly another former prime minister Yevgeny Primakov, 70, whose Fatherland-All Russia (FAR) bloc, in which he co-operates with the Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, and key regional governors, was looking defeat in the face. This summer, before the rise of Mr Putin and the start of the Chechen war, it had seemed unstoppable as a non-Communist force of opposition to the corrupt Yeltsin administration. But preliminary results showed it polled about 6 per cent, 1 per cent over the minimum needed to enter parliament. It was behind Vladimir Zhirinovsky's nationalist bloc, with 8 per cent. The liberal Yabloko party was just scraping in with 5 per cent. The situation for FAR and Yabloko might change as votes farther west are counted. Muscovites and St Petersburg residents, whose governor is also a top FAR figure, are unlikely to have abandoned it entirely. The big cities of European Russia are also important centres of Yabloko support. But early results still disappointed Mr Primakov and the Yabloko leader, Grigory Yavlinksy, both of whom until yesterday had had presidential ambitions.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?