The men who matter in Moscow: Big players in the power game

YELTSIN ON THE BRINK

Viktor Chernomyrdin

One obvious front-runner is , Prime Minister and the man who stands in for Mr Yeltsin when the latter is incapacitated by alleged alcohol abuse, heart attacks, or both.

Mr Chernomyrdin formed a political party called Our Home is Russia, which was soon dubbed the party of government, because of the preponderance in its ranks of government apparatchiks and ex-apparatchiks.

Mr Chernomyrdin himself used to be boss of the giant Soviet gas and minerals conglomerate, Gazprom. He initially expressed strong reservations about the market economy ("a bazaar"), but gained international brownie points by demonstrating a commitment to keeping economic reform on track.

During the hostage crisis in Budyonnovsk earlier this year, he impressed Russians and international observers alike with his unexpectedly cool decisiveness in difficult circumstances.

Not a man of vision, but perhaps a safe pair of hands.

Alexander Lebed

Alexander Lebed, a former Soviet general, is an unpredictable figure who seems to believe he is the man to save Russia. His politics are unclear, but his core support comes from those who feel that a silnaya ruka, or strong hand is needed, to run the country. - a potentially large constituency.

He criticised Russia's war in Chechnya, but not because he was soft on the Chechens. His criticism appeared to be that the war had been fought badly, rather than the fact that it was fought at all.

Until recently, he was commander of the Russian troops in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, where ethnic Russians and Moldovans (Romanians) have fought a low-key war in recent years.

Yuri Skokov, General Lebed's fellow-leader of the Congress of Russian Communities, is seen by some as his future rival. President Yeltsin himself has been keen to stoke such speculation in recent weeks - not least, perhaps, in order to put General Lebed and Mr Skokov at each other's throats, and thus divide their support.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky

The pathologically self-confident Vladimir Zhirinovsky has always been flamboyant, with his extremist nationalism. Yesterday, in typical form, he appeared to blame Mr Yeltsin's illness on the machinations of President Clinton and the CIA.

Mr Zhirinovsky's neo-fascist Liberal Democrats gained a large slice of the vote at the last parliamentary elections, in 1993. His recipe of Make Russia Great Again went down well with the embittered voters, who were happy to blame Jews and assorted foreigners for all Russia's ills.

There is plenty of bitterness still around. But Mr Zhirinovsky has begun to be perceived as a kloun, even by his former supporters

One possible alternative for the discontented might be the Communist Party leader, Gennady Zyuganov. Communist support has grown in the past year.

Grigory Yavlinsky

One of the liberals' few remaining hopes is Grigory Yavlinsky, who came to prominence in the dying days of the Soviet Union, when he created a radical economic plan in 1990 which was rejected by Mr Gorbachev. His party, Yabloko, - an acronym for the "Yavlinsky bloc'' -receives the support of some of the tiny band of liberal Russian voters. One of the other liberals is the former prime minister Yegor Gaidar, who was the main architect of Russia's economic reform programme, and became very unpopular as a result.

At the moment, Mr Yavlinsky's chances look poor. But it is perhaps worth noting that predictions about Russian politics have a poor track record. Disillusion is so great that "a plague on all their houses" tends to be the commonest voters' response. As a result, sure-fire winners can turn out to perform badly, and no-hopers can easily come in first.

That, of course, includes Mr Yeltsin himself, the man who has been written off more often than any other politician in the entire Russian Federation.

Mikhail Gorbachev

A potential candidate who is more highly regarded in the West than in Russia itself is Mikhail Gorbachev. The former international superstar, who is now almost entirely ignored by his compatriots, runs the Gorbachev Foundation, and - like his old friend, Baroness Thatcher - spends much of his time on the international lecture and chat-show circuit.

At home, the former Soviet leader is still distrusted by the liberals - who feel that he put the brake on radical reform, as opposed to Communist perestroika - and hated by the hardliners - who argue that he destroyed the wonderful and flourishing Soviet Union. But there is less open hostility to him than there was a year or two ago. At least he has shown himself to be (a) honest and (b) not a lunatic, which is more than can be said for many Russian politicians today.

Steve Crawshaw

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
i100
Sport
footballLatest scores and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
Voices
voices
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
Life and Style
health
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

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad