Yeltsin foes enlist for battle of the hustings

As President Boris Yeltsin yesterday strutted on a global stage alongside his American counterpart, his enemies back home were lining up to join the battle against him in December's parliamentary elections.

More than 40 groups - from the far left to the radical right, from women and patriots to beer-lovers and Muslims - had turned in signatures by Sunday's midnight deadline in the hope of qualifying to take part in the poll. The Central Electoral Commission will spend the next nine days ensuring the groups, which range from formal parties to loose electoral blocs, did not resort to fraud to gather the 200,000 required names.

The election to the 450-member State Duma, or lower house, will be a crucial test of public opinion in the run-up to June's presidential contest and will help determine who runs for the top job. But it is already abundantly clear that Russia's disenchanted voters will have a bewildering choice when they go to vote on 17 December.

There are fears that the number of parties will alienate and confuse the electorate, prompting them to chose candidates at random or because they sound familiar, or to decide not to vote at all. The head of the electoral commission, Nikolai Ryabov, has warned that having so many contesting parties (many of which are politically difficult to distinguish from one another) is more likely to make a mess of the election than to benefit Russian democracy.

Eight of the heavyweight contestants are already registered, including the popular General Alexander Lebed's Congress of Russian Communities, the ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's misnamed Liberal Democratic Party, and the pro-Yeltsin party set up by the Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, under the name Our Home is Russia. In all, the list is expected to comprise about 30 "parties", which will each have to win at least 5per cent of the total vote to qualify for seats in parliament.

One party will be instantly recognisable. Russian opinion polls are unreliable, yet they consistently indicate that the Communist Party is in front. Unlike almost all the democratic blocs - from Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Choice to Yabloko - the Communists have not been weakened by any recent split in their ranks. Nor are they tainted by having taken part in government in the years since the break-up of the Soviet Union. They present a simple, familiar option for the many millions who have suffered from the country's economic reforms and hanker for the return of state protection.

The rise of the Communists' fortunes has been reflected in the behaviour of their leader, Gennady Zyuganov, who has been trying to convince the world he does not share the hard-line views of the Marxist-Leninists in his party's ranks. At a recent meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow, he struck a moderate note, talking positively about foreign investment and good relations with the West.

His rising star has not gone unnoticed by Mr Yeltsin, who appears to be bracing himself to run for office next year despite his recent mild heart attack and his continuing unpopularity. Before leaving for New York, the President - whom the Communists have been unsuccessfully trying to impeach for months - demanded that Communist candidates should be barred if they seek to topple the government.

The Communists retorted by accusing him of meddling in the democratic process, and threatened to sue him.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
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

Business Analyst/ Project Manager - Financial Services

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...

Science Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Year 6 Teacher - Flintshire

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Key Stage 2 Teachers needed in Flintsh...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 6 Teachers urgently needed for su...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits