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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fight for Votes Fragments Democrats

Russia's democrats are quickly fragmenting as they embark on President Boris Yeltsin's tight schedule for December elections to a new parliament, party officials said Wednesday.


Once united in fighting the pro-communist opposition that dominated the former Supreme Soviet, democratic factions are now drifting apart as they battle to strengthen their identities ahead of the vote.


There are currently four main democratic blocs, although these are likely to alter in the coming days as the numerous parties and coalitions meet for conferences to plan their electoral strategies:


o Russia's Choice: Headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar and founded in June 1993. This pro-Yeltsin bloc consists of Democratic Russia, Gaidar's Russian Association of Privatized and Private Companies and other democratic movements. The bloc is the strongest contender and is expected to get the most votes.


o Russian Movement of Democratic Reforms: Set up by former Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov in February 1992 and led by St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. Negotiations with several democratic movements to form a coalition are still under way. They expect 8-20 percent of the vote.


o August: It remains unclear whether or not this bloc will be formed on time. Popov has already stepped out of the coalition and currently only Konstantin Borovoi's Economic Freedom Party is in it. If a coalition is formed the party hopes for 15 percent, if not, 5 percent of the vote.


o New Russia: Has no clear leader and is currently made up of six different social-liberal parties including Telman Gdlyan's People's Party, who call themselves "moderate reformers". The bloc was formed in October 1993 and hopes to get up to 10 percent of the votes.


The Russian Justice Ministry announced Wednesday that in all there are 91 registered parties. How many of these will take part in the elections and in what coalitions remains unclear, however.


First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko told journalists Wednesday that eight of the 12 electoral blocs now being formed are likely to support Yeltsin's reform program.


He added that in addition there would probably be a "comparatively powerful bloc of communists and extreme nationalists".


Ten of the main, hardline, opposition parties have been banned for supporting the White House rebellion, but others have agreed to take part in the vote.


Although many democratic parties want to unite, the short amount of time left until elections has made finding common ground difficult.


Borovoi's spokesman Alexei Zudin said Wednesday that the party leader and millionaire would continue to meet with other leaders the coming two days. But an effort to form a coalition with Sobchak's party has proved unsuccessful.


Zudin said that the democrats should strive to unite their efforts, because "parties are very unpopular in general and people don't understand why parties are necessary".


Larisa Vladimirovna of Democratic Russia went one step further.


"In 1933 the democrats in Germany failed to unite and that's how Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was able to come to power", Vladimirovna said. "Together we will be the strongest".