. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Strange Bedfellows Unite to Support Yeltsin

In an eclectic gathering of monarchists, chess players and retired economists, a group of fringe political parties announced Tuesday that they were setting aside past differences with President Boris Yeltsin and supporting his candidacy for the presidency.

The group included representatives of the Russian Association of Monarchists and the Russian Majority Party, former Sakhalin governor and Moscow economist Valentin Fyodorov and a spokesman for Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of Kalmykia and of the International Chess Federation.

The stated purpose of the group, which called itself the Inter-party Coordination Council, was to unite fringe parties behind the cause of reform and political freedom, and to create a front against the election of communists.

"There are large parties, and there are small parties," said Feliks Yemelov, Russian Majority Party head. "Small parties are able to handle many of the grass-roots tasks involved in a campaign and often have valuable contacts in far-away regions. We hope to rally these forces for Boris Yeltsin in June."

All of those present at the press conference pointed to the apparent incongruity of their union as an indication of their desperation.

"Why are we here?" said Sergei Skorbogatov, spokesman for the Russian Association of Monarchists. "Obviously it's strange, since we monarchists don't run for elections or involve ourselves in government. But for the cause of keeping Russia from going back to the days of concentration camps, summary executions and religious persecution, we're willing to do everything we can to bring out the vote for President Yeltsin."

"It is strange to see liberals and monarchists in the same group," said Oleg Lubachenko, spokesman for Ilyumzhinov. "But we all feel that going back to the old days would be a catastrophe. About that, even a group as diverse as ours can agree in full."

The group said it would hold another meeting within a week, by which time it guaranteed it would have more small parties in its ranks. The Beer Lovers' Party, which won nearly 2 percent of the national vote in the Duma elections, has already pledged support.

Some participants made claims bordering on the extraordinary. "With the help of Kirsan Nikolayevich [Ilyumzhinov] we will deliver the chess playing community and no less than 99 percent of the Kalmyk vote for President Yeltsin in June," said Lubachenko.

Fyodorov, who heads a political party called the Russian Industrial Union, said his group would find well-known politicians in each of Russia's 225 electoral districts to campaign for Yeltsin in return for his support should they decide to run for the State Duma.

"Of course, we don't know whether we'll have time to do that, and about the president's support we can't be sure, but we think this plan is feasible," he said.