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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: End Is Nigh For the Party Of Power




The Our Home Is Russia political party is in deep crisis. The group's leader in the State Duma, Alexander Shokhin, was dumped at the insistence of party head Viktor Chernomyrdin. Shokhin's crime: talking to film director Sergei Mikhailkov about possibly heading the party's list in parliamentary elections as someone more charismatic than the dull Chernomyrdin.


Since it was formed, more or less by government decree, Our Home Is Russia's members have signally failed to form a coherent program or engender any loyalty with voters. It will almost certainly be annihilated in Duma elections next year. Predicting its demise has become a habit in the Russian press. The reason for Our Home's continuous quest for focus is simple, however. The group doesn't have a good rationale to exist.


Our Home was created ex nihilo by government fiat on the eve of the 1995 elections as a vehicle for Chernomyrdin's ambitions. Its sobriquet of "the party of power" was not exactly auspicious for a movement that pretended to be broad-based and democratic.


Despite huge support from the government, Gazprom and regional leaders, but with much thanks to Chernomyrdin's underwhelming charisma, the party picked up a miserable 10 percent in the elections.


Since then, Our Home had been a dull and unquestioning parliamentary support base for Chernomyrdin's government. But the party lost its only possible reason for existence when Chernomyrdin was fired as prime minister in March by President Boris Yeltsin.


The former, current or would-be bureaucrats and regional officials who make up the party no longer see Chernomyrdin as a rising star. Sensing that their godfather is now weak and without any other ideology but opportunism, Our Home Is Russia is now disintegrating.


Further undermining Chernomrydin and Our Home's relevance, Chernomyrdin's most powerful base of support - the natural-gas monopoly Gazprom, the biggest company in Russia - has dropped him as a presidential hopeful.


Chernomyrdin's strategy in ditching Shokhin is mysterious. If he didn't like the job Shokhin was doing, he could have taken over leadership of the Duma faction himself by running for an open seat in parliament from the Yamal-Nenets region that he probably could have won with ease.


Maybe it's time to admit the idea of a "party of power" is a failure. What they do with it - merge it with Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's Otechestvo group, or find some other way to face reality - is up to them. But this is one idea whose time is not just passed. It never arrived.