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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chernomyrdin Allies Predict He Will Seek State Duma Seat

Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, in need of a political platform for the 1999 parliamentary elections and for his presidential bid in 2000, may seek a seat in the State Duma this year, his allies said Friday.

Chernomyrdin, 60, was fired by President Boris Yeltsin on March 23 and shortly after announced he would run for president under the banner of his Our Home Is Russia party.

On Friday, Deputy Duma Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov, a member of Our Home Is Russia, said the group would within the next several days ask federal elections officials to return Chernomyrdin to the party's electoral list, on which he won a seat that he never took in 1995.

Officials at the Central Election Commission said they could not comment as they had not seen the petition.

If that does not work, Interfax quoted Ryzhkov as saying Chernomyrdin might run for a vacant seat in the Yamal-Nenets region in the Far North. The previous deputy for the region quit to join the government.

Half of the 450 deputies in the Duma, or lower house of parliament, are chosen in electoral districts, and the other half are alloted proportionally according to the vote for party lists. Chernomyrdin won a seat by virtue of his slot at the top of the Our Home Is Russia list in the 1995 election but turned it down. His seat was given to another party member.

Grigory Belonuchkin, an author of reference books on the parliament, said the law on elections would not let Chernomyrdin slip into the Duma without winning an election. He cited a 1994 case in which a deputy from the Women of Russia party list quit and unsuccessfully tried to take another vacancy belonging to the party.

Going the special election route, however, might be a good idea for Chernomyrdin, said Vladimir Prybylovsky, who studies Duma politics at the Panorama research institute.

"If he wants to return to serious politics, he has to keep himself in front of the public, and to become a deputy is better than being no one," Prybylovsky said.

"There is some risk," Prybylovsky added. "If he doesn't win, it's the complete end of his career. He needs to choose a very reliable district."

The vacant Yamal-Nenets seat would be a good choice, since Our Home Is Russia did well there in 1995, leading the party-list vote with 23 percent, Prybylovsky said. It is also dominated economically by Gazprom, the huge company Chernomyrdin used to head.