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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Candidates Put in Their Place




Numerology was the pseudo-science that State Duma candidates appealed to Friday after their order on the ballot was determined by an election commission lottery.


Although the simple procedure of random number generation was most likely ruled by the laws of probability, many candidates were convinced that divine intervention was at work.


"I just drew my favorite number," said former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, leader of the Union of Right Forces election bloc, after the lottery machine spat out the number 23.


"All the women in my family were born on the 23rd - my wife, my daughter and my grandmother. On March 23, I was appointed acting prime minister. On April 23, I was approved by the State Duma as prime minister. On June 23, we proposed our anti-crisis program. On July 23, we received the IMF loan. And on Aug. 23, I was removed from office," he told journalists, recounting the tumultuous chronology of 1998.


Kiriyenko predicted the Union of Right Forces would receive 23 percent of the vote - though the latest polls show the bloc getting from 3 percent to 4 percent.


State Duma Deputy Oleg Morozov, who represented the Fatherland-All Russia bloc, led by former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, also seemed cheered by his draw - No. 19. He said that boded well for his bloc's turnout in the Dec. 19 election.


"On Dec. 19, which number should be picked by voters? The 19th! And we will get 19 percent," Morozov said, obviously unaware that Kiriyenko had used the same logic to conclude that his bloc would get 23 percent.


Morozov said it was a good sign that Fatherland-All Russia's main competitor, the Communist Party, was lower down - even if only slightly - at No. 20.


Duma Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky's eponymous bloc sent three representatives to pick a number.


"This is to avoid a situation where a single person is blamed for getting an unlucky number," said Alexei Mitrofanov, Zhirinovsky's close ally in parliament.


The Zhirinovsky Bloc will be 17th on the list of 28 blocs and parties. By coincidence, the bloc managed to keep the number under which it was initially registered by the Central Election Commission.


Mitrofanov suggested the coincidence had a supernatural significance. "Fortune will remain with us, and we will get 17 percent of the votes," he proclaimed. He said he was pleased that the Zhirinovsky Bloc was neither first, nor last, nor 13th.


Candidates said that of the 28 slots, the top and bottom numbers were less preferable, as they are likely to be overlooked by voters.


The No. 1 slot went to the little-known Conservative Party of Russia. In the 1995 election, the movement failed to win the necessary 5 percent of the votes to earn Duma seats.


The Russian Socialist Party, headed by maverick pharmaceutical and alcohol baron Vladimir Bryntsalov, will be last on the ballot. But Bryntsalov was optimistic.


"I believe that the Lord's hand will guide the voter's hand right to the end of the list to where we will be located," Bryntsalov said.


The ominous No. 13 went to the Russian Party for the Protection of Women, but the movement's representatives did not comment on this turn of fate.


According to the election law, the numbers are assigned to blocs for the duration of the campaign. Even if a bloc or party drops out, the numbers will be kept and there will be blank spaces on the ballots for the lost contenders.


Candidates said the assigned numbers will be used in campaigning, to help voters locate the right bloc on the ballot.


"No. 10 is a good, round number that is easy to remember. We are going to incorporate it into our advertising," said Alexei Podberyozkin, leader of the Spiritual Heritage movement, which will be 10th on the ballot.


The Stalinist bloc, led by Viktor Anpilov and Josef Stalin's grandson Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, drew the fifth slot. While the only meaning party representatives attached to their draw was that they would be guaranteed at least 5 percent of the vote, the number may have more ominous connotations for the bloc. After all, Stalin died on March 5.