Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Primakov Stays Mum On Political Alliances

Former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov faced more wooing from leading politicians Thursday to ally himself with a centrist party to contest parliamentary elections in December? but as usual he kept everyone guessing.

The bloc of the Fatherland party and the All Russia group, which brings together powerful Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and top regional bosses, claimed it already had him on board.

Interfax quoted sources in Fatherland-All Russia as saying it had officially invited Primakov to head its party list in the election for the lower house of parliament, the State Duma. Vladimir Yakovlev, a co-chairman of the bloc and the governor of St. Petersburg, said Primakov had assured him he would join the alliance once he got an official offer.

Primakov has indicated that he favors centrist forces such as the Luzhkov bloc, but by Thursday afternoon there was still no firm word from him.

But Primakov, who was fired as prime minister by President Boris Yeltsin in May, is a prize worth waiting for because of the popularity and respect he enjoys. Political analysts say that any party or bloc which he threw in with would get a huge boost for the Dec. 19 vote.

Various political figures, claiming to be in the know, have made statements on Primakov's immediate intentions.

But Primakov, a former head of one of Russia's espionage agencies, only rarely appears in public. In an interview late last month on a Luzhkov-controlled Moscow television station, Primakov said he was considering seeking a Duma seat but he declined to give details.

The Duma poll is likely to influence a presidential election due in July 2000, which marks the end of the Yeltsin era as the current president cannot by law stand again.

Union with Primakov could help Fatherland-All Russia become the biggest force in the Duma and give Luzhkov's expected 2000 presidential campaign a boost.

Luzhkov, who has been heaping praise on Primakov in recent months, has said his party was ready to put Primakov's candidacy at No. 1 in the national list of candidates for the Duma.

Former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, fired by Yeltsin on Monday, was offered a position in fellow former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko's political movement, New Force.

At a news conference, Kiriyenko said Stepashin could lead the right-wing coalition of New Force, Just Cause, led by young reformers Boris Nemtsov and Anatoly Chubais, and the Voice of Russia movement of Samara region Governor Konstantin Titov.

Kiriyenko praised Stepashin as a "serious politician" and said he could "consolidate" the right-wing political movement. Stepashin hasn't made a public commitment yet.