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

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stepashin Joins Yabloko For Duma Campaign

Former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko unexpectedly announced late Monday that they were joining forces, saying they wanted to create an "honest, effective democratic" state.

Since being abruptly dismissed on Aug. 9 by President Boris Yeltsin, Stepashin has watched his approval ratings rise.

According to a poll by the Public Opinion Fund, the results of which were broadcast on ORT television Sunday night, Stepashin is now Russia's second most trusted politician behind another former prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov.

Yavlinsky's Yabloko, the fourth largest faction in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, is Russia's only liberal political party not tainted with the perceived corruption of the Yeltsin administration.

Interfax reported that Stepashin will occupy one of the top three spots on Yabloko's party list in December's elections to the Duma.

He will also run, with Yabloko's support, in the 209th single mandate district in northern St. Petersburg, contesting the Duma seat formerly occupied by Galina Starovoitova f who was assassinated Nov. 20. Gennady Seleznyov, the Communist speaker of the Duma, has also announced plans to run in that district.

In a joint statement, Stepashin and Yabloko agreed to set up a political alliance, which, "depending on what the electorate desires, will become an honest, effective and democratic" ruling party, "or an honest, effective and law abiding opposition." Stepashin agreed not to withdraw from Yabloko's party list, and, if elected, pledged to be a member of the party's faction in the Duma. Yabloko and Stepashin also agreed to join forces in presidential elections scheduled for next summer.

Yavlinsky has already declared his intentions to run for president in 2000, and Stepashin is also considered a possible contender. It is not clear, given the alliance, which of the two would run.

Rumors of a Stepashin-Yabloko alliance surfaced last week when the two met. But Yavlinsky told a press conference Thursday that while he and Stepashin had considered joining forces, Stepashin concluded that he could not join Yabloko because, as an "officer," he felt obliged to stay loyal to his president f whatever that may entail.

"Stepashin was considering joining us, and then he changed his mind," Yavlinsky said in a televised interview Sunday night.

Over the weekend, Stepashin declined an offer to lead a so-called "center-right" party that two more ex-prime ministers, Sergei Kiriyenko and Viktor Chernomyrdin, were trying to form.