Volgograd Forum, August 1, 2001

Alliance of Unity and Fatherland Parties in Volgograd May Turn Out Communists

When I was in Cleveland, I told you about a new law on political parties, passed recently by the State Duma. It envisages stricter requirements for a political party to be registered in order to take part in elections at any government level. One of those requirements says that a political party must have at least ten thousand members nation-wide.
In Russia only the Communist Party can meet at present those requirements. That is why other, mainly reformist parties, came to the conclusion they had better merge, in spite of the ambitions of their leaders, than sink into oblivion.
One of the most notable mergers, already announced, is that of the pro-President Putin "Unity" Party and "Fatherland" Party led by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. If they merge, they will become the largest faction in the State Duma and have good chances of winning elections both at national and regional level.
But the road to the merger is full of pitfalls. It is not clear who will lead the united party, nor what name it will have. Now the unification steering committee has two co-chairs: Mayor Luzhkov and the "Unity" leader Sergei Shoigu.
The situation is even more complicated at the local level. The Volgograd "Unity" organization is led by the Deputy of the State Duma and former Vice-Governor Vassily Galushkin, and Mayor Yuri Chekhov leads the "Fatherland" one. Both men competed in the last December's elections for the Governor's office and were bitter rivals. Both have political ambitions for the future and would like to occupy leading positions in the party which is known for its links to the still highly popular President.
No wonder that I took extra efforts to recruit Mr. Galushkin as speaker for July's Forum right after he got back from Moscow where he took part in the bi-partisan conference that announced the forthcoming merger.
Mr. Galushkin agreed to speak on July 17, though it was the first day of his vacation. For that reason he asked the Forum to be convoked in the morning.
We met at 11 a. m. at a place downtown owned by the Volgograd Writers' Union. In spite of the heat and an early hour we had a nice crowd of some forty people. Mr. Galushkin said he was sure, if "Unity" and "Fatherland" unite in Volgograd they would beat Communists in the next Oblast Duma and Governor's elections.
Asked who would lead the united party in Volgograd, Mr. Galushkin replied, 'Do not expect Mayor Chekhov and me to start a fight. We will both make concessions to each other'. We did not quite understand what he meant.
Because of the importance of the issue the event had a good media coverage and a fragment of it was televised.

Alexander Yevreinov

Volgograd Free Speech Forum


Home : About Us : Our Projects : Get Involved : News & Events : Library : Key People : Special Thanks : Links : Contact Us

2002 Greater Cleveland - Volgograd Oblast Alliance