MOSCOW - Aleksander Lebedev, a prominent banker and candidate for the post of Mayor of Moscow at the elections due on Sunday, has announced that he was quitting the political bloc he used to participate in. Lebedev said that the reason for the move was because of extremist elements in the ‘Motherland’ bloc, but his words did not sound very convincing. But, according to the Russian electoral law, party electoral lists cannot be changed with the elections literally at hand.
Late on Thursday evening, Aleksander Lebedev’s electoral headquarters distributed a short and obscure statement reading that the head of the National Reserve Bank had decided not to run for the State Duma and would now only remain a candidate for Moscow Mayor. The banker decided to quit from the Motherland bloc headed by parliamentarians Sergei Glazyev and Dmitry Rogozin. The reason for the decision was “disagreement with extremist statements made by one of the bloc’s leaders” the statement reads.
Unfortunately, Lebedev’s headquarters refused to elaborate on whom exactly the banker considers extremist and asked our correspondent to address the National Reserve Bank with this question. The bank’s press secretary Vladislav Kuzmichev sent us back to the elections HQ. “I am in the bank office at the moment and I was not present when the statement was made,” he said.
The five top leaders of the patriotic bloc are: State Duma deputies Glazyev and Rogozin, former member of the infamous State Committee of the State of Emergency Varennikov, former head of the Central Bank Geraschenko and the leader of the People’s Will Party Baburin. Lebedev heads the Moscow regional group in the bloc. If the Motherland passes the five percent threshold, Lebedev would almost certainly get a seat in the State Duma, especially having that Glazyev and Rogozin can be elected in a single-mandate constituency and the place on the list would become vacant.
The primary suspect in allowing any extremist statements is the head of the State Duma’s International Relations Committee Rogozin. Rogozin was the first to comment on Lebedev’s withdrawal and, after this comment one can feel pity to the renegade. “The bloc’s leaders have exchanged opinions on this issue and some of us took this fact with indifference while some others – with a certain sense of relief. I consider that the bloc loses nothing with Lebedev’s withdrawal. On the contrary, I think that his decision will have a positive effect on our electoral campaign as it will be appraised by our patriotically inclined supporters. In this case Lebedev prefers to save his business sacrificing his reputation.
Rogozin’s aides, however, assured us that until recently their boss had perfectly good relations with Lebedev. “It is very hard to guess whom he, Lebedev, meant when he talked about extremism. We are simply shocked, they said.
As Gazeta.Ru has managed to learn, Glazyev’s aides were not ready for such a turn of events, especially having that only one week ago, at a closed session of the Motherland’s council, Lebedev intended to abandon his struggle for the mayor’s post and devote himself to the work in Motherland. Then, he told the press he preferred not to get distracted and concentrate on the parliamentary elections.
The most important thing, however, is that if last week Lebedev could actually withdraw from elections, now the law does not allow him to do so. The last day when anyone could withdraw from the party elections list was Wednesday. Rogozin’s press secretary Olga Sagareva confirmed this to Gazeta.Ru and said that while Lebedev cannot withdraw from Motherland’s electoral list, he can give up his deputy’s mandate after the elections, if he receives one.
A short time ago, leaders of the Union of Rightist Forces warned society of the “red-brown threat’ coming from the Motherland bloc, that they consider a gathering of communists and nationalists. Nemtsov and Chubais went into real hysteria at a press conference at the Interfax news agency as they accused the Kremlin of raising the party of national socialists. It is unlikely that Lebedev’s move was caused by the rightists’ revelations, but Rogozin is sure that his former comrade has experienced pressure from Chubais.
It is most likely, that Lebedev’s move was caused by severe pressure applied to him, Rogosin said. In any case, even without pressure, Lebedev must understand that the image of a man who opposes Moscow’s incumbent mayor Luzhkov looks more liberal and attractive than the image of a partner of such people as Glazyev and Rogozin, who look pretty much like Luzhkov themselves.