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Sergei Glazyev

 
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Updated: 08.12.2003

Co-leader of the Homeland National-Patriotic Union

Glazyev never ran for the USSR or RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies during the perestroika period. Instead, he associated with other young reform-minded economists, including Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar. In December 1991 he became first deputy chairman of the Russian government's Committee on International Economic Relations, which became a full-fledged ministry in January 1992.

Many young people left their government posts when Gaidar resigned as acting prime minister in December 1992, but Glazyev moved to the top of the Ministry on International Economic Relations in the government of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. He held that job until 21 September 1993, when he resigned to protest President Boris Yeltsin's infamous decree dissolving the opposition-dominated Supreme Soviet.

Glazyev was among those politicians advocating early elections for president and parliament to resolve the 1993 standoff, but Yeltsin instead ordered the Supreme Soviet to be blockaded and eventually shelled. During the short campaign for the first State Duma, Glazyev joined the party list of Nikolay Travkin's Democratic Party of Russia (DPR), which was anticommunist but also anti-Yeltsin. He put together the DPR's economic platform.

When the DPR gained 5.5 percent of the party-list vote in December 1993, Glazyev earned a seat in the lower house of parliament. Travkin's party received control of the Duma's Economic Policy Committee, and Glazyev became its chairman.

By now it was clear how far Glazyev's views had moved away from those of economists like Gaidar and Chubais. Under his leadership, the Duma Economic Policy Committee continually criticised government policies. In 1993 and 1994, Glazyev was even an economic consultant for former Russian Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, a principal nemesis of Yeltsin's during the clash with the parliament, according to a profile of Glazyev published by the Panorama analytical centre in 2000.

Meanwhile, Travkin was inclined to cooperate with the government and accepted the post of minister without portfolio in April 1994. Glazyev and other colleagues began to work against Travkin and compelled him to resign as head of the DPR in December 1994. Glazyev and fellow Duma Deputy Stanislav Govorukhin then became co-leaders of the party, which remained implacably opposed to Yeltsin and his government.

The Duma's rules at the time allowed any registered faction to put a vote of no confidence on the agenda. The small DPR faction used that provision so many times that even other opposition groups such as the Communist Party (KPRF) became annoyed. Eventually the Duma changed its rules to require at least 90 of the chamber's 450 deputies to endorse a no-confidence vote before one could be put on the agenda.

The DPR had only narrowly cleared the 5 percent threshold in 1993, and in the absence of its founder Travkin, its prospects for repeating that feat in 1995 were dim. Glazyev and Govorukhin differed over election strategy, and in August 1995 they decided to part ways - temporarily, they said at the time. Glazyev became the No. 3 candidate for the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) and the brains behind the KRO's economic platform.

Political commentators in 1995 expected the KRO to perform well, perhaps second in the party-list voting. However, the party stumbled during the campaign. The biggest mistake was putting charismatic retired Lieutenant General Aleksandr Lebed second on the party list, behind the gray Yury Skokov, a former Security Council secretary who had worked closely with Yeltsin.

The KRO gained a disappointing 4.31 percent of the vote in December 1995. The results were disastrous for Glazyev, who had not campaigned in a single-mandate district out of confidence that he would enter the Duma from the KRO party list. In contrast, Govorukhin won a single-mandate district and regained a seat in the Duma, despite the fact that his Bloc of Stanislav Govorukhin won less than 1 percent of the party-list vote.

Glazyev and other party leaders charged that fraud robbed the KRO of its rightful place in the parliament, but their complaints did not change the official returns.

During the 1996 presidential campaign, Glazyev helped organise efforts to support a "third force" alternative to Yeltsin and Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov. When that movement failed to coalesce, he helped prepare an economic platform for presidential candidate Alexander Lebed.

Yeltsin appointed Lebed secretary of the Security Council after the first round of the presidential election, and Lebed soon brought in Glazyev as head of the Economic Security Department of the Security Council's apparatus. But Glazyev only held that job for two months, until Yeltsin fired Lebed.

Glazyev took a position in the Federation Council's apparatus in December 1996, a job he held through 1999. Another veteran of the 1995 KRO debacle, Dmitry Rogozin, won a Duma by-election in a single-mandate district in 1997. Glazyev opted to wait for the next opportunity to run on a party list.

In 1999, Glazyev hitched his wagon to the only party that absolutely could not fail to clear the 5 percent threshold: the KPRF. It was a stunning move for an economist whose associates from the 1980s tended to support parties in the "democratic" camp. Yet the views of Glazyev and KPRF leaders were less far apart than they appeared.

Glazyev had long advocated more state intervention in the economy, while the KPRF leaders had already given up most elements of socialist ideology. Glazyev became the KPRF's No. 3 candidate and drafted the economic sections of the party's election platform, which was more market-oriented than the 1995 version had been.

The KPRF provided a rock-solid guarantee that Glazyev would gain a seat in the new Duma. What did the Communist leaders get out of the deal? Glazyev's credentials as an economist made the party look more respectable. In addition, the KPRF adopted the Soviet tradition of showcasing well-known non-Communists as allies, if not formal members, of the Communist Party.

Glazyev appeared frequently on television on behalf of the KPRF in 1999. On election day, the Communists won 24.3 percent of the party-list vote, more than any other party that year and slightly up from 22.3 percent in 1995. Glazyev joined the Communist Duma faction and became chairman of the Duma's Economic Policy Committee in early 2000. In June of the same year he became a co-chairman of the Communist-led umbrella movement National-Patriotic Union of Russia.

His political niche was secure until Duma Banking Committee Chairman Alexander Shokhin announced in March 2002 that he was leaving the legislature to work for the private firm Renaissance Capital. Shokhin's move triggered a reshuffling of Duma committees, and pro-Kremlin Duma factions seized on the opportunity to muscle out the Communists.

When the dust settled, the KPRF, which had more members than any other Duma faction, was left with no committee chairmanships. Union of Rightist Forces member Grigory Tomchin replaced Glazyev at the helm of the Economic Policy Committee.

Glazyev remained in the Communist Duma faction and ran for governor of Krasnoyarsk Territory in September 2002 following the death of Alexander Lebed. Backed by the Communists, he finished a strong third with 22 percent of the vote, fueling speculation that he could be a future presidential candidate representing leftist parties.

As the 2003 parliamentary elections approached, Glazyev decided to form his own electoral bloc rather than return to the KPRF party list. He teamed up with Rogozin again to establish the Homeland bloc, which combines leftist and nationalist politicians and slogans.

Homeland's rhetoric bashes "oligarchs" and corruption. The bloc has also employed some gimmicks, such as offering a 15 million-ruble ($500,000) reward for information leading to the capture of Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev.

Glazyev has not targeted the KPRF during the 2003 State Duma election campaign, although some analysts believe that the siloviki in President Putin's camp are backing Homeland in order to divide the left-leaning electorate. As is so often the case in Russian politics, the opposite rumour is also circulating around Moscow, namely that Kremlin officials worry about Glazyev emerging as a leftist presidential candidate and are displeased that he is competing against United Russia.

Related links:

Sergei Glazyev's Official Site

Homeland Official Site

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