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The "Unity" Movement


By the autumn of 1999 the main contestants in the approaching elections – from Communists to liberals, from local bureaucrats to ultra­nationalists – were ready to enter the election fray, with the chances of the Communist Party, the Fatherland—All Russia bloc, and Yabloko looking particularly good. It was at this moment, when the process of coalition building across the entire political spectrum seemed to be complete, that the Kremlin suddenly sprang into action and attempted to recapture the initiative in the run-up to the December elections. 

Communist Party Fatherland—All Russia


By that time, the social misery and political gloom of the postcrisis period had largely receded: the economy was picking up, and some social stability had returned. It appeared that the financial crash came with a “silver lining”: the rouble devaluation and the collapse in imports from August 1998 created conditions for the revival of domestic production. The presidential administration had little to do with the economic recovery but was quick to take credit for it. It also intended to gamble on the new face in Russian politics – Vladimir Putin – who had just been appointed prime minister.


In a matter of days the federal administration managed to set up from scratch a new election bloc, the Interregional “Unity” (Edinstvo in Russian) movement. Its core was comprised of local bosses from less economically viable regions, which depended on subsidies from Moscow. 

These regional administrators had little chance of playing a prominent role in the existing governors’ blocs, such as Fatherland and All Russia, led by strong governors from industrialized regions like Moscow and Tatarstan.

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