Union of Right Forces

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The Union of Right Forces (Soyuz Pravykh Sil, or SPS) was a political party that grew out of an association, geared toward the 1999 Duma elections, of a number of leaders' structures, not one of which was able to enter the previous Duma on its own. The SPS included: the democratic bloc "A Just Cause"; the bloc "Voice of Russia," founded as a gubernatorial bloc; and the movement "New Force" of the ex-premier Sergei Kiriyenko. "A Just Cause" brought a number of groups together around the party Russia's Democratic Choice: the movement "Forward, Russia!," "Common Cause," the movement "Democratic Russia," the party "Democratic Russia," and an array of smaller organizations. In "Voice of Russia," which originally consisted of seven organizations, only two, with Samara governor Konstantin Titov at the head, joined with the SPS; the others entered "All Russia." "A Just Cause" had less severe losses at the time of the association: it only lost "Forward, Russia!" with Boris Fyodorov, who joined with Our Home Is Russia (NDR). The SPS list was headed by reformers from the second wave: Kiriyenko ("New Force"), ex-deputy prime minister and former Nizhegorod governor Boris Nemtsov (Russia's Democratic Choice), and ex-minister Irina Khakamada ("Common Cause"). In the organization of the campaign and the elaboration of the program, a leading role was played by veteran reformers Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar.

The SPS leaders, presenting themselves as liberal statists, unequivocally supported the incipient war in Chechnya and entered into a full-format union with the Kremlin, using the patriotic sentiment in society and the growing popularity of premier Vladimir Putin (the campaign slogan was "Putin for president, Kiriyenko in the Duma!"). Alongside massive stadium shows as part of the "You're Right!" campaign aimed at youth, the SPS advertised with a collection of signatures in support of a referendum to be held with four questions: concerning the protection of private property, the removal of immunity from the deputies of the Federal Assembly, limitation of military participation to those in service or under contract, and limitations on the president's right to dismiss members of the government. After the elections, the Central Electoral Commission rejected almost one million of the 3.6 million signatures collected and refused to hold the referendum. The SPS candidates balloted in sixty-five majority districts and won in five, winners including Nemtsov and Khakamada. The original count was small (thirty-two delegates), but the experienced SPS did not become head of the pro-government coalition. Although in the second half of the term it gained control of several important committees, the SPS, under the leadership of Nemtsov (in May 2000, Kiriyenko, the original leader, was appointed plenipotientary to the president in the Privolga federal district), started to move in a highly oppositional direction. The SPS political council included Gaidar and Chubais, as well as Nemtsov, Khakamada, and Kiriyenko, who had suspended his membership.

Deeming the years of activity of the government formed in 2000 as a time of squandered possibilities, the SPS proposed a formula for success consisting of three components: a strong and effective state, a private competitive economy, and individual freedom. The SPS considered the following tasks of primary importance: (1) the defense of federalism (prohibition of a third term for governors, nationwide elections of the members of the Soviet Federation, and guaranteed funds for local self-government); (2) the creation of conditions for the attraction of capital and the return of emigrés to Russia; (3) immediate realization of the following constitutional rights of citizens: the right to ownership of land, the right to move and to choose one's place of residence, the right to information, which presupposes the defense of the independence of the media organizations (SMI), and the right to an independent and fair trial; (4) the introduction of a cumulative pension system, liberalization of labor relations, and effective restructurings in the Residential-Communal Management (ZhKKh) sphere; (5) guarantee of equal access to education, introduction of a single exam into the VUZy (institutions of higher learning); (6) creation of political conditions for full-scale regulation in Chechnya; and (7) military reform, providing for six-month service and transition to a contracted army no later than 2005.

Positioning itself as the mouthpiece of business interests, the SPS had an array of serious sponsors (including the energetic monopolist RAO UES of Russia, headed by the unofficial leader of the SPS, Anatoly Chubais, "Alpha-Group," "Interros," and so forth), allowing it to act with relative independence.

See also: chubais, anatoly borisovich; duma; gaidar, yegor timurovich; kiriyenko, sergei vladilenovich; nemtsov, boris ivanovich


McFaul, Michael. (2001). Russia's Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

McFaul, Michael, and Markov, Sergei. (1993). The Troubled Birth of Russian Democracy: Parties, Personalities, and Programs. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press.

McFaul, Michael; Petrov, Nikolai; and Ryabov, Andrei, eds. (1999). Primer on Russia's 1999 Duma Elections. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Reddaway, Peter, and Glinski, Dmitri. (2001). The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms: Market Bolshevism against Democracry. Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace Press.

Nikolai Petrov

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Union of Right Forces