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Presidential elections of 1996

Elections to the VI State Duma were initially considered as a test of political forces on the eve of the main event of 1996 - elections of the Russian president. Already at the beginning of year the leading politicians - leaders of parliamentary fractions G.A.Zyuganov, G.A.Yavlinsky, V.V.Zhirinovsky and retired general A.I.Lebed officially declared their intention to run for the Presidency.

On February 15, 1996 B.N.Yeltsin declared an intention to participate in re-election for the second term, he specially arrived for this purpose to his native Ekaterinburg. Beside those basic candidates for the post of the President, the first and the last President of the USSR M.S.Gorbachev, a known public figure, former sportsman J.P.Vlasov, the vice-president of fund "Reforma" M.L.Shakkum, and also tycoon V.A.Bryntsalov were registered. A.M.Tuleyev - one of the leaders of the Communist party of the Russian Federation was registered too, but he withdrew on the eve of elections, calling his supporters to vote for Zyuganov.

Winter and spring of 1996 in the political life of Russia were marked by unprecedented propaganda campaign in B.N.Yeltsin's support and his radical reforms. Voters were put before a choice: construction of new Russia on democratic bases, or return to the gloomy totalitarian past.

In the first round of elections held on June 16, the majority of voices was given for Yeltsin, Zyuganov and Lebed. Soon after that A.I.Lebed was appointed to the post of secretary of Security Council of the Russian Federation and assistant to the President on national security. On July 3 in the second round of elections a convincing victory was won by B.N.Yeltsin, who got 53,8 % of support, or about 37 % of the total number of entitled to vote Russians. Thus, more than one thirds of our fellow citizens showed full support of social and economic reforms.

On August 9, 1996 an extraordinary solemn ceremony of inauguration, for the first time put into practice in Russia, assumption of the presidential post by B.N.Yeltsin took place. His election for the second presidential term till 2000 gave real chances to finish begun in 1992 reforming of social and economic structure of our society. Already on August 10, 1996 the State Duma ratified V.S.Chernomyrdin to the post of Prime Minister. Exactly at that time A.B. Chubais, the head of pre-election staff of Yeltsin, the theorist and practical man of privatization in Russia, was appointed head of President's Administration.

However, the beginning of B.N.Yeltsin's new presidential term - autumn 1996-winter 1997 - was marked by a compelled "pause" in political life of the country caused by long illness of the President, who due to peculiar features of the political system of modern Russia, became the important factor, rendering serious influence on the development of the whole society.

In March 1997 on Yeltsin's initiative significant changes in structure of the Government of the Russian Federation were made. The first assistants to the Prime Minister were appointed "young reformers" A.B.Chubays and B.E.Nemtsov, the governor of Nizhegrodskaya oblast. Campaign against corruption and bribery was launched. Information on incomes of leading statesmen and politicians for the period of 1996 was published in the press. This, in turn, became a precondition for beginning of "war of compromising evidences", which was launched in summer and autumn of 1997. This 'war' showed, that mass media in modern Russia became "the fourth power", which formed public opinion, a real component of political system in our country.

Other major event in political life of the country after presidential elections became elections of heads of federal subjects. Their successful realization promotes further strengthening of executive authority in regions, which objectively cements political system of Russian federalism.

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