Filmed during the last few months prior to the 1996 Russian presidential election, when four opposition candidates to Boris Yeltsin were running for president of Russia. Most Americans were unaware of these opposition leaders. Russian scholar Stephen F. Cohen interviews the oppositionists: Aleksandr Lebed, Gennady Zyuganov, Grigory Yavlinsky and Aleksandr Rutskoi.

The Opposition Leaders:

Describing President Boris Yeltsin’s performance as a “minus” overall, Alexsandr Lebed gained fame by suggesting that the country could use a military dictator like Augusto Pinochet. On May 30, 1995, Lebed resigned his commission to enter the political arena of post-Soviet Russia. In the elections to the State Duma in December 1995, Lebed headed the list of the moderate-nationalist party Congress of Russian Communities. Lebed ran as a candidate in the 1996 Russian presidential election and finished third with 14.5% of vote in the first round of voting, behind both the incumbent president, Boris Yeltsin, and the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov.

Gennady Zyuganov entered the 1996 presidential election as the standard-bearer of the Russian Communist Party. In the election Zyuganov finished second with 32%, trailing only Yeltsin, who captured 35%. Zyuganov prepared for the July 3 runoff election with confidence. He ran a campaign focusing on the president’s ill health and pledged to return Russia to its Soviet days of glory. Yeltsin gained from the elimination of the many smaller parties, as well as the support of Alexander Lebed, and eventually won the two-man showdown by 53.8% against 40.3%.

Another candidate was Grigory Yavlinsky, who ran for President with the endorsement of his party and other organizations. He came in fourth and received 7.3% of the vote. In the 2000 presidential elections, he finished third and received 5.8% of the vote. Subsequently he did not offer his support to Yeltsin or his Communist opponent Gennady Zyuganov.

Alexander Vladimirovich Rutskoy served as the only Vice President of Russia from 10 July 1991 to 4 October 1993. In the course of the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, he was proclaimed acting president of Russia, in opposition to Boris Yeltsin. On the night from 21 to 22 September 1993, Rutskoy arrived at the residence of the Russian parliament and, at 00:22, assumed the powers of acting president of Russia.


Here is a must-see prophetic film, especially in light of the continuing crisis in Ukraine.

– Pietro Shakarian, Reconsidering Russia and the Former Soviet Union