The rapid collapse of the ideologically mobilized Soviet system led to the rise of a huge market of votes without strong, ingrained political attachments. The formation of the new institutions of representative democracy were in Russia influenced by both the post-Soviet social context and the conditions of modern society, particularly the development of new means of communication. The impact of these factors on organization, finance, forms of electioneering and the role parties play in post-Soviet Russian politics is considered in this chapter.
During the 1999 parliamentary elections in Russia one could observe a paradoxical phenomenon. A considerable number of Russian citizens (23.2 per cent) had voted for a team, about which nothing was known, except that it was supported by a person, about whom in turn almost nothing was known except that President Boris Yeltzin had declared him his successor. In turn, it was well known that President Boris Yeltzin did not enjoy his countrymen's confidence and had won the previous presidential elections only because of the people's fear of the worst: the candidate of the Communist Party. As late as three months before the elections nobody suspected the existence of this party 'Unity'. Its list of candidates consisted of unknown persons, except for the three first names: a multiple world and Olympic champion in Greco-Roman wrestling, a former inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department famous for his activity during the Soviet period, and the current chief of the Ministry for Emergency Situations. The last did not promise to leave his post in the government (and indeed continued to serve as a minister). All three had no experience either as deputies or as public politicians. This 'party' has no grassroots in society, no organizational structures, nor even a coherent political programme. It was formed overnight by specialists in political consulting for this one election campaign to respond to popular hopes for