Posts Tagged ‘parties’
The Moscow Times features an article today about People’s Freedom Party (a.k.a. Parnas) that’s being created by Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Kasyanov, Vladimir Ryzhkov, and Vladimir Milov. My opinion is also there:
“The problem is that there is practically no chance to get registration. Because of this, it is questionable why so many resources should be spent on it,” said Oleg Kozlovsky, a member of Solidarity’s political council.
While he said he does support People’s Freedom, he would abstain from working on the task of getting political registration for it, Kozlovsky said.
Instead, he will focus on forming a new noncommercial organization to strengthen civil society. “With such a weak civil society, parties are useless. This is where we have to start,” Kozlovsky said.
From Huffington Post.
December 23, 2009.
Yabloko, which had claimed to be the last registered democratic party in Russia, has officially broke up with the opposition. Its convention adopted [on December 19] a resolution last week that bans Yabloko’s members from participating in any opposition organizations, movements or coalitions.
Kremlin’s most hated “troublemakers” like The Other Russia and Solidarnost are explicitly mentioned in the resolution. Those who don’t leave these organizations within three months will be automatically expelled from the party, regardless if they hold high posts.
Yabloko had long struggled to balance the real democratic opposition and the so-called “system opposition” (i.e. controlled by the Kremlin). Members participated in Dissenters’ Marches and openly criticized Vladimir Putin’s regime while their official leaders were more busy attacking other democratic organizations and figures. Grigory Yavlinsky (Yabloko’s co-founder and former leader) and Sergei Mitrokhin (Yavlinsky’s successor) called themselves the opposition, but meanwhile supported the authorities when sensitive topics were concerned. They denounced any opposition’s attempts of consolidation, defended infamous Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov from accusations of corruption, and even went so far as to support United Russia’s candidate for mayor of Sochi against Boris Nemtsov of liberal Solidarnost.
But this display of loyalty wasn’t enough for the authorities. Yabloko hasn’t been allowed to win any major elections since 2003. The party also had huge debts after its lost campaigns. The latest Moscow Duma elections were a disaster for Yabloko when Mitrokhin lost his deputy seat. It became clear that Yabloko had no chances to win any elections without submitting to the Kremlin completely. The only other option was to join the opposition ranks and inevitably lose the official registration (i.e. the right to participate in elections, under current legislation) and face harsh repression. No wonder the party’s leadership didn’t want such a fate.
To guarantee the full loyalty of Yabloko, Mitrokhin needed to get rid of “troublemakers” within his own party. Such were the most independent and popular activists (like the head of St Petersburg branch Maksim Reznik or a well-known journalist Andrei Piontkovsky), who were already participating in different opposition projects. The latest resolution was therefore both a way to clean the party of its democratic wing and a signal that Yabloko was ready to surrender — A kind of a white flag visible from the Kremlin’s towers.
The latest decision makes Yabloko a part of the system of managed, or “sovereign” democracy built by Vladislav Surkov. This concept implies that all democratic institutions exist in paper, but are in fact imitated and controlled by the government. Elections are held regularly but their outcome is known in advance. Freedom of speech is praised but only exists on the Internet and in some papers with limited circulation. There are parties that call themselves opposition but they will never challenge the existing government or try to take its place. This system is used to fool and calm down people both inside and (maybe even more) outside Russia. “Our democracy is not perfect, but so isn’t yours,” they say to Western leaders. And there are always ones who prefer to believe (or pretend to believe) that this imitation is democracy.
The most ironic part of this story is that even after such a shameful surrender Yabloko has only a dim prospect of restoring even a part of its influence. As shows the experience of another wannabe pocket opposition party, Right Cause, Surkov doesn’t value his defeated opponents. Almost all candidates of Right Cause weren’t even allowed to run for elections this autumn. So there is a very slight chance that Yabloko will be able to win any elections after giving in to the Kremlin. Especially after they expel all their most promising activists.
I haven’t recently had time to blog here a lot, sorry about that. Here are some interesting things that happened in the last month or two:
1. Oborona started its English blog (not so many entries yet) and held its second summer training camp Partizan-2009 near Volga river. The camp lasted four days and was packed with training, workshops, discussions etc. Journalists and guests from other democratic organizations participated along with Oborona activists.
Here are some camp photos and a video clip (in Russian):
3. For the first time, an individual is sent to prison officially for criticizing the government. Alexey Nikiforov, an opposition leader in Yekaterinburg, was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment for “extremism”: his “crime” was organizing of several peaceful and legal public protest actions. The court considered slogans “Down with the police state!” and “I don’t want to live in a fascist state” extremism. Previously, courts used to sentence “extremists” to conditional terms, not the real ones.
4. Another court in Krasnodarsky Kray found the slogan “Freedom is not given, it is taken” extremism and ordered to ban Novorossiysk Committee for Human Rights, which used that slogan at one public action. The court decision says,
…the call to “take” freedom means that individual rights have priority over the state’s [rights]. Thus, the slogan “Freedom is not given, it is taken” is of extremist nature.
5. While Dmitry Medvedev calls (once again) to “strengthen democracy” and even criticizes political repression (abstract, not the ones that take place in today’s Russia), one of the Moscow’s busiest metro stations Kurskaya now proudly features a quotation from the Soviet anthem of 1943:
Stalin brought us up — on loyalty to the people,
He inspired us to labor and to heroism.
6. All seven Solidarity’s candidates to the Moscow City Duma were denied registration by the Electoral Commissions. In some cases, the reasons were unbelievably absurd and almost unexplainable (like lack of certain unnecessary hints in subscription forms). Even members of the “official opposition” Pravoe Delo (Right Cause) party were also denied registration. Therefore, there will be almost no competition in these elections.
Yevgeny Chichvarkin, one of the leaders of the Kremlin’s puppet party Right Cause and a businessman, reportedly “emigrated to an undisclosed country”, i.e. escaped from Russia. The reason for that was criminal prosecution of him as a former shareholder of EuroSet mobile phone retailer chain. Previous administrative measures have already “convinced” him to sell his shares (a widespread way of taking over someone else’s business in Russia) but his foes didn’t leave him alone.
The irony here is that Right Cause openly admits cooperation with Kremlin and claims to be a mediator between the enterpreneurs and the government. Their leaders repeatedly said that the authorities are willing to help Russian business but it’s mainly the non-conformist opposition that ruins it all. Now that they even failed to defend themselves against the siloviki, Chichvarkin will have to continue supporting the government from exile.
Early April marked a new wave of opposition coalition building. Three events took place in each of the three main political camps. Liberals gathered in St. Petersburg on 5 April, the leftists met in Moscow on 6 April and the nationalists had their convention on 12 April. The goal of each of these events was to unite the majority of political forces of the corresponding wings.
The liberal conference in St. Petersburg founded a coordinating group, whose task is to prepare the creation of a new democratic or liberal movement. This group included Garry Kasparov of United Civil Front (OGF), former and present SPS leaders Boris Nemtsov and Nikita Belykh, and St. Petersburg Yabloko head Maxim Reznik. Mikhail Kasyanov’s Russian People’s Democrat Union (NDS) movement claimed it would also join the body, as did the Oborona movement. Yabloko’s long-time leader Grigory Yavlinsky has notably ignored this initiative.