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Russian Politics in Review
23 November 2007
Russian Politics in Review

Russian Politics in Review
October-November, 2007

The following resource is meant to quickly introduce the reader to politics issues in Russia - with a focus on the upcoming elections, political parties, and political personages. This news review is developed in conjunction with The School of Russian and Asian Studies.


Presidential Candidates

Although elections are just around the bend, who will be the next president of Russia is still any one's guess. Most agree that the most important factor in deciding the next president will be the current president, Vladimir Putin, supporting a particular candidate. He has not done so yet. Below is a list of candidates that have been frequently named as potential presidential successors.

Sergei Naryshkin
Naryshkin's subsequent swift rise to power made him one of the first in a cadre of reserves called up by Putin.

Dimitry Medvedev
"Medvedev's personality was shaped under Putin's strong influence, and he worships Putin like a father figure, or at least like an older brother."

Sergei Ivanov
First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has been meeting workers, inspecting mines and opening sports complexes across the country.

Victor Zubkov
"It would be logical if the prime minister became a presidential candidate."

Vladimir Yakunin
The CEO of Russian Railways is a respected businessman, astute manager, and close friend and ally of Vladimir Putin.

Valentina Matviyenko
Valentina Matviyenko has been called an iron lady, an undemocratic ruler and the woman behind a business boom in the northern capital. But on the streets of St. Petersburg, she is more commonly known as Auntie Valya.

Vladimir Zhirnokovsky
Zhirinovsky can be described as a libertarian, protectionist patriot. A government led by him would likely nationalize some industries, heavily subsidize others, and let still others run free of regulation. He would also likely relegate foreigners to "dirty, difficult, unwanted jobs."   

Gennady Zyuganov
Zyuganov... after nearly 15 years as head of the Communist Party knows the ins and outs of bureaucracy better than many politicians and, above all, has the gift of gab with ordinary folks.

Grigory Yavlinsky
Leader of Yabloko, an economist, a former boxer, and now a tough member of the opposition.

Vladimir Putin
In our view, Putin's continued presence on the Russian political stage is more likely to be a positive, stabilizing influence for Russia's political and economic outlook insofar as it safeguards the country's sound economic reforms instituted since 2001.


Political Parties and Personages

Russia's elections, for the first time this year, will be decided on the basis of party lists. Voters will vote for parties, not candidates. Therefore, political parties are extraordinarily important now. However, only two will likely have the support to win seats under the rule that parties must win 7% of the vote to win seats: those parties are United Russia (supported by President Putin) and the Communist Party.  

Parties Feel Financial Strain of Election Campaign
Two weeks before Dec. 2 Duma Elections, financial strains have forced the majority of the 11 regional political parties to withdraw from the media phase of the campaign.

Russians were ordered to attend Putin rallies
Regional government officials demanded that schools in Tver region and railway departments in Novosibirsk provided pupils and employees to cheer for the president at Soviet-style rallies in recent weeks.

Putin to appear in United Russia election TV campaign
Russian President Vladimir Putin will participate in TV broadcasts as part of the parliamentary election campaign for the United Russia party, the head of the party's election committee said Tuesday.

Communists to pitch themselves against One Russia with new election slogan
"One Russia has a main slogan now, 'Putin's Plan is Russia's victory.' We have also decided to launch a new party slogan, 'The CPRF plan is the people's plan'."

Russia: Searching for the Opposition
"Small opposition conferences and rallies have been held around the country for months now," says Gamburg, "but given the pro-Kremlin slant of most media here, very little of this activity appears in the news."

Fourteen parties join Parliamentary race
Parties that are not represented in the current parliament have to prove their trustworthiness by either enlisting 200,000 potential voters or paying a bail of almost $2.5 million. Some say it's brutal.

Putin Gives Opening and Closing Remarks at a United Russia Congress
And therefore United Russia, a party that accepts its political responsibility for the course it has adopted, can have only one objective: victory in the forthcoming elections, a victory won in a fair fight.

Gorbachev creates union of Social Democrats to develop democracy.
New party will not participate in upcoming elections.


Issues - Putin as "National Leader?" 

See SRAS's new article on this issue for more information about this issue.  

Election manifesto of Russia's pro-Putin party
* Russia's future: A unique civilization and a great power.

Creating a New Stability by Strengthening Political and Social Institutions.
Creating a new stability, based not only on the personality of Vladimir Putin, but also on institutions, is one of the chief priorities of the political system's development.

Putin Driven to the Kremlin Wall
Very soon, For Putin All-Russia’s Public Movement will hold a constituent assembly to word, on behalf of the nation of course, the proposals for new power configuration topped by national leader Vladimir Putin.

Russia to switch from manual to automatic 'mode of rule' in 15-20 years - Putin
"We are not doing anything unique. In overcoming a systemic crisis we are forced to do many things in the so-called manual mode," said the president.

Russia would be more dangerous without Putin
All the old paranoia would return and civil liberties would be thrown out.

Parliamentary Democracy In Russia
President Vladimir Putin's decision to lead the pro-Kremlin United Russia party into parliamentary elections means that, for the first time in the post-communist era, a president will participate in an election on a party political platform.

Putin's Risky Bid to Hold on to Power
Vladimir Putin appears to have found a way to remain the most powerful man in Russia after he leaves office as president -- without having to amend the constitution. But his plan is not without risk. It could aggravate tensions within the innermost Kremlin circle. 


Issues - The Siloviki Wars? 

The Western press has been particularly concerned of late with the apparent conflict among power groups within the Kremlin.

Twelve Who Have Putin's Ear
RFE/RL looks at some of the key figures and outlines their official duties, their connections with one another, and their ties to the country's all-powerful president.

The Kremlin's Clan Warfare: The Putin Era Ends
Something big is happening in the world of Russian power. And it ain't pretty. Warning: eXile article. It is informed and interesting, and possibly offensive in its language and the surrounding links.

The problem is not that Cherkesov has become desperate about his limited access to the "boss" or, perhaps, cherishes ambitions to become secretary of the Security Council (a key post that has remained vacant for several months).



Below is a short run-down on the legal, governmental, and logistical issues surrounding the elections.

The Election Movie
Russia's Central Elections Committee has devised television ads to bring Russians to the polls - and make them proud of their country.

In Chechnya, violations of electoral law
Banners, placards and posters have been visible in the centre of Grozny for several days now, urging voters to support the United Russia party in the forthcoming Russian parliamentary elections in December, although the official pre-election race is not due to start until November 3.

How to Become an MP
This year, political parties don't intend to sell deputies' mandates, as they have done in the past. The value of a State Duma seat is no longer measured in cash. It's not rubles, dollars or even euros that are now the principal "currency" of Russian politics, but the number of votes that a name can bring.

Four Parties Get Most Airtime On Federal Television News Programs
The Communist Party leads with 22%, United Russia ranks second with 21%, and the Liberal Democratic Party and Fair Russia have 17% each, the center said.

Russia Bars Opposition Group From Vote
The Central Election Commission declined to register a candidate list submitted by Other Russia which is co-led by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

Party Tickets List 6,000 Candidates To State Duma
They will compete for 450 Duma seats.

Russia: An Election Landslide Won't Equal A Mandate
Russia is in the throes of another election cycle, and it seems certain the country's retreat from democracy will continue and accelerate. The seemingly inevitable result of the upcoming legislative and presidential elections is likely to be a huge pro-Kremlin majority with impeccably antidemocratic credentials facing a tiny, equally antidemocratic Communist opposition.

One-Party Politics Unhealthy, Say Russians
Two-in-five adults in Russia would like to see several parties with a chance to make a difference in the country’s political scene, according to a poll by the Yury Levada Analytical Center. 40 per cent of respondents believe there should be two or three large parties in Russia.


Issues: OSCE Election Monitors

Russia denied its election monitors visas; unable to monitor upcoming vote
All 56 OSCE member countries, including Russia, agreed in 1990 to invite international observers to monitor their elections.  

Russia Limits Election Observers
In 2003, the OSCE sent 400 observers to monitor Russia's nation-wide parliamentary elections. This year, Russia's CEC says it will allow only 70 observers.


NGOs, Activism, and Other Issues

Over 1,000 NGOs refused registration in Russia
Of the 13,014 applications submitted to the directorate from April 2006 until now, 1,380 NGOs were refused.

Women Look for Greater Representation
Several women leaders are hoping for a higher representation in parliament after the Dec. 2 elections than the present 10 percent.

Weary of Highway Bribery, Russians Take On the Police
Motorists’ groups have held demonstrations against the police in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.

Hi, My Name Is Boris
Lou Bantle, a former tobacco executive and alcoholic, battled apathy, corruption and the mob to bring Alcoholics Anonymous to Russia.

Welcome to Russian Consumer Democracy
However, the attack became even more powerful after bloggers spread the company's phone number all over the Internet, promising inexistent cheap rent, excellent new cars — and even escort services.

Rights Activist Tells of Detention In Russian Psychiatric Institutions
"Because you are the author who wrote about the closed psychiatric system, which is forbidden, we are sending you to a psychiatric institution," the psychiatrist said, according to Arap.

The Defender of a Lesser-Known Guarantee in Russia
As the director of the Institute for Information Freedom Development... he strives to teach government agencies that stores of information in their possession — manufacturing and sanitary standards, court records, licenses, fire codes, public tenders, administrative decrees, agency phone directories, registries of public and private organizations — should be made available for all to view.

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