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Russian opposition, the voters and wilted laurels of dissidence

Gabriela IONIȚĂ

 In mid-March, in 76 of the 87 regions of the Russian Federation, population was called to the polls to decide their local authorities. Although the victory obtained of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s party no longer a surprise, this election (considered as a test of popularity for the ruling party United Russia, amid rising unemployment and utility prices) provided and surprises. Of that noted the victory in Irkutsk of the candidate supported by the Communist Party.

As regards the poor results obtained by the opposition parties were already justified in the usual tradition of accusations against Putin system. The opposition’s leaders, seconded by non-governmental observers have spoken again the word "fraud". In reply, the Central Election Commission head, Vladimir Churov, said that the electoral system in Russia is "the best in the world". Conduct of elections has been accompanied by unprecedented security measures. Predictable, given that last year's regional elections (October 11, 2009), opposition parties shout loudly that the ruling party United Russia's victory was due to a massive fraud. After that President Dmitry Medvedev said the country needs supervision more stringent to ensure a fair vote and fair. Overall, on the fund crisis, United Russia had seriously lost its popularity, but it would be inappropriate to talk of a dramatic reversal of the opposition. Of course, voters tend to leftist ideology is normal in the context of the social problems of crisis. But victory in Irkutsk, where Viktor Kondrashov won 62% of votes, while United Russia's candidate, Sergei Serebrennikov, only 27%, is rather due to a collective discontent of the population from local authorities and the quality candidate than a efficiency of the actions promoted by Zyuganov's Communists.

Moreover, the current elections reiterated that opposition parties have a huge image deficit in the eyes of voters. Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic party appear to have kept faithful voters. In change, liberal anti-Kremlin opposition shows no sign of their unit voice. Even if things in words sounds encouraging, in practice the change seems to come rather from the population where social tensions have accumulated disallowed much.

Moreover, the preamble to the regional elections, Russia has experienced a marked increase in protests from the people. Of course, the crisis has created serious social problems, almost all EU countries encountering large mass demonstrations. But when speak of Russia, things become rather more complicated. An overview shows that in the last two decades, drastic measures required by the Kremlin, supported the opposition's inability to successfully establish itself as a truly viable political force, have resulted the democratic right to protest in ridiculous. Multiple arrests, followed by the release of protesters leaders gave a hilarious tone in tragicomedy of opposition’s actions. And this was reflected in time by the increasingly anemic desire of the population to claim rights in the street. Perhaps because of this, events in Kaliningrad received ample space in the Western press. From the press in Russia, largely controlled by the authorities or subject to self-censorship necessary for survival, however one does not expect too much. For readers less familiar with the area concerned, recall that the end of January, in the enclave of Kaliningrad, a huge protest drew more than 10,000 people, who began by asking the governor’s change and anti-crisis measures and ended by asking dismissal of Prime Minister Putin. "Through this rally, the population Kaliningrad shows to the rest of residents how to fight for their rights" said co-chairman democratic party Solidarnost, Boris Nemțov, arrived from Moscow in Kaliningrad to take part in protest action. He stressed, in a statement to media that the Kremlin's current policy has led to the unification of all opposition forces in a common front. "All have united. From Solidarnost by communists. The action today is only the beginning of massive protest demonstrations that will include the whole Russia" said Nemțov, drawing attention to the desperate situation of the inhabitants of the enclave. Ie, that the utility rates were increased by 25% -30% unemployment rate is extremely high, and visas to leave the region are obtained with difficulty.

Like I said, at the level of discourse, hostilities goes well. But what does not seem to have noticed the opposition representatives present rapidly in the area, is that classic mental translation from local to central authorities operating at the masses only until to the end of the protest. Moreover, public perception has tended to regard the presence of opposition leaders as an act of opportunism, without consequences in solving urgent problems of enclave’s population. And, unfortunately, this type of perception about opposition is found throughout the Russian Federation space. Explained otherwise. And visible at the recent regional elections. Also noted a basic issue: if initial they were sustained by russian and international media (actually, the duty of the press, more or less free, is critical to power), Russian opposition leaders have been silenced by the Kremlin's propaganda machine but also by their inability to rise to level of expectations and the position occupied. Opposition in Russia, with its few prominent leaders, is also a brave warrior, patriot, which nods on wilted laurels of Putinist dissidence and dreaming to the victory of import democracy. And to fight with "those who are afraid of fair competition"!

As stated, the lack of credible opposition, and thus the political struggle by all means democracy has contributed not only the power governing (the same in the last 20 years), but also a number of errors of the opposition itself. Radiographs brief, it sees first that the opposition parties in Russia are mainly dependent lack of leadership. Both at the central secondary level and at regional organizations. A single voice associated with a party isn’t and cannot possibly be effective. Furthermore, endemic corruption of the local authorities led that where are regional leaders, they are associated (by the same type of mental translation) with the group interests that people hate them. Secondly, first class opposition leaders don’t seem to understand that constantly blaming the regime in Moscow to the international political events is not likely to bring a successful image, and thus the electorate, but rather the perception of weakness and lack of involvement internally. Russia's population is (say, and assume any criticism) still subordinated to a particular type of ideological self-isolation. According to a survey conducted by VCIOM in order to identify the most attractive ideology among citizens FR, in first place with 33% to put national conservatism understood as defending traditional values, national independence and sovereignty, solidification of the status of great power, promotion of interests of ethnic Russians. In second place with 24% are supporters of the left ideology: social equity and equality, human rights, protection work, antiglobalism. Only 17% lean to liberal values, individual rights, economic freedom, near the West. Thirdly, it speak about organic lack of capacity opposition to speak and act consistently. Disability that voters saw in time in many aspects, from the lack of a single candidate in presidential elections, brought loud protests initiated in the State Duma and inexplicably abandoned the next day, and until further mass protests planned by opposition leaders, already abandoned for the reasons that is desired to avoid bloody clashes with security forces. In the eyes of voters, it may be a perfect illustration of the power of example failure. In this context, it is natural that the civil society to seek an identity and a form of its manifestation, to crystallize their own choices and ask the authorities to focus attention on concrete measures to solve social problems in territory, beyond the political dispute in which the population doesn’t seem to find. No less important, the crisis financially (and demonstrate the limits of an economy based only on the export of basic raw) natural push Russia to the necessary restructuring. But a tense social climate is an unstable basis for achieving the 4 I (investment, innovation, institutions and infrastructure) of Russia's modernization program proposed by President Medvedev. As for the proposed presidential party "Trud" seems to make sense, and a sign that United Russia representatives anticipated in real terms decrease in voter preferences and the need to provide a new option, without changing anything essential in political algorithm. But here already take the future strategies, a concept too complex for lack of vision of the opposition parties.
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