Regional Elites See United Russia’s Stock Falling
Published: August 28, 2013 (Issue # 1775)
The regional elections to be held on Sept. 8 prove that the leaden and inert politics that characterized Russia in the 2000s are gone forever and that they have been replaced by an active and increasingly vibrant spirit.
This summer was marked by two main trends.
First, the political nuclear reactor in Moscow remains dangerously hot. The political chain reaction triggered by the protest movement that began at Chistiye Prudy on Dec. 5, 2011 threatens to “melt down” the ruling regime’s “stabilizing graphite rods.” With the great mass of government officials, businesspeople and independent professionals remaining active even at the height of the August vacation season, opposition leader and mayoral candidate Alexei Navalny has been mentioned in Moscow’s federal media with the same frequency as acting Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. Even if Sobyanin wins in the first round of voting as expected, these elections — the first in the capital after a long break — have already been characterized by an intense and genuine struggle.
There are indications that forces within the Kremlin are working to prevent Sobyanin from gaining too much political influence with a strong win in fair and competitive elections. This explains why Navalny has been given greater publicity — albeit often negative — in the form of police breaking in and searching an apartment owned by his supporters and an endless series of attacks by the siloviki.
Second, the regional elite — who were previously herded under the uniform banner of United Russia — now see their political influence beginning to melt and break up like chunks of ice falling away from Greenland in the heat of global warming.
The latest report by former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin’s Committee of Civil Initiatives, titled “The party system: the beginning of the reset,” offers a simultaneously comic and impressive picture of how many prominent politicians are abandoning the rotting and sinking ship of United Russia. They are bailing out in all directions in order to avoid getting sucked into the whirlpool of the sinking Titanic — this one stamped with the party’s logo of a large bear.
In fact, they are abandoning not only United Russia but also the other parliamentary parties that have been caught in the suffocating bear hug of the Kremlin. Once considered legitimate alternatives to the ruling party and an answer to Navalny’s appeal to disgruntled voters in 2011 to vote for “any other party” but United Russia, they have now completely discredited themselves through their mindless and unconditional support for the Kremlin’s draconian and idiotic initiatives.
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