The Russian opposition should do its homework (Kennan Institute)

A landslide United Russia victory and a remarkably poor showing of the opposition forces in Russia’s parliamentary elections earlier this week shouldn’t be attributed entirely to rigged electoral rules or fraud. There is another, different lesson to be drawn: the exhaustion of the opposition and its lack of ideas for garnering support.

Politics in Russia has been an extremely personalized business for decades, and it remains so today. What happened in the elections is that President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating of 87 percent was distributed among the parties that are more or less loyal to the Kremlin: the four parliamentary parties together received 87.1 percent of the popular vote last Sunday.

Russian liberals put at the head of two liberal tickets two men they believed had enough renown to at least dent Putin’s grip on the voting public, Mikhail Kasyanov, former prime minister, and Grigory Yavlinsky, founder of Yabloko, a left-leaning liberal party. But when it came to a personal showdown, those two stood no chance. No one in Russia stands a chance right now.


I have mixed feelings about the above article. It at least acknowledges the [non-systemic] opposition is disconnected from the general public and largely bankrupt of unifying ideas, but it argues from the position that the only reason Russians aren’t voting for the opposition is that Putin has the population “in his grip” using persona and name. I’ve heard this claim many times before.
Putin might be defeated only when his charismatic leadership, severed from any plausible program for the country, is faced with an ideas-based movement that does not emphasize any particular leader.
Also, Inozemtsev’s recommended changes in the opposition agenda:
  1. Cutting taxes and making a number of sectors of the economy free of them, including agriculture, food processing, smaller retail outfits (restaurants, cafes)
  2. Challenging the sovereignty of Putin’s Russia “by advocating a pivot back to Europe and even some kind of submission to the EU along the lines of the Swiss and Norwegian model.” Paying the EU 2-3 billion Euros per year for access to its market; respecting its laws but not participating in the decision-making process; not accepting aid. Who knew there was such a thing as “excess sovereignty”?
  3. A strong anticlerical program, which would remake Russia as a secular state and release the grip of Orthodox Fundamentalism on public life.

I’m sure these ideas would resonate wonderfully with enough of the Russian electorate to get Putin out of power –

Wait, this was a parliamentary election we were talking about?



  1. Short answer – liberasts called Russians in years past bydlo, sovoks, biomass, slaves, untermenchen, genetically defective uneducated plebs. They went to Elections proclaiming loudly, that they will give Crimea to Ukraine.


    Untill they and the Westies who suppoer them finally realize that they will never win hearts and minds with such approach, no matter how loud they will chant “Party of Crooks and Thieves!” and attack corruption, they will NEVER be voted for.

    But, hey – this is an article by (in)famous think-tanker Inozemtsev. What else can you expect from him?

    “His famous “power vertical” might turn ineffective in a new type of struggle, just as a certain knight in armor suddenly was weakened when confronted by dozens of angry peasants wielding rakes.”

    That was supposed to be a poetic allegory? Historically speaking, armoured noble cavalry curb-stomped any rebelling peasants 99/100, and did it not personally but in teamwork. And liberasts are not peasants – they are fat burghers, who done everything in their power to avoid even a short stint in their burgh’s militia. They have no “peasants” to swarm their enemies – more likely, peasants will hang them on city walls and loot their houses, all the while opening town’s gate and inviting some noble to bring order.

    “Very few Russians nowadays are moved by an agenda oriented toward greater democracy or a liberalized economy, nor are they particularly drawn to the anticorruption agenda. These themes sound too abstract and should be replaced by something that speaks more directly to larger parts of the population, _though not necessarily to an overwhelming majority_.”

    See what he did here?

    “The Russian opposition should not forget that it was a choice for Europe, not corruption issues, that brought Ukrainians out into the streets. But no one in Russia has addressed the issue in a forceful way.”

    And look how prosperous Ukraine is living since that fateful choice! Surely, “larger parts of the population, though not necessarily to an overwhelming majority” (c) of it dreams about surrendering Russia’s sovereignty in exchanhge for prverbial “lace panties” ™.

    “Declericizing Russian society and decreasing the role of formal religion may well become an agenda behind which up to a quarter of the electorate could unite, but it too was not touched on by anyone in the recent campaign.”

    AFAIK, probably no one of them, no matter how notoriously moronic, had been dropped head-first on concrete floor as a baby. As for Inozemtsev, I’m not sure. “Up to a quarter of the electorate”. Quarter, Carl! (c)

    In short, while critisizing Russian oppos and their Barbie-sized parties as “worn out”, Inozemtsev demonstrates his (typical for a Westerner) utter lack of understanding of Russian people suggesting that new Liberal Savior Party should adopt what I can only call bourgeois-democratic programm, that won’t attract more people than then it is attracting today. To understand that one has to realize that no, the vast majority of Russians are not Moscow and St. Pete’s dwelling hipsters and kreakls, and businessmen are not as numerous or powerful as in the West.


  2. Inozemtsev is a tool. Here he is back in March 2011;

    “Contemporary Russia is not a candidate to become a Soviet Union 2.0. It is a country in which citizens have unrestricted access to information, own property, leave and return to the country freely, and develop private businesses of all kinds…Clearly, this arrangement—economic freedom coupled with political constraint—does not please everyone. To the standard American mind it suggests that something has got to give. This, too, is wrong. Some Russians do give voice to dissatisfaction with the current regime and the widespread abuse of power by police authorities, local officials and oligarchs closely connected with the ruling bureaucracy. Yet the system seems fundamentally solid and durable.”

    Of course, that was when he still thought Medvedev was going to stand for another term, and the liberal wagon train would just keep on a’rollin’.

    The west has some issues, I think it’s safe to say. They never forget that Putin said the death of the Soviet Union was one of the world’s great tragedies, but they can never remember the quote properly, and never include the explanatory part which makes it perfectly obvious – not to mention correct – what he’s talking about. But they never remember anything twats like Inozemtsev say, as if their job was to churn out disposable philosophy which vanishes from memory in a week, so that what Inozemtsev says now is what he has always said. That’s not so at all, and it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t know what he believes, either.


    • Oh, this brings back memories!

      Reading comments there I felt both nostalgic (so many good and not so good commenters gone!) and also had to slap myself on a forehead. D’oh! How could we forget some juicy bits of Inozemtsev’s bio?! This explains everything! Well, most of it.

      Mr. Inozemtsev was a member of the political council of the party “Right Cause” (“Правое Дело”), a pet project of the oligarch M. Prokhorov, who was so touted during 2011 Duma elections. They’ve lost. Hard. While even Yabloco managed to scrape 3.43% back then, our bona-fide pro-capitalist hip and supposedly up-and-coming new “liberals” of the Right Cause got only 0,6%. Gee, I wonder why Russians didn’t vote for them back then – and unlikely to vote them now, or in the foreseeable future.

      In February 2012 he was no longer in the PolitSovet of the RC, because they had the gall of supporting the candidacy of Putin in the upcoming Presidential elections. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the end of his political career – in 2012 pro-business party “Civilian Power” (“Гражданская Сила
      “) – which dissolved itself in 2007 – had been resurrected in mere months after Inozemtsev’s departure from traitorous Right Cause. Naturally, he also became a high roller in it – but as the head of its political council. Party had no trouble whatsoever from getting official registry from Russian authorities – and that was in the summer of 2012, right in the midst of “repressions” of Tyrant Putin against Innocent Victims of Bolotnaya ™!

      Under steely gaze and firm steering of Inozemtsev and Co his party performed… really bad. Really-really bad. During the electoral campaign of 2013 they had their candidates in 10 out of 24 regions (not bad for basically nobody). But they managed to screw up even there. Their decision to run as their candidate in Tolyatti a, ahem, “Go-Go dancer” (who was campaigning on, among other things, legalizing prostitution in Russia) plus sheer ineptitude resulted in their party receiving from 0.1% (Ivanovo) to 0.77% (Yekaterinburg) of votes in local elections. No candidates from the party managed to get any seats in local Duma’s and city councils, let alone win mayoral and or gubnatorial elections.

      These poor results, probably, resulted in resignation of party’s founder A. Ryavkin from all party offices in July 2014… upon which he got himself immediately appointed as deputy chairman of Oryol Oblast’s administration (I mean – what a cruel man is Putin, and how mercilessly he suppresses poor liberals!). Inozemtsev also parted ways – this was the end for his political career. Paradoxically enough, but 2014 electoral year was so far the most successful for the party – they managed to get one deputy (and, so far, only) deputy in Nenets Autonomous oblast administration. The idea to run this time 3, ahem, “Go-Go dancers” in St. Pete’s municipal elections also resulted in failure – but, I guess, this tells us enough about party’s leadership.

      This year’s Electoral campaign was for “Civilian Power” even bigger disaster – on Duma elections they got 0.13% of the votes and came 14 out of 14 parties. No new deputies in local Dumas either. The Right Cause, where Inozemstsev began his political career, had by that time lost its rich patron, Mikhail Prokhorov, die and resurrect itself as loyalist (but still sickeningly liberast) “Party of the Growth”. They managed to get 1.1% of the vote in Duma elections. More than 0.73% of ParNaS., less than 1.99% of Yabloco.

      And that’s all what you need to know about electoral chances of either economic or political liberals in Russia.

      And a few more things about Inozemtsev himself. In 2010 he put his signature below a “program document” of the so-called Russian non-systemic opposition “Putin Must Go Away” (“Путин должен уйти”), penned by such worthies as A. Piontkovsky, G. Kasparov and V. Shendorovich. In the span of just one year this on-line petition gathered 80 000 signatures, and 130 000 by 2012. Right now (2016) it’s signed by 151 000. This, clearly, signifies, that a humongous amount of people in This Country just dream of Putin’s resignation.

      In June 2011, while “performing” at still electorally hopeful “Right Cause” Inozemtsev voiced his political program, which his fellow liberals there must absolutely adopt in order to win the lections:

      1) Division of business and power, politics and economy.
      2) Call for new Industrialization, rebuilding of regional industries and special technical and engineering higher education.
      3) Russia must become member of the EU and adopt all of its laws and norms
      4) Radical de-clericalization of the society.

      Now, one can say that his beliefs not as much as “remained”, but more like they (like Inozemtsef himself) ossified into something lifeless and incapable of really attracting the living. He is a product of the 90s, and the fact that he hails and glorifies this time not from political (“muh pluralism!”, “muh many parties!”) but from economic POW of someone servile to the idea of the all-powerful hyper-capitalist transnational elites, just shows how he, like them, also has no future and no say in Russia’s future.


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