The Right Cause party led by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov published on Friday a manifesto intended to become part of its broader program in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in December.
In its manifesto, the party, whose leader has said aims to win the second place in the December polls to become the second party of power after governing United Russia, proposed a number of dramatic political reforms and outlined its vision of the country’s social development.
Right Cause proposes dramatically expanding the powers of the State Duma, including giving it the right to impeach ministers and governors. It also wants a return to the direct election of mayors and governors, which was canceled in 2004 by a decree issued by then-president Vladimir Putin, a move widely critisized by the opposition.
Right Cause has also proposed easing the procedure of holding referendums and making decisions on the most problematic issues of the country’s development in regular popular votes.
In order for a new political party to be registered, it should be enough to notify the authorities about its creation, without asking for their approval, Right Cause proposes.
Besides this, political parties in Russia should be allowed to create electoral blocs, the party says.
It also proposes canceling the positions of presidential representatives in all Russian regions except the volatile North Caucasus.
The manifesto proposes granting Russian citizenship to direct descendants of citizens of the former Russian Empire, the Russian Republic and the Soviet Union. Those willing to become Russian citizens will be obliged to pass an exam in Russian language and history.
The Russian Republic was a short-lived political entity on the territory of the former Russian Empire during the 1917 struggle for power that ended with the establishment of the Soviet regime as a result of the October Revolution.
Declaring itself a “Party of a Greater Europe,” Right Cause says it supports “maximum economic integration” with Europe, although sees no need to join the EU or NATO.
“Following Charles de Gaulle, we declare Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” the manifesto reads. “Economic and political unification of the European continent is a necessary step in competitiveness with the United States and China within the framework of a new global order.”
Right Cause proposes a ban on the launching of new major production facilities in large cities. Instead, the existing facilities should increase their efficiency, it suggests.
The party criticizes the ongoing reforms in education and medicine, and supports free healthcare and education. It proposes redirecting part of the funds being allocated to the military industry that cannot be utilized “because of an objective decrease of its industrial resource” to schools and hospitals.
The party manifesto also calls for the reformation of Russia’s armed forces.
“We will have to create a totally new army – with new management and new equipment – while temporarily maintaining the old one,” the document reads.
One of the proposals put forward by the party is to actively move from conscription to “voluntary military service.”
“All activities of a volunteer who has joined the Army should be aimed at studying military craft,” the document reads. At the same time the manifesto says “a volunteer should have an opportunity to acquire a civil profession during his [military] service” and the state should help him with post-service employment.
All Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27 are obliged by law to perform one year of military service. According to expert estimates, only about 25 percent of Russia’s roughly one million military personnel are contract servicemen, and the decade-long debate on the number of professional servicemen in Russia’s military remains unresolved.
Right Cause says military service in Russia should become prestigious and attractive in terms of social welfare, suggesting that retired officers are provided state-backed loans to be able to open a business and buy an apartment.
The reforms are aimed at creating “an army of armed citizens to protect their fatherland,” the document reads.
The party also prioritizes the soonest possible replacement of obsolete weapons possessed by Russian armed forces with the newest arms.
Prokhorov, ranked by Forbes as Russia’s third richest man with a fortune of $18 billion, became the leader of the Right Cause party in June. The party currently has no representation in the lower house of Russia’s parliament.