Rogozin leads Rodina’s militarized party congress

In early June, the conservative party Rodina, whose
unofficial leader heads the national defense industry, held a congress at a
location outside Moscow. Disbanded in 2006, the party is today enjoying a
revival. Political analysts say that Rodina, which means “Homeland”
in Russian, may be able to carve out an anti-United Russia, pro-Putin niche for
itself in the future.

Rodina’s congress
was held at the Museum of Military Hardware, where guests were met by an
orchestra performing military marches. Delegates came dressed in military
uniform, even though most are not military personnel.

The party leadership had decided
that such an appearance would make its activists look more imposing.

The party, which
has a rich history, is now experiencing a revival. In the middle of the last
decade, its then leader and now deputy prime minister in charge of the Russian
defense industry, Dmitry Rogozin, was considered a favorite of President
Vladimir Putin.

In 2003, the
moderate nationalist Rogozin and his party (at that time an electoral bloc that
only later transformed into a party) won seats in the State Duma. However, what
brought Rogozin to prominence — namely his nationalism — was also his undoing.

In 2005, during
elections to the Moscow City Duma, Rogozin crossed a line: His party launched a
provocative TV clip entitled, “Clean our city of garbage,” in which
the Rodina leader promised to clear Moscow of migrant workers from the Southern
Caucasus and Central Asia.

Elections in Russia

The party was immediately barred from the elections,
and, as noted by analysts, the Kremlin began to squeeze Rogozin out of the State
Duma and Russian domestic politics.

Rodina ceased to
exist in 2006. Along with two other parties, it became part of the center left
of the A Just Russia party, which was headed by former speaker of the upper house
of the Russian parliament, Sergei Mironov.

As for Rogozin himself, he was
appointed as Russia’s permanent representative to NATO in 2008.

In 2011, the
decision was made to restore the party. Analysts contend that the views of
Putin and the Russian elite have become much more conservative since 2005.

the midst of the Moscow rallies and protests against the results of the State
Duma elections in December 2011, Putin recalled Rogozin from Brussels and appointed
him deputy prime minister in charge of the country’s defense industry.

In 2012, on
December 21 (which happens to be Rogozin’s birthday), the Ministry of Justice
registered the reanimated Rodina as a political party.

Today, Rodina’s
political allegiance lies firmly with Putin. “Our program is all seven of
the pre-election pledges made by Russian President Vladimir Putin. They are
Putin’s seven strikes.

The seven articles in the manifesto set out the national
strategy of Russia, which we fully share and support,” the party’s
official leader, Alexander Zhuravev, said at the June congress.

“I am
confident that the party will soon be able to start realizing the president’s
program,” said Zhuravev. “Rodina is the president’s black-ops force.
Every patriot must support the government. Putin’s political course is designed
to strengthen Russia.”


Related: Russian defense industry opens a new era

Zhuravev explained
the military garb worn by delegates: “The militarization of our congress
is entirely justified. Many liberal-minded citizens believe that Russia is not
the country it was in the days of the all-conquering czars and the Soviet
Union. We categorically disagree.”

Rogozin also addressed
the delegates. Before his speech, he presented the party leadership with a
nickel-plated replica of a Kalashnikov assault rifle — the renowned AK-47.

The speech given by
the deputy prime minister at the congress was closed to reporters. However,
Zhuravev conveyed the essence of Rogozin’s speech — namely that “the
president’s special forces will be very dangerous for the enemies of

Political analysts
believe that, as the informal leader of Rodina, Rogozin is looking to retain
the national-patriotic niche.

Mikhail Vinogradov, political analyst and resident
of the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation, believes that, although the deputy
prime minister has yet to frame his future plans, he does not want to miss the
opportunity to continue his career as a party leader.

“Rogozin has
acted very judiciously. He has shown that it is his project, without making any
vociferous statements or attracting too much attention,” says Yevgeny
Minchenko, director of the International Institute for Political Expertise.


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According to Minchenko, following Rogozin’s
appointment to the government, many of his colleagues took issue with the new
deputy prime minister’s excessive political activity as head of the defense
industry. After that, “Rogozin seemingly resolved to minimize his public

Nevertheless, it
is too early to speak about the party’s prospects. Although Rodina’s leaders
assert that they are ready to fight for seats in the regional parliaments this
September, political analysts are skeptical about their actual chances.

“They are
unlikely to come out guns blazing in the September elections, but, as a project
for the future, it could be interesting,” says Minchenko.

meanwhile, suggests that the party will find support among voters who are inclined
to oppose the ruling United Russia party but approve of Putin’s policies.

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