Three faces of Russian opposition: RT review

With days left till the Duma elections, RT examines the political programs of the country’s opposition parties.

­Communists: Red flag over industrial country

Despite its significant absence from the seat of power, the Communist Party is still biting at the heels of United Russia’s government.

If elected, a 21st-century red Russia could mean an international community shunned as well as an economic overhaul.

First, however, they need to vastly increase their support. In order to do so, they have been campaigning hard in small towns like Kolomna in the Moscow Region.

Party leader Gennady Zyuganov has been hoping to snap up support from blue-collar workers discontent with the current situation.

“There’s no capitalism in Russia,” Zyuganov told RT. “What’s there is the bandits’ plunder of natural resources and the destruction of industrial potential.”

Critics accuse the seasoned politician’s message of belonging to another time, often foregoing genuine solutions for populist sentiment.

“The model offered by America after the WWII – the model of financial speculative capitalism – is now torn in American itself on Wall Street and can’t be patched,” Zyuganov said.

­“Fair Russia”: the rule of law

Harking back to proud moments of nationhood is not unique to the Communists. “Fair Russia” party’s leader, Sergey Mironov, also realizes the importance of being seen to appreciate past heroism and glory.

Fronting the country’s fourth-largest party, his main aim is to keep a foothold in the State Duma: for example, by highlighting their record as legislative reformers.

“In four years, the Fair Russia faction proposed 559 bills,” Mironov told RT. “The LDPR proposed 369 bills, and the Communists came up with 263 bills.”

Until recently Fair Russia was loyal to PM Vladimir Putin and the ruling party, but Mironov has been leading them into new territory, promoting Fair Russia as the only real opposition force.

“We’re not afraid to win,” Mironov said. “We’re not afraid to assume power and responsibility. These reforms include implementing a progressive form of income tax, a luxury tax, and by reducing business taxation.”

Their message appears to carry more plans than polemic when compared to their political adversaries.

­Liberal Democrats: Russia for Russians

One party leader known for his weighty bark is Vladimir Zhironovsky, who heads the third-largest duma faction, the Liberal Democrats.

Their campaign more than others has flirted with nationalism, viewing the greatest problem facing Russia as being one of self-identification, in particular drawing attention the country’s troublesome republics.

“We will need document checks and curfews or a special regime of governance in some territories,” Zhironovsky told RT. “We should start arresting more people who are prone to terrorist activity. The entire population has to be fingerprinted.”

They also propose a more isolated international role, confronting NATO and a unique fix for the country’s principle domestic aggressor, corruption.

“We should keep Khodorkovsky in jail and throw another hundred people in jail with him,” Zhironovsky said. “Everyone off the lists of the 100 top businessmen. Just take the Forbes list and throw everyone in jail.”

Policy aside, one thing all the parties have in common is a struggle to convince the electorate they are ready to lead the nation.

“I think that today the opposition stands no chance of coming to power,” Sergey Markov, director of the Institute for Political Research, told RT. “It goes back to the fact that after the chaos of the 1990s, there’s nothing people in Russia desire more than stability. People fear the prospect of having a real fight for power, because they fear it will simply take everything down.”

The three main opposition factions are using the remaining week to canvas for further support, but with the Russian public so far proving weary of change, some parties’ more confrontational views may only prove detrimental to their prospects.

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