Kommersant Vlast‘ made an funny observation about the websites of Russian political parties. Apparently the verbosity and the brevity of a party’s website is connected to their political orientation. Those on the left are more verbose while those on the right are more terse.
The most verbose is the main page for the KPRF, a whole 2273 words. Yabloko is in second place with 1237 words. United Russia and Just Russia are almost twins with 875 and 840 words respectively. The most concise site is the LDPR (unlike this party’s leader) with 409 words in all.
Forget what this says about the political spectrum. I wonder what it says about how each party perceives the attention span of its supporters?
The KPRF might want to consider turning off the verbal valve. Their site is a wordy mess. Clearly they’ve learned little about political technologies of the day. The best way to appeal to voters is not to inundate them with stuff they have to read. The days of crammed broad sheets are over. If they really want to look at an effective site, they should check out Barack Obama’s. Bright colors, smiling faces, lots of graphics and, most importantly, few words. In fact, the thing that dominates the President-elect’s page most is merchandise. Create an image. Brand it. After that what you actually say is an secondary. Now that’s political technology of the 21st century!
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- By Sean — 11 years ago
The Russian electoral season is already unfolding like a stage performance. Putin, who we might refer to as the Director, announced the date for his troupe’s first performance: the State Duma elections scheduled for December 1. Kommersant Vlast’ has a thorough breakdown of its prediction of how the 450 Duma seats will be divided. The first thing to notice is the expectation that the number of parties represented in the Duma will drop by 10 percent. This is no doubt a result of two factors. The first is the increase of the electoral threshold to 7 percent. This along is expected to cut out 10 or 11 parties alone. The other fact is multiple. Namely, that Russian politics are a complex business, and the revamp of the electoral threshold matters most for parties already waining in influence.
To explain this complexity, Kommersant’s Dmitiry Kamyshev provides eight factors (with the number of seats at stake for each) that will determine the Duma’s breakdown: Name recognition (140 seats), political influence (100 seats), war chest (70 seats), leadership (45 seats), flamboyancy (35 seats), airtime (25 seats), past victories (20 seats), and fulfillment of promises (15 seats). No party dominates in all eight. For example, you can’t think of the KPRF without Gennady Zyuganov’s bald dome or the LDPR without picturing Vladimir Zhirinovsky flaying his arms about. This alone will get each party 16 and 14 seats respectively. United Russia on the other hand has no face, except for maybe Putin’s, and he’s one foot out the door. That said besides leadership and flamboyancy, United Russia tops in all other categories giving them a predicted 245 seats. Just Russia comes in second with 85 and the KPRF and LDPR follow with 75 and 45 seats respectively.
But as everyone knows the State Duma elections are merely a dress rehearsal for the real performance. Russian Presidential elections are scheduled for March 9, 2008. The stars have all but been officially selected, with First Deputy Prime Ministers Dmitry Medvedev and Sergei Ivanov leading the cast. The question is which role each will get. Last year, Kommersant reports, there were rumors that Ivanov would become the head of Just Russia, while Medvedev would lead United Russia. That makes sense writes Kamyshev since “the liberal lawyer Medvedev heading the right-center United Russia and the pro-state, pro-police Ivanov heading the left-center Just Russia” seems to correspond with political ideology. But now that Ivanov is heading in the polls, Medvedev’s starring role appears in jeopardy. Now Ivanov looks slated to lead United Russia, a move that also makes sense since “if United Russia was going to associate itself with one of the possible successors, it could only be with the one who was going to win.” Given the choice between ideology and consistency in performance, the latter wins every time. Russia is moving toward a two party system for sure, but it will be a while before Just Russia is ready for the center stage.
The only question is whether all this over planning will scuttle the authenticity of the performance. After all, manufacturing an election is easy, but making it manufactured and reflect the will of the people is a skill that I think only Western democracies have mastered. Perhaps with Putin’s keen directorial eye, the right amount of stage management, and a stellar cast, this electoral season will be Russia’s democratic coming out party. I know I will have my ticket in hand. There is nothing I like more than a good political drama.
- By Sean — 10 years ago
Lilia Shevtsova, a fellow at Moscow’s Carnegie Center, called it a “bomb, which anywhere but in Russia would cause the country to collapse.” Writing in the New York Review of Books, Amy Knight called it “a devastating picture of Putin’s eight years in the Kremlin.” In the Daily Mail, Jonathan Dimbleby declared that if such information was released about Britain, it “would certainly have provoked mass outrage, urgent official inquiries and a major police investigation – if not the downfall of the government.”
What, pray tell, is this devastating toppler of governments? Why, it’s Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov’s Putin -The Results: An Independent Expert Report (2008).
Russia watchers might have already heard about the liberal dynamic duo’s breakdown of Russia after eight years of Putin. If you’ve never heard of them, Boris Nemtsov is the one-time “young reformer” deputy prime minister who used to make Western journalists and IMF officials swoon, while Milov is a former deputy oil and gas minister during Putin’s first term; both Nemtsov and Milov served Putin early on, and both eventually fell out of favor.
Their book’s back story involved political infighting, intrigue, and apparently produced a “hysterical reaction” in the Kremlin. Nemtsov and Milov’s account was said to be such a political bomb that Nemtsov was compelled to suspend his membership in the liberal Union of Right Forces party. “I didn’t want people who are in our party to suffer in any way from what is written in it,” Nemtsov recently told Ivanovo Novosti. The authors even claim that we are lucky that Putin – The Results ever saw the light. “Strong pressure from the Kremlin” made finding a distributor difficult and dashed their hopes to shower the masses with 100,000 copies. When all was said and done, only 5,000 were printed and the only place willing to sell it was the publisher, Novaya Gazeta, at its kiosk in Moscow. (Thanks to the internet a copy can be downloaded at nemtsov.ru and a rather rushed and poorly edited English translation is available on the anti-Putin windbag blog La Russophobe.)
With all the radiant praise, political intrigue, and apparent efforts to squash its publication, I was really expecting this book to blow me away. I was prepared for a complete conversion to Nemtsovism. After all, here are two Russian political insiders who probably have enough dirt to really tar and feather Putin for good. Indeed, Putin – the Results tries to be that kind of brutal screed, but sadly, it falls way short. Though Nemtsov and Milov promise that the information they divulge is shocking, what you get instead is just a well-worn flip-flop of the official Putin line. All of the information they provide is an inversion of the Russian state’s propaganda.
- By Sean — 9 years ago
It looks like Nashi might have crossed a line in their campaign against Alexander Podrabinek. According to Vremya, the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation made an official appeal calling for an investigation of Nashi’s “illegal and amoral” campaign to hunt down the journalist. The appeal reads:
The campaign to hunt the [Podrabinek] clearly violates existing legislation and demonstrates obvious signs of extremism: fomentation of discord and the violation of a citizen’s human rights and freedoms. There presently are signs of the violation of articles 23 and 25 of the Russian Constitution (the inviolability of private life and residence.) The violation of article 24 which prohibits the use and distribution of information about the private life of an individual without his sanction: it is unlikely that A. Podrabinek gave his address to anyone for the organization to picket his home. Finally, and this is the most important, is article 29 which guarantees everyone the freedom of thought and speech and prohibits the use of force against the expression of those thoughts, opinions, or in their rejection.
Ouch! The Council wasn’t the first to note Nashi’s violation of the law. On 2 October, Vedomosti denounced Nashi’s campaign, noting that lawyers agreed that the organization violated the law. But the business daily merely cited that their protests outside Podrabinek’s apartment violated the civil code because Nashi didn’t get permission from the city to hold daily pickets. I wonder if after hearing these charges Nashi will add the Council and Vedomosti to its lawsuit against Ekho Moskvy. The youth organization is demanding 500,000 rubles in damages from the radio station for its accusations that Nashi is hunting Podrabinek. But they are. Aren’t they? How else to you interpret Nikita Borovikov threat that if Prodrabinek doesn’t apologize then Nashi will “force” him to leave the country?
And all of this after Nashi received adulation from its godfather in the Kremlin, Vladislav Surkov! Didn’t the Council not get the memo? Nashi is responsible for the political freedoms that every Russian now enjoys. Surkov told a group of Nashists in late September, “I am free and therefore I am for Putin and Medvedev. I am free and therefore I am “Ours” (Nash) and not an alien (chuzhoi)–this is my choice.” He then continued: “You are the leading fighting brigade of our political system. I as before believe that your prevalence on the street is also our essential advantage. We have it thanks you and all those who brilliantly know how to conduct mass rallies.”
With an endorsement like that, I’m sure the Council’s appeal will fall on deaf ears. Investigate Nashi. Yeah right.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any sillier.