Alexey Kovalev is a journalist living and working in Russia. He was a senior editor at RIA Novosti, Russia’s largest state news agency, and edited inosmi.ru, a website that translates news articles from foreign publications into Russian. He is the founder and editor of noodleremover.news, a Russian-language fact-checking and anti-propaganda website. He writes a bimonthly column for the Moscow Times on the maneuverings of the Russian media.
Carson Robinson, “I’m No Communist,” 1952.
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By Sean — 10 years ago
Delegates at United Russia’s 9th Congress voted unanimously to make Putin its party chairman. Putin accepted. Surprise, surprise. This possibility has been buzzing around the Russian media for a few weeks now. And in one fail swoop, what was thought to merely be a shell of a political party, has gained importance. Clearly Putin’s “election” to Party leader shows that United Russia is nothing without him.
That of course raises the issue of whether a nothing party like United Russia will actually give Putin something. As Konstantin Sonin noted in the Moscow Times, leading United Russia wouldn’t necessarily give Putin any guarantee over controlling the government. “The party has nothing to offer Putin in his struggle for power,” says Sonin. Indeed, political parties mean little real political power in Russia, even well connected behemoths like United Russia. Sonin continues:
In reality, United Russia’s 300-plus State Duma deputies are ready to give their allegiances not to the party leadership or to Putin personally, but to whomever they believe will be the country’s next leader. If they are convinced that Dmitry Medvedev has ultimately taken hold of central authority, then he will be the one who is able to control the Duma.
The chairman position gives Putin virtually unlimited power within UR. Putin will have the power to appoint party leaders and suspend their powers, and override any party decision expect for those adopted at congresses. His removal is only possible with a 2/3 congressional vote.
If Putin can be taken at his word, he has plans for United Russia. In his address to the Congress he stated that the party of Power needed to “reform itself become more open for discussion and for taking into account the opinion of the electorate, it must be de-bureaucratized completely, cleared of casual people pursuing exclusively their own material gains.” Look out, there’s a new sheriff in town.
Plans have already been set in motion for the recognition of internal factions. Three “clubs” have been created within United Russia to represent its right, center, and left. There is the Center of Social Conservative Policy, headed by Andrei Isaev, the liberal-conservative “November 4th” club led by Vladimir Pligin, and the State-patriotic club led by Irina Yarovaya. Whether these clubs will actually mean anything in terms of inter-party dialog remains to be seen.
Putin’s chief task, if he chooses to take it, will be to rid the party of what he calls “corrupt people.” A task easier said than done. Historically, attempts to clean up party corruption have horribly failed. Often the anti-bureaucratic campaigns, purges, and even arrests within the Communist Party created more corruption. And like the Communist Party of the past, United Russia seems allergic to any real cracking down on its corrupt members. Last week, the United Russia dominated Duma rejected a bill which would require deputies to declare the incomes and property of their relatives up to three years after leaving office. Hiding wealth and property in the names of family members is a common, albeit crude way, of hiding corruption.
Basically, if Putin actually decides to lead United Russia, he’s going to have his hands full. Just because he is the almighty Putin doesn’t mean he will be successful.
One should note that Medvedev was invited to join UR, but he declined. “Certainly United Russia is a party of my like-minded fellows, but I believe my membership in the party premature,” Medvedev stated. “I believe that after my election to the presidential post it would be more correct to remain a non-partisan.” Yeah, non-partisan in form, but not in content.Post Views: 363
By Sean — 8 years ago
I don’t have a lot of time for blogging these days. The finishing touches on the dissertation (one . . . more . . week), job applications, and getting ready to spend the next year in Russia fill up all my time. Inevitably commenting on missiles, Medvedev the modernizer, not to mention Moscow’s Holy Father of Fury, has been relegated to the eternal back burner. Yet, there are some things in the world of Russia that just can’t be left to simmer on the boiler plate. Especially when it involves a pant-less Boris Yeltsin.
Former President Clinton recalled getting a security alert in 1995 that the Secret Service had found Mr. Yeltsin, in his underwear, outside Blair House on Pennsylvania Avenue trying to hail a taxi. He was clearly inebriated, wanting a pizza. And he eluded security the second night, nearly causing an even more serious ruckus when he was initially mistaken for a drunken intruder, according to these accounts. What that says about the security near Blair House or those who protected Mr. Yeltsin is anyone’s guess.
Forget about the Blair House security, though the inability to nab a drunken Yeltsin does raise eyebrows. Is this tale not the perfect metaphor for the Yeltsin era? A mere four years after boldly standing on a tank and mouthing whatever democratic platitudes he could ride into power, Yeltsin is in America, plastered, and looking for pizza in his skivvies. Or worse almost getting 187ed by Blair House security. One can imagine a similar scenario when he signed the Belovezh Accords abolishing the USSR or when robber barons freely pilfered the Russian state. Drunk, pant-less, looking for pizza. If only a cab picked him up. If only . . .
Two questions, though. Did anyone ever explain why Boris was in his underwear? And, more importantly, were they boxers or briefs?
One things for sure. The dude knew how to par-tay.Post Views: 203
By Sean — 10 years ago
Kommersant has published more about the incident involving SPS candidate Nukha Nukhov in Dagestan. Here are some additional details from the story. As a result of the fight between Nukhov and Mohammed Aliev on 11 March, 1700 SPS votes were annulled from the election without a quorum of regional election officials but by United Russia fiat.
Fast forward to now. Four of Aliev’s brothers–Bahamed, Nabrihulla, Ali, and Mukhtar–are all standing trial for the deaths of two of Nukhov’s comrades. Mohammed Aliev was not included in the indictment. The trial of the four is what prompted Nukhov to come out of hiding and return to Dagestan. But, unfortunately for him, he was arrested on his way. According to a representative from SPS, Nukhov was arrested in a search which was prompted by a complaint by one of Aliev’s security guards. The latter claims that Nukhov wounded him in the March brawl. That was what reason prosecutors gave for slapping him with charges of “hooliganism, causing bodily injury, and possession of weapons.” Soon there after hundreds of Nukhov’s comrades rallied for his immediate release in the town square.
The local MVD denied that Nukhov arrest was politically motivated, and even local SPS leader, Iurii Gladkov was “careful in his comments.” He too denied that the arrest was connected with Nukhov’s political activities.
Other local parties disagree. For example, there’s the mysterious murder of local Yabloko leader Farid Babev. LDPR candidate Hadzhimurad Omarov says that he’s received “pressure” to drop out the elections. Just Russia candidate Abdulhamid Emirhamzaev also claims that his comrades and family members have been threatened by “security forces.” Only the local KPRF leader, Murzadin Avezov, says not a single member of his has been touched. But he added, “The Party of Power has administrative resources which render a competitive fight null and void.”
Such is the context that Duma elections will take place in Dagestan.Post Views: 194