Kasparov on Other Russia Conference and Kasyanov Split

The past political season was, undoubtedly, successful both for the United Civil Front in particular and for The Other Russia as a whole. The “Dissenters’ Marches,” and another activities of the opposition coalition have clearly shown to Russian society and the world that political force independent of the Kremlin is capable of resisting the pernicious policies of the ruling class in our country.

The United Civil Front considered and continues to consider that the 2nd Conference of The Other Russia, which takes place in Moscow on July 7-8th, has great value both for the opposition movement and for all the citizens of Russia who connect their hopes for the future with this movement. First, it should review the completed season of events. Second, it should plan for the next political period, when presidential elections will occur in Russia. That period will resolve the question of authority in the country – at least for the following four years.

Meanwhile, we are regretfully compelled to declare that in recent months the Political Council of The Other Russia has encountered serious disagreements on a number of key questions. We had hoped to resolve them during preparations for the Conference, but these hopes have not been realized.

Already in the spring of this year, the directors of the People’s Democratic Union, headed by Mikhail Kasyanov, declared they would “cease participation in Dissenters’ Marches.” They never provided convincing explanations for this posture to their partners in the coalition. However, at that moment the United Civil Front did not consider it constructive to make an issue out of their decision and, together with our other colleagues from The Other Russia, put in maximum effort to finish the political season successfully.

During preparation for the Conference it was determined that disagreements between the People’s Democratic Union and the other participants of Political Council are of a deep, insurmountable character considering the late stage. This was especially apparent over the key subject of the Conference: a program for selecting a unified opposition candidate. The United Civil Front insisted, and continues to insist, that this procedure should take place publicly and democratically and that as many supporters of change as possible should take part. We consider it necessary to carry out regional conferences in a majority of regions of the Russian Federation for the realization of this Other Russia program. There will be elections by the delegates at the autumn opposition congress and the united candidate for the presidential elections will be ascertained.

The main aim of these conferences is to involve the greatest possible number of citizens in the elective process. In this connection, it is important to invite activists from even those organizations whose national directors are not ready show stiff opposition to Putin’s regime. The regional conferences should be allowed to nominate presidential candidates and these candidates, if supported by a specific segment of the congress, will be entered on the voting list. Thus we do not object that representatives of the political organizations in The Other Russia have automatically appeared on this list. We also welcome the names of the leaders of traditional Russian parties which proclaim themselves to be in opposition. For example – the leaders of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and Yabloko.

The People’s Democratic Union has categorically disagreed with such a script. Mikhail Kasyanov has presented especially sharp criticism of the idea of promoting the candidates in an open Congress. In the opinion of our colleagues from People’s Democratic Union, the list of candidates should be limited to one representative from each of the four organizations that participate in the Political Council of The Other Russia. (Those directed by Kasyanov, Ryzhkov, Limonov, and myself.) To increase the quota to two representatives, the People’s Democratic Union insisted on abolishing regional conferences. The Congress would then turn into an assembly of citizens who would simply stamp the decision made by unknown persons to select a generic unified opposition candidate.

During discussions with our colleagues from the People’s Democratic Union they did not hide that for them the most desired criterion is predictability of result. Such an approach neglects democratic principles, limits the will of the supporters of The Other Russia all over the country, and seems to us to be extremely dangerous. We believe that a unified candidate selected in an undemocratic way cannot receive the support of the majority of Russian society and, hence, cannot dream of victory. The United Civil Front wishes to stay within the mandate of The Other Russia to realize an open and democratic program with the public selection of a united candidate from the opposition forces.

Garry Kasparov

Chairman of The United Civil Front

Moscow, July 2nd 2007