Kasparov on Nomination and Putin

Yesterday Garry Kasparov was nominated by the Other Russia National Congress to stand as candidate for president in the 2008 elections, scheduled for March 2, 2008. The Putin regime has established countless roadblocks to the democratic process that it will be nearly impossible for Kasparov to appear on the March ballot. Today Vladimir Putin announced he would head the United Russia parliamentary list, opening the way for him to become prime minister when his term as president expires. Thus the path to Soviet-style administration becomes even clearer. The United Russia dominates a Supreme Soviet-style parliament that is invulnerable to the wishes of the Russian people. The real leaders of the nation will be immune to any checks and balances left in the Constitution.

On October 1 we spoke with Garry Kasparov in Moscow for his official statement on this development and for more on his candidacy and campaign.

Garry KasparovIt’s no surprise at all that Putin is positioning himself to stay in power. This is what we’ve been saying for over a year. It’s pathetic to watch the western media fall over in shock, “but he told us he would go!” Now they want to go on analyzing, the way they uselessly analyzed the chances of Medvedev and Ivanov. What is there to analyze? Putin and his clan will stay in power. The structure is just a technicality. The power will still be in the Kremlin, they are only working out the best tools to hold on to authority. The transition will be complete with the Putin-led oligarchy ruling via a one-party dictatorship.

After [the parliamentary elections on] December 2nd the opposition parties will essentially disappear and the landscape will be clear. Those who claim to oppose United Russia but support Putin at the same time have now been made fools of completely. I would like to have seen their faces when Putin made his announcement! Now what will they say, this “loyal opposition”? They wanted to have it both ways, loving Putin but supporting their party. Now Putin will lead the monolithic party of power himself. The other parties, SPS, Just Russia, were already irrelevant, this just puts the official seal on it. Will their leaders stand up like men for their professed beliefs? Of course not. Loyalty to power is the only value they have.

Most western leaders have made it clear they don’t care what happens to what is left of Russian democracy. The White House stated today that democracy is a matter for the Russian people. True in one way, but I wonder what the world would look like today if Reagan and Thatcher had felt that way about the Soviet people. Either human rights and democracy matter everywhere or they don’t matter at all.

These principles are what the Other Russia stands for and what we will be promoting with my candidacy for president. We are well aware that the system has been rigged and that there is almost no possibility of my name, or the names of our parliamentary candidates, appearing on a ballot. Why should they allow that if they don’t have to? The Kremlin has total control of the media and the election mechanisms and yet they won’t even risk the members of the real opposition reaching the hands of the Russian people on a ballot.

They have a zero tolerance policy for opposition, as we saw when they attacked our peaceful Marches of Dissent. We fought for space to protest and we won that space with blood and sweat. Now we are fighting for our rights under the Constitution to run for office. We will also push to break through the barriers against the opposition the Kremlin has placed on the media. Just the other day Channel 2 had a long prime-time story calling the Other Russia an American tool, essentially a spy organization. This is what we are dealing with here. If this is a democracy, if the regime is not afraid of the truth, let us speak! Let us run! Let the people decide!

But we will push ahead regardless. We will force the regime and its functionaries out into the open. We will expose their methods and make it clear to the world and as many people as we can reach here that Russia is not a democracy and that the Russian people are suffering because of this. Democracy will come to Russia and when it does we want the names and deeds of those who fought against it to be on the record. The members of the media who caved in, the oligarchs who looted our nation, the politicians who chose loyalty and personal profit over the health and welfare of their people. With our campaign we will help create that record. We want to show that what they call our extremism is our willingness to participate in elections and to be loyal to the Constitution instead of to Putin.

Today we went to the Central Election Committee with a group of journalists to submit our list for the parliamentary elections and it was received without any trouble. Let’s see how long that lasts. We will continue with our strategy of nonviolent resistance during this campaign. The Russian people deserve to be heard and these principles deserve to be fought for.