The editors at Yezhednevny Zhurnal sat down with some of the freshly-elected representatives to the Russian opposition’s new Coordination Council to ask what they thought about the election results, the Council’s initial tasks, and what difficulties they might have to face. Two previous sets of responses, translated by Theotherrussia.org, can be found here and here.
Former State Duma Deputy, A Just Russia party
About 170 thousand people said they were prepared to choose the leaders of the opposition, and more than 80 thousand took part in the election. That’s a lot. It speaks to the fact that there’s a mood for protest in Russia, and that protest movement supporters number in the tens of thousands. I even think that it’s in the hundreds of thousands. For its first time, the election was entirely successful, although, of course, it wasn’t free of mistakes.
Our main task is to express the will of the people, who right now want real, not decorative, changes in our country, who don’t want to live in an atmosphere of lies and falsifications, who don’t want Russia to have an illegitimate government, and who don’t want the country to be imbued with an atmosphere of double standards and hypocrisy.
Undoubtedly, it’s going to be difficult for the members of the Council to agree with each other. But I think that we can resolve this issue.
The elections went well; they were good, and honest. I feel that this is a unique experience. It’s the first instance of electronic voting in Russian history, where the most active, non-apathetic people, with a sense of personal dignity, took part. Naturally, I’ll be glad to work on the Coordination Council, and I’m going to do what’s necessary for the resolutions from Bolotnaya Square and Sakharov Prospect to become real-life documents. I feel totally comfortable in my rank between Navalny and Udaltsov. We need to understand that our ranks on this list are our places in line behind bars. I’m sixteenth. This also makes me glad. It doesn’t entail access to the budget, property, or a television set. It’s more like a ticket to repression. I should mention that I’m the only person on the Coordination Council with experience working in provincial government, the only governor, the only vice prime minister, the only deputy chairman of the State Duma, the only head of a faction. It seems to me that there were all sorts of moments while I was in those posts where my experience can be helpful.
The main task now is to put a stop to the repression. I don’t see any other tasks. We need to begin our session not with organizational questions, but precisely with questions having to do with freeing political prisoners, including some who have been jailed very recently, such as Leonid Razvozzhayev and Konstantin Lebedev. I fear that we’re going to have to work on this for the course of the entire year, and work very hard.
Difficulties that the Council might face include repression against its members. This is already happening. Of those who were voted onto the Council, Razvozzhayev and Daniil Konstantinov are behind bars. We need to do everything so that the members of the Council can move about, work, and remain free. The rest are resolvable issues; they’re nothing compared to freedom and repression. So far, in, for example, the Organizational Committee for the protest movement, we’ve managed to come to agreement with each other one way or the other, although it wasn’t simple. Now there are many people who took part in organizing the protests who’ve been voted onto the Council. There are new people as well. It seems to me that the responsibility we have before the people who voted for us, plus the tasks that we are obligated to resolve, should evoke feeling in even the most mettlesome people. We have to be reserved, stubborn, persistent, and calm if we’re going to achieve anything. Of course, there are very many people who want to make us quarrel and split us apart, but there’s always going to be a lot of people like that. Nevertheless, over the course of the year, all attempts to do that have failed. I hope that this is always going to be the case.
If we divide the Coordination Council into factions, I think that the liberal-democratic one would be the largest. Kasparov, Yashin, and I, along with our whole liberal wing – Vladimir Kara-Murza, Piontkovsky, Parkhomenko, Bykov, and Gelfand, of course, have liberal-democratic views. I think that more than half of the Council consists of people with these views. Some of them don’t advertise it much, but still, if you look at their “political compasses,” you can understand – it’s clear from their attitudes towards private property, privatization, and so on.
PARNAS made an official decision not to participate in the Coordination Council elections, and so we, the members of PARNAS, took part in them in a private capacity. But since our representation on the Council is rather significant – at the very least, it’s Yashin, Kara-Murza, and I – I think that cooperation is inevitable. This might not be laid out in any official documents, but it’ll just become the fact of the matter. PARNAS Co-representative Vladimir Ryzhkov is one of the authors of the Bolotnaya and Sakharov Prospect resolutions, which are a main task for the Coordination Council, and he will bring them to life. To be honest, I don’t know how we couldn’t cooperate.
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