Kasparov: A Chance for Change of Another Illusion?

A Chance for Change or Another Illusion?
Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov. Source: AP By Garry Kasparov
December 7, 2011

One of the conclusions that can be reached from the December 4 elections is that the “Party of Swindlers and Thieves” has, once again, brilliantly lived up to its name. Cheating and thievery have ceased to even be an open secret, and it involved not only the massive falsifications that the party of power needed in order to hold on to their crumbling power vertical, but also the sharp rise in civil activeness, with large number of people unexpectedly refusing to play the role of silent viewers in the Kremlin’s marionette theater.

Experts in electoral math will soon undoubtedly be able to show us graphics of United Russia’s actual results. The unnatural vote spread across the various regions of the country, along with the numerous violations documented by observers at polling stations and in electoral commissions, will provide irrefutable evidence that Churov’s agency worked to over-fulfill their plan at the rate of a Stakhanovite.

By all accounts, United Russia’s objective results even across the entire country aren’t above 30 percent, and in Moscow and St. Petersburg the party in power suffered a crushing defeat, loosing not only to the Communist Party, but even, most likely, to A Just Russia. This casts doubt upon the professional integrity of our so-called sociological services, whose “public opinion polls” predicted just a week ago that United Russia would have the support of 53 percent of the population. But if the Foundation for Public Opinion and the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion aren’t ashamed of their Kremlin-provided roofs, then one would hope to hear from the Levada Center, which holds its reputation more dear, an explanation as to why their predictions turned out to be even more optimistic than the final results of Mr. Churov’s agency.

Another result of December 4 is that we can be certain that the period of social apathy that Russian society succumbed to ten years ago is now a relic of the past.

But today’s main question, of course, is about the readiness of the systemic opposition to begin a fight against United Russia’s dictate. It would be naive to say that the Communist Party, LDPR, or United Russia together with Yabloko are going to achieve a full nullification of the falsified elections, but the people who voted for them have the right to expect, at minimum, a demand to hold a recount where mass violations are uncovered, and the criminal prosecution of officials guilty of committing and hiding these crimes.

In addition, the systemic opposition is going to have to resolve the question of fielding candidates for president. Now that it’s been spooked, the government is going to try to minimize its risks and prevent the rise of any notable figures who are capable of uniting the protest electorate, which is exploding in front of their eyes. It’s not worth waiting for any revelations from the Communist Party or LDPR. Although, the Communists are completely capable of finding a more suitable candidate than Zyuganov, who feels at home in his comfortable role as the government’s sparring partner. But for A Just Russia, if it is, contrary to expectations, prepared to challenge the Putin regime, one potential solution comes to mind. Oksana Dmitrieva, whose success in a presidential election is something out of a science fiction novel – at least in the two capitals – could become the candidate whose presence makes a second round entirely plausible.

The events of the forthcoming week will put an end to the dispute that the nonsystemic opposition has been having for the past several months. The various plans of action for December 4 rested on one key point of disagreement: whether or not conditions exist where the Kremlin-fed systemic opposition could agree upon a bunt against Putin. A more favorable situation than the present is impossible to imagine.

If Mironov and Ko demonstrate their readiness to begin a fight to dismantle the regime by unleashing a real pre-electoral campaign attacking the national leader with the same principles with which they were ready to “flush the Party of Swindlers and Thieves down the toilet,” then I will be ready to publicly admit my mistake in judging the ineffectiveness of existing electoral mechanisms.

But if the actions of the systemic opposition lead to the emasculation of popular protest and turn out to be just a storm in a teacup that ends with the redistribution of Duma portfolios and financial flows, then I expect that my opponents will publicly admit that it is impossible to change the Putin regime within any sort of framework of electoral procedures and will begin to join in with our collective efforts to create an alternative list of voters. Incidentally, this is one of the very rare cases where I’d like to admit that I’m wrong…