An Alternative Agenda: Part 2

Ilya Yashin. Source: Kasparov.ruThe 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. will continue to bring you several of these responses over the next several days, so stay tuned for more.

Ilya Yashin
Member, Solidarity movement
Total votes: 32,478
Rank: 5th

We had prepared for the difficulties that might come up during the election. The government organized a massive DDoS attack, which, despite the problems we had on the first day, was successfully taken care of and the site worked quite well after that. In Chelyabinsk, the FSB attacked our activists on the regional electoral committee, confiscated computers, frightened people, and the committee simply couldn’t function. There were provocations – prosecutors filed criminal cases about supposed embezzlement of funds. I’m glad that we were able to overcome these difficulties, and in the end, tens of thousands of people took part in the election – this is probably the single largest civil project in years, and shows that the opposition has maintained significant capacity to mobilize civil activity. This is probably the most important result.

The difficulties that await the Council in the future are obvious. They have to do with the fact that the people elected are very different. Although, yesterday, after the election, the elected members of the Coordination Council gathered on the Dozhd channel and had a rather emotional discussion that proved that it’s not going to be very hard to work or to find common ground. We foresaw these difficulties: since there were people of different viewpoints among the candidates, we formed congregations that would guarantee that the entire political spectrum would be represented; we knew that it was going to be rather complicated to find compromise on a whole set of issues. But everyone is generally prepared for this. In fact, one of the tasks of the Coordination Council is to create a dialogue between representatives of various opposition groups and find the common ground that unites us.

It seems to me that there should be several directions our work should take. One of our key tasks is to form a substantive agenda for the protest movement, a structural project that we have long been criticized for lacking, although not entirely fairly, in my view, since the opposition has generated a not insubstantial number of constructive ideas. Now there’s going to be a united platform that will promote our projects in the name of the united opposition. These projects, of course, are going to have, it seems to me, a much larger resonance. One of our main tasks is to formulate within the course of a year our main proposals concerning political reforms that, as we hope, the government will be ready to discuss at some point. Even if it’s not, we should still offer this to society.

The second direction is to support regional politicians, both in elections and within the framework of anti-corruption projects. I think we’re going to offer organizational, political, and sometimes even financial help to people who are forced to battle with local swindlers and thieves and need our help, in small towns and in the regions.

The third direction is education, which has to do with the dissemination of various types of anti-corruption reports and reports dedicated to the results of Putin’s rule. In addition, a background theme will be the defense of political prisoners. I think that right now we should mobilize all the resources we have to give the maximum amount of help possible to people who are currently sitting behind bars because of their dissent.

The liberal wing is represented in the Coordination Council rather heavily. This has to do with the fact that the protests on Bolotnaya Square and Sakharov Prospekt were represented to a significant degree by people of liberal-democratic views, which has been established by nearly all sociological surveys, and voting during the election for the Council confirmed that the basic part, the nucleus of the protest movement, is, like before, people who hold liberal-democratic views. The social portrait of the protest area, it seems to me, is very clearly reflected in the election results.