Kasparov Wins Nomination as United Opposition Candidate

Garry Kasparov, leader of the United Civil Front, has been elected as the single opposition candidate to represent the Other Russia in the March 2008 presidential election. After a series of democratic and transparent primary elections, delegates from far-flung regions voted today in Moscow to propel the former world chess champion to lead the opposition efforts. Though Kasparov may have little chance of defeating Putin’s hand-selected successor, or of even being allowed get on the ballot at all, the primary elections were held to challenge the opaque electoral standards used by the Kremlin, and to demonstrate politicians working within an open, rule-based party system.

At the September 30 Federal Congress in Moscow, 379 delegates voted for Kasparov. Sergei Gulyayev, leader of the “People’s” movement, secured 59 votes, while the People’s Democratic Union leader Mikhail Kasyanov received 18 votes. Viktor Gerashchenko, former head of the Central Bank, netted 16 voted, and Duma assembly member Vladimir Ryzhkov and Boris Vinogradov received 7 and 4 votes, respectively.

Delegates also used the Congress to hammer out a list of Other Russia candidates to the parliament: Kasparov, Geraschenko, and Eduard Limonov. Following a resolution of the Congress, representatives of the Other Russia will symbolically turn the list over to the electoral authorities and demand that the coalition candidates be included on the ballot. They also reiterated that without participation of Other Russia candidates any elections will be illegitimate, and pledged to challenge any such results.

Kasparov noted the strength of the coalition’s primary elections, which gave free access to divergent voices:

We offer an alternative to Russian citizens, and now we will need fortitude to withstand the pressure that will be growing. Aside from us, there is no one to build a different Russia.