Claiming seats in parliament

Elections to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, are less than a month away. Seven political parties are officially registered to participate in the elections, and should all these parties actually enter the Duma, they would represent the Russia’s full political spectrum.

United Russia, a modern-style rulling party

United Russia, a modern-style ruling party

This party was established on Dec. 1, 2001 as “Unity and Fatherland – United Russia.” It has about 2 million members. Its political opponents claim that the party is attempting to restore a totalitarian regime in the country and is using administrative potential in its election campaign. The party won 64.3% of the votes in the 2007 parliamentary elections and holds 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma. It also controls regional parliaments and local elective bodies.

Declared priorities

United Russia’s main economic goal is the modernization and reform of the entire economy, as well as improvement of the investment climate. These reforms would enable to party to fulfill its promises for improved health care, education and pensions. To root out corruption, the party intends to introduce public scrutiny of all government initiatives that directly affect material rights and civic freedoms. Its electoral program also promises to strengthen the judicial system, making it more independent, transparent and just, to soften the criminal legislation on economic crimes and toughen punishment for violent crimes.


Source: Kommersant

The party recognizes that the current political system in the country needs to be developed “to enable everyone… to be heard and included in the process of state and social management.” The longer-term priority of “an independent and reasonable foreign policy” is to create a Eurasian Union, an association of former Soviet republics.

The party’s leader is Dmitry Medvedev, currently president of Russia. In the 1990s, he taught law at St.Petersburg State University, advised the municipal foreign relations committee and co-founder several companies. He spent a period of internship in Sweden, studying local self-government. He began his political career in November 1999, as deputy chief of staff of the Russian government. From his youth, he has been a fan of hard rock, especially Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. He was not involved in party or parliamentary work until Sept. 24, 2011 and he is unlikely to continue doing so after the elections: In the event of the widely predicted victory of Vladimir Putin in the March 4, 2012 presidential elections, he is expected to be named to the post of prime minister.
The Communist Party
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Back to the USSR


Source: Kommerant

The party held its first constitutional congress in February 1993 after a three-year ban on Communist activities in Russia. It considers itself to be the legal successor of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and espouses the same ideology. With about 550,000 members, it has emerged as the main opposition force in the country. Its support base consists mainly of people nostalgic about the Soviet era but it also has some support in other protest circles. It won 11.57 pecent of the vote in 2007 and holds 57 Duma seats.

Declared priorities

The party’s main foreign policy priorities are to enhance the role of the United Nations, limit the influence of NATO (and eventually have that organization dissolved), and bring the countries of the former Soviet Union closer together. The Communists support the Kremlin’s commitment to modernizing the Army, which “must be strong enough to repel any invader.”

Its main economic aim is to nationalize the key sectors of industry, thereby ridding the country of the “destructive sway of the wild market,” restoring a planned economy, and achieving free distribution of land for agricultural purposes. The Communists would also like to carry out a tax reform that favors the poor.

The party leader is Gennady Zyuganov. He began his party career in the mid-1960s at the regional center of Oryol (360 km south of Moscow). From 1983, he worked at the Central Committee of the CPSU, rising from the position of instructor at the Agitation and Propaganda Department to deputy chief of the Ideology Department. He was among the most active opponents of perestroika and, since the mid-1980s, has been a member of many conservative political organizations. Gennady Zyuganov has been the leader of the Communists in the Duma since 1994. He has run for president of Russia three times, each time coming in second. In his free time, he likes to play volleyball and billiards. He also grows flowers.

The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia

The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. The oldest opposition party


Source: Kommersant

LDPR is a successor to the party of that name created in the Soviet Union in March 1990, when it was the only official party opposing the CPSU. The Liberal Democrats reject the Communist ideology, but believe that personal freedom of citizens and their interests must be subordinate to the interests of the state and society as a whole. The party rhetoric is dominated by undisguised nationalist motives. In the 2007 elections, it won 40 seats in the Duma (8.4 percent of the vote).

Declared priorities

The Liberal Democrats’ Program is based on severe criticism of the existing world order in general and the Russian political system in particular. According to the Liberal Democrats, the world is divided into three groups: the first includes the United States, the UK, and their allies, who regard the second group – which is made up of Russia, China, India and most Asian and Latin American countries – merely as providers of resources for hi-tech industry. The third group is made up of African countries, which “today have no place in the concept of the world order,” according to the party’s program. LDPR believes that the main mistakes made by the Russian authorities are engaging in partnership with the West, compromising on international issues, and the hope that “the market will put everything right”.

The party leader is Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Before going into politics in 1990, he held minor positions in government institutions. He worked at the Western Europe Department at the Soviet Peace Committee. In August 1991, he publicly supported the State Emergency Committee: the group that was behind the failed coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Zhirinovsky is known mainly for his zany populist rhetoric. For example, he has proposed to cut off financial support for foreign states, to lift the moratorium on the death penalty, and to prosecute politicians who fail to fulfill their campaign promises. He has also promised to cut the price of vodka to 30-40 rubles for half a liter.

Just Russia

Just Russia. “The left foot” of the two-party system


Source: Kommersant

The party was formally set up in October 2006, bringing together several left-of-center and patriotic political organizations. The idea of the merger came from the Russian president’s staff, who thought that the country should have a fully-fledged two-party system. In early 2010, the party signed a political agreement with United Russia for the formation of a coalition, yet the cooperation never got off the ground and, in the summer of that year, Just Russia announced its opposition to the governing party. Just Russia holds 38 seats in the Duma  and won 7.74 percent of the votes in the 2007 elections).

Declared priorities

In its electoral program, the party promises to build “21st century socialism” in Russia by blending socialist ideas with universal democratic values. It advocates reform of the country’s political system, most notably direct election of governors (who at present are effectively appointed by the Russian president) and stronger local government. Regarding the economy, the party ideologists support the Kremlin’s modernization plans but want the state to play a stronger role and stop privatization and the movement of assets to offshore zones.

The party leader is Sergeyi Mironov. He began his parliamentary career in 1994 when he was elected deputy of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly. Previously, he had served with the airborne troops, worked as a geophysicist and held lecturing positions. In June 2001, he was elected to the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, and became its speaker six months later. Starting in February 2010, he made repeated critical attacks on United Russia. In May 2011, the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly recalled Mironov from his post as Federation Council speaker. Mironov opposes legalization of euthanasia and the open sale of fire arms, although this does not prevent him from owning several pistols that were presented to him.


Yabloko. The democratic opposition


Source: RIA-Novosti

The party was officially registered in 2002, but it has existed as an electoral bloc since 1993. It advocates a socially orientated market economy, the sanctity of private property, competition in politics and economics, a strengthening of democratic institutions, and increasing citizens’ control over government. It currently consists of several factions, which are, for all intents and purposes, human rights movements. It cooperates actively with environmental, trades union, cultural and other non-governmental organizations. It has had no seats in the Duma since 2003.

Declared priorities

The party considers the fight against the influence of bureaucrats and big business to be its main task. It proposes prohibiting businessmen and their close relatives from holding government office. Unlike most of its rivals, the party has no nostalgia for the Soviet Union. On the contrary, it proposes to make the justification of the actions by Stalin and the Bolsheviks a punishable offense. Much of its program is devoted to civil rights and freedoms as interpreted in the developed democracies. The party is also pressing for democratization of the political system at all levels. In the opinion of its ideologists, Russia must be a guarantor of the security of neighboring states, promote cooperation with the European countries and be more active in international organizations.

The party leader is Sergey Mitrokhin. During the perestroika years, he was a member of informal youth movements. From 1994 to 2003, he was a Duma deputy and deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee on local self-government. In 2002, he led the movement against the import of spent nuclear fuel into Russia from other countries, whereupon then President Vladimir Putin made him a member of the state commission in charge of that process. Sergey Mitrokhin is known to champion the preservation of Moscow’s historical buildings.


Patriots of Russia. Left of center nationalists

Patriots of Russia. Left of center nationalists


Sourse: Kommersant.

The party was created in 2005 through a merger of several moderate left-wing and patriotic political organizations. The Patriots of Russia call “for unification of all the opposition forces in the country on the basis of patriotism, proceeding from socialist, social-democratic and centrist views.” The party gained less than 1 percent of the votes in the previous elections and has failed to make it into the Duma.

Declared priorities

The party’s economic strategy is based on the nationalization of “illegally privatized” industries. Its main political task is to return “to the principles of democracy and a rule-of-law state,” as well as broader rights for the regions. The main social goal is to provide Russians with the same guarantees as are enjoyed by their Western European neighbors. The Patriots of Russia think Russia should not be in a hurry to join the WTO.

The party leader is Gennady Semigin. Semigin had been elected to the Duma as a member of the Communist Party, but broke with them in 2004. He proceeded to form an independent organization and later a shadow cabinet that included prominent politicians. Before going into politics, he was an active businessman and a member of major business associations. He engages in martial arts, swimming, running and tennis. In 1982, he was a karate champion of the Soviet Union.

Right Cause. On th road to the EU

Right Cause. On the road to the European Union


Sourse: Kommersant

 This pro-business liberal party was established in 2008, when several political organizations with shared ideologies formed an alliance. “The party considers its social base as consisting of independent-minded free citizens who have renounced the nanny state idea,” according to its ideologists. Before the start of the 2011 election campaign, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov became the party leader, causing resentment among many party functionaries. The conflict resulted in two congresses being held simultaneously, one of which removed Mikhail Prokhorov from his post as leader, while, at the other, he himself announced that he was resigning from the party. Right Cause has no seats in the present Duma.

Declared priorities

The party program begins with social and economic goals intended to make life in Russia more comfortable. Such a transformation should be carried out through economic reforms that have already been launched or are being planned by the present authorities. The party’s political program is to seek to restore the control of society over the authorities, to ensure an equal dialogue between the authorities and the civil society, and to separate the civil service from business. Right Cause seeks to rid Russian foreign policy of ideology and wants Russia to join the European Union.

The party leader 

The head of Right Cause is Andrei Dunayev. From 1997-2001, he was an FSB officer, ending his career there as senior criminal investigator. He took part in the investigations of the terrorist explosions in apartment blocks in Moscow and the murder of liberal politician Galina Starovoitova. A lawyer by training, he worked at a subsidiary of the oil giant LUKOIL. In 2008, he became a co-founder of the Right Cause. He was elected acting party chairman after Mikhail Prokhorov’s ouster. In the event of an electoral defeat, Andrei Dunayev has promised to resign as party leader and quit politics.

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