THE OTHER RUSSIA IS OVER

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The Other Russia coalition: unviable from the start

Former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov has pulled out of the Other Russia coalition. Thus, what most analysts predicted right from the start has now happened: the Other Russia has been destroyed by the ambitions of its leaders and the mutually exclusive political views of its members.


Former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, leader of the People’s Democratic Union (NDS), released an official statement yesterday to say that the Other Russia coalition’s mission is complete and a transition to other forms of political struggle is now required. Thus, what most analysts predicted right from the start has now happened: the Other Russia project, launched a year ago, has been destroyed by the ambitions of its leaders and the mutually exclusive political views of its members.

According to Kasyanov, “a new and decisive phase of the political struggle will start this autumn,” but “to date, we have been unable to reach consensus regarding that phase.” Those words sum up the essence of the problem. Kasyanov wants to be the common presidential candidate representing all opposition forces – but several of his former colleagues in the Other Russia have also stated their intentions to run for president. So Kasyanov has decided to strike out on his own again, concentrating on personal party-building. The NDS organizing committee for a new political party with the working title of The People for Democracy and Justice will meet in Nizhny Novgorod today. According to Kasyanov, this new party will be open to accepting members from regional branches of the Union of Right Forces and Yabloko – those who wish to “participate in normal elections in their regions.”

Yet it isn’t clear which “normal elections” are under discussion here – since there certainly isn’t enough time to establish and register a new political party before the Duma election campaign begins. Moreover, even though Kasyanov maintains that “in its one year of existence, the Other Russia has shown that it can consolidate people with different political views,” the realities indicate otherwise.

Differences of opinion within the Other Russia have reached the point of absurdity. The most vivid example of this is a new movement called Narod (The People), established by former St. Petersburg lawmaker Sergei Gulyaev, Communist Petr Miloserdov, and Yabloko member Alexei Navalnyi. Narod has announced that its presidential candidate will be Gulyaev, and if the Other Russia doesn’t support him, Narod will go it alone.

If this continues, by autumn the Other Russia won’t even be able to organize another Dissenter March that bears some resemblance to a protest, let alone reach agreement regarding the presidential election. Besides, recent Dissenter March protests have shown that the Other Russia really has completed its mission: proving that this form of opposition is unviable these days. But the Other Russia’s participants are still planning to hold a conference in Moscow this weekend, seeking to “reach consensus.” The past year has made it clear how good they are at that.

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