The Third Term Party: moving Russia away from the West

Russia’s development as a sovereign power requires at least five more years of stability under President Putin’s leadership. Those who have an interest in keeping Putin as president may be described as an informal coalition – the Third Term Party – dedicated to liberating Russia from the West’s dominance.

The political and economic trends of 2006 enable us to trace the outlines of a new (and still largely virtual) plan for Russia’s immediate future. This has already been dubbed the “Third Term Party.”

The past year has provided still more evidence that the electoral democracy model introduced in the early 1990s is unsuited to our country. The Russian people are fed up with elections. Voter turnout is falling – and not only because political parties have long since ceased to shape actual politics. It’s become clear that the stability which our country craves cannot be based on painful transformations of the entire political and macroeconomic configuration every four years; rather, it is based on the formula of evolutionary development and a “soft” change of course. It’s become clear that the bacchanalia of presidential races, established by the Constitution of 1993 (tailored to suit Yeltsin), interferes with the evolutionary development process and is not regarded as a sacred cow by public opinion in Russia – so it could well be revised.

In the course of 2006, Russia once again got a sense of how much the West hates it, and the fact that it is surrounded by enemies and experiencing increasing pressure from without – just as the Soviet Union experienced this, and the Russian Empire, and Muscovy. The current ruler’s name and the title given to our current political order make little difference to the configuration of relations between Russia and the outside world. The most overt phenomenon in this sense was the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko – after which Russia encountered nothing less than active isolationism on the part of the West. Once again, just like over a century ago, our country has realized that it “has no allies other than its own Army and Navy.”

In 2006, based on recovery trends and hydrocarbon prices, Russia’s domestic economy got a boost and made some progress – despite the harsh conditions dictated to it by the federal government’s financial bloc. Over the past year, Russia has started establishing sector-specific corporations – in aviation, ship-building, gas, nuclear power, and so on – which are essentially re-creating the Stalinist ministry system, re-establishing centralist methods of economic management, and issuing a challenge to the West. The West is also opposed to the “Russia as an energy superpower” thesis, formulated in 2006 and persistently imposed by the Kremlin – alongside the expulsion of Western capital from dubious projects like Sakhalin-2.

Using various methods, the Kremlin has managed to pacify Chechnya and the North Caucasus as a whole, effectively removing the phenomena of terrorism and separatism from Russia’s political horizon. This has also come as a complete surprise for the West – disrupting its plans to weaken Russia by encouraging a build-up of separatist energies in ethnic regions from Chechnya to Tatarstan, so that transnational corporations would find it easier to go into these “hotbeds of instability” and pick up the tastiest economic morsels.

In these circumstances, the changeover moment for Russia’s national leadership is approaching and the power-struggle around the throne is intensifying. In the event of a paradigm shift – the departure of President Putin – the existing dynamic equilibrium which is upheld solely by Putin will be disrupted, and unpredictable trends will prevail in Russia’s political configuration. In practice, these trends could result in chaotic processes – up to and including bloodshed as a result of social and interethnic clashes – depending on the imaginations of those who see themselves as deprived.

The Third Term Party is made up of people who support the abovementioned “moving away from the West” trend; those who don’t want to see social conflict and civil disturbances in Russia itself; those who want the stability period extended long enough to permit internal development processes to gather pace. The Third Term Party is informal and diverse; the participants sometimes don’t even realize that they are members of it. They have a variety of interests: largely mercenary or corporate, ethnic or simply bourgeois – and often contradictory. But these interests all share a common idea: Russia needs at least five or six more years of internal stability based on having the same person as its head of state, in order to rebuild all the development elements it lost with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

If this informal coalition wins the battle for 2008, that would obviously lead to a qualitatively different confrontation with the West. The Kremlin, finally torn away from the West’s umbilical cord, would have to establish a far more harmonious balance of social interests; in other words, it would have to “share with the people.” The Kremlin would also have to pay far more attention to developing the military-industrial complex as rapidly as possible – thus providing industrial momentum for the entire Russian economy. Both of these emergency measures, which the authorities would have to take whether they like it or not, should lead all of us onto a more appropriate path.

The Third Term Party is opposed by a large number of people who may be described as “Agents of the West” – those who are pulling Russia back into America’s geostrategic sphere of influence. First of all, there’s the powerful financial-banking bloc, with its strong interest in maintaining good relations with the West and retaining the ability to transfer money (private or state funds) into bank accounts abroad.

The groups provisionally known as the Third Term Party and the Agents of the West are now engaged in a power-struggle around the one and only key figure in Russian politics – who remains in a contradictory state of dualism as he chooses paths for himself and for Russia. Then again, the enemies of Russia’s revival can’t be sure that any candidate of their own wouldn’t escape their influence after winning a presidential election – just as Putin escaped the patronage of those who brought him to power. This only confirms the well-known thesis that Russia’s development as a sovereign power and an independent player in the international arena must be the objective and inevitable strategy for any national leadership team – if it wishes to retain leadership.