Statements from Alexei Mitrofanov, Just Russia’s latest recruit

Alexei Mitrofanov, a founding member of Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s party, has caused a sensation by quitting the LDPR to join Just Russia. Zhirinovsky is furious. Just Russia is delighted. Mitrofanov is now giving interviews, declaring that the LDPR is ineffective as a party.

“I quit the LDPR because of Baturin,” says Alexei Mitrofanov. “Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s work is done. How can the party nominate a person like Baturin? This is shameful and disgraceful!”

Mitrofanov carefully concealed his intention to switch from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) to the Just Russia party. He claims that his announcement clearly came as an unpleasant surprise for LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. However, Mitrofanov maintains that Zhirinovsky would have done the very same thing in his place.

“Vladimir Zhirinovsky didn’t know I was planning to leave, but he probably guessed,” says Mitrofanov. “He would take this step as well, if he could – but due to various reasons, he can’t.”

Mitrofanov doesn’t rule out the possibility of a few more LDPR politicians switching to Just Russia. According to him, such negotiations are already under way.

“We are moving toward a two-party system,” says Mitrofanov. “Unification with Just Russia is the only way to achieve real political competition. The multitude of minor parties we have at present are incapable of full-fledged participation in law-making, if there is one large party next to them.”

According to Mitrofanov, the LDPR has already played its role in history, acting as a stabilizer at many difficult political moments. But now the time of systems has arrived, and Just Russia is a systematic party.

Mitrofanov will be among the top three candidates on one of Just Russia’s regional candidate lists for the Duma election. The specific region has yet to be chosen. Mitrofanov says it doesn’t make any difference to him.

“I’m directly acquainted with all of Russia’s regions – I’ve visited most of them on more than one occasion,” says Mitrofanov. “I have only one preference: I wouldn’t want to be a candidate in Chechnya or Ingushetia, although I have an excellent knowledge of those regions as well.”

In Mitrofanov’s view, working with Just Russia will enable him to address some issues which his membership of the LDPR didn’t permit.

“The LDPR has a chance of crossing the 7% threshold, but what next?” says Mitrofanov. “Will it be in the same position as it is now, with none of its bills being passed?”

Alexander Babakov, Just Russia’s central council presidium secretary, says he sees some real prospects in the party’s new cooperation plans.

“In the next Duma, we should ensure that the opposition has the right to chair the budget committee,” says Babakov. “And we should give United Russia some real competition.”

Otherwise, according to Mitrofanov, United Russia will retain its monopoly on successful law-making initiatives. And that would hardly be good for the performance of the next Duma.