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Russian Politics in Review
November-December, 2007

The following resource is meant to quickly introduce the reader to politics issues in Russia - with a focus on the upcoming elections, political parties, and political personages. This news review is part of SRAS's monthly "obzor" publications. For more reviews, see the newsletter for this corresponding month.

To receive the free monthly newsletter and obzori by email, simply sign up.  


General Politics

Russian presidential polls officially set for March 2
"Documents for registering candidates with the Central Election Commission can be submitted from December 12 to January 16, the media campaign will run February 2-29, and candidates can publish their political manifestos February 2-10," Churov said.

Putin moves Russia's highest court to home town
President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's Constitutional Court on Sunday to complete its move to St Petersburg from Moscow by May, saying it would help his home town regain its former imperial glory.

Six candidates registered to run for Russia's presidency
The deadline has passed for Russia's political parties to nominate their presidential candidates for the 2008 election. The Central Election Commission has received applications from six candidates.

Putin to order first Duma meeting not waiting for 30 days
Russian President Vladimir Putin will issue an order to hold the first meeting of the newly-elected State Duma without waiting for 30 days after the Duma elections under the law.

Russian president and PM: who does what?
Russian officials caution that an exclusively legal view of the division of power does not allow for the deeply personal basis of authority in Russia.

A Day in the Life of the CEC Chairman
Special correspondent Andrey Kolesnikov spent half the day with chairman of the Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov yesterday.

Russian marks its Constitution's 14th anniversary
One of, if not the, most-hotly debated articles in the Constitution has been article 81, which states that that one and the same person may not be elected President of the Russian Federation for more than two terms running.



Medvedev: Weak or Strong?
A look back at  Medvedev's rise to power shows that he's not as spineless as he's made out to be. Warning - Exile article (may contain offensive material).

Dmitry Medvedev & The Banker's Murder
The irony is obvious: the supposed Western-liberal Yeltsin named a KGB goon to replace him at the end of 1999, in a move that was even less democratic, and far more surprising, than Putin’s naming of Medvedev today. Warning - Exile article (may contain offensive material).

Medvedev admits he nervous taking top Kremlin job
Dmitry Medvedev, almost certain to become the next president of Russia, on Thursday formally made his application to run in the March 2 election and admitted he was nervous at "a tough job" ahead in the Kremlin.

Medvedev's Political Character Debated
The Kremlin's candidate for president is equal parts shrewd lawyer, loyal aide and government technocrat. What Dmitry Medvedev has never been is a political leader.

The Rising Star
Russia's markets surged after the soft-spoken Medvedev, who has a liberal reputation, was suggested for candidacy.

Enabling The Kremlin
Rice commended Medvedev, Russia's first deputy prime minister, as a "very intelligent person" and a politician "of another generation."

Liberal Politicians Differ In Construing Medvedev Proposal
Tuesday's proposal by First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that President Vladimir Putin become prime minister after the presidential election received differing assessments from two liberal politicians, one of them calling it "predictable" and the other expressing surprise at it.



Vladimir Putin Follows Dmitry Medvedev
The president promised to become a prime minister without extended powers.

Putin to Remain President till May 2008
Under the RF Constitution, a new president is inaugurated on expiration of four years of the day of the previous president’s inauguration.

Putin not to take Duma seat for now
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not, at least for now, take up the seat in parliament he won in last weekend's election.

Putin, the Kremlin power struggle and the $40bn fortune
An unprecedented battle is taking place inside the Kremlin in advance of Vladimir Putin's departure from office, the Guardian has learned, with claims that the president presides over a secret multibillion-dollar fortune.

Secretive oil firm denies Putin has any stake in its ownership
Company rejects claims it benefits from Kremlin ties Group admits co-founder and president are friends.

Putin to keep Novo-Ogaryovo residence after new leader elected
Putin's late predecessor, late Boris Yeltsin, and his family also retained their luxurious Barvikha residence outside Moscow.

Putin’s Speech at the State Awards Ceremony
Without a doubt, for the entire country the past year has been, not only more successful and more dynamic, but truly decisive for the future of Russia’s long term recovery.

What Does Putin Want?
The answer to their wishes was Vladimir Putin (as well as skyrocketing oil revenues).


General Commentary

The Secret Policeman's Election
Vladimir Putin did not rig the ballot to win control of parliament, but to assert his power over the Kremlin's warring factions.

'What' Not 'Who' Will Shape Russia in 2008
While the answers to these "who" questions obviously matter greatly, it seems to (William Burns, US Ambassador to Russia) that it is the "what" questions looming over the 2008 transition that will shape Russia's future and the future of our economic relationship for many years to come.

Golos Sees Serious Violations
Around 2500 activists of «GOLOS» Association have been observing voting procedures on over 20 000 polling stations in 38 Russian regions starting from 8 am until the counting of votes was over and final protocols were signed.

Fair or foul, Russian poll a positive for democracy
Snappy sound bites in fluent English from a celebrity chess-player turned politician whose appeal among the Russian electorate is close to zero have substituted for serious analysis based on facts.

Russia to push for OSCE reform at Madrid meeting
The diplomat said Washington backs the ODIHR's decision not to attend Russia's State Duma elections, and that "The United States will oppose every move to weaken the ODIHR."

Russia Democratic?
Yes, but so what?

Blowback From Moscow
Our next president will likely face a Russia led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, determined to stand up to a West that Russians believe played them for fools when they sought to be friends.

The Vote is Over, Forget About it!
The journalists exert themselves in vain trying to find a story.

Putin's Party
Russian election marred by allegations of fraud, coercion

Putinism could be the next Russian export
Putinism, as it is now evolving, fundamentally challenges American assumptions that the 21st century will see the inevitable triumph of "western values".


United Russia

Fanatics form a bloc with the uncommitted
Behind the scenes at a United Russia forum.

The Campaign: In Putin We Trust
Judging by its political ads, Russia’s ruling party doesn’t need ideas. It has Putin.

Why Putin's Party Can't Lose
"Just a few years ago, employees would walk through the main plant's checkpoint openly carrying string bags full of booze. This is how their working shift would begin."

Let Russia Find Its Own Way to Political Reform
Isn't it time we just left Russia alone?

"Mysterious Putin’s address to nation" turns out to be a common ad.
After the ad, campaign advertisement of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s speech were shown.



Why Russian Liberals Lose
Several attempts by the alliance known as "Another Russia" to organize protest rallies in Russia's most populous cities, including the recent fiascoes in Moscow and St. Petersburg, have revealed an indisputable truth - those who call themselves the liberal opposition in Russia are neither competent nor popular.

Kasparov Won't Run for Russian President
Ex-chess champ, Kremlin critic says authorities put up too many obstacles.

Leader of Russian opposition SPS party announces resignation
The leader of the SPS party said on Monday he was resigning over his liberal opposition party's crushing defeat in the Russian parliamentary elections earlier this month.

Changes Loom for Yabloko and SPS
But after a disastrous performance in the State Duma elections and facing millions of dollars of debt, the liberal parties Yabloko and Union of Right Forces agree on one thing: Something has to change.

Berezovsky Taps $4 Billion Fortune to Bankroll Putin Opponents
Berezovsky said in an interview last week that he's channeling some of his $4 billion fortune to Putin's opponents in the run-up to the parliamentary election on Dec. 2 and the presidential vote in March.

Russia's Putin puts nationalists in shade for vote
The party that for a decade has entertained Russians with its brand of anti-Western nationalism is expected to struggle in this Sunday's parliamentary election.



Sechin's Clan the Loser in a Week of Surprises
"Sechin is very unlikely to be destroyed," added Stanislav Belkovsky, a former Kremlin spin doctor.

What Role for Siloviki in the Putin-Medvedev Marriage
The resolution of the protracted intrigue around the transfer of supreme political power in Russia appears to leave everybody happy.



Gorbachev's Baggage
Mr. Gorbachev has been on this journey before. Ten years ago, he did a TV spot for Pizza Hut that drew considerable scorn.

Extracts from an interview with Mikhail Gorbachev
I am 76 and in four months I will be 77. Today, my priority is the child I have created - my favorite child: Green Cross International.

Q and A with Mikhail Gorbachev
At the peak of his fame, pressing too hard and falling through was Gorbachev's life in a nutshell.

Gorby's Choice
He brought democracy to Russia. So why is he backing Putin, the man undoing his legacy?


Youth Politics (Nashi)

Russian TV channel looks at budget funding for pro-Kremlin youth groups
Money to finance Nashi's Seliger-2008 project has been taken out of the state budget - 6m roubles to spend on the summer tent camp to be set up on the shores of the lake in Tver Region.

A new political group devoted to supporting Vladimir Putin. This Russian-language YouTube clip shows their recent rally in Moscow.

Nashi Spinoff Operating Exit Polls
Up to 20,000 activists from Nashi Vybory, a spinoff from the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi, will conduct exit polls nationwide during Sunday's State Duma vote.

US Accused of Instigating Russian Revolt
Nashi said Sunday it is mobilizing against an alleged threat of a Western-inspired revolt following Sunday's parliamentary victory by President Vladimir Putin's party.


Public Opinion

1/3 of Russians Prefer Authoritarian Ruling
Of 27 states of Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union, Russia manifests the lowest support for democracy (36 percent).

Russians accept election result without protest
Foreign observers and opposition parties say Russia's parliamentary election was unfair but nobody expects big protests in a country riding the eighth year of an oil boom where political apathy is becoming a way of life.

Poll shows number of Russians aware of Putin's election plan up
The number of Russians who know for certain what One Russia's election campaign entitled Putin's Plan is about grew from 4 to 47 per cent.

The Ballot: Freedom From Choice
Polls suggest that Russians embrace a broad array of ideologies, most of which will not be on offer in this election.

Most Russians Say Human Rights are Violated in Their Country
Seventy-two percent of Russians – nearly three out of four – say that human rights are being violated in their country at the present time, but they divide as to whether the situation is getting worse (24 percent), better (24 percent) or saying the same (37 percent).

Most Russians would back any Putin-proposed successor
The public opinion center VTsIOM said 57% of respondents in a survey carried out on the weekend before the announcement said they would support any possible successor approved by the incumbent leader.

Putin's anointed successor leaps ahead in Russia poll
The popularity of President Vladimir Putin's favored successor soared in an opinion poll released on Thursday.

Most Russians Don't Know What Democracy Is
I'd point out that people have become increasingly content with their lives over the past year and a half. We're noticing for the first time that the general mood is positive: people are more satisfied than dissatisfied with their lives.

Almost half of Russians think country needs 'distinct' kind of democracy
Sixty-seven per cent of respondents believe that Russia should develop in a democratic way, while almost half, 47 per cent, think that the country needs a completely distinct kind of democracy that would correspond to Russia's national traditions and specific qualities.

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