Russia Suffers Loss From a Split in the Right Cause

Russia has lost. This was a defeat for Russia, rather than for Mr. Prokhorov, Mr. Surkov or Mr. Medvedev. We had a chance to have a relatively independent, reasonable liberal political party in the State Duma (we have to come to grips with reality and remember that our climate is bad, our roads are bad and our political system is imperfect). If this had happened, it would have been very important for the country. But it became clear that it's not going to work out that way. 

I’m not an expert on Mikhail Prokhorov. I’ve seen him a couple of times and spoke with him over the phone on a number of occasions. I don’t know what he will do under the circumstances. All I know is what he said. What matters more is that I don’t see any point in forming a new political movement, either for him or for the country. I don’t know what will change in Russia if we have yet another movement led by Prokhorov.

As for the other side of the conflict – those who held a meeting at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Moscow – are they the remaining bearers of the party’s brand? We had a reputable party once: the Democratic Party of Russia. What has become of its brand since it was lead by a certain Andrei Bogdanov?

Incidentally, I did not attend this meeting at the WTC – I was not invited. However, I think that a party headed by some Bogdanov or Dunayev will be unable to attract a single decent person. Reputation is very important. It is clear that a party list containing the names of Bogdanov and the like will not be able to gain any support, despite all of Churov’s efforts. Therefore, I think that the election prospects of a party ruled by the presidential administration are close to zero.

Of course, any figures can be registered – after all, we have Mr. Churov. But I believe he will have a different task: for United Russia. I think the party's position is simply disastrous. And this means that no effort will be spared (for the “accurate” counting of votes) to help United Russia.

It appears that the right-wing forces will not be represented in the State Duma. But who knows? Perhaps we should start by letting Yabloko into the Duma. This could be accomplished by administrative means, although the situation here is more complicated.

A mock party under the leadership of Bogdanov or Dunayev will not be able to win any votes. This means votes would have to be fabricated. Are they ready to do this for the Right Cause? I’m not sure.

Today some analysts talk about how the right-wing forces and United Russia could cooperate to promote economic reforms in the Duma, although very little depends on this. This could be done in principle, but it would be more difficult without the right wing. It would be possible to compel Yabloko to do this (if they receive the mandates). It would also be possible to create a questionable United Russia committee on economic policy in the Duma which would tend to suggest ideas like this. But I don’t see much of a difference here, because this will be a controlled process anyway.

After what has happened, the chances for a compromise still exist, but they are very thin. There is one option, but I won’t describe it here because it seems extremely unlikely to me. Let’s put it this way: it existed on September 14 night, but it was far less likely next morning.

Yet politics is the art of compromise. No president or king can do whatever they want. You have to find a compromise.

This is my prediction. This circus act with Bogdanov and Dunayev will be part of the election campaign, but nothing will come of it; Prokhorov will not participate in it because he no longer can. Everything depends not so much on this campaign as on what happens after it. I fear that the election race will more likely lead to destabilization, because people will understand that it is simply another mockery.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.