Russia: “The Other ‘Other Russia'”

Eight months remain before the 2008 presidential vote in Russia, and it looks like there are going to be a number of sequels to the June 27 Global Voices translation about the Russian opposition's lack of unity.

That post was titled with one opposition activist's quote: “Completely Different Other Russias”. The title of today's translation – “The Other ‘Other Russia’” – is a quote from former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who, on July 3, said this (RUS) about the Other Russia opposition coalition:

Since that is the other Other Russia, I don't think further collaboration is possible.

Along with Gary Kasparov and Eduard Limonov, Kasyanov was a leading member of the Other Russia coalition, until he quit last week because of the failure to reach consensus on a single presidential candidate from the opposition. According to media reports, he is planning to run for the presidency himself.

Below are a few reactions from the Russian blogosphere.

An explanation from LJ user alexey_lapshyn, posted in the LJ hub for the Dissenters’ Marches – namarsh_ru LJ community:

A few words on the unpleasant conflict between [NDS, Mikhail Kasyanov's People's Democratic Union] and [OGF, Gary Kasparov's United Civil Front]. As we know, the disagreement arose because of the difference in approaches to the single oppositional candidate nomination procedure. At the NDS, they think that the decision should be taken within the Other Russia [coalition], while the OGF believe that other opposition representatives, including those from [Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko] and [KPRF, Gennady Zyuganov's Communist Party], should be involved in the nomination procedure. Garry Kasparov's allies insist on holding regional conferences to discuss various candidates. This, according to the OGF leaders, would secure the democratic nature of the final decision. As a result of these disagreements, Kasyanov announced that the Other Russia has presently exhausted itself, and Kasparov spoke of the deep and insurmountable disagreements within the coalition. How to understand all this? Here's a question for the OGF: why involve […] parties that have been openly making compromises with the Kremlin? It is common knowledge that Yavlinsky and Zyuganov are planning to hold their own campaigns and will not collaborate with the Other Russia. Is it worth it to dilute the coalition for the sake of the endless discussions? On the other hand, Kasparov's position may be explained by his desire to attract hesitating regional organizations of the KPRF, the [SPS, Nikita Belykh's Union of Right Forces] and Yabloko on the side of the radical opposition. As for Kasyanov, his nervousness is absolutely inappropriate. Regardless of the way the single candidate is nominated, he has the most chances to become the leader. At least, up until the latest statements by the NDS, the situation had been in his favor.

Sergey Mulin (LJ user mulinsergey) re-posts his July 2 Novaya Gazeta article (RUS), which begins with this summary:


Our potential [Yushchenkos] have refused to come out to their [Maidan].

The first anniversary of the Other Russia – of the conference in Moscow that was the beginning of the homonymous movement – is marked by the […] opposition to the Kremlin as if the “orange revolution” on Red Square had won a long time ago, making it okay to show their disagreements to the public. […]

LJ user alivsyk suspects (RUS) this will be Kasyanov's next step:

Now Kasyanov will be negotiating (or has negotiated already) with Yavlinsky, Zyuganov, the SPS. And together, they are likely to form a coalition.

And LJ user dmtrs seems to have solved a popular mystery (RUS) of who will be chosen by president Vladimir Putin to succeed him in his post:

Reading the news


Mikhail Kasyanov has practically buried the Other Russia coalition in his statement

*Enlightened* Kasyanov – the SUCCESSOR?!


a_v_k_73: No, Kasyanov is nothing but a jerk :)

dmtrs: Can't a jerk be a successor? *Looks around, switches to whistling whisper* For some reason, I'm sure this is exactly what he's going to be like.

LJ user ovchinnik explains (RUS) why a primary election may not be such a good idea for the opposition:

Once again, for the thousandth time, I realize that there should be no “primaries and single candidates” […]

All who want to [run in the election] – will run anyway… And let them do it…
There's nearly a dozen of them already.
And [the Kremlin] hasn't even decided on the successors yet.

To pick one – means everyone's going to quarrel.
And [the current situation] is the result of such an approach.


There cannot be a [nomination] procedure accepted by everyone…

It's in the United States that the Democrats and the Republicans hold conventions and nominate their candidates.

We here (in the Other Russia) aren't even parties, but “fronts” and “movements.”
Absolutely not long established and united in a rather [shaky] coalition.

Capable of standing up to the common enemy, but unable to deal with each other.

LJ user roro_rra disagrees (RUS):

Listen, I think that this isn't a very reasonable thing to say: “all who want to run – will… and let them do it…” Though I may be mistaken. ))

Consider it yourself: if all opposition candidates run, the votes they receive would be washed around among them. And this would allow the Kremlin to let two of its successors run. Then no one from the opposition would manage to get into the second round. The successors might get the maximum votes, which would make the second round a formality. Moreover, due to such a maneuver, it might seem as if there's less Putin's fault in passing over the power undemocratically.

LJ user ovchinnik responds (RUS):


The fact is, they'll run anyway, as “united” or not. If they said [they will, they will…]
And they'll be dragging away the votes anyway.

And discussions about a single candidate simply cause splits and hostility.
For example, Yavlinsky has already been accused of “splitting” [the united opposition].
But it's just that he always runs. And he's running now. Regardless of anyone's interests.

All they've got left to do is to accuse Zyuganov and [Zhirinovsky] of causing “splits”


Those who support the idea of a single candidate, let them organize a perfect primary and then let them convince those who lose to let go. If they succeed – let it be.

I'm sure it's not going to work. So is it worth trying?
Maybe the energy should be spent on something more useful? :)

For example, on organizing a “united front of candidates from the Other Russia”

LJ user _kitt_ alludes (RUS) to Kasyanov's nickname, Misha-2-Percent, given to him for the amount he allegedly skimmed from business deals he was involved in as prime minister during the first four years of Vladimir Putin's presidency:

What is he thinking of?
I'm now reading in the news that Mikhail Kasyanov is creating a new party.
… “People for Democracy and Justice.”
How are they going to abbreviate this name?
Right, NDS.
What are his PR people are thinking?
[NDS is also an abbreviation for value-added tax in Russian.]
In our country, anyone can call his party NDS, except for one person – Mikhail Kasyanov.
It'll be so funny if he gets 2 percent in the election.

LJ user na6ludatelb explains (RUS) why there's no reason to get too emotional about Kasyanov's defection – and all the more reason to join the upcoming Dissenters’ Marches:

Have we been deprived of a favorite toy?!
Why are we all whining here?

Kasyanov is gone? [So what?!]

Why, all of a sudden, shouldn't we go to the MARCHES?
Has the regime changed?
Has democracy appeared in the country?
Freedom of speech?..
Because these are what we go for when we attend the MARCHES

NO, nothing has changed! :(
And that's why we'll continue to attend the MARCHES and pressure the regime until we change it!!!

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