After the break-up of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation gained independence on 24 August 1991. The country is a federal democratic republic with a strong presidential system. Previously, the people elected the president for a four-year term, but an amendment to the Constitution prolonged the term to six years as of 2012. Vladimir Putin, who served as president in 2000-2008, was succeeded by Dmitry Medvedev, his appointed successor. Putin was, however re-elected in 2012 for a third term in office. The Federal Assembly has two chambers: the State Duma (Lower House) has 450 members, elected for a five-year term by proportional representation. The Federation Council (Upper House) has 166 members, two delegates for each of the 83 regions.
Political environment and the Putin election decree
During the first Putin-era, between 2000 and 2008, pressure on democracy and human rights in Russia increased. Besides its increased wealth and political status in the world, Russia has also shown an increased level of human rights violations, repression of opposition parties and organisations, and an increased pressure on independent media. Opposition parties experience increasing difficulties in finding ways to get out their message: the media is increasingly dominated by the state and opposition parties and the civil society has difficulties to organise protests and rallies. These problems are worsened by a 2007 election law. Important changes to the previous law include the abolishment of the possibility to vote ‘against all’, and the increase of the election threshold for political parties from 5% to 7% of the vote to win seats in parliament. Another difficulty for smaller political parties is the legal minimum number of 50.000 members a party should have to compete in the elections. In July 2007, the Russian Communist Workers Party – Revolutionary Party of Communists challenged this law in court on the ground that the legislation illegally limits the citizens’ participation in political life. However, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the legislation. The immense personal power that is wielded by the president can also be seen in the 2008 presidential elections, in which Dmitry Medvedev, hailed by Putin as his favourite candidate, won an easy victory in the polls. He competed in the elections with the promise not to change the line of policy Putin set out, and to appoint Putin as his prime minister. Because Putin himself already served two terms he was prohibited by law from running in the elections.
On 24 September 2011 Dmitry Medvedev endorsed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for the presidential elections of 2012. Putin accepted the nomination and in turn asked Medvedev to head the ruling party’s list for the December 4 Duma elections. Under amendments to the constitution made in 2008 the presidential term was extended to six years, meaning that Putin could stay in power for another 12 years, until 2024.
Medvedev’s liberalised political party law
In December 2012, following the parliamentary elections and the ensuing street protests, President Medvedev proposed reforms liberalising the political party law. The proposal included several measures that would drastically simplify the process of registration for new political parties, and the process of registration of existing political parties for participating in elections. Some specific points include decreasing the required number of members from 50.000 to 500, and decreasing the number of signatures needed for a party’s participation in presidential elections from 2.000.000 to 100.000 for parties and 300.000 for individual candidates. The proposal was passed by the Duma in a final reading in early 2012, and by the Federation Council in march 2012. After the President’s signature it would, theoretically come into force. President-elect Putin said that he will not tamper with the amendments, which have caused a rush of new political parties wanting to register (at the time of publishing this country update there were 85 applications at the Justice Ministry).
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Presidential elections 4 March 2012
On 4 March 2012 presidential elections took place in Russia, in which 63 % of the Russians cast their ballot.
Final election results:
|Vladimir Putin (United Russia)||63.6%|
|Gennady Zyuganov (leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation)||17.18%|
|Mikhail Prokhorov (Russian billionaire)||7.98%|
|Vladimir Zhirinovsky (leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia)||6.22%|
|Sergei Mironov (presiding the fair Russia party)||3.85%|
Vladimir Putin, prime minister during Medvedev’s presidency and his predecessor from 1999 until 2008, was re-elected with 63.6% of the votes. Consequently, he secured a mandate for at least 6 years according to a law amendment in 2008 in which the presidential term was extended with 2 years.
The other four candidates all received less than 20% of the votes. Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the communist party, gained 17.18%, which is almost equal to the votes he gained in the last presidential elections in 2008. Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, obtained 7.92%. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia acquired 6.22% of the ballots, a similar result to the last elections in which he was running for president as well. Sergei Mironov, leader of the Just Russia party, garnered 3.85 % of the votes.
Opposition leaders and independent monitors stated that large-scale fraud was involved in the elections, including carousel voting, forced voting and ballot-box stuffing. According to the independent NGO Golos observers only 50,18% of the votes was garnered by Putin if fraud had not occurred, which nevertheless represents a small majority, just enough to save him from a run-off. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), initially stated that the voting had been “assessed positively overall and had produced a clear winner with an absolute majority”. The organisation admitted, however, that the “voter's choice was limited, electoral competition lacked fairness and an impartial referee was missing”. Tonino Picula, presiding over the OSCE observer mission in Russia, said that “there were serious problems from the very start of this election. The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia. There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt”. 685 election observers were accredited to monitor the elections, and over 90 thousand webcams recorded the conduct in the voting booths, which according to a member of the United Russia party prevented 99% of the possible violations.
Many prominent politicians denounced the irregularities in the presidential elections. Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, did not congratulate Putin on his re-election. On behalf of the EU, she looked forward to cooperating with the newly elected president “in full support of our shared modernisation agenda, which we see as covering both economic and political reforms,” she said. Ashton referred at the irregularities in the elections, and called on Russia to “address these shortcomings”. Javier Barroso (president of the European Commission) and Herman van Rompuy (president of the European Council) did not make any statements. These reactions stand in sharp contrast with the 2008 presidential elections won by Medvedev, as he was congratulated both by Ashton's predecessor and Barroso at the time. Martin Schulz, presiding over the European Parliament, expressed his concern about the violations in the elections and the limited alternatives for the voters.
Parliamentary elections 4 December 2011
On 4 December, Parliamentary elections were held in Russia. The official turnout was 60,1% (63.7% in 2007).
|Duma elections 4 December 2011||Seats in the parliament||% of the votes|
|Communist Party (CPRF)||92||19,19|
|A Just Russia||64||13,24|
|Liberal Democratic Party||56||11,67|
|Patriots of Russia||0||0,97|
The ruling United Russia party gained 49.32% of the votes, which indicates a decrease in support in comparison with the 2007 elections, where the party won 64,1% of the votes. However, it still means that the party has secured the majority of seats in the parliament. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) received 19.19% of the counted votes (11,6% in 2007), A Just Russia - 13.24% (7,8% in 2007), and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) - 11.67% (8,2% in 2007).
The other three parties that participated in the elections - Yabloko, the Patriots of Russia, and
the Right Cause will not be represented in the parliament, as they did not pass the 7% threshold. As Yabloko won more than 3% of the votes, it gets the right to receive financial support from the state.
The results mean that the United Russia party loses the constitutional majority that it had after the previous election. The United Russia party already announced that it will negotiate with the opposition to form a coalition in the parliament.
‘Compensatory’ mandates were to be granted to parties that receive from 5% to 7% of votes (the threshold is 7%), but none of those parties who did not enter the parliament, overcame the barrier of 5%.
The election law at the time of elections required that each political party should have a minimum of 50.000 members and more than 45 regional branches with a minimum membership of 500 each. Only seven political parties managed to obtain registration for participation in the parliamentary elections.
According to the interim election report of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), a low level of campaigning and alleged violations during the campaigning process were observed. The report notified that the level of campaigning was low until the first big rallies on 4 November conducted by the United Russia party and Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and a couple of days later by the Communist Party of Russia (KPRF). The report also pointed out that some parties voiced concern about the governing party ‘making use of administrative recourses’ during electoral campaigning. One such case was the filmed attempt of the Head of the Izhevsk city administration (Republic of Udmurtia) to influence voter choices by promising bonuses to veterans if they would vote for the governing party. Earlier, Russia's election authority, the Central Election Commission, accused the ODIHR of applying double standards and politicizing the election process.
The observers from the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reported ‘frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulation, including serious indications of ballot box stuffing’.
Opposition parties complained of breaches of electoral law and Russia's only independent monitoring group, Golos, was knocked down in a massive cyber attack, as were the sites of a half of dozen independent-minded media, including the internet version of the newspaper ‘Kommersant’ and radio ‘Echo of Moscow.’ Golos said it has logged 5,300 complaints alleging violations, particularly voter intimidation and the harassment of election observers. According to the Russian internet portal, Russian journalists, voters and observers have recorded a gigantic quantity of violations and ‘mass fraud’, including multiple carousel voting and ballot box stuffing.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested Russia’s elections were neither free nor fair, adding that ‘Russian voters deserve a full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation’.
The European Parliament issued a resolution asking for a re-run of the elections, to which Dmitry Medvedev responded that ‘this is our [Russia’s] election and the European Parliament has nothing to do with it’, adding that the European Parliament’s decisions mean nothing to him.
The Russian Federation is a democracy in name, but many observers doubt its democratic potential. One of the main reasons is the lack of an independent multi-party system. The State Duma is dominated by United Russia, the power party of Vladimir Putin. After the parliamentary election of 2007 they occupied 315 out of 450 seats. The results of the 2011 elections indicate that United Russia will now control 238 out of 450 seats, and in order to renew its domination will have to look for possibilities for a coalition.
A Just Russia Party (Fair Russia)
Status at Socialist International: Consultative Party.
Leader: Sergey Mironov
A Just Russia, also translated as ‘Fair Russia’, was created in 2007, through a merger of three political organisations: Rodina (Motherland), the Russian Pensioners’ Party and the Russian Party of Life. The party is led by Sergey Mironov. A Just Russia is a leftist social democratic party and sees itself as the alternative to United Russia. In the 2010 regional elections they received an average vote of 15%. In the parliamentary elections in December 2011 A Just Russia garnered 64 seats in the State Duma.
A Just Russia proclaims its political philosophy as ‘New Socialism’. Its central value, they argue, is ‘the individual’. The role of the state is to attend to the individual's needs. Despite their critique of Soviet style communism, they do not openly criticise the Soviet past. Part of their electorate has positive reminiscences of the Soviet-Union and A Just Russia does not exclude cooperation with the Communist Party in the near future. One of A Just Russia’s political aims is to create a broad leftist movement to compete with the rightist party of power, United Russia. Opponents of A Just Russia criticise the party for only being an opposition in name, but not in practice.
Other social democratic oriented parties, such as the Social Democratic Party of the Russian Federation of Sergei Beloserzev or the Social Democratic Union of Vassili Lipitsky, were not re-registered after the law of 2001.
Parties represented in State Duma
Leader: Vladimir Putin
Website: http://er.ru/ (rus)
United Russia is the largest political party in contemporary Russia and is considered to be the ‘party of power’. Since 15 April 2008, Vladimir Putin has been the chairman of the party. United Russia was founded in April 2001 when the parties Fatherland – All Russia, led by the then Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, and the Unity Party of Russia merged.
In 2003 the party published its political manifesto called ‘The Path of National Success’. United Russia is a conservative party whose goal is to unite political forces and support the Russian President in order to enhance national unity. They reject the classical concept of left-wing and right-wing politics as they depart from a static notion of political centrism. United Russia supports a mixed economy in which a free market is combined with state regulation. Economic benefits should be redistributed for the most part to the poorest people.
The party claims to have 2,01 million members (2010) and occupies 238 out of 450 seats in the State Duma after the December 2011 elections, which does not give it a constitutional majority. These results indicated that the party started to lose its popularity.
Communist Party of the Russian Federation
Leader: Gennady Zyuganov
Website: http://kprf.ru/ (rus)
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) is the biggest political party after United Russia and it is the most influential opposition party in the Russian Federation. The CPRF might be considered as a successor to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) but differs in many respects. Its leader, Gennady Zyuganov, co-founded the party in 1993 together with other senior Soviet politicians.
The CPRF, as it is formed by Zyuganov, is popular-patriotic in character. It is not a strict communist party, as it no longer prohibits religion and opts for a mixed economy. Its main characteristics are the demand for a strong state, economic equality for the citizens of Russia and social justice for all. It targets the wealth of the new class of oligarchs. Therefore, the CPRF is especially popular with pensioners, industrial workers and non-profit organisations' employees.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party was prohibited for a while in Russia, because of its attempt to overthrow Gorbachev in August 1991. In 1992 a court ruling allowed the party to return to the political scene. Several former Soviet Communists started new communist parties in Russia, but only Zyuganov’s CPRF managed to become successful. In 1996 Gennady Zyuganov entered the first presidential elections and competed against Boris Yeltsin. He finished second with 32% of the votes. Yeltsin won with 35%. During Putin’s presidency Zyuganov was less popular, but still a political force to be reckoned with.
Zyuganov stood as candidate for the presidential elections in 2008 and again in 2012. In the last elections he received 17,18% of the votes and did not have a chance against Vladimir Putin, who collected 63,6% of the votes. The CPRF was more successful in the last regional and legislative elections. Following the results of the legislative elections on the 4th of December 2011, the CPRF holds 92 seats in the parliament, which is an increase in comparison with the 2007 elections, after which the party held 57 seats.
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
Leader: Vladimir Zhirinovsky
The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) was founded in 1989 by Vladimir Zhirinovsky as the second official party in the Soviet Union. It fulfilled the role of being an opposition party, but according to former Soviet Communist Party politburo member Alexander Yakovlev the LDPR was created by KGB director Vladimir Kryuchkov as a puppet party to control the opposition. In the West, the LDPR is known most for its leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who created a personality-cult which absorbs all the party's attention and time. Zhirinovsky is Vice-Chairman of the State Duma.
The party's ideology is one of extreme nationalism with imperialistic aspirations, and inclined to strong, even fascist, authoritarian beliefs. The methods it uses, both in and outside the Duma, are highly populist which accounts for the party's ambiguity over economic questions. The LDPR draws most of its support from the marginalised populations of the provinces who have suffered most from transition and reform. Notwithstanding its oppositional stance, in almost all cases, the LDPR votes in favour of the Russian President.
Following the results of the legislative elections of the 4th of December 2011, the LDPR holds 56 seats in the State Duma, that is an increase in comparison with the 40 seats it had after the 2007 elections.
Leader: Sergey Mitrokhin
The Russian United Democratic Party Yabloko was formed in 1993 by Grigory Yavlinsky, Yuri Boldyrev and Vladimir Lukin. Yabloko means ‘apple’ and is an acronym of the founders’ names. From the beginning in 1993 until 2008 Yavlinsky was the party leader. In 2001 he was succeeded by Moscow City Duma deputy, Sergey Mitrokhin.
Yabloko is a social liberal political party. In the beginning of the nineties they were fierce adherents of greater freedom and civil liberties in Russia, as well as the introduction of a free market economy. Since the Russian presidency became more authoritarian under Putin’s regime they have warned for the deterioration of democracy in Russia. Yabloko has felt the consequences of Putin’s ‘managed democracy’ as well. In 1995 it reached its peak with 45 seats in the State Duma. In the 2011 parliamentary elections Yabloko only received 3,43% of votes which means the party is not represented in the State Duma.
This decrease in political power also has to do with the lack of popularity of liberal ideas in Russia and internal conflicts in Yabloko. Criticism of Yavlinski grew within the party after Yabloko failed to gain representation in the Duma in the latest parliamentary elections in 2003 and 2007. After the failed elections of December 2007 (1,7% of the votes) , there were increasing calls for his resignation. Yavlinski was succeeded in June 2008 as party leader by Sergey Mitrochin, leader of the Moscow branch of Yabloko. With the election of Mitrokhin, Yabloko seems to have chosen for the moderate wing of the party as opposed to the more radical wing, which is led, amongst others, by Yabloko St Petersburg leader Maksim Reznik, a chapter that historically has the most difficulty with the Moscow party leadership.
Yabloko is a member of the Liberal International.
Leaders: Georgiy Bovt, Boris Titov and Leonid Gozman
Right Cause was formed in February 2009 following a merger of three political parties: the Union of Right Forces (SPS), Civil Power and the Democratic Party of Russia. The party has a liberal conservative stance and presents itself as an opposition party. Critics say that the party is effectively under Kremlin control. The party was lead by Georgiy Bovt, Boris Titov and Leonid Gozman, former leader of the Union of Right Forces, until Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov became its leader in the summer of 2011, for a brief period. Prokhorov was ousted under unclear circumstances in the same year and went on to run in the Presidential elections as an individual candidate, and to set up a new party (currently being formed as this piece is written).
Right Cause aimed at winning seats at Russia's parliamentary elections in 2011 under the slogan: "Freedom, property, order.", but received only 0,59 % of the votes.
Patriots of Russia
Leader: Gennady Semigin
Patriots of Russia was established in 2005 as a left-wing nationalist and socialist party. Its founder, Gennady Semigin, was expelled from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation after a power struggle with Gennady Zyuganov. In 2006 the party joined the Rodina faction for a short while until Rodina decided to merge with other parties in A Just Russia. The ‘patriots of Russia’ decided to run for the 2011 legislative elections as a separate party (as in 2007). They won 0.97% of the votes and did not secure any seats in the State Duma.
People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS)
Co-chairs: Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Ryzhkov, Mikhail Kasyanov
The People’s Freedom Party (for Russia without lawlessness and corruption) was founded in December 2010 by opposition politicians: (no longer registered) Republican Party chairman Vladimir Ryzhkov, chairman of the People’s Democratic Union Mikhail Kasyanov, one of the prominent leaders of the ‘Solidarnost’ movement Boris Nemtsov, and leader of the movement Democratic Choice, Vladimir Milov. The party was formed on the basis of a coalition of four organizations of its co-founders. At the founding conference of the party Kasyanov, Milov, Nemtsov and Ryzhkov were elected co-chairmen of the party with the Russian acronym ParNaS. In September 2011 Kasyanov, Nemtsov and Ryzhkov were re-elected as co-chairmen of the party.
The party is very critical of Putin's regime. Its stated goal is to return Russia to the path of democracy and restore respect for the Constitution.
In June 2011 PARNAS was denied registration. The Justice Ministry said the party’s petition had dozens of false names and contradictions in its statutes. PARNAS called the decision political, but in any case lost any chance of participating in the December 2011 elections. The party decided to continue its activities and was an active participant of the street protests that followed the December elections.
The Other Russia
Multiple leaders, best-known: Garry Kasparov
The Other Russia is a broad organisation connecting several political parties and NGOs that are united as an opposition movement. The Other Russia was formed in July 2006. The movement represents itself as a “national platform” and does not run for elections.
Its task is to “restore civil control of power in Russia, a control that is guaranteed in the Russian Constitution that is so frequently and unambiguously violated today. This aim requires a return to the principles of federalism and the separation of powers. It calls for the restoration of the social function of the state with regional self-administration and the independence of the media. The judicial system must protect every citizen equally, especially from the dangerous impulses of the representatives of power. It is our duty to free the country from outbreaks of prejudice, racism, and xenophobia and from the looting of our national riches by government officials.”
The Other Russia is particularly known for the organisation of several ‘Marches of the Discontented’ in big Russian cities. The first one took place in Moscow on 16 December 2006 and was led by Garry Kasparov, former World Chess Champion, and other opposition leaders. These protests were some of the largest Russia had seen in preceding years. Demonstrations also took place before the presidential elections of 2008, with often negative and biased coverage from the Russian media. The marches still continue on the 31st day of the month, referring Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which states that Russian citizens have the right to assemble, a right that is often blocked by the Russian government. During these demonstrations many activists are regularly arrested, like Eduard Limonov, leader of the National Bolshevik Party.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
President of the Russian Federation
Vladimir Putin was born in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) on 7 October 1952. He graduated in 1975 with a degree in law from the Leningrad State University. In 1997 he earned a PhD in economics for his thesis on “Strategic Planning of Regional Raw Material Operations in a Market Economy”. After his graduation in 1975 Putin started working for the KGB. He was stationed in East-Germany from 1985 to 1990.
Upon his return to Leningrad he became assistant to the rector of the Leningrad State University at the department of International Affairs. Next he became an advisor to the chairman of the Leningrad City Council. He soon made a career within the St Petersburg city council as chairman of the Council’s International Relations Committee in 1991. From 1994 he started working as First Deputy Mayor of St Petersburg.
In 1996 he started working as a state official with the national government. In May 1998, he was promoted to first deputy head of the Presidential Administration and two months later he became head of the Federal Security Service. In March 1999 Putin also started working as Secretary of the Security Council. In August 1999 he was appointed Prime Minister by President at the time, Boris Yeltsin.
On 31 December 1999 Putin became acting President of the Russian Federation and on 26 March 2000 he was officially elected with 53% of the votes. After his popular first term as president he was re-elected in March 2004. After two presidential terms Putin had to resign, because the Russian constitution prevents three consecutive presidential terms. Therefore Putin appointed Dmitry Medvedev in 2008 as his successor and became Prime Minister again himself. In March 2012, he was re-elected for a third presidential time with 63,6% of the votes. A law amendment in 2008 extended the presidential term with 2 years, hence Putin will stay in office for at least 6 years and may run for re-election in 2018.
Vladimir Putin is married to Lyudmila Putina and they have two daughters.
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev
Prime Minister of Russia
Dmitry Medvedev was born on 14 September, 1965, in Leningrad (now St Petersburg). He graduated from the Faculty of Law at the Leningrad State University in 1987 and completed his post-graduate studies at the Leningrad State University in 1990. Medvedev holds a PhD in law and the title of associate professor.
Between 1990 and 1999 Medvedev was a lecturer at the St Petersburg State University. Simultaneously, he was an adviser to the Chairman of the Leningrad City Council and an expert consultant to the St Petersburg City Hall’s Committee for External Affairs between 1990 and 1995. In 1999, he was named Deputy Government Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office. In 2000 his position was upgraded to the First Deputy of Staff.
Between 2000 and 2001 Medvedev was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom. In October he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office. Two years later, in November, he was appointed First Deputy Prime Minister.
On 17 December 2007, Medvedev was endorsed by the ruling United Russia party as a candidate in the presidential elections in 2008, following the endorsement of its leader, Vladimir Putin. On 2 March, 2008, Medvedev was elected President of Russia, succeeding Putin with 70.28% of the votes. After a four-year-term he nominated Putin as the party’s presidential candidate, himself heading the party’s list in parliamentary elections.
Medvedev is married and has one son.
Sergey Mikhailovich Mironov
Leader of ‘A Just Russia’ party
Sergey Mironov was born in Pushkin, near Leningrad (now St Petersburg) on 14 February 1953. Between 1971 and 1973 he served in the Soviet Army. In 1980 he graduated from the Leningrad Mining Institute, in 1992 from the St Petersburg State Technical University, in 1997 with honours from the Academy of State Service of the President of the Russian Federation and in 1998 with honours from the St Petersburg State University. He has a technical, economic and legal education.
Between 1978 and 1986 Mironov worked as engineer-geophysicist in various places. After a brief time of working as an engineer he entered politics and in 1994 he was elected deputy of the St Petersburg Legislative Assembly. In 2001 he entered the Federation Council of Russia as representative of St Petersburg. In 2001 he became Speaker of the Federation Council, but was dismissed in 2011 under unclear circumstances.
Since April 2003 he was Chairman of the Russian Party of Life. A political party that does not exist anymore. In October 2006 he became the leader of the new center-left opposition party ‘A Just Russia’. Mironov was candidate in the 2004 presidential election but said he supported Putin. He received less than 1% of the votes. He supports the extension of the length and increased amount of consecutive presidential terms.
Sergey Mironov is married to Lyubov Ivanovna. He has two children.
Boris Jefimovitsj Nemtsov
Former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and co-leader of the unregistered ParNaS party
Boris Nemtsov was born on 9 October 1959 in Sochi. He studied physics at Gorky State University from 1976 to 1981 and specialised in radio physics. In 1985 he received his PhD in physics and mathematics. His political career started in 1989 when he unsuccessfully ran for the Soviet Congress of People’s Deputies. He campaigned for private property rights and free speech while criticising the Soviet one-party system and censorship. He failed to obtain the approval of the selection committee, which was required to put his name on the ballot paper.
His career took off when he became the representative of the Gorky Region (Nizhny Novgorod) in the Supreme Soviet in 1990. Here he met Boris Yeltsin, who made him Governor to Nizhny Novgorod when he became President. Nemtsov was appointed Deputy Prime Minster of the Russian Federation in 1997. His responsibilities included social issues, housing and control of industrial monopolies. Nemtsov also served as Minister for Fuel and Energy. In 1998 Nemtsov took responsibility for financial and economic issues.
In 1999 the coalition Union of Right Forces (SPS) was created and Nemtsov was its leader from 2000 to 2003. This liberal organisation was a proponent of free market reform, privatisation and democratisation. As leader of SPS Nemtsov was a fierce opponent of Vladimir Putin and warned for the fading of individual liberties and press freedom. In the 2003 parliamentary elections SPS received only 4% of votes and Nemtsov resigned as leader. In 2008 the Union of Right Forces merged with other parties and formed a new liberal democratic party called Right Cause.
From 2005 to 2006 Nemtsov worked as political advisor to the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko. In 2008 Nemtsov and Garry Kasparov created the political opposition movement ‘Solidarity’ in the hope of uniting the various opposition parties in Russia. In 2009 Nemtsov tried, unsuccessfully, to become Sochi’s new mayor.
Boris Nemtsov is married and has four children.
Sergei Sergeyevich Mitrokhin
Leader of the Yabloko Party
Sergei Mitrokhin was born on 20 May 1963 in Moscow. He graduated in 1985 from Lenin’s Moscow State Pedagogical Institute. Between 1990 and 1993 he followed a post-graduate course at the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Science. In 2001 Mitrokhin a PhD of Political Sciences. He defended his dissertation on the "Political Analysis of the Process of Formation of Federal Relations in Russia"
In 1993 Sergei Mitrokhin took part in the founding of Yabloko and received a seat as deputy in the State Duma. He stayed there for ten years until Yabloko lost all seats in the 2003 parliamentary elections. After that, Mitrokhin started working for the Center of Economic and Political Studies.
In 2005 Mitrokhin headed a joint coalition of Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces (SPS) to take part in the Moscow City Duma elections. They won 3 seats. In 2006 Mitrokhin became the chairman of the Moscow branch of Yabloko. Two years later, in June 2008, Mitrokhin was elected party leader of Yabloko after the departure of Grigori Yavlinsky. He received 60% of the votes.
Garry Kimovich Kasparov
Leader of “The Other Russia”
Garry Kasparov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, on April 13, 1963. He started playing chess when he was five years old and his talent was discovered quite early. At the age of thirteen he became Russia’s youth chess champion. In 1980 he became youth world champion and in 1981 he was the youngest chess champion of the Soviet Union.
Kasparov became chess world champion in 1985 and retained that position until 2000. He quit his career in chess in 2005 and went into Russian politics. In 2004, Garry Kasparov was elected Co-Chairman of the All Russia Civil Congress and in 2006 he became Chairman of the United Civil Front Of Russia. He and other political and human rights leaders came together under the coalition banner of The Other Russia, which organises pro-democracy rallies nationwide. Kasparov is one of its leading figures. In the West he is a symbol for criticism and opposition against Vladimir Putin, but in Russia his popularity is low.