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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1512

Fear and loathing in Moscow;
Pro-Putin activists mobilize ahead of parliamentary polls

Edited by Jonas Bernstein
November 15, 2007

November 13:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said during a visit to Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region that a convincing victory in the December 2nd State Duma elections for United Russia, whose ticket he is leading, would mean that “that a clear majority of the people put their trust in me,” giving him “the moral right to hold those in the Duma and the Cabinet responsible for the implementation of the tasks that have been set as of today.” According to the Associated Press, Putin added: “In what form I will do this, I cannot yet give a direct answer. But various possibilities exist.”

Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, has said that the ABM system the U.S. is planning to deploy in Europe to thwart an Iranian missile threat is anti-Russian, Rosbalt reports. “If the Americans plan to set up a radar in the Czech Republic by 2011 and antimissile missiles in Poland by 2012 [or] 2013, then those antimissile missiles and that radar, unambiguously, will be aimed against Russia,” Baluyevsky told the Russia Today television channel. He claimed that Tehran will not have missiles capable of reaching the U.S. before 2020. Still, Baluyevsky conceded that the 10 missile interceptors the U.S. plans to deploy in Europe will not threaten Russia.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Matthew Bryza has said he would be very surprised if there has been a real threat from Russia to destabilize Georgia, Reuters reports. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has alleged Russia is manipulating the Georgian opposition to stir unrest against him. Russia has denied the charge.

November 14:

The Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) has filed a complaint with Russia’s Supreme Court demanding that it annul President Vladimir Putin’s registration as a candidate from United Russia in the December 2nd State Duma elections, reports. The SPS alleges that Putin, who is heading United Russia’s federal candidates’ list, repeatedly violated election law and used his official position to put “administrative pressure” on the SPS. Earlier, the SPS called on the Central Election Commission to rule that Putin’s October 18th live TV call-in session was illegal electoral propaganda, but the commission refused to do so.

Meanwhile, reports that a poll by independent Levada Center conducted November 9th-12th found that a plurality of those polled were negative about the idea of naming Putin “national leader.” Forty-five percent of the respondents said they viewed the idea either “highly negatively” or “somewhat negatively,” while 35 percent said they viewed it either “entirely positively” or “somewhat positively.”

[Editor’s Note: Given the effect of Russia’s increasingly authoritarian political climate on pollsters and respondents alike, the results of public opinion surveys in Russia should be viewed with some caution.]

The head of Russia’s artillery and missile forces, Major-General Vladimir Zaritsky, has said that Russia may deploy its newest Iskander tactical missiles in neighboring Belarus in response to U.S. plans for a missile shield in Eastern Europe, Reuters reports. “Under the right conditions and with the corresponding agreement of Belarus, it is possible,” Itar-Tass quoted Zaritsky as saying. “Any action inevitably causes a reaction. And this is just the case with the elements of U.S. air defense in the Czech Republic and Poland.”

November 15:

After weeks of “For Putin” rallies around Russia, pro-Putin activists have met in the city of Tver and formed a council of pro-Putin initiative groups, the BBC’s Russian service reports. Organizers say the movement’s goal is to exercise “public control” over the country’s power bodies in order to ensure that “Putin’s course” continues when his presidency ends next year.


Related Categories: Russia; Military

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