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The Big Integration

Oleg Kozlovsky, Coordinator of Oborona movement

Early April marked a new wave of opposition coalition building. Three events
took place in each of the three main political camps. Liberals gathered in St.
Petersburg on 5 April, the Leftists met in Moscow on 6 April and the Nationalists had
their convention on April 12. The goal of each of these events was to unite the
majority of political forces of the corresponding wings.

The liberal conference in St. Petersburg founded a coordinating group, whose
task is to prepare creation of a new democratic or liberal movement. This group
included Garry Kasparov of United Civil Front (OGF), former and present SPS leaders
Boris Nemtsov and Nikita Belykh as well as St. Petersburg Yabloko head Maxim
Reznik. Mikhail Kasyanov’s movement Russian People’s Democrat Union (NDS)
claimed it would also join the body, so did the Oborona movement. Yabloko’s leader
Grigoriy Yavlinsky notably ignores this initiative.

The big question, however, is whether these people will be able to find
common ground for the new movement. It seems that they have more differences
than they have in common. While OGF and Oborona are both members of the
consistently opposition Other Russia coalition, many SPS and Yabloko members see
Kremlin as the lesser evil compared to the Left- and Right-wing opposition. They are
still thinking in terms of the 1990s’ struggle against “the red revenge”, unable to
see that the “revenge” is already here, simply done by the KGB, not the
Communists.

Meanwhile, some of the Communists with National Bolsheviks and other Left-
wing organizations are trying to join up. Their conference on 6 April called for
abolishment of capitalism In favor of socialism but admitted that they need to
“tactically cooperate” with the Liberal opposition in order to restore free elections,
pluralism, freedom of speech etc. It should be noted by the way that the Communist
Party’s leader Gennadiy Zyuganov was also absent at the event, just like Yavlinsky
the day before. Old, Yeltsin’s era parties leadership appears to be unhappy with
these new emerging structures at their sides.

The third and the least known was the Right-wing meeting of 12 April.
Russia’s extremely fractured Nationalist flunk gathered in Moscow to discuss its
future. They adopted a draft of a statute for a Civil Antifascist Court, which is
planned to examine the cases of human rights violations by the Russian authorities.

However, organization of the political wings is not the ultimate step in the
integration of Russian opposition. Increasing pressure from the authoritarian regime
pushes different political forces to join their efforts. Liberals, Communists and
Nationalists are all equally interested in being able to promote their ideas and to
struggle for real power in the country. This means that they need to step over the
boundaries of their political camps and cooperate with their recent (and future)
rivals.

The Left-wing and the Right-wing conferences claimed that they would
participate in the National Assembly—a new project proposed by the Other Russia.
The National Assembly is the unprecedented in recent Russian history attempt to
construct an alternative branch of power—an analogue of the Parliament. While the
State Duma is losing last remains of legitimacy and trust from Russian citizens after
the fraudulent elections, the National Assembly is here to take its place… in
people’s conscience, of course. This strategy of creating parallel organs of authority
is has been used successfully by Solidarity in Poland as well as in Russia itself in
1917.

Dozens of small and large organizations have already agreed to send their
delegates to the Assembly, which is to have its first session on May 18. These will
represent all existing ideologies and will be a striking contrast to the dull and
grayish Putin’s Duma.