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Russia’s political landscape one week ahead of the election

February 27, 2012, 14:13 UTC+3
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Local newspapers analyze Russia’s political situation, when one week remains before the presidential election on March 4.

Sociologists make confident forecasts that Vladimir Putin will win the presidential race and most probably in the first round, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported. According to the Levada Centre pollster, the prime minister would gain a 66 percent support of voters. Meanwhile, experts and politicians warn that the country and its leader will face hard times soon after the election.

The upcoming week may bring surprises, the head of the Effective Policy Foundation, Gleb Pavlovsky, said. “The game’s first match is over, therefore players will make all strong steps and all possible mistakes,” he said noting that one of such mistakes is Putin’s recent address at the Luzhniki stadium. “Putin headed for victory quietly, but in the straightaway he was afraid as it seems of himself. Speaking in front of peaceful budget financed employees, the prime minister unexpectedly called on them to die for Moscow.” Pavlovsky believes that such a step will cost Putin several percents of votes. “His electorate needs peace and calm. They will not understand why the prime minister calls on them to dance barbarian dances over non-existing victories.”

Nezavisimaya Gazeta citied Igor Yurgens, who heads the Board of Moscow’s Institute of Modern Development, as saying that one of the main news that may attract this week’s discussions is self-nominated billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s statement that he plans to create a new right-wing party. “Mikhail Prokhorov positioned himself as Putin’s potential ally, as if he calls to fight for Putin-2, because he favourably differs from the so-called “Duma elders” who build their campaign on anti-Putin counterpoint.”

Russia’s non-parliamentary opposition expects no surprises from the campaign. The head of the liberal People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS), former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, believes that political advances in the run-up to and after the election can take place only if Putin lends his ear to the opposition and corrects his political line, mainly this concerns laws submitted to the lower house of parliament on Monday.

Kasyanov expressed confidence that after the election Putin should change his position on the domestic policy and the non-parliamentary opposition is ready for a constructive dialogue with a future head of state.

The political landscape ahead of the presidential election offers new rows, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. The country is plunged in a nervous atmosphere, which is caused by the authorities’ uncertainty not over the election returns, but over the post-election state of affairs in politics. Most experts share an opinion that Vladimir Putin will face new problems after he is sworn in. Everything will depend on how a new president is finely tuned for challenges of our time, as the source of the society’s discontent is that people are still deprived of a genuine choice. Problems can be resolved only when people are given a choice.

The course for the prime minister’s victory in the first round is evident, Vedomosti business daily quoted Alexander Rubstov, from the Centre for Ideological Processes Research, the Institute of Philosophy, the Russian Academy of Sciences, as saying. It is evident that the mega engine of power, management system and budget sector are illegally and absolutely unceremoniously used as an instrument for promoting one candidate and suppressing others, he said.

The expert believes that it is better for Putin to win in the second round. In the first round he is unlikely to get much more than 50 percent, and the slight edge he may have can be easily presented as a result of rigging or the notorious administrative resource – and then the new term’s legitimacy will prove doubtful.

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