MOSCOW, January 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Zavinovsky analyses Russian Presidential candidates
Konstantin Zavinovsky, expert in geo-politics comments: The Russian presidential elections will be held on March 4th. According to the public opinion survey carried out by the Public Opinion Research Center VCIOM and published on January 7th, if the elections took place right now, 48% of the respondents would vote for Vladimir Putin, 10% would support Gennady Zyuganov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky would win 9%, Sergey Mironov 5%, Mikhail Prokhorov 3% and Grigory Yavlinsky 2% of the votes respectively. Here, focus will be on the three leading candidates describing their geopolitical viewpoints. The analysis is based on the candidates’ electoral programs (if already available) and on those of the parties of affiliation.
Putin, Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky
VLADIMIR PUTIN (born in 1952 in Leningrad, Russia – at present Saint Petersburg) is the leader of the United Russia party, was the President of the Russian Federation (RF) from 2000 till 2008 and currently serves as the Prime Minister. United Russia is a centrist and pragmatic party that opposes radicalism. In his electoral program Putin doesn’t dwell on the foreign policy, saying only that the international community cannot act behind Russia’s back as “the international cooperation is a two-lane road”. He claims himself to be ready for discussion and constructive dialogue in the field of collective security, international terrorism and control over military armaments. Nevertheless, Putin warns that “unilateral actions of our partners who do not take into consideration the opinion and the interests of Russia” will be followed by a consistent response of the Russian side. Putin admits that over the last years the country has grown thanks to the high oil prices and the industrial potential inherited from the USSR, and that this is why the Russian economy needs modernizing.
GENNADY ZYUGANOV (born in 1944 in Mymrino, Russia) is the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CC CPRF). CPRF’s program for the parliamentary elections to the State Duma, held in December 2011, states that the USA is waging numerous wars of conquest like those in Afghanistan and Iraq; Syria and Iran might be the next victims of such military aggression policy. The program criticizes the current Russian government for having allowed the NATO invasion of Libya, and takes issue with Russia’s surrender of power positions to NATO over the last twenty years. The party’s priorities include calls to limiting NATO’s influence and a commitment to working towards ensuring that the North Atlantic Alliance ceases to exist. At the same time the necessity to foster the role of the United Nations is highlighted. The creation of a new alliance uniting the brotherly peoples of the former USSR is proposed, with a Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan within the larger Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) kickstarting the process. Zyuganov’s presidential election program was made public on January 16th. In the field of foreign policy it almost entirely reproduces the arguments of CPRF’s December 2011 program. An original idea that is worth mentioning is distancing Russia from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
VLADIMIR ZHIRINOVSKY (born in 1946 in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan) is the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). In the foreign policy section of the LDPR program, the U.S. and Great Britain’s policy is compared to that of the Cold War era, i.e. to the policy of neutralization and isolation of Russia. To counteract this policy it is proposed to form a new alliance between the former states of the USSR - first of all between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus). In addition, the program says that "the real threat to world peace does not come from Afghanistan, Iraq or North Korea, but from the United States". In LDPR’s point of view, in geopolitical and military terms, Russia represents a more natural ally for Europe than the United States. Hence, Russia will put pressure on Europe to leave NATO and join a military alliance with Russia. On the other hand, the EU will be asked to expel countries like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania because of their discriminatory policy against their Russian populations. As to China, the program considers it both a potential strategic ally and a potential threat to Russia’s national security. The relationship between Russia and China should therefore be developed under the premise of a "cautious friendship", but a military system should nevertheless be created in order to defend Russia from an eventual attack by China. The program also proposes forcing Beijing to invest into the Russian oil industry, using hydrocarbon exportation to China as leverage. The party also wants to create an economic and military alliance between the BRICS countries and the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as well as to develop a political and military alliance between the SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) that includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Armenia.
Conclusion: Putin, Zyuganov or Zhirinovsky?
In the case of Putin winning the election, it seems that he will continue the foreign policy that was initiated 12 years ago and compromised of international cooperation and search for dialogue with all states of the international community regardless of their ideologies. A multidirectional and balanced foreign policy based on pragmatism rather than ideological assumptions will be pursued. For example, one may remember an obvious reset of the relationship between Russia and NATO (read: U.S.) that took place in Lisbon on the 20th of November, 2010. It shows that the current Russian government is ready for a constructive dialogue with all interlocutors, even though these are always geopolitically hostile towards Russia. Russia will also continue the development of relationships with the BRICS, SCO and CIS countries, which will be not directed against third countries. The international community would find in Putin a serious, authoritative and, above all, predictable partner.
From what can be seen in Gennady Zyuganov’s election program, under his leadership Russia would be close to returning to the era of the Cold War, with the United States, despite everything, remaining Russia’s enemy number one. Considering the 18 years of Russia’s attempts to enter the WTO, the Communist leader’s sharp rejection of the organization would hurt Russia’s prospects as the country’s inconsistent behavior would lose the trust of many WTO members, including China. The enlargement of the Russian army and military force would also cause a negative reaction from China, whose foreign policy is directed at establishing international relationships based on mutual understanding and not on military force. The U.S. would have an excuse to justifying its rearmament. The behaviour of the EurAsEC countries, primarily whether they would still be willing to continue the economic integration with Russia, is difficult to predict in such a situation.
Zhirinovsky’s election program is contradictory, as on the one hand, an alliance with Europe is proposed and on the other hand, expelling states that are already EU members is demanded. Moreover, the program is removed from the reality as Zhirinovsky’s proposals concerning military alliances within and between SCO and BRICS cannot gain favour of the Chinese leadership. For decades, Chinese foreign policy has excluded the possibility of entering into any military alliance or turning against third countries. The actual implementation of the foreign policy proposed by Zhirinovsky would bring imbalance and chaos into the relationships within the international community.
In the current situation of instability and uncertainty - due to the international financial crisis and the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world - Russia needs a strong leader. This leader should be seen as stable, and able to establish relationships of constructive cooperation with any partner (following a pragmatic approach). This would allow Russia to continue to strengthen its geopolitical position in the world without causing conflicts and armed clashes. This is a path whereby Russia’s decisions are clear and understandable to its international counterparts, and it is the path that has made Russia a reliable and predictable partner for the international community.
SOURCE Russia Insights