MOSCOW, February 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Oleg Bondarenko, director of the Russian-Ukrainian Information Center, publicist and politologist claims that "in the awakened Russian civil society there is an urgent demand for a natural leader, not prearranged from the top, not imposed by the past, and not imagined by the Internet users."
"We are not a crowd, we are not stupid, we are sons and daughters of Ukraine!" - sang Ukrainian group "GreenJolly" in their song Together we are many, which became the informal anthem of Maidan 2004. Today, many Russians feel the irresistible need to remind the world that they are not hamsters, but citizens. "Network hamsters" is an absurd nickname given to the active protesting middle class by liberal political scientists. It is insulting and absurd, because these people make the GDP (rus. ВВП, V.V. Putin - rus.ВВП) and in this case that does not only mean Gross Domestic Product. They are "Putin's generation" (Generation Pu) and these people surely need a leader. It may seem that there are a lot of candidates on offer - forgotten liberals of the '90s, nationalists who are unknown to the general public, environmentalists headed by charming Evgeniya Chirikova and the always-smiling Alexei Navalny. But the truth is that none of them are capable of leading people. The liberals have already been in power and people are tired of them, while the nationalists are dangerous and unpredictable. Chirikova - a creative intellectual, is sweet, but nothing more than that. Alexei Navalny, with all due respect to him, isn't a leader of the public protests.
The recent decades have shown that CEO's of big businesses can't be taken seriously as political or, more importantly, moral leaders in Russia either. The explanation is simple: most of the gained capital in Russia of the 90's came about illegally alongside violence and blood, for a negligible price compared to the real cost. A great example of this is the resale of Abramovich's "Sibneft" to the state for $13 billion, which was originally bought for only $100 million. That's why any big capital that received its business from the state (such as Mikhail Prokhorov's acquisition of "Norilsky Nickel") without having earned it, in the visible future does not foreshadow a moral and political authority in Russia. This is unlike the medium capital and its representatives.
Businessman and former owner of "Yevroset" Chichvarkin left Russia too prematurely - now he and people like him could have the chance of becoming true leaders on the Bolotnaya Square. Dmitry Potapenko, a businessman who recently criticized the bribe capacity of the economy online, should be the leader of the protesters today. It is these businessmen who built and grew their own companies from scratch and survived the '90s despite the state's control; deserve people's respect and recognition as authorities. It seems that the leaders of public protests should be found among them.
But the problem is that Russian business doesn't need revolutions and upheavals. Therefore, The Ukrainian Maidans' "revolution of millionaires against billionaires", can not be applied to Russia's case. The Russian economy has something to lose, and any destabilization can become a true ordeal. What's more important is that there is a feeling that despite all the crises, the peaks of growth have not yet been reached.
We could say that the people on Bolotnaya Square faced the problem of their leaders' incompatibility with their expectations. The people present there were generally much better qualified than the speakers they had. Now, they need to find and test new leaders that will seem more adequate for the discontented majority. It is unlikely that they will successfully manage to find the solution to this problem before the presidential election. This means that the opposition members who demand "fair elections" will have to decide on their candidates on their own come March 4. The concept of voting "for any party except for the party of crooks and thieves", may have worked during the parliamentary elections, but is unlikely to be useful in the upcoming election. Quite unexpectedly, Fair Russia and partly the Communist Party turned out to be the "any party" on December 4. Even Sergei Mironov with the help of all his supporters is unlikely to be able to count on at least half of the party's result. Whereas Gennady Zyuganov could repeat the Duma elections results for the Communist Party only in case of a second round. And here we have the inevitable question - will there be a second round of presidential elections?
On the one hand, many people realize that the likelihood for an automatic victory in the first round is great. Even according to "Europe's last dictator", Aleksandr Lukashenko, the recent elections were deliberately rigged to receive verisimilar 65% while his real rating was nearly 90%. But what should be done if, according to the opposition-minded Levada Center, about 60% of those who are ready to go to the polls are going to vote for Putin? According to current opposition leaders' demands there is only one logical way for Putin - to cut his rating. Thus, according to the opposition liberals, in case of Vladimir Putin's fair victory (50%) on March 4, he will still have to rig elections and deliberately understate his rating. Otherwise, his one-round victory won't be understood neither by the people in Russia nor by other countries. It may seem nonsense, but this is one of the few achievements of the current opposition.
So who would today's protesters vote for in case of another round March 18? The only possible variant is a Putin-Zyuganov's face-off in the second round that imitates the situation in France in 2002 - "moderately stable Jacques Chirac against the old nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen" - with Putin's universally recognized victory of the overexposed, but so needed leader, as there are no other alternatives. It is doubtful whether the "creative class" would prefer to risk its stability for something unknown. As a result, Putin will remain the unfound political leader of the Russian educated citizens, the leader that saved economic prosperity that will bring up new political leaders of new Russia.
Oleg Bondarenko is a political scientist, journalist, director of the Russian-Ukrainian Information Center.
SOURCE Russia Insights www.russia-insights.com