Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Window on Eurasia: What a Nationalist Movement Looks Like in Russia Where Elections are Still Allowed

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 30 – Vladimir Putin has eliminated elections at the regional levels at least in part to ensure that nationalist parties do not have the opportunity to challenge his hand-picked party of power officials. But some nationalist groups are using elections at the city level to advance their cause.


            In Karelia, Yekaterina Yemelyanova and Ilya Vereshchagin, two candidates of the Republic Movement of Karelia running for the city parliament in Petrazovodsk, have issued their election program, one that combines concerns typical of such local elections with broader issues as well (


            The majority of the planks are typical “good government” programs: a call for a greener and cleaner city, better road repairs, more transparent city planning, elimination of traffic jams, a better port and yachting harbor, increased security on trains and trucks carrying dangerous cargo through the city, and more assistance to young people, pensioners, and invalids.


But two of the planks have what some might view as a “national” or even “nationalist” dimension: preservation of the city’s historical center by excluding commercial development there and “broadening of international ties both by sister city programs and via municipal organizations from other countries.”


By including these planks in the campaign of its candidates to a city council, the Republic Movement of Karelia which seeks greater autonomy from Moscow is remaining true to its core principles albeit with the restrictions that Putin’s regime has imposed. And it is thus laying the groundwork for a more ambitious promotion of its ideas when that becomes possible.


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