MOSCOW, December 30 (RIA Novosti)
Eager to work: Prokhorov’s address to Russians
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov told the Russian people that he wants to lead the country along its historical path, eradicate corruption, help jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and get down to work. An NTV journalist will be his campaign aide.
In a video address on his LJ page the billionaire denied allegations that he is just “someone’s project.”
“Friends, this is not true. I would be proud to be a Bolotnaya or a Sakharov project, or the project of all those Russians who value civil liberties above personal prosperity. I would be proud to be the project of all of you, of the new Russia,” Prokhorov said.
He added that when he says “Russians” he means everyone living in Russia.
“Stop saying that we cannot have good healthcare and the best education system in the world, that our old people cannot enjoy a decent old age or that our children cannot see their dreams come true. We have all of this! Let’s believe in these dreams. I believe in them,” Prokhorov said.
He said he is often asked why he, a man who has everything, is running for president and if he really believes that people will vote for a billionaire.
“It’s simple: unlike officials, I am running because I don’t need to steal or take kickbacks,” the billionaire explained. “I am not a crook or a thief, I’m a manager. I want to stop thieves and clean up the mess.”
Prokhorov said he does not believe that poverty and corruption are Russia’s historical destiny.
“Ours is a completely different path. Our country is the homeland of great people, major discoveries and great literature. Let’s believe in this, let’s believe in ourselves and start working. I really want to work; I want to work for you. If not me, then who?” the presidential candidate said.
New Year’s Eve, a wonderful family holiday is just around the corner, and we will soon gather with friends and relatives, with a traditional Russian salad, and New Year’s tree,” he said.
“I feel it is a personal tragedy that some celebrate New Year in prison,” Prokhorov said. “I am talking about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev, Sergei Udaltsov and other innocent people. I feel especially bitter because I cannot help them. But the time will come when I will help them.”
“I hope and believe that the coming year will be really new for us all,” the billionaire said in conclusion.
Anton Krasovsky, the head and co-anchor of the NTV-shniki socio-political show on the NTV network, will chair Prokhorov’s election headquarters.
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who chaired the Right Cause party for a few months, announced his intention to run for president in December. He needs to collect two million signatures backing him to register with the Central Election Commission (CEC).
The CEC has already registered Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, LDPR’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Sergei Mironov, chairman of A Just Russia party.
The elections are set for March 4, 2012.
Rallies change public behavior
Starting with the revolutions in Africa, this year draws to a close amid a revival of revolutionary sentiment in Russia. Growing street protests induced the authorities to announce political reforms.
At first it seemed that the toppling of authoritarian rulers in Africa was totally unrelated to events in Russia. However, after a public spat between Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin over how to describe the “Libyan spring,” Russians kept a close watch on developments involving Muammar Gaddafi.
The March elections to local legislatures showed that United Russia was in a bad shape. The authorities reacted by organizing the Russian Popular Front, whose leading members went out of their way to emphasize that Putin was a national, non-partisan leader.
United Russia’s September congress shattered the last glimmer of hope for the liberal-minded public: Putin was coming back, presumably for the next 12 years. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin’s rebellion and dismissal was yet another shock.
The decline in the tandem’s ratings began to accelerate. The public listened to appeals in the increasingly popular social networks and paid closer attention to election fraud. There was nothing unusual in the election violations. It was the public reaction that was unusual. The Central Election Commission’s stubborn reluctance to react to irregularities only poured oil onto the fire. People went to polling stations to vote for any party other than United Russia and, signing up as observers, saw the scale on which their votes were stolen.
United Russia failed to win even 50% of the vote and the public suddenly realized that change was, after all, possible.
There followed a spate of street protests: December 5 (10,000), December 11 (50,000), December 24 (80,000).
The official reaction was mixed. Medvedev announced a political modernization program that included declarative registration for political parties, abolition of pre-election collection of signatures, and a return to elected governors. Putin made disparaging remarks, comparing white ribbons, the symbol of the new movement, to condoms and the protesters themselves with Kipling’s Bandar-log.
As a result, the latest rally on Prospekt Sakharova (December 24) was a pronouncedly anti-Putin affair. Addressing the public, author Boris Akunin declared that a new movement, Honest Russia, was being born. Kudrin called for new elections to the Duma, volunteering to act as an intermediary between the protesters and the authorities.
But so far, Putin has demonstrated that he is not prepared to compromise, even though, as sociologists claim, his outright victory in the first round of voting in the upcoming presidential elections is far from guaranteed.
Sociologists expect Putin to win presidential vote with 52 percent
Sociologists expect Vladimir Putin to win the first round with 52 percent of the vote, according to Alexander Oslon, who heads the Public Opinion foundation.
The pollster regularly surveys 3,000 respondents in 204 cities and towns and the most recent poll took place on December 25.
Approving ratings for Medvedev and Putin have been sliding throughout this year, along with that of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. “They started falling in January when housing and utilities bills soared,” Oslon explained.
However, Putin’s popularity recovered from its record low of 41 percent to 44 percent following the parliamentary elections on December 4, as did those of his rivals, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Gennady Zyuganov.
Putin’s electoral rating fell to 44 percent from 60 percent in 2008. Respondents were asked to choose from several candidates. In the last survey, 52 percent said they will probably vote for Putin, including 26 percent who will do so “for certain,” 16 percent “most probably” and 10 percent “possibly.” On the other hand, 33 percent said they are unlikely to vote for Putin, including 20 percent who said they will “never” vote for him.
The majority of respondents who do plan to vote for Putin seem to live in the Siberian and Volga Federal Districts (59 percent and 58 percent), have not finished school (59 percent), live in small towns, are women, and over 65 years of age (58 percent each), and people with above average incomes (57 percent).
Apparently, Russians earning high incomes (43 percent) and who have university degrees (40 percent), live in central Russia and Moscow (40 percentand 38 percent), and are aged 45-54 (38 percent), will not vote for the current prime minister. Oslon explains Putin’s falling popularity by the loss of male voters.
“Paternalistic Russia votes for Putin,” Oslon said. “The active and independent are more concerned with the poor environment and ethical aspects of elections.” However, since 52 percent are more or less likely to vote for Putin, we won’t see any surprises in March.
At the same time, a different pollster, Levada Center, said 56 percent of Russians expected growing political tensions in 2012 due to the elections, while 61 percent doubt that the coming year will bring political stability and 22 percent hope that it will. On the other hand, 65 percent do not see any reasons or likelihood of a coup d’état, according to a Levada survey of 1,600 respondents in 130 cities and towns.
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The British experience can be instructive for Russia. London retains its British Commonwealth if it wants to use this as a foundation for integration in the future. That’s a valuable lesson for Russian experts who are calling for an end to “ineffective” associations like the CIS, the Russian World and others.