News

    Russia’s Political Discontent Moves from Winter to Spring

    Interior Ministry officers detain opposition activists during a protest rally to defend Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees the right of assembly, in Moscow, March 31, 2012.
    Interior Ministry officers detain opposition activists during a protest rally to defend Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees the right of assembly, in Moscow, March 31, 2012.
    James Brooke

    One month ago, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin easily won a six-year term as president, despite vigorous rallies by activists opposing his candidacy. Does his victory mean the end of Russia’s opposition movement? Not likely, it seems.

    On Wednesday, barriers to registering a political party in Russia dropped sharply - from a requirement to collect 40,000 supporters' signatures to just 500. And with that came a wave of new parties hoping to garner votes.

    Russia will now have its Party of Love and Party of Beer Lovers. Voters will be able to choose between the Party of Subtropical Russia and the Party of Social Networking Sites. And the Ten Commandments Party and a movement called Kind People of Russia also lined up to register.

    Mark Feygin, long an activist for an unregistered political group, says he and his friends are  going to form their own party.

    He has not chosen a name yet, but says it will be a libertarian free-market party.
    Coming as Moscow’s temperatures finally push above freezing, this political thaw reflects one of three promises for reform that President Dmitry Medvedev made in December to protesters demanding more democracy.  

    With one month left before Mr. Medvedev hands power over to President-elect Vladimir Putin, work continues on the two other reforms - a nationwide television station not under the Kremlin's control and switching to direct, popular elections to select Russia's regional leaders.

    Direct elections for governors are expected to start later this year, and Russia’s president already has begun firing unpopular regional officeholders.  The governor of Murmansk, in the Arctic region, was dismissed Wednesday.

    By thinning the governors' ranks now, before a new election law takes effect, the Kremlin can appoint their successors. And the law may allow the new governors to serve full five-year terms.

    In his latest move, Mr. Medvedev nominated Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu to be governor of the Moscow Region.

    Shoigu is a native of Tuva, a predominantly Buddhist republic bordering Mongolia, 4,000 kilometers east of Moscow, and opinion polls consistently rate him the government’s most popular minister.

    The Kremlin evidently believes his appointment to the Moscow Region will ease demands for immediate direct elections in Russia’s richest and most populous region.

    Presidential candidate Putin failed to win a majority vote last month in the city of Moscow, and in the same elections independent candidates won 10 of 15 races for city mayors.
    Some political experts say the new law on political parties will splinter Russia’s opposition into dozens of separate groups, competing against each other.

    Feygin notes that parties are not allowed to form coalitions at election time. But Feygin, a former Duma member himself, also points out that once they gain parliament seats, opposition members are free to form informal coalitions and cast bloc votes.

    Last Sunday, the anti-Kremlin trend continued: 70 percent of the voters in Yaroslavl, a mid-sized city north of Moscow, chose as mayor Yevgeny Urlashov, an independent who campaigned against the Kremlin.

    Urlashov broke away from Mr. Putin's United Russia Party last year, and he defeated an acting mayor chosen by the ruling party.  After his runaway victory, the new mayor said the people of Yaroslavl are tired of "corruption and nepotism." He promised them change, tighter financial controls and an end to bureaucratic red tape.

    On the same day as the vote in Yaroslavl, authorities in Moscow took the rare step of closing access to Red Square, they wanted to prevent a rally by opposition activists.

    Outside the barriers protecting the symbolic open square, police detained 55 people who were wearing white - the symbol of last winter’s opposition movement.

    Analysts are predicting that Russia’s spring may not be as quiet as President-elect Putin had hoped.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: NATALIA
    April 06, 2012 1:37 AM
    If Russia attacked Israel, It would turn Israel into the Stone Age. So Israel should consider Russia its friend rather its enemy.

    by: Gennady
    April 04, 2012 5:56 PM
    Mr Medvedev didn’t deliver his constitutional duty. He wasn’t the guarantor of the Constitution & Russia remained in undeclared state of emergency with suspended Rights and Freedoms of Man and Citizen stipulated in articles 17.1,22.1,29.1,29.5,31, 56.1. His recent promises don’t change a thing in the pre-existed anticonstitutional regime. The discontent won’t stop. A spark will kindle a flame, as V. Lenin, one of Mr. Putin’s inspiration, had ironically put it a hundred years ago.

    by: NVO
    April 04, 2012 2:16 PM
    The King of the North, (Russia) will attack Israel during the tribulation=Ezekiel 38&39, but their RAGTAG army WILL be pushed back=Joel 2:20.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora