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.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora