Question: Will the layout of political forces in Russia change before the Duma
Militaryov: At present, there are two political forces in Russia: the Communist Party
and Putin. Moreover, people seem not to perceive any fundamental difference between the
two. Most people view them as representing their interests, aimed at improving their
lives as soon as possible. People hope for a better standard of living and are becoming
more indifferent to oligarchs, and believe in a stronger state. The difference between
Putin's voters and the Communist Party's voters is not a matter of substance, but
rather of style, and is probably sub-ethnic to some extent. Putin's voters dislike the
ritualized Stalinism in Communist rhetoric, the archaic culture of the Communists, and
their shame-faced anti-Semitism. Communist Party voters dislike the ritualized
pro-market views and pro-Westernism - stated, but not always carried out - in Putin's
political rhetoric. Overall, these two groups account for 70-80% of voters. A dozen
different political parties are trying to win the remaining voters over to their side;
however, only three of them have any chance: the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS),
which openly stands for the interests of the rich; the Yabloko party, which exploits
the snobbery of the intelligentsia; and the venal puppets of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR),
who express the interests of eccentric people with bad taste.
Question: Will any new political forces arise?
Militaryov: Only cloning is possible, in my view. There may well be some more clones
of the pro-Putin party, the Communist Party, the Union of Right-Wing Forces, Yabloko,
and the LDPR. However, as a rule, they are impotent.
Question: Will United Russia preserve its status as a monopolistic pro-government
party, or will there be several pro-government parties?
Militaryov: The present situation of the "collective Putin" is that many people,
perhaps including the president himself, are realizing that it is necessary to change
the style of both the pro-government party and the president's personal image in the near future. However,
most decision-makers agree at present that they do not have enough resources to do so.
Hence, it is necessary to mobilize the current resources of United Russia during the
Duma elections to achieve some very good results. As a last resort, it is possible to
make some slight changes to the personnel and candidate lists of United Russia. The
changes to the style of the pro-government party and Putin's personal image should be
postponed until the presidential election or later. The strategy of creating a
"collective Putin" is most likely, although I disagree with it.
Question: How would you assess the prospects of the Union of Right-Wing Forces and
Militaryov: It is a thankless task to predict the political future of the Union of
Right-Wing Forces, Yabloko, or the LDPR. All of them are likely to get 5% of the vote -
plus or minus 3%. They will never unite, as their electorates are incompatible. The
electorate of the Union of Right-Wing Forces - with the exception of a few mad
librarians who have supported this party forever - are the nouveau riche and their
employees, who are satisfied with the Yeltsin decade of thieving and decay. The
electorate of Yabloko is made up of people who are close to Putin's and Zyuganov's
supporters, but who are turned off by the style and rhetoric of those two leaders;
Yabloko voters are intelligentsia snobs. A new right-wing party could only be a clone
of the Union of Right-Wing Forces, which means only one of the aforementioned parties
would get into the Duma. Apparently, the present electorate of the Union of Right-Wing
Forces is very narrow and inflexible.
Question: What role will the oligarchs play at the next elections?
Militaryov: Oligarchs are Putin's natural enemies. However, some of them still find it
possible to feign obedience - they will support United Russia. Those who are ready to
oppose the president on any terms will support the Communist Party, the Union of
Right-Wing Forces, or Yabloko. Oligarchs will definitely not support the LDPR. If
anyone does support the LDPR, it will be some groups in the presidential
administration; and – let me phrase this delicately to avoid any potential lawsuits -
some "authoritative entrepreneurs".
Question: What are the prospects of the left-wing non-communist parties?
Militaryov: At present, they do not depend on the "collective Putin", but rather on
the personal decisions of the president. Any competent analyst can see that Putin's
electorate is the electorate of the left-wing non-communist parties. There are no other
voters for the left-wing non-communist parties; although some may appear tomorrow.
According to polls, a considerable part of the population would like to have a
left-wing president - but so far, his name is Putin. I support faster measures here, for I believe that the reserve of confidence in "Putin's
majority" is not limitless, and it is time to rush forward.
State Duma elections 2003
Presidential elections 2004