Boris Yeltsin’s supporters before the presidential elections in 1996, Kemerovo, Russia / RIA Novosti


The habit of “holding their nose” before voting — and subsequent sighs along the lines of “who could have imagined that this would happen” — these have been constant features of Russia’s so-called educated class since the mid-1990s. Whereas back then everyone had been obliged to support Yeltsin, as communism served the bogeyman intimidating society, today the new propagandists calling themselves members of the opposition, browbeat people tired with the immutability of the regime and corruption about Putinism. They consciously prompt them to choose the lesser of two evils, but do not say that the lesser evil, after conquering the bigger evil, always becomes even bigger than the original.

Meanwhile once again  — for the eleventh time in 28 years (three times at presidential elections and eight times at parliamentary elections) — we will propose an alternative: a  path to freedom and dignity. We will convince, prove and collect unimaginable amounts of money to participate in these so-called elections, try to limit the falsifications, summon all our strength and move forwards to a principally new Russian statehood, a New Constitution and Constituent Assembly.



Protect people from repressions. Launch a political fight for a change in the system, against the immutable regime and authoritarian personalised rule. Propose an alternative on everything: state structure, the economy, domestic and foreign policies.

The time has come to create a serious skilled alternative — from professionals able to govern the state in a new light, valuing freedom and respecting people who actually love and understand Russia and have nothing in common with nationalism and populism.

To start building the new state, we will need a new Constitution, we will have to convene a Constituent Assembly, implement radical economic reforms to eliminate inefficient state monopoly capitalism, introduce a guaranteed basic income for the citizens of our country, implement such programmes as Land-House-Roads and Gas for Every House. This is also a content-rich alternative to Putin’s dead end.

It is naïve and dangerous to hope that any leader or group of leaders will bring all this to the table. Politics,  creative politics involves the participation of every individual or many people based on joint creativity. To achieve this end, you must join a political party which defends your interests. This is not some indulgence, this does mean executing someone’s request, or offering someone support — only you and your children can do this.

How do you achieve this goal? You need to submit alternative proposals to people, convince, explain, and gain their trust. In other words, you need to learn how to win at elections in the existing environment.

What does this means in practice? Here is the action plan.

At least 20 million people must vote at the elections in September each year, regardless of how they are held (incidentally, this might well be the last-ever elections), for freedom and self-respect, in other words for Yabloko. We are talking about people who don’t support  Putin or populists-nationalists. This will serve as the basis for dialogue with the regime, and we will be able to start real regime change. Then people will live far more safely, while the police will behave completely differently. Then freedom will start, and we will be able to live without fear.

To achieve this goal, the following is key:

1. Hundreds of thousands of observers will be required to prevent mass falsifications. In Russia there are 97,000  polling  stations —  this means that  at least 300,000 observers (members of the commissions) will be required. Sign up to be observers right now! Take a training course and get ready.

2. Become supporters of Yabloko. As our supporter, you will promote the narrative and advocate freedom and justice, life without fear, peace and friendship with neighbours, the inviolability of private property and fair competition, law and a law-based state, true federalism, no to corruption, an independent judiciary and many other things of key significance for our people. Our programme explains how this can be done. Tell people about the programme, campaign, convince them, distribute booklets and leaflets. Explain that voting for Yabloko today is the only way to start changing life for the better. Every single Yabloko supporter must win over 50 people in the remaining six months, bring them to polling stations and prevent attempts to falsify the results. Do this for yourselves and for your children. For the time being, this can be done peacefully without fights and beatings, without arrests and courts! Just do it!

3. Support Yabloko’s petition for the immediate release of political prisoners in a bid to attract 20 million signatures. Whether the regime proceeds to release wrongly convicted people or not, let them know: “Millions of people demand this and will achieve this goal, using all available means. This means  fighting repressions.

4. If you share the views in our programme Memorandum of a Political Alternative become our candidate at the elections. Yes, we will promote solely and exclusively dedicated like-minded people, and not just anyone. That is why we assume responsibility for each of our candidates, and for his work as a deputy when he is elected.

5. Participate in the work of the Public Constitutional Council. We are preparing a new Constitution of Free People.

6. Learn to be real politicians – come to Yabloko’s Federal School. We will share with you the experience and knowledge that we have acquired over 28 years of participation in Russian politics. The country needs hundreds of professional and honest politicians who are not corrupt! Come!

7. Help us collect funds for the election campaign. Soon we will announce the collection of funds for the campaign to the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

Mounting a political challenge in today’s Russia is extremely difficult. We know far from everything, but are learning— come, participate, work and promote ideas. Learn to be patient. We sincerely want your serious participation. And if we do not organise everything immediately, be patient or help us to sort  this out. This is definitely better and more intelligent than attempting to fight OMON.

And remember, Putin’s system wins when you don’t participate in voting. The system needs a “No to everything”. The system needs politics to be conducted once again by artists, musicians, TV presenters, people like [society hostess] Ksenia Sobchak, [oligarch] Mikhail Prokhorov and [show business starlet] Olga Buzova, in general, anyone at all as long as they are not politicians. Instead of joining forces round a party that has existed for almost three decades, we will once again hear calls for the creation of something – a “coordination council”, a third, fourth or fifth force. Dilettantes and random individuals will do this.  Furthermore, they are already making such calls, their surnames are already known. As usual, such activity will have zero impact. Meanwhile, people will be stuck in pre-trial detention facilities, serve time in prison colonies, while the regime will grow stronger and laugh into their Stalinist moustaches about our stupidity.

One final comment. Nobody knows when this wind of change will blow, when dozens of millions of people throughout the country will simultaneously want change, as was the case at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s. It is our responsibility to be at the ready with our sail: a draft of the new Constitution, a programme of economic reforms, skilled staff, so that we know how to set sail correctly and on time.

The key is to believe in ourselves and our people more than in any technologies, algorithms and blueprints.