What Now for Russia?

The Regime and Opposition after the Presidential “Election”

On March 2, 2008, Russians voted for their next president. Although there were four candidates, no one doubted the victory of Vladimir Putin‘s designated successor, Dmitri Medvedev.

The remaining contenders represented political parties best known for rubberstamping the Kremlin’s agenda (Vladimir Zhirinovsky‘s Liberal Democratic Party and Gennady Zyuganov‘s Communist Party) or are, like Andrei Bogdanov‘s Democratic Party of Russia, unabashed puppet creations of the Kremlin.

At the same time, the Central Election Commission, entirely subservient to the Kremlin, has employed bureaucratic dirty tricks to “disqualify” the genuine liberal opposition candidates and to harass pro-democracy activists. Often denied the freedom to rent spaces for meetings, to advertise, and to collect nominating signatures, and subjected to blatantly biased court rulings, opposition campaigns have been barred from the election.

In the aftermath of this electoral manipulation, what is the future of political opposition in Russia? Is the Kremlin’s ownership of Russian politics absolute, or is the regime’s fear of public opposition a sign of inherent weakness? Can liberal opposition be sustained through existing political structures, or will the movement turn to street protests and Soviet-style underground dissidence?

On March 10, 2008, The American Enterprise Institute (AEI)  hosted those who are best qualified to answer these questions: the leading members of Russia’s liberal pro-democracy opposition.

– Oleg Buklemishev, advisor to former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, People’s Democratic Union

Vladimir V. Kara-Murza, former presidential campaign manager for Vladimir Bukovsky; federal political council member, Union of Right Forces

Boris Nemtsov, former first deputy prime minister; cofounder of Union of Right Forces

Vladimir Ryzhkov, former Duma deputy; cochair, Republican Party of Russia

Click here to download or listen to audio of the event at The American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Special thanks to Veronique Rodman, AEI’s Director of Communications for recording and streaming the event.


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