“So far, I see only Dud's political ambitions”

Leonid Radzikhovsky about the sudden boom of party building in Russia

“So far, I see only Dud's political ambitions”
Photo: Olesya Kurpyaeva (rg.ru)

“There are things that do not depend on Kiriyenko — history does not depend on political technologies. Kiriyenko's work depends on Putin's decisions, and after Putin leaves, a movement will begin, which is not determined or controlled by any political technologies," says political expert Leonid Radzikhovsky. In the interview with Realnoe Vremya, he commented on the latest events and trends in party Russia: political projects of media personalities, the future of the “old” parties and the coming left turn.

“Rebranding will immediately kill United Russia”

Leonid Alexandrovich, in recent weeks we have heard quite interesting news — Zakhar Prilepin, who created the movement For Truth (Za Pravdu), is going to go into politics, Sergey Shnurov has joined Party of Growth, singer Valeria has announced her intention to create her own party. There have been reports that the Kremlin wants to see journalist Yury Dud in the political field. How should we understand all this?

I can see what people feel: the power of the current inhabitants of the Kremlin ends, bifurcation awaits ahead, hectic atmosphere, and flies, sorry, are flying on manure — Shnurov, Valeria and, as I understand it, more serious characters — Dud, Yegor Zhukov. Many in the country understand that with the resignation of the current president, the political cohort of 50-year-olds will also leave, and, thus, there will be a sharp change of generations, on which people put new hopes. Maybe they don't formulate it clearly for themselves yet, but they subconsciously understand it. So all this activity of famous personalities is just the beginning of the process, and then parties will appear like mushrooms.

Besides, people understand that Vladimir Putin's resignation will lead to the collapse of the entire current political system, and the anecdotal organizations such as LDPR and A Just Russia will simply disappear. Although LDPR will still squeak into the political pension of Mr. Zhirinovsky. Vladimir Volfovich, at his almost 75 years old, still shouts something about Russian beggars on their knees, about mean Americans, about “beat and capture”, but all this is a reprise from the 1990s.

A complete change of guard and, most likely, the collapse of Communist Party is also expected — Gennady Zyuganov is now also 75 years old, and the whole party is based only on his image. Besides, Communist Party is a mossy party of wooden Stalinists that has nothing to do with social democracy, socialism, or the current reality, and it is clear that Communist Party is the last Communist party in the world (with the possible exception of the Communist Party of Cuba and, of course, the Communist Party of China), and the Stalinist relic will go away in the near future.

Photo: kremlin.ru
Besides, people understand that Vladimir Putin's resignation will lead to the collapse of the entire current political system, and the anecdotal organizations such as LDPR and A Just Russia will simply disappear. Although LDPR will still squeak into the political pension of Mr. Zhirinovsky

And finally, United Russia, a group of rich people gathered at random, will leave. Of course, the authorities will try to preserve it and maybe rebrand it, but rebranding will immediately kill this structure, and the authorities' attempts to keep United Russia under the same name will lead to nothing. After all, without Putin as president, this party will cost nothing, and after leaving the post of president, Putin will not lead it — why should he be a clown?

Thus, our entire political system is based on one person — it was so organized, and with the departure of President Putin (in 2024 or 2020), it will disappear.

“If Dud didn't have political ambitions, he would have made other films”

How many new people in politics will be enough to replace the outgoing political personalities? Can Shnur, Zhukov, Valeria quickly get bored with the politics and will they leave it as abruptly as they came, and less well-known people will influence the political process?

Let's remember the years 1989-1990. Who were all the people who suddenly became famous then: Stankevich, Gdlyan, Afanasiev, Popov? They were nothing, and suddenly they got the reins under their tail, and then the perestroika wave subsided — and there was nothing left of them. None of these people stayed in power for a long time, but the one who was this real power, that is, Yeltsin, stayed. Nevertheless, the mentioned personalities organized a wave! This is a familiar and banal story for any world revolution or major social events. Let's take, for example, student demonstrations and unrest in Europe in the '60s and '70s — there were all sorts of Rudi Dutschke and other youth leaders in France and Germany, but none of them remained in power, they were swept out almost the next day. But due to the collapse of the old system, of course, at first there will be a large field for the activities of the people you mentioned or some other people.

Photo: mediananny.com
So far, I see that Yury Dud has strong political ambitions. If he didn't have them, he wouldn't be making the films he has, but would be making other films with some athletes he knows a lot about

However, I will note the following thing: the personalities of the political wave of the late '80s and early '90s were, of course, demagogues, but they were still educated people, scientists. Whether educated people will be in demand in modern Russia after some time, or whether showmen like Zhirinovsky will enter the political scene, is a big question. But in such situations, many other politicians, for example, Navalny, will have a great chance to remove the margin, if he does not fool around and does not sell it too cheap.

So far, I see that Yury Dud has strong political ambitions. If he didn't have them, he wouldn't be making the films he has, but would be making other films with some athletes he knows a lot about. I see that Yegor Zhukov also has ambitions, but he still performs very poorly on Echo of Moscow, his programme is a failure and incompetent. Zhukov performed well at the trial, but I did not see anything further interesting from him. So, all this is temporary for him.

What about Shnurov?

Well, Shnurov has joined Party of Growth — what is this party? What growth? . . If you want to make a great political career, why join this strange party? For example, Prilepin established his own party, why doesn't Shnurov do the same?

Photo: Dmitry Reznov
Well, Shnurov has joined Party of Growth — what is this party? What growth? . . If you want to make a great political career, why join this strange party?

“There are things that do not depend on Kiriyenko. History does not depend on political technologies”

Can it be fraught with something serious for the authorities?

I think that all these parties are made formally and for the Duma elections of 2021. In the hope that there will be movement in the country by then in full swing. And there can be two reasons.

The first is that the presidential administration, namely Sergey Kiriyenko, who oversees the party theme, expects that these small parties will bite off the voters of the Communist Party, LDPR, pseudo-opposition and liberal parties who are lucky enough to register — the party with Shnurov is ready for this. Thus, this is done so that no one, except the parties that are now in the Duma, will break through.

Second, given the difficulties with the rating of United Russia, it is important to pluck its competitors — the Communists and LDPR, and thus, by hook or by crook, save United Russia in the State Duma 50 percent plus one seat.

There are things that do not depend on Kiriyenko — history does not depend on political technologies. Kiriyenko's work depends on Putin's decisions, and I will say it again: after Putin's resignation, a movement will begin, which is not determined or controlled by any political technologies. And a smart political strategist will not try to ride a new political wave, this is impossible, but will try to swim either behind the wave or wait it out. Yes, the professions of political strategist and PR specialists will be in demand again, there will be their heyday, but they will not have a real influence. Why? Because this movement will be 99 per cent determined by the Internet, and although the policy will be used, thus, other techniques than in 1989-1990, but these techniques themselves will mean little.

Photo: Maksim Platonov
There are things that do not depend on Kiriyenko — history does not depend on political technologies. Kiriyenko's work depends on Putin's decisions

Let's take the example of the US: Michael Bloomberg, one of the richest people in the world with a fortune of $45 billion (compared to which Trump is just the middle class), the man who owns the main US news agency Bloomberg, is fighting for the presidency and invests more than $400 million in his campaign. But it turns out that if Bloomberg invested at least $5 billion in the case, it would not matter — some freak and half-mad colleague from the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders, throws Bloomberg on both shoulders in the primary elections. He throws Bloomberg with his entire army of the world's best political strategists. Besides, all the other presidential candidates who don't have any personal money at all easily transgress against Bloomberg and all his political strategists. Political technologies are just money paid to the right people, and they don't solve a damn thing.

By Sergey Kochnev