JRL HOME - RSS - FB - Tw - Support

Leftist Leaders Announce Effort to Join Forces
Natalya Krainova and Max de Haldevang - Moscow Times - themoscowtimes.com - 3.29.12 - JRL 2012-55

Two high-profile opposition State Duma deputies from A Just Russia joined forces Thursday with a prominent member of the Public Chamber to announce plans to create a Social Democratic Union to bring together Russia's left-wing forces.

"A wide range" of left-wing and social-democratic forces will be represented in the union, State Duma Deputy Gennady Gudkov told journalists, adding that invitations had been sent to the Communist Party and "various" other left-wing movements.

Public Chamber Member Yelena Lukyanova said coming together to forge a unified political front was the only way to ultimately defeat President-elect Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party.

"Everyone who disagrees with United Russia's policies needs to unite, both on the left and the right flank ­ it is absolutely evident," she said at a news conference in Moscow with Gudkov and his fellow party member, State Duma Deputy Ilya Ponomaryov.

Political analysts were divided about the project's viability, saying the coalition could have short-term success riding on public discontent in the wake of recent protests, but predicting it would eventually break up over the members' differing agendas.

Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov is also involved in the union's formation but was absent from the event, having been called to the city prosecutor's office for questioning about his role in protests following the presidential election.

He said that so far the Left Front had not made a definitive decision about whether to join the new organization.

"We shall observe this process and take part in discussions, but I don't think that the matter has yet reached organizational steps," he told RIA-Novosti.

Several other leftist leaders echoed similar reservations about signing on to the proposed coalition.

Sergei Mironov, A Just Russia's presidential candidate, also said the party was eager to "join efforts with the Communists, the Left Front and new parties to be created," but was not ready for a "legal union," RIA-Novosti reported.

Communist Party representatives say they are hesitant about joining forces with organizations that are more right wing.

Sergei Obukhov, a State Duma deputy and member of the presidium of the Communist Party's central committee, told The Moscow Times that he saw "no point" in joining the union as his party already had more supporters than A Just Russia and Left Front combined.

"How can a sea pour into a puddle?" Obukhov said.

The Dec. 4 State Duma and March 4 presidential elections "have shown that the Communist Party is the leader on the left front," he said.

"We believe that the basis [for a union] must be our political weight," he added.

Vadim Solovyov, a senior Communist State Duma deputy said his party first needed to see the program of the union before considering joining.

"But in general it is a strange association, an attempt to remind people about themselves. If Udaltsov considers himself a social democrat, then what type of communist is he?" Solovyov told Gazeta.ru on Thursday

Gudkov said earlier in March that the liberal opposition Yabloko party could become part of a social-democratic party, but Yabloko c