Presidential Opposition Candidates 101, Syria and Stick-and-carrot

February 17, 2012

With February flying by, (and hence, March 4 and the presidential elections fast approaching), I decided it was time for Russian 2012 Presidential Election 101: Part 3 – The Opposition Candidates and their Chances (Or Lack Thereof). Part 1 was Parliamentary Election Fallout back in December, Part 2 was and is Meetings, Meetings Meetings (a.k.a The Angry Middle Class Protests!).

During my first lunch at the MacArthur office, one of the women asked me for which candidate I think they should all vote in the Russian presidential election. I knew I thought Yavlinsky wasn’t too bad, but not possessing the knowledge to debate with a group of Russian political scientists the relative merits of each of the opposition candidates, I resolved to immediately research every candidate. Yavlinsky remained the only one I would consider voting for (and within a week of my decision to back him, he dropped out of the race. His party, Yabloko – which means Apple – won a miniscule percent of votes in the last presidential election, so maybe it was for the best). Although I compiled a list of opposition candidates for myself, (in case of future questions at office lunchtime), I found a more comprehensive guide for your perusal.  Prokhorov, Mironov and Zyuganov are very visible in television ads right now.

Stay tuned for Part 4: Putin Wins, More Protests, and Little Change. (Do I sound too pessimistic already? I’ve been talking with Russians about their politics too much).

My dad also asked the other day about how all the news about Syria is portrayed in the Russian media – are Russians supportive of their government’s backing of Syria? On the news last night, the 5-minute segment on Syria showed a range of Syrians, (I don’t know where they found these people), talking about how thankful they are that Russia is singlehandedly saving them from a Western intervention/invasion. The segment consisted of a series of images of happy, thankful Syrians, and various signs and placards on which were written, Thank You, Russia, or variations thereof. If the segment included more than a quick reference to general world outrage at Russia’s stance, or any sort of irony regarding the Syrians portrayed, I missed it. Compare this with the NPR The World podcast, whose segment on Syria was a full 5 minutes of Syrians explaining how Russia was supporting the violation of human rights. The segment described various political cartoons on the subject, all of which portrayed Russia in very unflattering terms. However, many upper middle class Russians, along with a segment of academics and independent bloggers, are expressing outrage and shame over Russia’s behavior. But the fact remains that the average Russian living in a small city (i.e. not Moscow) fully supports Russia’s commitment to national sovereignty.

And here’s a positive gem of new Russian vocabulary. Didn’t you always want to know how to talk about a stick and carrot policy in Russian? (I know I did, but my goals in Russian are centered on being able to describe the UN’s latest approach to Iran’s nuclear program.)

система кнута и пряника – stick and carrot system sistema knuta e prinyaka (we don’t really call it a system in English, but oh well)

Off to the ballet for Swan Lake tomorrow night – reviews to come! Plus, Sarah visits Moscow on Sunday… Stay tuned for news of our exploits together in the big city.

Until then,



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