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Biographies

This page supplements the sections of Mischa Gabowitsch’s Protest in Putin’s Russia, chapter 4, titled “Extra-parliamentary coalitions and the new protest scene” and “Oppositional milieus” (p. 119-127). Those sections discuss the dynamics of conflict and rapprochement between street-level opposition activists. The following biographies of two prominent such activists, place side by side, illustrate the points made in the book.

 

Political parties, street protest and coalitions: two paradigmatic political biographies
Ilya Yashin, * 1983 Sergey Udaltsov, * 1977
social liberal, never elected to parliament socialist, former Stalinist, never elected to parliament
finishes school with a specialist focus in Russian and literature and art school from a prominent Soviet-era family of professors and diplomats, studies law at the State Academy of Water Transport
1999: founds the Avant-Garde of Red Youth (AKM), the youth organisation of the neo-Stalinist party Labour Russia, unsuccessfully runs for a Duma seat for the Stalin Block – For the USSR, finishes his studies
2000: joins social liberal Yabloko party, begins studies at the Independent International University of Ecology and Political Science
2001 chairman of the Moscow youth branch of Yabloko 2001: initiates Anti-Capitalism Marches that bring together several left-wing groups
2003: AKM splits, Udaltsov’s faction distances itself from Labour Russia
2003 Nov-Jan 04: ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia; Dec: Duma elections. Yabloko and the economic-liberal Union of Right Forces lose their seats, the CPRF drops to second place, losing 15 of its 67 mandates and falling distinctly behind United Russia
  2004 Jan: AKM is among the founders of the Left Youth Front with other communist youth organisations, speaks out against collaborating with the liberals, organises anti-capitalist actions. Rapprochement with the neo-communist splinter party KPSS
2004 Nov-Dec: ‘Orange Revolution‘ in Ukraine. Dec: restrictive party law passed, number of registered parties eventually reduced from 32 to 7
2005 chairman of Yabloko’s Russia-wide youth organisation, co-founder of the Defence (Oborona) extra-parliamentary opposition movement with activists of the former Union of Right Forces. Thesis on ‘Methods of organising street protest’ 2005, Sep: welcomes the creation of a Left Front as a merger of extra-parliamentary left-wing groups, but initially participates in their activities irregularly

 

Dec. Unsuccessfully runs for a seat in the Moscow City Duma for the CPRF

2006 (Feb) leaves Oborona, having lost the elections to its coordinating council; Oborona distances itself from parties and declares itself a leaderless association 2006: AKM participates in protests as part of the multi-partisan coalition Another Russia with Kasparov, Limonov and others
Repeatedly detained (including in Belarus in April 2005), participates in demonstrations in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia, organises street protest performances e.g. with banners or mock self-immolation Repeatedly detained, participates in welfare protests, demonstrations and social forums in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia
2007 AKM ends collaboration with Another Russia
2008 March: Medvedev elected president; August: war with Georgia
2008 co-founder of the (multi-partisan, extra-parliamentary) liberal coalition movement Solidarnost‘ with activists from other former liberal parties; in Dec: expulsion from Yabloko for participation in Solidarnost’ and the National Assembly, an alternative parliament with liberals, leftists and nationalists initiated by Another Russia 2008 joins National Assembly. Elected to the governing body of the Left Front and increasingly appears in public as its ‘coordinator’
2009 tries to stand for a seat in the Moscow city parliament, not admitted on the ballot by the authorities 2009 with left-wing and trade union activists, founds Rot Front (‘Russian United Workers’s Party’), which is denied registration
Dec 2011-: participate in protests, many joint appearances by Yashin and Udaltsov , frequently detained
2012 (Apr) new, more permissive party law goes into effect
2012 elected to governing body of the liberal Republican Party of Russia—Party of People’s Freedom (whose ban, in 2006, was overturned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2011)

 

elected to the Coordinating Council of the Russian Opposition

2012 Dec: Rot Front is registered at the eighth attempt

 

Following the broadcast of a compromising TV ‘documentary’, Udaltsov is indicted for allegedly preparing ‘mass disturbances’ and restricted from travelling; elected to the Coordinating Council of the Russian Opposition

2013 supports Navalny in Moscow mayoral election 2013 spends most of the year under house arrest, failed attempt to register as candidate in Moscow mayoral elections
2014 (March) condemns Crimea annexation and Russian military involvement in Ukraine, speaks at Peace Marches 2014 (March) welcomes Crimea annexation and referendums in Southeast Ukraine
2014 (July) attempted run for Moscow City Duma, fails to collect sufficient number of signatures 2014 (July) sentenced for ‘mass disturbances’, prison term expires in August 2017
2014 (Dec) European Court of Human Rights finds that Yashin (and Navalny) had been illegally detained in December 2011 2015 (January) lodges complaint against sentence with European Court of Human Rights
2015 (Feb) assassination of liberal politician Boris Nemtsov, who had frequently appeared on stage with both Yashin and Udaltsov

Main sources: anticompromat.org, lenta.ru, echo.msk.ru, politzeky.ru.