One curious point of agreement between anti-imperialist “Western Russophiles” and the most deranged Russophobes (e.g. Arkady Babchenko, who had called him Russia’s “future liberal Fuhrer”) is the idea that Navalny is a nationalist. This is despite almost no actual, self-identified Russian nationalists considering him as such, and Navalny himself energetically signalling against Russian identity and Russian interests on matters from the status of the Crimea to renaming Murmansk Airport after the city’s founder Nicholas II.
Anyhow, as you recall, a month ago there were protests in Moscow about the Central Electoral Commission’s refusal to register some liberal oppositionist candidates such as Lyubov Sobol and Ilya Yashin in the upcoming Moscow Duma elections. Their response, under the aegis of Navalny’s FBK organization, has been to roll out the “Smart Vote” program – a set of recommendations on voting in a way that maximizes the damage to United Russia-backed candidates. You see, the popularity of United Russia in the capital is currently at a relative trough, so all of their candidates are standing as independents to avoid getting tarred by association. The idea of the “Smart Vote” is to identify those United Russia wolves in independent clothing, and vote for the person likeliest to beat them in each okrug.
Now the Russian nationalist opposition – as in, people who care for Russian interests, but don’t particulate care for the kremlins – isn’t particularly strong (the LDPR, as is the KPRF, is accomodative towards Putinism). Nonetheless, despite being short of both financial and institutional resources, it has managed to field two candidates this electoral season.
Roman Yuneman (right) is a young, telegenic, nationalist of Siberian Cossack-Volga German ancestr y with a degree from the Higher School of Economics (one of Russia’s best universities) and a German institution, who has been endorsed by the Russian Democrats, one of the few explicitly nationalist opposition movements in Russia. He has run an exemplary campaign, meeting up with thousands of potential voters over the past month and collecting almost $100,000 in campaign funds. His political program calls for greater municipal autonomy, ecology, removing barriers to business, tightening immigration law, and more public consultation on large construction projects – that is, not far removed from what Navalny himself claims to support. He has also supported the protests and demanded that detailed protesters be freed.
Most importantly, though, an independent poll has him leading with 22.6% in his district of Chertanovo (Okrug №.30), followed by the Mayoralty candidate Margarita Rusetskaya (20%) and the Communist Vladislav Zhukovsky (13%). Zhukovsky disputed that, posting a poll with VCIOM’s logo showing himself ahead of Yuneman (the poll was fake) and claiming that he was likewise ahead in the FBK’s internal polls (even provoking an infuriated Volkov into denying they had done any polling in Chertanovo).
By any logic, any “Smart Vote” that promoted strategic voting against United Russia would have endorsed Yuneman. Which is why they endorsed his opponent Zhukovsky instead, with Navalny’s Jewish campaign manager Leonid Volkov claiming that “nobody has heard of” Yuneman and insinuating that he is not an independent candidate – though, perhaps, Volkov’s snide reference to him being a fascist (“zigomet”) may have played a more decisive role. But this is perhaps less surprising in view of Navalny’s own present day values (as opposed to a few nasty words about Caucasians a decade ago); just a few days ago, he had approvingly reposted an account of how the “progressive majority” in Germany had voted strategically to prevent the nationalist AfD from coming first in any one German state. As Sergey Grigorov, chairman of the Russian Democrats, remarked, “we are seeing the merger of the Left-Liberal Obkom with Navalny to the the point of indistinguishability.”
Either way, the likeliest result of endorsing Zhukovsky is not his victory, but Rusetskaya slipping through into first place ahead of Yuneman.
Perhaps this is just the result of Navalny/Volkov’s personal issues with Yuneman in particular? But then there is also the case of Nadezhda Shalimova (right), the second oppositionist nationalist running against the Mayoralty candidate Ilya Sviridov and the KPRF’s Elena Shuvalova in the central Okrug №.44. Born in Kuibyshev (now Samara), she harbored dreams of becoming a cosmonaut as a young girl, which dissipated upon the collapse of the Soviet Union. Observing the subsequent sale of the country, she decided to eventually become a politician. She is a critic of United Russia and has regularly shared articles from the censored Sputnik & Pogrom oppositionist nationalist journal on her social media sites.
Now I am not aware of any polls from that district, so perhaps there is a case to be made for favoring Shuvalova over Shalimova – if pursuing the failure of UR-backed candidates was to be the only goal. Though the paucity of polls also puts into question the guidelines issued by Smart Vote, since the FBK’s methodology on exactly how they determined the challengers with the best prospects to beat United Russia is completely opaque.
Furthermore, it is also questionable how ethical and consistent it is for ostensible champions of democratic values to champion Shuvalova, a Bolshevik not just in word but in deed, who had attempted to have Shalimova deregistered from the elections on the basis of her husband Konstantin Krylov having been included into the Russian state’s registry of “terrorists and extremists” in 2013 (for his comment that “it it time to do away with this strange economic system” pertaining to federal subsidies to the Caucasus). Considering the liberal opposition’s own problems with getting registered, endorsing a candidate who supports weaponizing the bureaucracy to prevent the registration of political opponents on the basis of guilt by association is something to behold.
Unless, of course, they essentially agree with Shuvalova. And they presumably do, because the “Smart Vote” presents Shalimova as a… wait for it… technical candidate from the Mayoralty.
That’s right. The Navalnyites are outright smearing the second of the only two oppositionist nationalist candidates in Moscow as a United Russia stooge.
So what we actually have is Navalny systemically supporting Communist candidates not just against United Russia, but the only two oppositionist nationalists standing in the Moscow elections – one of whom is decisively beating both his United Russia and KPRF rival according to opinion polls, the other whom they claim is an outright stooge of United Russia (as opposed to just hinting at it in the case of Yuneman). This reinforces a point that I have long made – far from being any sort of aspiring Hitler (as believed by leftist Western Russophiles and low information sovoks), Navalny is a populist demagogue who is only interested in power for its own sake. That is, he is another Yeltsin, who transmogrified from the Soviet apparatchik who demolished the Ipatiev House where the Romanovs were murdered as head of the Sverdlovsk Obkom in the 1970s, to a democratist champion challenging Party privileges in the late 1980s and proceeded to run the country into the ground on coming to power.
Likewise, Navalny will adopt any ideological guise – be it nationalism, liberalism, anti-corruptionism, or now leftist progressivism – so long as it advances the holy struggle against the “regime.” What happens next is of little importance, because even if their dalliances with the Reds ends up going south, the Navalnys will always have their boltholes in the West just like their predecessors in 1917.