By Itar-Tass World Service writer Lyudmila Alexandrova
The protest movement in Russia has now got its own coordination body, expected to draft a unified strategy of the Opposition and to organize rallies. Monday saw the end of three-day elections to a 45-seat Coordinating Council of the Opposition. The organizers of the elections had to prolong the voting procedure due to ill-wishers’ attempts to disrupt them with massive hacker attacks against the election site. However, despite all the problems the elections did take place. The registered voters totaled 170,000, and nearly 82,000 took part in the elections. On the All-Russia List, the Opposition’s coordinator, Alexei Navaly, emerged the winner.
The leaders of the rallies in Bolotnaya Square will form the backbone of the council – the greatest number of voters cast their ballots for Alexei Navalny, author Dmitry Bykov, chess player Garry Kasparov, TV host Kseniya Sobchak and Solidarity leader Ilya Yashin.
As it is expected, the just-elected Coordinating Council, which will meet in session for the first time on Friday, will operate for about a year. As the website of the central election committee said, “The purpose of the election was to form a body of political representation for active citizens, who wish change in Russia’s political life.”
“By and large, it all looks very complex, but with good prospects,” high-profile liberal politician Irina Khakamada said about the CCO prospects. “If annual elections manage to legitimize the council and if the people inside the council master the skill of listening to each other and to make professional decisions, then the opposition will gain real experience of achieving victories, and not of participation only.”
“The Coordinating Council is very necessary for lending legitimacy to the Opposition,” said political scientist Alexei Makarkin. The Opposition took shape back in December, but it is still poorly structured and has a weak leverage to influence the public opinion. For that reason the CCO may be the sole instrument in the hands of the protest movement.” Makarkin acknowledged that there are many of those unhappy about the progress in and the outcome of the voting. Inside the coordinating council among its members there are quite a few ideological and moral contradictions, but so far nobody has been able to offer a sound alternative to the just-formed body of power.
Makarkin believes that the Coordinating Council will be a representative body of the opposition, and through its instrumentality protest activists will be able to interact with the authorities. The political scientist pointed to the democrats’ victory in the elections and the failure of the nationalists. He described the CCO’s further activities as a test for the Opposition.