ROAR: “Medvedev expects proposals from opposition leaders rather than emotions”

Vladimir Kremlev for RT
Parties protesting against the results of regional elections held on October 11 have achieved nothing but the president’s attention, the Russian media say.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with the State Duma party leaders on October 24 to discuss the preparation of his annual address to the parliament and the results of the regional polls.

The main result of the meeting is that the outcomes of the polls won by the ruling United Russia party will not be changed. The president also suggested that parties appeal to court to complain about the alleged fraud, the media note.

The Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said after the meeting that the president “agreed that not everything was clean, and that there were probably violations which should all be investigated.”

The Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and the Fair Russia party left the parliament on October 14 in protest against the alleged fraud at the polls. They demanded the resignation of the head of the Central Elections Commission Vladimir Churov and a recount of the results of the elections in several regions. Zhirinovsky also asked the president to fire Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

Speaking about the strategy of the parties in the parliament, Medvedev said that there were “a lot of emotions” and stressed that democracy in the country is “moving forward” compared to the situation of the 1990s.

“It was clear from Medvedev’s words that he wanted proposals from the party leaders on changing the electoral system rather than emotions,” Kommersant daily wrote.

During the meeting, the president had to solve several problems, Valery Fedorov, director of public opinion research center VTsIOM, believes. First, it was necessary for him to “confirm the legitimacy of the elections,” Fedorov told website.

”If the president had expressed any doubts or given any hint at the possibility of the revision of the elections’ results, it would have been a step nowhere,” the analyst said.

It is a question of the power’s legitimacy, Fedorov believes. “The power has its only foundation as democratic election,” he noted. “So, if one believes the opposition’s stories about any frauds, that would mean that the foundation is being destroyed,” he said.

On the other hand, the president, as the constitution’s guarantor, “had to demonstrate a certain political finesse,” he said, “to give the opposition a hope that he would heed to their requests and would pay attention to them somehow.”

“The problem is that the opposition badly spoiled its image during these elections,” Fedorov said. “Everyone expected them to show good results, but nothing of the kind happened.”

“The disappointment was so strong that [the opposition parties] had to stage public actions and maneuvers at the State Duma,” the analyst said. “For the opposition the main thing was to save face, to prove that they had not acted [at the elections] in vain and that their voice had been heard.”

Fedorov thinks that the president has managed to solve the both problems, because “he demonstrated his attention to the opposition and stressed the irreversibility of the election results,” the analyst noted. At the same time, the president said that the elections “were not ideal, and courts will consider all the documents that are submitted there.”

Dmitry Orlov, general director of the Agency of Political and Economic Communications, said that there had been “a short political crisis” which ended after the opposition parties returned to the State Duma.

“The authorities have chosen a certain strategy at the very beginning and have not yielded to the opposition’s pressure,” Orlov told Vremya Novostey daily. Medvedev has recognized that “a democratic system exists in Russia, however, it needs developing,” the analyst said.

But it is clear that the correction of the legislation will not be fully overhauled, Orlov added. Although the results of the elections will not be revised, the analyst does not rule out that opposition parties may win several suits in the courts.

The president remains “a follower of the development of national democratic institutions and the democratization of the political system,” Orlov said. But it will be a long process, and Medvedev himself will initiate it, he added. The president does not want “the opposition to impose the agenda,” the analyst noted.

The deputy director of the Institute of Social Systems, Dmitry Badovsky, believes that “political consequences” from the opposition’s moves will emerge only if the parties manage to prove the cases of fraud on many polling stations. So far, 16 ballots in support of Sergey Mitrokhin, leader of the liberal Yabloko party have been found, the analyst said.

It is right to re-count votes at polling stations where “there are doubts about the results of the election,” Badovsky said. But it is clear that one polling station “does not show the whole picture,” he added. The opposition is questioning the results of 300 polling stations in Moscow.

On the eve of the meeting with the president, the deputies of the parliament had the opportunity to ask the head of the Central Elections Commission any questions about the polls. “Having worked as a lightning rod for some hours, he continued to stand his ground, saying that the elections had been held in full conformity with the law,” RBC daily wrote.

Aleksey Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies believes that Churov will retain his position. “Now his resignation could be interpreted as [the authorities’] weakness,” the analyst told Vremya Novostey.

Pavel Salin, analyst at the Center for Political Conjuncture, noted that the leadership of the ruling United Russia Party took part in the meeting with the president, not only heads of opposition factions in the State Duma. So it could not be described as “a meeting of the president with the opposition,” he said.

The action in the parliament was not “a crisis” either, Salin told “A crisis is a situation in which the conflicts cannot be resolved behind closed doors,” the analysts said. During the first hours it seemed that “the situation was developing according to a crisis scenario,” he said.

“Now the participants of the story are trying to prove that the goals they set [in leaving the parliamentary session] have been achieved, however these goals themselves are very vague,” he added.

Sergey Borisov, RT