United Russia: socialism with conservative label

(RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko)
The only force capable of modernizing the country is United Russia, and that modernization can only be achieved through conservative ideology – so say activists of the newly-established Conservative Social Union.

­The organization was created this past weekend under the auspices of the Center for Conservative Politics, which serves as an inner discussion platform within United Russia. Although it positions itself as “non-government,” its leadership has been formed from top United Russia politicians. As Vladimir Medinsky, a member of the party’s General Council, explained, the union aims to play the role of a “powerful expert community.” 

“For ten years, our authorities have been trying to restore the post-Soviet space,” the deputy went on to say. “The first steps have already been taken. In the light of the 2012 challenges, couldn’t this idea, the reunion of all post-Soviet nations, become an overall goal? In this unity is our power.”

Conservative ideology is of central necessity for Russia, believes Yury Shuvalov, one of the union’s leaders and deputy head of the United Russia presidium.

“The opposition has divided into parties of the West and parties of the East,” he said. But being situated in between, Russia, in his opinion, should pursue its own way “relying on its own resources, its interpretation of democracy and clear understanding of sovereignty.”

Experts note that the creation of the Conservative Social Union is a response to the increasing demand for socialist values. 

“Today in Russia we observe a kind of rehabilitation of socialist values,” deputy head of the public opinion research agency, the Levada-Center, Aleksey Grazhdankin, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. “Ahead of the election, we’ve been hearing plenty of populist promises from various political forces, invariably accompanied by socialist slogans.”

This, in turn, can be explained by the fact that the greater part of the electorate is represented by pensioners, who traditionally tend to the left. 

But the head of the presidential think-tank INSOR, Igor Yurgens, disagrees, saying that “there’s no demand for socialism.”

Nevertheless, United Russia prefers to remain on its guard and aims to provide an alternative to Right Cause and Fair Russia, while also advocating social values. However, the head of the union’s Coordination Council, Andrey Isaev, does not consider Right Cause, which “broke to pieces before our eyes”, a real rival. Nor can Communists or Liberal Democrats compete with the ruling party as “they consciously agreed to the second role.”

“What is more dangerous,” Isaev pointed out, “is the union of neoliberals who aim to turn us from the course on sovereign democracy.”