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17 Oct, 2007 12:28

Former Soviet dissident wants Russia split up

A former Soviet dissident, who wants to become Russia's President next year, has floated a somewhat unusual idea for the world's largest country. Vladimir Bukovsky wants to break Russia up into several smaller countries. But how realistic is that?

Vladimir Bukovsky thinks Russia is too big and should be broken up into smaller countries. But that might not go over too well with voters, many of whom are enjoying Russia’s growing economy and stability.

Promising a bright future, Vladimir Bukovsky admits he's unlikely to see his presidential vision through.

But this former Soviet dissident intends to run for the country's top job anyway.

So why aim for that in a country where you haven't lived  for over thirty years?

“We are trying to help people here and make elections real, not farcical, otherwise it will be just a very dull ceremonious handover,” Vladimir Bukovsky explained.

Back in Moscow this week, Mr Bukovsky is doing interviews, re-releasing an old book and most importantly – presenting his political platform, which could seem farcical to many a patriotic Russian.

This harsh Kremlin critic has been seen by many Russians even as a traitor.

In fact his deportation and swap for Chilean communist Louis Corvalan in 1976 gave birth to a well known rhyme: “We exchanged a hooligan – for Louis Corvalan.”

Mr Bukovsky accepted a proposal by human rights activists and academics to become a presidential candidate, even though he has dual citizenship and does not meet the constitutional requirement of  being a resident in Russia for ten years.

Vladimir Bukovsky has virtually no chance of getting into the Kremlin, which might leave Russian citizens asking – ‘what’s the point?’

“A ‘champion of liberty’ a dissident, a record of fighting for freedom in this country, fighting against the totalitarian communist rule – in this capacity he is obviously a hero, but as a presidential candidate – he is nobody,” Boris Makaretsky, a political analyst, says.

Mr Bukovsky says he is not ambitious and just wants the elections to be free and fair.

But he has a lot more work ahead than the official candidates. He only recently received a Russian passport and it still needs to be registered before he can even think about realising his dream.