On Tuesday, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a Moscow daily, derided the recent coverage, by two state TV stations, of two opposition leaders: Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party (CPRF), and Nikita Belykh of the Union of Right Forces (SPS). The NG immediately smelt a rat insinuating that both parties have been granted the status of the “Kremlin-approved opposition.” In return for giving up their criticism of Putin, of course.
Someone in Moscow should remind the NG that the next Duma election is less than a year away. Incidentally, Zyuganov is the head of the second largest faction in the Duma and in this capacity, regularly meets with the president.
A TV piece on Zyuganov cannot make him “Kremlin-dependent” any more than accusing him in opportunism can make the NG more “independent.”
The largely positive coverage of Belykh, however, came as something unexpected.
Belykh’s SPS was given recently a good deal of media attention in regard to its surprising second place, after United Russia, in the regional election in Perm. Encouraged by this success, SPS promised to work hard on encore in the next set of 14 regional elections scheduled for March 11, 2007.
The TV coverage of the two opposition leaders — hardly an oversight of a low-ranking ORT manager – along with the recent formation of Just Russia may signal the widening of the political space in Russia. The Kremlin may now be willing to allow more players to enter the filed of elective politics. But obviously only those want to play: to present political programs and participate in elections.
What seems to trouble the NG the most is that its usual darlings (Kasyanov, Ryzhkov, Kasparov, etc.) who plan on boycotting the next Duma and presidential elections, won’t be invited.