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Political Parties in Russia

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In its post-Soviet Union days, Russia has drawn criticism for a tightly controlled political process in which there's little room for opposition parties. In addition to many smaller parties than the main ones listed here, dozens more are rejected for official registration, including the People's Freedom Party attempt in 2011 by former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov. Vague reasons are often given for denials, raising accusations of political motivations behind the decision; the reason given for denying registration to Nemtsov's party was "the inconsistency in the party's charter and other documents filed for the official registration." Here is how the political landscape looks in Russia:

United Russia

The party of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. This conservative and nationalist party, founded in 2001, is the largest in Russia with more than 2 million members. It holds an overwhelming majority of seats in both the Duma and regional parliaments, as well as committee chairmanships and posts on the Duma's steering committee. It claims to hold the centrist mantle as its platform includes both free markets and redistribution of some wealth. The party of power is often seen as operating with a main goal of keeping its leaders in power.

Communist Party

This far-left party was founded after the fall of the Soviet Union to carry on far-left Leninist and nationalist ideology; its current incarnation was founded in 1993 by former Soviet politicians. It is the second largest party in Russia, with more than 160,000 registered voters identifying as Communist. The Communist Party also consistently comes in behind United Russia in the presidential vote and in parliamentary representation. In 2010, the party called for the "re-Stalinization" of Russia.

Liberal Democratic Party of Russia

The leader of this nationalist, statist party is perhaps one of the most controversial politicians in Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose views range from racist (telling Americans to preserve the "white race," for one) to odd (demanding that Russia take Alaska back from the United States). The party was founced in 1991 as the second official party after the fall of the Soviet Union and holds decent minorities in the Duma and regional parliaments. In terms of platform, the party, which brands itself as centrist, calls for a mixed economy with state regulation and an expansionist foreign policy.

A Just Russia

This center-left party also holds decent minority numbers of Duma seats and regional parliament seats. It calls for a new socialism and pitches itself as the party of the people while United Russia is the party of power. Parties in this coalition include Russia's Greens and Rodina, or the Motherland-National Patriotic Union. The platform supports a welfare state with equality and fairness for all. It rejects "oligarchic capitalism" but does not want to return to the Soviet version of socialism.

The Other Russia

An umbrella group that pulls together opponents of the Kremlin under the Putin-Medvedev regime: far left, far right and everything in between. Founded in 2006, the widely diverse coalition includes notable opposition figures including chess champion Garry Kasparov. "We aim to restore civil control of power in Russia, a control that is guaranteed in the Russian Constitution that is so frequently and unambiguously violated today," the group said in a statement at the conclusion of its 2006 conference. "This aim requires a return to the principles of federalism and the separation of powers. It calls for the restoration of the social function of the state with regional self-administration and the independence of the media. The judicial system must protect every citizen equally, especially from the dangerous impulses of the representatives of power. It is our duty to free the country from outbreaks of prejudice, racism, and xenophobia and from the looting of our national riches by government officials." The Other Russia is also the name of a Bolshevik political party denied registration by the state.

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