Navalny may head party, have problems with opening party offices in regions – expert

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Interfax – September 16, 2013) Opposition activist Alexei Navalny will most likely continue his political career not in the 2014 Moscow City Duma elections but by opening of party offices in regions where problems are likely to occur, General Director of the International Institute for Political Expertise (IIPE) Yevgeny Minchenko said.

“A lot depends on whether or not the People’s Alliance gets registered. On the other hand, it is rather problematic to deny registration to the party in the context of the notable performance of Navalny in the Moscow mayoral election. After that a great deal will depend on political will. Navalny has been demonstrating it while [Mikhail Prokhorov] has not shown much [political will]. The Moscow City Duma election is not the main ballot,” Minchenko told Interfax on Monday.

It would be logical to go to the regions for the successful continuation of Navalny’s political career, the expert said.

“It is extremely important for Navalny to build regional structures. This is what he will most likely do. But this is where problems are possible. For now Navalny looks like an irritant to voters in the regions. He has managed to hold a personalized campaign in Moscow but he looks rather dangerous and obscure to provinces,” the expert said.

In addition, Navalny will probably have to compete with Mikhail Prokhorov’s Civil Platform for influence over regional elites.

“The building of [party] structures in the regions is crucial for Navalny. There may be problems with that. The Prokhorov project looks like another Kremlin version of a security party for United Russia. Regional elites join it although membership in Civil Platform is not an act of grace: they may be barred from election campaigns or even put into prison. Anyway, risks of involvement in the Navalny project are much higher than risks associated with participating in the Prokhorov project,” Minchenko said.

It was reported earlier that Navalny was ready to head the People’s Alliance party that his supporters and colleagues from the Fund for Fighting Corruption were trying to establish. “I will join [the party], no doubt. If I am elected, then I will head the People’s Alliance,” Navalny told the Ekho Moskvy radio on Sunday.

He said he had been abstaining from party membership for a long time to spare it problems with its registration at the Justice Ministry. “I think that this party is closest to my views. I did not join the party formally for the sole reason that I thought it would certainly not be registered in such a case,” Navalny said.