Will the leader of the Russian opposition please stand up?

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Will the leader of the Russian opposition please stand up?

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Anti Putin sentiment has been more visible in recent months as more Russians are taking to the streets and the question on everybody’s lips is, ‘just who is in charge?’ With numerous figures keen to stake their claim, does the Russian opposition have a credible, stand out leader?

So who is in the running to command and conquer? Could it be Mikhail Kasyanov, Boris Nemtsov or Vladimir Ryshkov? As founders of the People’s Freedom Party they look like fitting contenders to take the baton. For now their party is little known but that could be about to change.

Mikhail Kaszanov explains:

“It’s not about a lack of leaders, it’s about the current political climate, which ensures there’s a lack of any political competition and that’s the trouble! Once a political party is officially registered and recognised however, it’ll get access to the media and you’ll see a difference within six months. Then Russia will have lots of leaders, with even more charisma than Vladimir Putin”.

Showing the opposition is nothing if not diverse we meet Sergey Udaltsov. The antithesis to the market liberal, People’s Freedom Party, Udaltsov comes from the extreme left.

After a hundred day stint in jail for organising protests and staging numerous hunger strikes, it is safe to say he is no stranger to controversy.

Sergey Udaltsov talks about the lack of faith voters have in the system:

“There’s a lot of mistrust in our society surrounding the elections and if people don’t see a change by March 4th, the conflict will only escalate. To avoid this I suggested Medvedev postpone the elections, to introduce amendments. This would extend his Presidential mandate. Yes, it’s a bold and radical move but sometimes you have to act like that to prevent the worst.”

Another candidate looking to take his place at the helm is Alexei Navalny. His political leanings are somewhere between the bourgeoisie and the extreme left. As a blogger and anti corruption activist he made his name exposing cases of political embezzlement. However he recently fell out of favour with the public after being criticised for cosying up to the establishment.

Veteran journalist Sergey Parkhomenko on the other hand has no such association. He co-heads the Election league, which monitors votes. He credits social media, not politicians, as the catalyst for social change and says:

“What’s different about a professional politician, is that he believes everything can be controlled. He thinks everybody will do exactly as he says. But in the time of the internet age, where people can interact in a heartbeat, spreading news and opinions, the demise of so-called “marshalled” democracy can be just as quick.”

So if politicians are ruled out of the leadership race, how about wordsmiths? Boris Akunin, crime novelist extrodinaire is the latest to show his support for the opposition.

He has abandoned writing to support the ‘people’s revolution’ but sadly is in no hurry to take the leadership crown. As the protesters meet for yet another demonstration, the one thing that unites them all is their desire for change.

The opposition’s anthem “we’ll take charge from now on” drives them but begs the question, who will take charge?