Alexei Navalny Ready to Lead the Popular Alliance Party

September 19, 2013
Yury Martyanov/Kommersant

Alexei Navalny has announced his readiness to head the Popular Alliance party created at the initiative of his supporters. As a source in the party leadership told Kommersant, the “formal appearance” of Navalny in the post of leader increases the chances of Popular Alliance to register at the Ministry of Justice, which has twice rejected the party. Experts believe that Navalny, a former Moscow mayoral candidate, has begun preparations for the elections to the Moscow City Duma, which will take place in 2014.

Navalny is prepared to head Popular Alliance, created at the initiative of his supporters from the Anti-Corruption Fund in December 2012. “I will join, without a doubt. If I am elected, I will head the Popular Alliance,” Navalny said 15 September on the radio station Ekho Moskvy. “This is the party closest to me. Formally, I did not join it precisely for the reason that I believed that in that case it would definitely not be registered.”

Popular Alliance has already twice been rejected for registration. The Ministry of Justice explained its rejection as due to the failure to submit all the necessary documents and also said it had criticisms of the party’s founding documents, particularly its charter. “The first time, we submitted the documents to the Ministry of Justice immediately after the [party] congress on 15 December. Our activity was suspected when they found formal inaccuracies in the documents which we quickly corrected. But then we were rejected again, which completely halted the registration procedure. Furthermore, the Zamoskvoretsky Court ruled that the Ministry of Justice’s decision was lawful,” Georgy Alburov, a member of the presidium of Popular Alliance’s central council told Kommersant.

Alburov noted that Popular Alliance plans to conduct a founding congress again, appoint delegates and announce the lists of its regional branches. According to Alburov, this could take “about half a year, and there is a risk of not managing to prepare properly for the elections to the Moscow City Duma.” Furthermore, he believes that the “formal appearance” of Navalny in the post of leader, in light of his successful mayoral campaign, increases the chances of registration of the party. Otherwise, its representatives can take part in the elections as candidates in the single-mandate districts or in the lists of “friendly” parties. We will recall that Navalny was nominated by the Republican Party of Russian-Popular Freedom Party (RPR-PARNAS), and took second place with 27.24% of the votes after Sergei Sobyanin, who garnered 51.37% of the votes.

Political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov believes that Navalny’s “formal presence” in the party makes “the registration more persuasive, and non-registration, more scandalous.”

“But for now it is not clear whether Navalny is seriously trying to strengthen the position of the party or whether this is a temporary maneuver,” Vinogradov told Kommersant, adding that Navalny “is trying not to retreat to the shadows after the past elections.” Vinogradov believes that Navalny is above all interested in the elections to the Moscow State Duma and on the whole, the “Moscow political agenda.”

But in the opinion of political analyst Rostislav Turovsky, Navalny is trying to “solidify the success he achieved in the elections for mayor of Moscow.”

“Navalny is interested in elections to the Moscow State Duma, where he could be a visible player. But for that, he needs his own political structure because the role of a single deputy does not correspond to his ambitions,” Turovsky told Kommersant. “After the mayoral campaign, Navalny became a figure more dependent on the authorities, therefore, in order to register the party, he needs to play a subtle game with the Kremlin and the presidential administration,” he added.