Fictional Russian hopefuls in 2012 elections

Article published on Jan. 31, 2012
Article published on Jan. 31, 2012
Russia’s presidential elections on 4 March are creeping ever closer. Following demonstrations across Russia in the wake of parliamentary elections in December, the run-away favourite Vladimir Putin is now more of a walk-away favourite. Who else is in this one-horse race?

Vladimir Putin, united Russia

Who? The former KGB agent (59) from St Petersburg captured the Russian media’s heart when he claimed in gangster slang that Russian forces would ‘kill the terrorists in the toilet

Why vote for him? With opinion polls placing him in a strong first position with 48% of the vote, he’ll probably win anyway

Why not vote for him? Vladimir Vladimirovich coined the phrase ‘managed democracy’. No one with such an Orwellian capacity for manipulating language should be given this much power

Fictional character:Raskolnikov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, demonstrates the concept of the Napoleonic man –who believes he is entitled to commit crimes because he is destined for great things

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, liberal democratic party of Russia

Never afraid of confrontationWho? An ultra-nationalist from what is now Kazakhstan, suspected of being manipulated by the kremlin to neutralise potential right-wing voters

Why vote for him? Over the last 20 years, Zhirinovsky (65) has variously promised free vodka and free underwear for all should he be elected president

Why not vote for him? The one-time friend of Saddam Hussein has been described as a fascist, a neo-fascist and a clown

Fictional character: Zhirinovsky is as absurd as any of Gogol’s characters, such as fellow army man, major Kovalyov in The Nose

Mikhail Prokhorov, independent

Who? Moscow-born Prokhorov (47)  is a shining example of a ‘new Russian’, having made his billions in the 1990s

Why vote for him? As the independent candidate standing, he could herald a breath of fresh air

Why not vote for him? For anyone out there who can’t afford caviar, Prokhorov represents the class which ‘stole’ Russia’s raw materials in the 1990s, creating a vastly unequal society

Fictional character: Like Tatarsky in Victor Pelevin’s postmodern epic Generation P, this sweet-talker made his money quick and easy in the 1990s

Sergey Mironov, fair Russia

Who? The one-time chairman of the upper house of the Russian parliament (from 2001 to 2011) is also effectively the leader of the opposition, as head of the centre-left party fair Russia

Why vote for him?Mironov is one of the less extreme politicians standing: he’s against the death penalty and sees cooperation with the USA as inevitable, if not desirable

Why not vote for him? Compared to the other candidates, the 60-year-old from outside St Petersburg is just a bit boring

Fictional character:Trofimov in Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard is an impassioned left-wing political commentator, representing growing desire for political reform, albeit a century earlier

Gennady Zyuganov, communist party of the Russian federation

Who? A long-term, hard-line communist originally from Mymrino, a village south of Moscow, who was a vocal critic of Gorbatchov’s liberalisation of the USSR in the 1980s and hasn’t changed much since

Why vote for him? This veteran of presidential elections came second in the 1996, 2000 and 2008 elections: surely he should have the chance to win this once?

Why not vote for him?Zyuganov (68) thinks Russia ought to return to the state it was in when he became an active member of the communist party a good twenty years before the soviet union collapsed

Fictional character: Zyuganov’s love of all things Russian is reminiscent of Oblonsky, Anna Karenina’s brother

Image: main (cc) Mr Strangestaine/ Flickr; Mironov ©Сергей Миронов (Sergey Mironov)/Facebook; Zhirinovsky © courtesy of Facebook groupVladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky