On September 16, the leading members of Russia's much-persecuted and defamed liberal political wing agreed to form a coalition for the purpose of contesting the 2011 Duma elections and the 2012 presidential election. It is a quixotic quest, indeed, and the four signatories to the agreement can now expect the full brunt of the Kremlin's anti-democratic machine. They are former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, former liberal Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov, and former Deputy Energy Minister Vladimir Milov.
The Russian text of the agreement and videos of the participants discussing the coalition and the political situation in Russia can be found here.
Here is the coalition agreement in English:
Once again in its history Russia is confronted with serious challenges of the times. If our country does not find adequate answer to them soon, then it will become mired in yet another stagnation. The system of bureaucratic autocracy that has developed violates the national interests of the country. Theft, corruption, the defenselessness of people and property, bureaucratic whimsy, the erection of barriers between our country and European civilization do not allow the citizens or the country as a whole to realize their fantastic potential. No modernization can be carried out in a state in which the constitution is trampled, the rights of citizens are violated, the legal system does not work, and all fundamental democratic institutions have been destroyed.
Taking into consideration our responsibility for Russia’s future and understanding that the lack of coordination of the democratic forces only helps maintain the current situation, we have agreed to the following:
1) In preparation for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, we are forming a coalition of democratic forces called For A Russia Without Arbitrariness And Corruption comprising the parties and movements that have signed this agreement.
2) Under the framework of the coalition agreement, and Organizational Committee has been formed to create and register a united democratic party. The Organizational Committee consists of two representatives from each of the organizations that have signed this agreement and one independent politician (public figure) proposed by each party.
3) A congress will be held to make a decision on putting forward a single candidate for president of the Russian Federation in the name of the coalition chosen from among those people who seek to participate in the presidential election and who present to the congress their program, as well as considering other questions of major importance to society.
4) The procedure for electing delegates to the coalition congress and the procedure for nominating those seeking to participate in the 2012 presidential campaign in the name of the coalition (including those who are not members of the organizations or movements), and the democratic procedure for selecting a single candidate from the coalition to participate in the election for president of the Russian Federation will be determined by the Organizational Committee.
5) For the purpose of preparing the documents and decisions of organizational matters a working body is formed, to which each party signing this agreement will delegate one person.
For the Russian Popular Democratic Union – Mikhail Kasyanov
For the united democratic movement Solidarity – Boris Nemtsov
For the Republican Party of Russia – Vladimir Ryzhkov
For the movement Democratic Choice of Russia – Vladimir Milov
-- Robert Coalson