Russian politics is so inclusive, pluralist, and teeming with new political parties that each party should adopt an animal as its insignia to make it easier for overwhelmed voters to remember which party is which.
This is the solution put forward by Aleksandr Sidyakin, a 35-year old United Russia parliamentary deputy, to what the opposition expects to be a serious hurdle in politics.
Sidyakin has proposed that the ruling United Russia party should keep its bear logo, the liberal Yabloko Party should be represented by a skunk; and the Communist Party should replace its hammer and sickle with a moose.
The PARNAS opposition party cofounded by Boris Nemtsov could adopt the rat, while other parties might want to take the hamster or snail, he said.
Last April, then President Dmitry Medvedev drastically simplified the process for registering political parties following the sudden spike in protests by an opposition claiming it is systematically excluded from elections.
The result is that 55 political parties -- many of them bearing absurd names -- are now registered to take part in elections, according to Sidyakin, who said that ballot papers will now stretch over 2 meters in length.
“It’s awful to think how a simple voter will fare when offered courses on the new political menu by his waiter, the Central Election Commission -- how is he going to decide what he likes and whether he wants to try ‘something new'?”
“I propose livening up the party structure with animal labels,” he wrote on his blog page on January 21, saying he had conferred with his colleagues and family for guidance.
Sidyakin’s taxonomical solution was met with hostility from the opposition as well as the nominal opposition that has State Duma representation.
Speaking to RIA Novosti, Sergei Mironov of A Just Russia party (a rooster in the Sidyakin classification) said United Russia should focus on more pressing matters.
Sergei Mitrokhin of the Yabloko Party simply called the initiative “nonsense.”
The United Russia party has also said that it is satisfied with its current logo and will not seek any change.
Silliness aside, some opposition figures have expressed fears that the plethora of parties represents a new hurdle for established opposition outfits.
Gennady Gudkov, a former opposition parliamentarian who was ejected from the State Duma nominally for illegal business activity, wrote on Twitter that the legal changes signified a tactical shift by the Kremlin from “ban” to “idiocy.”
Instead of being banned, opposition parties are swamped by dozens of other parties that siphon off votes and prevent them, so the theory goes, from getting into parliament. “The authorities want to kill off Russia’s parties for good, apart from the ones tamed by the Kremlin,” wrote Gudkov.
Liberal commentator Konstantin put it like this on Kommersant FM when the law relaxing registration was passed.
“Opening registration to the party of caricatures and the party of the deliberate no-hopers -- this is a conscious attempt by the authorities to bring Russian parliamentarianism to a state of clinical death,” Eggert said.