Alexei two percent

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny has been generating a lot of headlines recently, and was the subject of a long article last week in The Guardian by Shaun Walker. The Guardian regularly writes on the subject of Navalny. According to the search function of its website, there are 728 Guardian articles mentioning his name. The Guardian also lists 377 for the late Boris Nemtsov, and a massive 1,590 for oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. This contrasts with a mere 114 articles mentioning the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov, and 163 mentioning Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

The Daily Telegraph is even more extreme, with 1,100 articles about Navalny, 554 about Khodorkovsky, and 287 about Nemtsov, compared with only 92 for Zhirinovsky, 85 for Zyuganov, and 51 for Kasyanov. The score for the Washington Post is Khodorkovsky – 341; Navalny – 272; Nemtsov – 205; Zhirinovsky – 59; Kasyanov – 56; and Zyuganov – 28. For the Globe and Mail: Khodorkovsky – 337; Kasyanov – 106; Nemtsov – 80; Zyuganov – 65; Zhirinovsky – 61; Navalny – 36; and for the Toronto Star, Nemtsov – 82; Navalny – 75; Khodorkosvky – 59; Zhirinovsky – 26; Kasyanov and Zyuganov – both 21.

The pattern is fairly clear: leaders of Russia’s ‘systemic’ opposition receive much less coverage in the Western media than members of the ‘liberal’ and ‘non-systemic’ opposition. The one exception I have been able to find is The New York Times which leads with 844 mentions of Khodorkovsky, but which has 499 of Zyuganov and 481 of Zhirinovsky, compared with 330 of Navalny and 166 of Kasyanov.

The outsized attention given to the non-systemic opposition gives an entirely false impression of its political significance. For the most part, the media gives Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky, who head substantial political parties which got about 13% of the vote in last year’s Duma election, less attention that Kasyanov and Nemtsov, whose PARNAS got less than 1%, and substantially less attention than Khodorkovsky, whose Open Russia organized demonstrations last week which attracted just a few hundred people (which didn’t prevent headlines such as ‘Thousands of Russians Present Letters of Protest in Demonstrations’).

As for Navalny, an opinion poll published by the Levada Centre today gives him almost imperceptible levels of popular support. According to the poll, if a presidential election were held this Sunday in Russia, 48% would vote for Vladimir Putin, 3% for both Zhirinovsky and Zyuganov, and just one percent for Navalny. Several other candidates would also get one percent, while 42% replied that they either don’t know or wouldn’t vote at all.

If you discount this last 42%, then the result of a Russian presidential election this week would be:

Putin – 83%; Zhirinovsky – 5%; Zyuganov – 4%; Navalny – 2%; Others – 6%.

That rather puts into perspective all the recent hype claiming that Navalny has fundamentally altered the Russian political dynamic. It also makes one wonder whether the media has its priorities right.

36 thoughts on “Alexei two percent”

  1. Well, Zhirinovsky and Zyuganov aren’t very interesting, but what about real, intellectual opposition, people like Glazyev, Remizov, Buzgalin (to name a few)? Are they mentioned at all? I doubt it.


    1. Good question. The Guardian gives Glazyev 37 mentions (more than he deserves IMHO). Remizov none. Buzgalin one.


      1. You don’t like Glazyev? I watched his lecture recently, with Kondratiev waves and stuff like that. I’d agree that economic modeling is mostly bs, but at least he has ideas. He certainly got ideas. Which is different from the usual political grandstanding, denunciations of corruption, and all that.


  2. Call me an evil neo-liberal if you wish, but a combination of protectionism and inflationary monetary policy strikes me as a recipe for economic disaster.


  3. The more interesting observation is how Zyuganov has collapsed: 13% in 2013, now 4% – below Zhirik. About time!

    Anyhow, I wouldn’t be quite that complacent – opinion polls tend to understate the support of liberal candidates. For instance, Prokhorov only had around 2% as well in Jan 2012, but ended up getting almost 8% of the vote (or 9% without fraud).

    In the exceedingly unlike scenario that Navalny runs, I see him getting at least 10%, though probably less than 20%, because Putin has been incredibly popular since 2014 for understandable reasons.


    1. Based on the fact that the KPFR and LDPR got 13% in the Duma elections, one might expect Zhirinovsky and Zyuganov to do a bit better than 4-5%. I also think 83% is too high for Putin. Somewhere in the 60-70% range would fit better with other polls (his rating for presidential elections are generally lower than the overall satisfaction rating). Your estimate of 10-20% for Navalny seems on the high end. He got 25% in the Moscow mayoral race, but that is Moscow. I don’t see him having a similar effect nationwide. Maybe 10% if he does well. But as he is a convicted felon, isn’t he forbidden from running?


      1. Sure, hence my caveat: “exceedingly unlike scenario that Navalny runs.”

        I would note that the percentage of people ready to vote for Navalny has doubled relative to 2013, following the DAM video – 10% say they will “definitely” or “probably” vote for him.

        On the other hand, Putin, too, is considerably more popular than during the 2012-13 period – ~80% approval now, versus ~60% then. Certainly that would to some extent cancel out Navalny’s relatively stronger appeal.

        I suspect what would actually happen is that Zhirik/Zyuganov would be the ones squeezed out to 3rd and 4th in a contest where Navalny participates.

        OTOH, if Putin takes the unprecedented step of engaging in debates, I suspect he would actually destroy Navalny, because Navalny is quite ignorant on matters other than corruption.


      2. That 42% undecided is a loaded gun, though, if it’s accurate and if even half of it represents genuinely undecided voters rather than a huge majority which plans not to vote. It the latter were the case then the 42% could be dismissed as you suggest – otherwise, no. American candidates have blown huge sums of campaign money chasing far narrower bands of ‘undecided’ voters, and Navalny likely does not hope of actually winning. His fondness for leveraging his shareholder power by buying a few shares so that he can mouth off at shareholders’ meetings suggest he would like to get enough votes that he could force United Russia into a coalition government with whatever party with whom he chooses to caucus, in which event he would be as obstructionist as a sharp stick in the eye, so that nothing could get done.

        It is, of course, a forlorn hope, as he is broadly unpopular, with good reason. But it would be a mistake to write off large numbers of undecided voters, even though a Putin victory seems assured. You can be sure the western regime-changers are eyeing that pool of uncommitted voters in just the manner I’m describing.


    2. “In the exceedingly unlike scenario that Navalny runs, I see him getting at least 10%, though probably less than 20%, because Putin has been incredibly popular since 2014 for understandable reason”

      My understanding is that all the ‘western darling liberal’ opposition came together to bring all their votes behind one candidate – Navalny – so the figure represent the totality of their vote.


  4. “I would note that the percentage of people ready to vote for Navalny has doubled relative to 2013, following the DAM video – 10% say they will “definitely” or “probably” vote for him.

    And here’s my refutation, pointing out how these arithmetic equilibristic of your as are full of shitm Tolya. Karlin cannot into the math. In fact, I’m not sure into what he really can, seeing as he is venturing (as a dilettante) into lots of spheres beyond his comprehension.

    Or he is just a liar, who twists the facts to fit his narrative. And also – notice how Karlin is loath to admit that Navalny’s “reiting” ultimately means nothing, because he is a twice convicted crook with no chance to ran for the office. But a certain category of people so desire a… “puréere”… that they are willing to be blinded by the facts, right?


    1. “The opinions of a neo-Bolshevik ideologue are very important to me. /s”

      It’s hardly just an “opinion”, Tolya. That’s a fact.

      Funny thing – language. Words in it mean many things. Take for example an “ideologue”. In the “standard” English it means just “someone beholden to this or that ideology”. But in Russian it means “someone exposing and converting others to this or that ideology”. Which “идеолог” am I, AK?

      Next – a “neo-Bolshevik” used as a slur, I take. What makes you think that I’m one? I, personally, won’t dare to call myself a modern (i.e. “neo” part, right?) continuator of the ideas, exposed by the members of the RSDRP(b). I dare not. They were very dedicated, educated, driven people, who have lived in much harsher times than me. Lenin was, perhaps, the only head of the state who truly undertood Hegelian dialectics and tried to spearhead it’s study. How can I assign myself to such an august company, before I attain even a fracture of their knowledge?

      You, OTOH, need precious little to write yourself down among the neo-Chernosotentsy:

      Remind me – are you a citizen of Russia? If not – why should your opinion be of matter to us? If yes – boy, you will have hell of ride here*!:)

      * “Competent organs” ™ willing, of course.


      1. Presumably, many of my readers – a considerable percentage of whom are Russians – care about my opinions.

        For that matter, you seem to care about my opinions a great deal – at any rate, enough to mine my Twitter for juicy takes and write long, spittle-flecked comments “exposing” me as an enemy of the people.

        In contrast, I do not care about your opinions at all.


      2. “Presumably, many of my readers – a considerable percentage of whom are Russians – care about my opinions.”

        Oh, really? Are you sure? On the UNZ – are the majority of your readers Russian? And what is amount of your readers elsewhere? How do you measure whether some of them are Russian or not? But hush-hush – competent organs ™ know the truths.

        Also – how about answering my questions? You emigrated – not by your own volition ,oh no! – from Russia before you got a citizenship passport. So I have to wonder – did you acquire it later? Are you really a Russian? Another funny thing – you never mentioned your parents. Why? They must be members of academia, emigrated from Yeltsin’s Russia to something better (this time – Britain), where they managed to find their own Flesh and Blood an adequate educational facility… where he was butthurt. Is this it then? Just an Oedipus complex, AK? Masked behind whatever crap ypu are spouting from time to time? Or something… deeper?

        “For that matter, you seem to care about my opinions a great deal – at any rate, enough to mine my Twitter for juicy takes”

        Oh, no – don’t flatter yourself! Your Twitter’s feed is juiceless – like you. Just a random things that, unfortunately, people also see besides posts of yours on UNZ, whether they are aware of your twitter account or not.

        Speaking of the juiceless… You know what you are reminding me, Karlin? A certain thing, described by the great Gumilyov (jr). He said that contrary to a certain view, two equally credible people, or ethnicities won’t produce a third equally credible kind of people when mixing – they would produce an ethnic chimera.

        But why mince words, say I? Why won’t name it all by their own terms? When a babe of supposedly Russian (Soviet) people is placed relatively late at age into a different and quite hostile environment of another ethno-culture (Brits), and then spends a significant time boiling and rotting in the third variety of a culture (USA’s) in the end you have not an ethno-cultural chimera. Oh, no!

        You have a Mule.

        That’s you.

        A Mule.

        Good luck trying to survive… Mule!


      3. Dear mule Tolik! To provide some temporary (key word – temporary!) place for the stand in of your sour, abused carcass would be just a basic (if you like it – “communitarian”) decency! Granted – once the fun/helping your sorry petulant excuse of a human form (with some serious endocryne problems) would be provided, you’d be given a boot to free the space for someone more worthy

        By the way! For a someone who – allegedly – stores no memory about my humble self you, somehow, managed to store enough dibs and a dabs (it can’t be really real an info, Tolya, right?!) to somehow draw a conclusion that I’m a “neo-bolshevik” and an “ideologue” of them to boot! How come, my humble unworthy self didn’t occupy your precious braincells, did it, писечка?!

        P.S. To renew your residency in Russia, are you riding to Finland or to Estonia?


    2. Just like an opinion of колбасный эмигрант with White Power tendencies is very important for us, Russian citizens (на самом деле нет).

      Even for those who often disagree with Lyttenburgh.


  5. Navalny is part of the regime change agenda promoted by the west – who don’t have a clue about Russia and it’s politics

    The guardian which was once a good paper just promotes the neo liberal George Soros agenda. It has lost readers and revenue as a result.

    The fact that Angela Merkel turned up in Sochi yesterday – suggests that She gets that she has to negotiate with Presudent Putin – as who else is there?

    Navalny is a racist plain and simple – and has all the character and principle of Yeltsin. The fact he has the support of the crook khordokovsky is also a big red flag.


    1. What Type of Russian press?

      You need to specify the agendas of the particular media you refer too.

      The liberal media such as echo Moscow for example will mention Navalny non stop so will Lebedev funded media

      Also he has been conducting so many publicly stunts – that’s why you are writing about him is it not?


    1. “Meanwhile, a court yesterday confirmed Navalny’s conviction in the Kirovles affair:”

      New anecdote:

      – Лёша, скажи “Кировлес”
      – “Кировлес”
      – В президенты не пролез! 🙂


      1. Interesting but true fact:
        Did you know that Кировлес spelled backwards is (wait for it)…
        сел ворик ?

        (For those who don’t read Russian – translates as “the little thief went to jail” – hee hee!)


  6. One interesting (and slightly bizarre) aspect of the Western media’s affection for Navalny is the tendency to ignore his (at least sometimes) fairly extreme nationalism. There’s a big parallel here with the mainstream media treatment of Ukrainian nationalists. It seems that opposition to the Kremlin is enough to attract “liberal” Western support, however illiberal the given Kremlin opponent might actually be.


    1. Navalny isn’t an extreme nationalist. It’s an open question as to whether he is a nationalist at all. For instance, very few (actual) Russian nationalists consider him to be a nationalist.


    2. Good point, Ryan. And in the context of Russian politics, this “Black Hundreds” brand of “Russian nationalism” mostly translates to fascism. In the literal sense, not using “fascist” as a term of abuse, but a literal political tag.


  7. Here’s another poll, this time from VTsIOM:

    Asked who they had confidence in, people said (any number of answers allowed):

    48.7% – Putin
    16.1% – Medvedev
    15.8% – Shoigu
    13.7% – Lavrov
    11.2% – Zhirinovsky
    8.3% – Zyuganov
    3.2% – Mironov


    1.2% – Navalny

    Not exactly a huge vote of confidence in Navalny.


    1. Thanks for this poll. As I also replied on the website, there are a couple of problems with it:

      (1) Low sample for a poll, very low average response rate.
      (2) A question of trust in “capability to solve state tasks,” not of voting intentions. (Since Navalny isn’t even in government, his capability to solve state tasks is indeed quite limited, even so far as some of his supporters would be concerned).
      (3) Another one I just thought of now – VCIOM carries out these VCIOM-Sputnik polls everyday. They released the results for one day. What where the results on other days? Does this result differ from the average?


      1. For some reason, WordPress had put some of your comments in Spam. I have now approved them.


  8. Mr Karlin,
    Your post on nationalism helps explain your tolerance of Navalny racism
    .Very disappointing noting indeed. But it clarifies what under pins your writing

    Whether you (generic not you specifically) believe the polls or not I am glad that these nationalist views you describe are not supported by majority of Russians. They know these type of views lead to Ukraine type scenarios


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s