Staunton, August 18 – In an election when almost no one talks about values but rather about how to address this or that problem and thus does little to set one party off from another, Oksana Ivanova, a Just Russia candidate in a Yekaterinburg single-member district, has taken a step that sets her and her party very much apart, Aleksey Shaburov says.
She has called for injecting into Russian political life “a progressive Christian spirt,” using language in her Facebook declaration seldom heard in recent political discourse and sparking interest in the possibility that Russian politics could again be about values and not just specific policies (politsovet.ru/71315-vyboram-v-gosdumu-dobavili-hristianskih-cennostey.html).
“I am running for the State Duma of the Russian Federation to bring into the politics of Russia a progressive Christian force and to amek the values of peace, love, freedom, empathy and sympathy socially recognized and attractive for our contemporaries and what is the main thing for our children,” the well-known Orthodox activist says.
Russian politics today, Ivanova says, is far too often dominated by cynicism and money; and that must change if the country is to have a future. Her words have sparked a lively discussion both online in public if for no other reason than that she is talking about values and thus ideology at a time when others are not.
Talking about Christian values during elections in Russia is something unusual, Shaburov says, even though in the West, “Christian parties have participated in political life for a long time.” Politicians there take religion seriously whereas in Russia they do so only for display and thus elicit snickers from the population when they wear crosses or attend services.
But what Ivanova is doing by raising the religious issue is something larger: she is arguing that Russians must again talk about ideology. The Putin regime limits its ideological talk to insistence on patriotism, “but in fact, the political process has been de-ideologized in the extreme.” So what she is doing opens the door to the kind of talk not heard recently.
And at the same time, Ivanova is providing an object lesson on how one party can distinguish itself from another. At present, the four systemic parties differ far less than some may imagine, and many Russians find it hard to tell one from another. By raising the issue of Christianity, Ivanova has suggested that Just Russia stands for something different.
It isn’t clear whether her effort will lead to anything. Some are pointing out that her large ideas are far beyond what any single Duma deputy can promote. But the fact that she is trying and that such attempts up to now are so rare makes what Ivanova is doing worthy of note, the Yekaterinburg commentator insists.
At the very least, her words are sparking a discussion; and they may even become a model for a more ideological if not necessarily religious approach by other candidates.