Staunton, Sept. 14 – Vladimir Zhilkin, one of the organizers of the as yet unregistered Federative Party who is running in a single-member district in Tambov for the Duma despite efforts to keep him off the ballot, says that the current Russian regime is “anti-federal in principle” even though “federalism is necessary for Russia to become a modern country.”
Zhilkin has attracted attention not only because of his Federative Party connections but also because the powers that be went to court to have him removed as a candidate but failed, an effort that may have backfired on them because it highlighted his opposition to the current regime.
In an interview with Vadim Shtepa of Radio Liberty, the opposition candidate says that perhaps the most interesting aspect of his district is that no one from United Russia is running. He says the powers are backing instead a Rodina candidate in hopes of getting him elected (svoboda.org/a/polnoe-otchuzhdenie-vlasti-ot-grazhdan-boryba-oppozitsii-v-tambove/31457419.html).
A former philosophy instructor at Tambov State University who lost his job five years ago for his opposition views, Zhilkin has headed a public organization, Tambov Legal Defense, which seeks to help groups of citizens make demands on the authorities on local issues. Typically, the powers simply respond with threats.
As a result, he says, the population in Tambov is completely alienated from the powers that be. And it is entirely possible that they will protest if the powers falsify the election returns or worse tighten the screws. The latter action could very well rip up the social fabric of the region and cause its residents to conclude they have nothing to lose by protesting.
At the same time, Zhilkin stresses that the authorities in Tambov are less likely to engage in arbitrary actions than are their counterparts elsewhere. His being allowed to run when others who took part in the Navalny protests have been excluded is one example; the relatively good treatment protesters then received while detained is another.
The opposition candidate says he is encouraged by the comments people make as he walks around his district – he has no money for a more formal campaign but believes some Tambov residents see that as a plus – and he says his work on behave of mistreated groups like pensioners, the poor and orphans is also something that boosts his chances.