One To Watch in Russia

Russia’s by now well known demographic problems are not, IMHO, going to leave us in peace, the danger is always going to be there of a nasty political evolution which we will in the end have to sit up and take notice of. One of the many possibilities seems to take the form of the Rodina party which Neil Buckley and Arkady Ostrovsky write about in the FT today:

A blonde, Slav-like woman pushes a pram over the rubbish. Then two respectable-looking men arrive. One is Dmitry Rogozin, leader of the nationalist Rodina (Moth- erland) party. They order the men to pick up the litter, while Mr Rogozin’s companion asks menacingly, “Do you understand the Russian language?” On the screen, the slogan appears: “Let’s rid our city of rubbish.”

So runs a television advertisement for Rodina that may have got Russia’s fastest-growing political party banned from elections to the Moscow city parliament next Sunday. The city court ruled this weekend that Rodina’s advertisement incited ethnic hatred and the party should be struck off the ballot. Mr Rogozin is appealing to the supreme court.

The advertisement has been central to Rodina’s campaign for the Moscow parliament poll, the biggest test of its popularity since it unexpectedly won 9 per cent of the vote in national parliamentary elections in 2003.