"The West is almost showering Russia with missiles fired from Poland and the Czech Republic, and they are saying, 'Hey, let's join them. Let's join the enemy!'" said Goltsman.
The DPR's plans also happen to coincide with Other Russia's growing popularity. And although SPS and Yabloko have not officially joined the movement, individuals from the parties and their regional representatives are increasingly showing their support.
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The DPR calls itself "the party of the middle class." According to its manifesto, other pro-Western democratic parties have failed the voters, and the DPR will pick up where they went wrong. Their promises include higher wages, higher pensions, a better and fairer educational system, accessible childcare, less corruption, and so on. They even have a simple, cutesy slogan: "Our values are simple: Family, Work, Home and Car." Their platform includes so much that it might as well include guaranteed shashlik and dachas for all. In interviews, the DPR brass are cagey about the specifics of their philosophy and goals. About the only thing the DPR is firm on is its opposition to the anti-Putin movements.
Aside from the official DPR site (available in three languages), Bogdanov keeps a tacky Live Journal blog. On it are bits from his private life - photos of his kids, his trips to Europe, and ruminations on soccer. Bogdanov has also plastered the site with cheesy photos of himself, his round face and greasy black hair looming over the blog like a used-car salesman's billboard hanging over a lot.
There are also obligatory attacks on SPS and Yabloko, but Bogdanov's comments are short and lack serious analysis. They are an obvious afterthought, a half-assed attempt at mimicking a technologically-savvy political operative.
Last week, I spoke to Bogdanov by telephone to hear him out in his own words. It was, to say the least, revealing.
Why the EU referendum? At first Bogdanov gave lip service to Russia's European roots and their common values. But more interestingly, he argued that joining the EU would solve many of the ills facing Russia by bringing salary and pension levels up to European standards. He says it would also protect Russia's Far East from an imminent Chinese invasion. This is because, after joining the EU, Bogdanov imagines Russia naturally entering NATO. The Chinese may be bold enough to move against Russia, he reasons, but never would they dare to move against NATO.
I asked him if he didn't think that building roads and investing in Russia's infrastructure connecting the Far East to European Russia would do more to protect Russia's eastern border. Missiles or not, the region's isolation forces it to trade with China, increasing their presence and influence. Connecting European Russia to the Far East would wean locals off their dependency on Chinese goods and services. Shouldn't we think about that, instead of worrying about NATO cover?
"Yes, I agree. Russia needs to build roads, but we don't have the technology," he replied.
"You're saying Russia doesn't have the technology to build roads?"
"We have the technology to build roads. What I'm referring to is technology in general," he answered. As he explained Russia's lack of technology and the seemingly unrelated threat of war to the east, Bogdanov's voice was subdued and half-bored. It was the tone of a jaded operative who didn't even have the energy to feign interest or enthusiasm for his own virtual platform.
Late note: Recently, the DPR's web site (www.democrats.ru), posted a letter sent to them by President Putin praising Bogdanov's work on Russia's Independence Day, and wishing him success.