"Protest Publics" in Russia in 20112015: Moving from non-conventional to conventional channels of public interests representation (cases of Moscow and Saint Petersburg)

Concept of "protest movement" within "social movement theory" framework. Evaluation of existing associations of citizens which took part in the protests. Transformation of protest publics activity: moving towards conventional channels of public.

30.08.2016
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Protest Publics in Russia in 2011-2015: Moving from non-conventional to conventional channels of public interests representation (cases of Moscow and Saint Petersburg)

Introduction

protest public channel

One of the central claims about the motivation for research on political mass participation is that mass participation is essential to the existence of representative democracy. Therefore, in order to sustain democratic form of governance, the interest and active engagement in politics of as many people as possible and in as many spheres of influence as possible is required.

One of the consequences of mass protests in Russia started in 2011 was spontaneous appearance of local activist groups aimed at local problems solution. The fact that their formation occurred on the tide of the protest activity made it reasonable to interrelate the protests and these local activist groups in terms of succession, even though the form of public interest representation changed.

Research Problem and Main Goal

We would like to conduct a research named Protest Publics in Russia in 2011-2015: Moving from non-conventional to conventional channels of public interests representation (cases of Moscow and Saint Petersburg). Even though many researches were conducted on both conventional and non-conventional political participation (Milbrath, 1965; McFarland, 1996; Goldstone, 2003; Heaney and Rojas, 2007; Meyer and Tarrow, 1998), there was lack of attempts to define the instruments and incentives behind transformation of these channels of public interests representation on an academic level. In order to understand the transformation of non-conventional channels of public interests representation to conventional, the study of the mechanism which makes this shift possible is required. Therefore, we would like to raise a research problem of transformation of protest publics' activity. Consequently, the main question of the research is: How do protest publics transform their activity from non-conventional to conventional forms of civil participation?

During the research our goal is to identify the elements of the mechanism of transformation of protest publics' activity into conventional forms of civil participation. In order to develop the research goal, we'd like to formulate several research tasks:

1. To test that the protests in Russia in 2011-2015 were protest publics' activity

2. To test that protest publics transform into local activist groups which can be considered as publics

3. To describe the elements of the mechanism of transformation of protest publics' activity: reasons, motives, tools, principles of transformation.

Contribution of our research will be identification and description of the elements of the mechanism of transformation of protest publics' activity into conventional forms of civil participation. In order to do that, we will study the protests in Russia in 2011-2015 within the framework of Theory of Publics developed by Michael Warner, in contrast to many of the previous researches that studied mass protests of the last decades within the frameworks of Civil Society Theory and Social Movement Theory.

Research Structure and Data Sources

The structure of the paper will be strictly defined by the tasks we raise in each chapter.

The first chapter we will be theoretical; we will introduce some basic concepts that give a certain framework for further analysis. By examining the literature on political science and public policy we will define the terms Civil Association, Protest Movement and Public, describe the essence of phenomena defined with these terms.

In the second chapter, using the empirical tool described in the first chapter, we will attempt to conclude to what extend the associations of citizens which took part in the protests were real autonomous civil associations and became the basis for the protests in Russia in 2011-2015. Basing on the limitations of Social Movement Theory in explanation of the nature of mass protests in Russia in 2011-2015, we will introduce the concept of Protest Publics and attempt to prove that the protests in Russia in 2011-2015 were protest publics' activity.

In the third chapter we will argue that protest publics transform into local activist groups which can be considered as publics. Then we will attempt to describe the elements of the mechanism of transformation of protest publics' activity: reasons, motives, tools, principles of transformation.

The data used in the research might be divided into two parts: the first one is the statistics, analytical reports and information taken from open sources, such as websites of the civil associations and local activist groups or their groups in social networks. The second type of data is the results of the expert interviews taken during the internship in February - March 2015 and interviews during the internship in February - March 2016. The interviews are conducted with the people who were involved in the activity of protest publics in 2011-2015, civil associations and local activist groups. Usage of the second type of data gives an additional tool for description of the elements of the mechanism of transformation of protest publics' activity into conventional forms of civil participation.

1. Concepts and Theoretical Schemes

1.1 Concept of Civil Association within Civil Society Theory framework

The concept of civil society has undergone significant transformation during the time together with political thought. The main problem to define Civil Society is in the fact that civil society has two different aspects - social and political. From Aristotle and up to Locke these two spheres had been considered in inseparable unity. For John Locke civil society meant both social and political structure which is incompatible with absolute monarchy (Locke, 1689).

After a hundred years terminology became different. In Adam Ferguson's work An Essay on the History of Civil Society (Ferguson, 1767), there is a gap between the political and social spheres. Around the same time, James Madison in his articles in the Federalist emphasized the role of civil society as a counterweight to the state's arbitrary treatment (Madison, 1788). He believed that a guarantee from the tyranny of the majority is the presence of different groups with different interests in society. In this sense, civil society is the guardian of human rights.

In 19-20th centuries a civil society began to be considered as simply a human community; others saw in it an element of political organization. It is interesting that some saw in civil society a source of support the existing political system, while others - the focus of the opposition. Thus, in the Anglo-Saxon world, civil society and the state were usually considered to be complementary, not mutually hostile forces. But in many European countries, civil society was understood as a source of opposition to the state, because of the state intervention in the private and public lives of citizens. Overall, in both cases civil society was characterized by three features. First, the presence of many public associations, or, more generally, the centers of social power is required. In this sense, civil society is incompatible with tough, autocratic state machine. Second, the relative independence of these centers of social power is required. By virtue of their ability to self-organization, these centers of power are opposed to government control. And, third, a sense of civic responsibility, civilized behavior and active civil position - all these are necessary elements of genuine civil society.

The greatest theoretician of civil society was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel's idea of the division of society and the state was the starting point of modern concepts of civil society (Hegel, 1821). Furthermore, this idea is a reflection of the objective process of differentiation, emancipation of the various spheres of social life, their formation as independent with respect to the state. This process steady leads to the formation of civil society in which the freedom of choice of economic, political and spiritual being is guaranteed to people by law. A society in which there is also a constantly expanding area of ??the free will of the people, where the competence of government interference in their activities are limited and strictly defined, is called in modern social sciences civil society. Such a society is a complex social groups, individuals, their associations, institutions and associations (including family, school, church, media, production, creative and other associations of interest, political parties, social organizations and movements), whose interaction is regulated by law and whose existence is independent from the state.

Development of civil society is, in essence, an endless process of improving of all the aspects of life of people. Its appearance at the same time marks the formation of a new type of personality, a new type of collectivity and new type of relations between the individual, society and the state. These relations primarily appear in the new associative nature of connections and relationships between people. This means that in this kind of society, groups of people and their organizations have a real, guaranteed by the state ability to freely associate to achieve common economic, political, scientific, cultural and other purposes. Unlike traditional collective society, which is supported by custom, tradition, myth, superstition or simply unaccountable collective unconscious, an associative type of collective consciousness is provided by people' acknowledgement of belonging to a common culture, unity of their interests and aspirations, rational choice of means and methods for their goals achievement.

From the point of view of the nature of the relationship between the individual, society and state, development of civil society means the establishment of democratic, legal norms in all spheres of public life. The more the structures of civic activity of citizens are developed, the more ground for the legal regulation of social relations becomes available. Civil society is nothing but a form of organization of social life, based on respect of mutual rights and obligations by individuals, their associations and the government. It is incompatible with totalitarian or authoritarian methods of management of public processes.

Civil society is not some kind of unified organizational structure, although it includes a variety of structures and associations. Condition of stability of civil society, the preservation of its integrity is the presence of governmental policy, conducted and realized by institutions. This policy is intended to reflect the entire spectrum of political interests and give priority to those that are most essential to the preservation and development of the country.

The increase of attention to the problems of civil society in Russia has recently become a very actual matter. The statement that civil society in Russia is weak is shared by more and more contemporary political scientists and sociologists. This statement is being proved by numerous researches concerned with civil society in Russia in general (Zaytsev, Zadorin, 2011). The need for public institutions revival is confirmed by representatives of NGOs, representatives of the authorities and, finally, social scientists. Particular emphasis is made on the new stage, which is to be faced by civil institutions in Russia during the 21st century. Civil society in Russia is possible only with the presence of numerous free associations of citizens with the complex relationship between them, respectful to the laws of the state, able and willing to influence these laws and do not allow to interfere with their daily activities by any government officials.

The key concept of civil society is the concept of citizen. Citizen is a subject of society, actively influencing the process of change. In the framework of civil society concept, understood as a communicative process, the concept of citizen is revealed through the concept of participation, through the activities of a citizen in various civil associations and institutions. This type of activity implies the independence of a citizen in his interest pursuit, his independence from external tutelage, the ability to rely on his own resources. The same set of minimum required characteristics has to be possessed by an NGO or a civil association. However, civil activity cannot be considered as a feature of all NGOs, it is more applicable to initiative civil associations which are able to detect and solve social problems self-sufficiently, without governmental financing dependence.

In order to distinguish civil associations from the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions, criteria and parameters have to be developed. According to the findings and researches of the Public Policy department of HSE (Belyaeva, Zaytsev, Kakabadze, 2010), there is a certain set of minimal parameters which can be used for an identification of a civil association. The features required as a minimum for any type of a civil association are: self-organization, self-governance, self-sufficiency and self-identity. The correspondence to these criteria makes it possible to distinguish a real independent (autonomous) association of citizens.

The theoretical criteria mentioned above are not radically strict and cannot sharply separate one segment of civil society from another in application to socio-political reality of Russian civil society. It is obvious that an absolute independence (autonomy) is an unreachable ideal. Hence it is possible to talk only about certain extent in which independence is achieved while analyzing existing associations of citizens.

While developing of the methodology of identification of associations of citizens, each criterion mentioned above has been traced through the procedure of operationalization - each criterion has been matched with appropriate parameters. For processing and analyzing the collected data, 4 criteria characterizing the degree of self-dependence are to be used in this research.

Criterion of self-organization is compiled from three parameters:

1) the initiative of the establishment of the association of citizens comes from citizens or associations;

2) associations of citizens is established by citizens or associations;

3) absence of support by power structures, political organizations and their representatives in establishment of the association of citizens.

Criterion of self-governance is compiled from six parameters:

1) independent setting of goals and directions for activity by association of citizens;

2) independent determination of the ways for association of citizens' problems solution;

3) electiveness of NGO's executives;

4) independent NGO's executives election;

5) independent control for NGO's decisions execution;

6) independent NGO's budget adoption.

Criterion of self-sufficiency is compiled from five parameters:

1) availability of NGO's own internal resources (fees of founders, members);

2) availability for NGO's own internal resources enrichment (own economic activity);

3) diversity of NGO'S sources of income (absence of one dominant source of income);

4) correspondence of NGO's own resources to its goals;

5) presence of NGO's own permanent office.

Criterion of self-identity is compiled from three parameters:

1) availability of a mechanism (procedure) of fixation NGO's members;

2) possession of certain qualities by members of NGO which are required for membership (NGO's values sharing);

3) presence of permanent communication between NGO's members.

1.2 Concept of Protest Movement within Social Movement Theory framework

Social Movement Theory is an important area of ??modern political sociology. As evolution of social movements and the transformation of social and political institutions of society had been happening, the paradigms of research on social movements had been changing.

There are different paradigms of the research of social movements. The first one is the paradigm of collective behavior which was predominant in the research of the social movements up to 1960s. Social movements were treated as irrational and uncoordinated collective behavior in situations of social crisis and the related phenomena of deprivation, frustration and aggression (Gurr 1970). Representatives of the structural functionalism, particularly N. Smelzer, considered collective behavior as a reaction to structural stresses that resulted from the conflict of interests and social system dysfunction (Smelser 1962). Collective behavior was associated with social change - transformation of social structures and normative settings. Social movements were defined as the efforts of groups of people involved in the collective action, in order to help or hinder change in a society or group (Blumer 1951; Turner, Killian 1957).

The second paradigm is the theory of collective action (mobilization of resources) was formed in the 1960-70s (McCarthy, Zald 1973; 1977). Within this paradigm the theory of the political process of the American researchers Tilly, Tarrow, McAdam has evolved (Tilly 1978; Tarrow 1983; McAdam 1982). These researches initiated the study of the interaction of institutionalized politics and social movements. The central role in the theory of the political process is given to the concept of the structure of political opportunities (Eisinger 1973; Kriesi 1989), making the collective action possible.

One of the main preconditions for the Social Movement Theory defined by Tarrow and Tilly is the assumption that civil associations are the basis for the protest movements. According to the theorists of the political process, civil associations are seen as rational actors that interact within the existing structure of political opportunities with the authorities and defend the claims of the social groups that do not have the institutional representation (Tilly, 1978). Tarrow and Tilly define protest movements as stable practices of collective actions of citizens against governmental policy, in a form of protest campaigns based on different forms of associations of citizens (Tarrow, Tilly, 2009). From the Social Movement Theory perspective civil associations are the core of a protest campaign; they play the most significant role in mass protest's emergence in the initial stage and further organization and institutionalization. The main task of a social movement is to use and mobilize available resources (people, finance, technology, communications, and so on). Civil associations concentrate and distribute resources, determine the strategy and tactics of the protest movement.

For the successful functioning and accomplishment of goals, civil associations, as a basis for protest movement, need to mobilize four types of resources: 1) cultural (conceptual tools, specialized knowledge), 2) social and organizational (the three main types: infrastructure, social networks (the system of relations between people) and organization), 3) human resources, 4) material resources (financial and physical capital, property, office space and equipment, and so on). Social Movement Theory suggests that the more the mobilization capacity of civil associations, the greater the protest's potential for achieving social change.

In Social Movement Theory, one of the key problems is about the methods of involvement of individuals in the protest movement, recruiting supporters by civil associations. Their self-identification with the essence and goals of the movement becomes of primary importance. The main question that must be answered by the protest movement to its followers (who must be mobilized by the movement) - is the question Who are we? While the movement maintains its integrity, it supports its members and coordinates their behavior (Mannheim, 1943). Thus, the collective identity has become a central concept in the study of social protest movements. It makes possible to combine different individuals in a cohesive unit, providing a common basis and group solidarity. Movements not only have a collective identity, but also act in accordance with it, and it is especially collective identity affects the level of impact of the movement and its mobilization capabilities.

In regard to the mass protests in Russia in 2011-2015, there are still a lot of disputes regarding the question, whether they can be considered as one single campaign or not. In order to define whether the mass protests in Russia in 2011-2015 can be considered as protest movement, criteria and parameters have to be developed. According to the Social Movement Theory (Tarrow, Tilly), there is a certain set of minimal criteria which can be used for an identification of a protest movement. The features required as a minimum for any type of a protest movement are: protest campaign, concrete forms of unity of protestors as the basis for protest campaigns, significance of public self-representation, self-identity and subjectness and structure of political opportunities. The theoretical criteria mentioned above are not radically strict, hence it is possible to talk only about certain extent in which the mass protests in Russia in 2011-2015 can be considered as protest movement.

While developing of the methodology of identification of protest movement, each criterion mentioned above has been traced through the procedure of operationalization - each criterion has been matched with appropriate parameters. For processing and analyzing the collected data, 5 criteria characterizing the phenomenon of protest movement are to be used in this research.

Criterion of protest campaign is compiled from three parameters:

1) stability and repeatability of events;

2) clearness and consistency of demands;

3) presence of the clear addressee of the demands.

Criterion of concrete forms of unity of protestors as the basis for protest campaigns is compiled from four parameters:

1) sources of financing and rules of getting funding, dependence of protest on association of citizens' resources;

2) foundation of associations of citizens in the course of protests, any other forms of the institutionalization of the protest;

3) creation and acceptance of the programs, their representativeness in regard to the reflection of aims and interests of the protestors, successfulness;

4) foundation of structures, their representativeness in regard to reflection of aims and interests of all the protestors.

Criterion of significance of public self-representation is compiled from six parameters:

1) provision with representation of movement in public space, presence of persons and groups, respected in society;

2) provision with representation of movement in public space, presence of the leaders of the protest, their ability to consolidate the protest, mobilize for the protest;

3) provision with representation of movement in public space, objective covering of the protest by media;

4) unity of the members of the movement;

5) massiveness, its influence on significance of the protest;

6) fulfillment of mutual commitments.

Criterion of self-identity and subjectness is compiled from one parameter:

1) acquirement of self-identity and subjectness.

Criterion of structure of political opportunities is compiled from two parameters:

1) diversity of autonomous centers of power within political system;

2) degree of openness of political system for new actors.

1.3 Concept of Public within Theory of Publics framework

The Theory of Publics is a relatively new theoretical scheme largely developed by Michael Warner in his work Publics and Counterpublics, where he made an attempt to conceptualize the term public distinguishing the key premises of the modern idea of public. The further development of the concept of public is crucial for political science in general and especially for explanation of such recent phenomena as mass protests, which took place in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Ukraine, Russia and other countries over the last decade.

In attempt to answer the question What is public?, Michael Warner notices that it is obscure question, however important in the development of modernity, because publics have become an essential fact of social landscape (Warner, 2002). He makes a point that there are 3 senses in which public can be distinguished. In the sense of totality public can be considered as people in general or organized in a form of community such as nation or citizens of a city. In the sense of totality, bounded by the event or by the shared physical space public can be considered as a concrete audience or a crowd bounded by some physical space, such as people who come to a football game, for example. However, Warner focuses on the third sense of public that comes into being only in relation to texts and their circulation (Warner, p. 50). In his Theory of Publics several conclusions about the essence of public and public discourse are made:

1) Public is self-organized and formed around discourse

Public, as a space of discourse, is organized by discourse itself and exists by virtue of being addressed. The idea of public, unlike crowd or audience, is based on text - even though the text itself can be perceived in various forms: visual material, audio broadcast and other. People not related to each other can read the text in different periods of time and in different places which creates public as an entity formed by the usage of the text by these people. Public is not just a set of people who exist in a certain space. In order to be considered as public, it has to be organized by itself and be addressed in discourse. Self-organization of public is independent from any state institutions and happens through discourse, not through some formal frameworks. Belonging to a public doesn't require physical presence, unlike being part of a crowd, it also doesn't require any kind of special personal identity - it requires at least minimal participation in public's activity (Warner, p. 50-55).

2) Public is a relation among strangers

Public cannot be limited by a set of someone's friends, it has to include strangers. Public's self-organization through discourse by itself implies the orientation to strangers in a certain sense. The boundaries of a public are set not by any formal frameworks, but by its discourse. It implies that a public has to address the people who participate in the same discourse and there is no way all of these people can be known in advance. Strangers get united in a public through participation. Relationships among strangers get established by the means of a public, even though these relationships can be indirect or unspecified (Warner, p. 55-57).

3) The address of public speech is both personal and impersonal

Public speech is addressed to the ones who recognize themselves as addressees; however these addressees are strangers until the time they were addressed by the speech. The recipient perceives the address personally, but at the same time he realizes that the speech was also addressed to the others. Public address is different from the address to the actual people - it has to be the indefinite and impersonal appeal to strangers in order to provoke public discourse (Warner, p. 57-60).

4) Public is constituted through mere attention

As public exists by virtue of being addressed, the primary condition for being a part of a public is attention. Personal attention is the main criterion which determines whether one belongs to a public or not. Public as a virtual entity that lacks institutional structure, emerges along with the moment of paying attention by its members; it preserves its existence while the attention is renewed and stops existing if the attention is no longer valid. One's involvement in public discourse and aspiration to process an appeal is an action towards lifetime extension of a public (Warner, p. 60-62).

5) Public is the social space created by the reflexive circulation of discourse

One of the most distinctive features of a public is reflexivity. A single public speech or text is unable to create it. Public, as well as its reflexivity is created by circulation of texts through time, not by the texts themselves. The reflexive circulation of texts enables to establish a link between previous and current discourses. A text can be considered as public when it's not only accessible to strangers, but also has a potential for circulation (Warner, p. 62-68).

6) Publics act historically according to the temporality of their circulation

The circulation of discourse precedes the moment of mobilization of public. The period for action of public is framed by the lifetime of discourse circulation. Public is more prone to action and affiliated with politics when circulation of discourse is punctual - dense and existing for an abbreviated period of time. If the flows of public discourse become of continuous and sluggish nature public becomes less prone to action (Warner, p. 68-75).

7) Public is poetic world-making

Public discourse is aimed at addressing anyone. In order to do that, any public action or address has to describe the current state of affairs, circumstances under which the discourse is circulating. In the nature of such description which has to provide a certain shape to the current setting, public discourse is poetic. Poetic nature of public discourse can be witnessed in various expressive means and stylistic devices elaborated in a public address, genres of speech, performative messages, stylistic markers (Warner, p. 82-84).

2. Nature of protests in Russia in 2011-2015: institutionalization, social basis, activity of protest publics

2.1 Evaluation of existing associations of citizens which took part in the protests: RPR-PARNAS and Left Front

Evaluating the degree of institutionalization of the mass protests of 2011-2015, the question we attempt to answer is in what extend the associations of citizens which took part in the protests are civil association. While the protesters who participated in the protest actions of 2011-2015 were of different political views, two major groups of people can be distinguished: those who were of liberal-democratic views and those who were of socialist views. Hence two associations of citizen were selected for the assessment of the degree of their self-dependence for a case-study. These associations were supposed to represent the interests of these two major groups of protesters: Republican Party of Russia - People's Freedom Party (RPR-PARNAS) which represented the liberal-democratic wing of the protest and Left Front which represented the socialist wing of the protest.

Based on the criteria and parameters described in the first chapter, the evaluation of these associations of citizens has to be started with the examination of the criterion of self-organization. In order to correspond to the requirements of this criterion, the associations of citizens have to be established from the initiative of citizens or associations and by citizens or associations, without any support of power structures.

The establishment Of RPR-PARNAS has a long history. It started from the registration of RPRF (Republican Party of the Russian Federation) by the Ministry of Justice of the RSFSR in 1991. RPRF was established from the initiative of the members of Democratic Platform who were the supporters of Perestroika and democratic development of the country. In 2002 RPRF was renamed in RPR (Republican Party of Russia). However PRP was deprived of its official registration in 2007. In 2010 RPR joined People's Freedom Party, the same year the regulations and program of the party were accepted. The Congress of PARNAS took place in Moscow where Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Ryzhkov were elected as co-chairmen. In 2011 PARNAS applied for official registration, however its request was denied. In 2011, the European Court of Human Rights declared the deprivation of registration of the Republican Party of Russia illegal. The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation returned RPR its registration in May 5, 2012. The 15th Congress of the united party renamed RPR in RPR-PARNAS in June 16, 2012. As it stated in the official program of RPR-PARNAS, the association acquired the right to participate in elections despite the will of the authorities.

The idea of creating of Left Front emerged in spring 2005 among some activists who participated in the preparation of the first Russian Social Forum. Among them were Carine Cleman, Alexei Sakhnin, Victor Chapinov, Boris Kagarlitskiy Ilya Budraitskis and others. In the summer of the same year, the first conference of Left Front occurred and in October - the foundation conference of the Moscow regional organization. The foundation congress took place on 18 October 2008 in the hotel complex Izmailovo in Moscow. The first congress of Left Front occurred in October 18, 2008. The main direction of ??activity after the Congress was to help social movements, trade unions and labor collectives. The second focus of activists became the so-called propaganda by action, in which ideas and demands of left activists started to get expressed in the form of direct action in an attempt to overcome the difficulties in access to the media. Left Front never tried to legalize its status in the Ministry of Justice in order to minimize any kind of relations with power structures and authorities.

The next criterion for consideration is the criterion of self governance. The setting of goals, directions for activity and determination of the ways of problems solution of RPR-PARNAS are solely determined by the regulations of RPR-PARNAS. According to the regulations of RPR-PARNAS, the primary goal of the party is the establishment of free society in Russia based on the initiative and creative energy of free citizens and the development of civil society institutions. The main directions of activity of RPR-PARNAS are in political education of citizens and expression of citizens' opinion on any issue of public life. In order to achieve its political objectives, the party disseminates information about its activities, promotes its ideas, proposals on public policy issues, deals with the involvement of supporters. In accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation, the party is also involved in the formation of state bodies and local governments. The supreme governing body of RPR-PARNAS is the Congress of Party. Collegiate governing body of the Party is the Federal Political Council. The leaders of RPR-PARNAS are its co-chairmen. The sole executive body of the party is the executive director of the party. The term of office of co-chairmen, Federal Political Council and other structural subdivisions of the party is four years. Decisions of the organs of the Party, its regional and local offices on different issues are taken by secret voting. Federal Political Council approves the budget of the Party and report on its implementation.

According to the regulations of Left Front, the primary goal of the party is the establishment of socialist society in Russia. Left Front has its program unified for all the members. The main task of the association is to coordinate the activities of all oppositional forces of socialist views. The activity of the governing bodies of Left Front is carried out in accordance with the principle of personal responsibility. The supreme governing body of Left Front is the Congress of the Front. The exclusive competence of the Congress is the adoption of organizational principles and the program of Left Front, determination of the main directions for activity of the front. The election of delegates to the Congress is held at the conferences of regional offices. The execution of the tasks and duties of the elected person is controlled by Elective body. In order to manage daily activities of the Front, the Congress of the Front elects the Board of Coordinators. The Board of Coordinators determines the priority goals in the current period and the ways of these goals achievement. Preliminary nomination of candidates to the Board of Coordinators submitted to the Congress by all regional offices in accordance with the principle of one coordinator from one branch. Arrangement and coordination of the actions and campaigns of Left Front is executed by the Executive Body. Left Front doesn't adopt its budget because the absence of the official state registration as a juridical person.

The other important criterion is the criterion of self-sufficiency. In a broad term this criterion implies that association of citizens has to possess resources, sufficient for its independent activity. RPR-PARNAS is a party with official state registration of a juridical person; it can possess its own property required for the activity of the party. According to the regulations of RPR-PARNAS, its primary sources of income are: donations, income from activities the party conducts, income from business activities of the party, income from civil transactions, federal funds provided in accordance with the federal law On Political Parties and membership fees. The party is autonomous in economic issues of its activities, including issues of wages, business activities, obtaining and using cash and other property. In order to provide financial and material conditions for the realization of the goals and objectives formulated by the program of the party, RPR-PARNAS entitled itself with a right to do the following types of business: informational, advertising, publishing and printing activities; production and sale of souvenirs with the symbols and the name of the party, as well as selling of publishing and printing products; sale and leasing of movable and immovable property owned by the party. RPR-PARNAS has its own permanent office in Moscow (Pyatnitskaya street, 14 building 1).

Left Front doesn't provide information on the sources of its income. According to the regulations of Left Front, the association of citizens doesn't conduct the official state registration as a juridical person and has no financial resources or any other property in its possession. According to the interview of the leader of Left Front Sergey Udaltsov, Left Front has no big sponsors who provide solid financial resources to the association. Mutual assistance of the members of Left Front in financial issues is the basis of raising the funds. For organization of actions the association also gets funded from crowd sourcing via its Yandex Money account (RBC daily, 06.09.2012).

The last but not least important criterion is the criterion of self-identity. Candidates for membership in RPR-PARNAS may be citizens of the Russian Federation reached the age of 18 years old, sharing the values of the program of RPR-PARNAS, its goals and objectives, liberal-democratic views in general. Candidates have to be involved in the activities of the party, recognize and respect the regulations of RPR-PARNAS. Membership in the party is on voluntary basis. The procedure of entering the party is on the basis of personal written application. The decision on admission to the party is taken by the regional branch of the party or by the Federal Political Council of RPR-PARNAS, no later than three months from the date of submission of the application for the membership in the party. General account of the members of the party is organized by the Executive Director of the Party by maintaining a single register of members of RPR-PARNAS. Federal political council of RPR-PARNAS approves the regulations on the organization of the acceptance and registration of members of the party, the size and order of payment of membership fees and membership card form. A member of the party must: participate in the activities of the party, promote ideas of the party and pay membership fees in the manner and amount determined by the Federal Political Council. There is also exists a procedure of getting a supporter status in RPR-PARNAS. Candidate for getting supporter status has to be a citizen of the Russian Federation who shares the values, goals and objectives of the party and who supports the party financially. The supporters of the party have no obligations to RPR-PARNAS, but can rely on support of the party in case of elections.

Candidates for membership in Left Front may be citizens of the Russian Federation reached the age of 18 years old as well as labor unions, national and inter-regional social and political organizations, both registered and unregistered. The candidates have to share socialist views, be supporters of socialist development of Russia. The procedure of entering the party for individuals is on the basis of personal written application, organizations in addition have to submit a written decision of its authority on participation in Left Front. The decision on admission of the individual candidates to the party is taken by the regional branch of the party. Participation in Left Front does not mean the suspension of membership in other social and political organizations. The decision on admission of national and inter-regional social and political organizations is take by the Council of the Front, 2/3 votes are required. The Council of the front can accept the applying organization as an associate member with a right of advisory vote. Every participant has to share the values of the program of Left Front and respect the regulations of the association. Individual members of the party and organizations members must participate in actions and activities approved by the Board of Coordinators and Executive Committee. Organizations members of Left Front have the right to conduct their own actions, which may be considered as the actions of Left Front in case they are coordinated with the Executive Committee.

2.2 Evaluation of associations of citizens which emerged during the protest movement: Russian Opposition Coordination Council

In addition to the assessment of the degree of self-dependence of the already existed associations of citizens, the same criteria and parameters have to be applied to the associations of citizens which emerged during the protests. In the case of the mass protests in Russia in 2011-2015, the only organization that can be considered as such an association of citizens is Russian Opposition Coordination Council.

The evaluation of Russian Opposition Coordination Council also has to be started with the examination of the criterion of self-organization. The initiative of the establishment of the Russian Opposition Coordination Council - non-governmental political and civil organization, came from the members of the Organizational Committee of the protest actions For Fair Elections. In summer 2012 the members of the Organizational Committee (Boris Nemtsov, Boris Akunin, Leonid Parfenov, Vladimir Ryzhkov, Gennady Gudkov, Anastasia Udaltsova and others) decided that the protest movement needs a permanent organization that can represent the protestors. The main idea behind the establishment of the Russian Opposition Coordination Council was that according to its founders, the vast majority of Russian citizens are deprived of political representation and Russian Opposition Coordination Council can provide the opportunity to become represented by a candidate one can empower on fair elections.

The next criterion for consideration is the criterion of self governance. The working group of Russian Opposition Coordination Council which had to determine its goals and objectives was established at the second meeting of ROCC. It included such ROCC members as Vladimir Ashurkov, Andrei Piontkovsky, Sergei Parkhomenko, Alex Gaskarov, Boris Nemtsov, Gennady Gudkov and Konstantin Krylov. Overall the aims of Russian Opposition Coordination Council can be formulated as peaceful dismantling of existing authoritarian system of governance and facilitating the establishment of a democratic state in Russia. The main task of ROCC was the effective organization and coordination of campaigns and protest actions. After the second meeting of the Coordinating Council two approaches were formed in determination of goals and objectives of ROCC. The first one, led by Andrei Piontkovsky was to continue demanding new elections to the State Duma, Vladimir Putin's resignation and deep political reforms. The second, led by Ksenia Sobchak was to remove the anti-Putin slogans and request specific reforms (judicial, electoral, constitutional), thereby affecting the power.

The elections to the Russian Opposition Coordination Council were held in October 20-22, 2012. Coordination Council was elected for one year, after this period new elections were planned to be held. Registration of candidates and voters was conducted on the website cvk2012.org. Overall 81325 voters participated in the elections. The elections were organized by the Central Election Committee. Leonid Volkov was elected as a chairman of the Committee. In the elections, the Council consisting of 45 members was elected, including the representatives of liberal views, socialist views and nationalists. These 45 elected members of Russian Opposition Coordination Council were considered as the Executive Committee which was supposed to control the execution of ROCC decisions. The decision is considered to be taken if 23 or more out of 45 members vote for. ROCC failed to adopt its budget as well as its regulations. These projects were highly debated but the negotiations between the members of council did not bring any positive result due to the difference of views on ROCC legal form.

The other important criterion is the criterion of self-sufficiency. Due to the absence of the budget of ROCC, it's hard to tell whether ROCC possessed resources, sufficient for its independent activity. Two primary sources of income of ROCC can be defined: crowd sourcing and the fees of the members. The treasurer functions of ROCC were conducted by Olga Romanova, a famous journalist and ROCC member. She was in charge of getting funds for protest actions execution and other initiatives of the Concil. Olga Romanova's personal Yandex Money account was used for collecting the funds from crowd sourcing for the needs of ROCC. But in June 2013 Olga resigned and closed her Yandex Money account due to accusations of misuse of funds and absence official financial reporting documents by a member of ROCC from the nationalists Nikolay Bondarik who insisted on her replacement (Izvestia, 29.05.2013). As for the fees of the members, at the second meeting of ROCC in November 2012 it was decided to introduce a monthly membership fee of 5000 rubles. It was also decided that the fee would be advisory, not mandatory. This decision was taken by the majority of the members of the executive committee. One of the initiators of this proposal was opposition leader Boris Nemtsov who also said that he and several members of the ROCC - Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Ashurkov and Olga Romanova since December 2012 would voluntarily donate 30 thousand rubles monthly (Polit.ru, 24.11.2012). ROCC did not have its own permanent conference room, each time it was rented for certain hours in different places when the meeting of the executive committee was held.

The final important criterion is the criterion of self-identity. There were 209 candidates during the elections to ROCC, including a famous blogger and activist Alexey Navalny, coordinator of the Left Front Sergei Udaltsov, co-chairmen of RPR-PARNAS Boris Nemtsov, the leader of the movement In Defense of Khimki Forest Evgenia Chirikova and other famous people such as Ksenia Sobchak, Tatiana Lazareva, Michael Schatz, Sergei Parkhomenko, Oleg Kashin, Dmitry Bykov. Among the candidates were also activists from the regions. The compulsory registration fee for each candidate was 10 thousand rubles. Among 45 elected members, 30 were elected from the common list and 15 were elected in regard with their ideological view - there was a quota of 5 members for the representatives of liberal views, 5 members for the representatives of socialist views and 5 members for the representatives of nationalist views. As for communication between these elected members, it happened on the meeting of ROCC when the members got together to discuss the initiatives of the council. During the period when the council existed (from October 27, 2012 when the first meeting of the elected members was held up to October 19, 2013 when the council stopped existing), there were 11 meetings of ROCC. The last meeting took place on September 21, 2013. The communication between the members of ROCC from meeting to meeting was rather occasional than permanent due to the difference in political views and views on ROCC functioning, which was one of the main reasons for the collapse of the council.

2.3 Social basis of the protests

Evaluating the social basis of the mass protests of 2011-2015, the question we attempt to answer is in what extend the associations of citizens which took part in the protests became the basis for the mass protests in Russia in 2011-2015. In order to fulfill the requirements for being a basis by the associations of citizens, the protesters have to be coordinated by them in such a way that their protest activity can be called a movement at all, not just a series of protest actions.


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