VALDAI, Novgorod Region, September 18 (RIA Novosti) – An outspoken Russian opposition lawmaker said Wednesday that political protest in the country was too fragmented to generate the kind of large-scale public discontent that erupted after parliamentary elections in 2011.
“I’m convinced there will be no new wave of protests,” Ilya Ponomaryov of A Just Russia party said at an international conference in northwestern Russia. “The [protest] environment is split into general political protest in Moscow, general social protest in major cities and protest over local problems in small cities and rural areas.”
At the same time, Ponomaryov predicted, opposition-minded activists would be sporadically elected and appointed to state posts. He himself has announced plans to run for mayor of Novosibirsk, a large city in Siberia.
Ponomaryov – recently ordered by a court to return more than $80,000 in allegedly improper payments made to him by a beleaguered high-tech innovation hub once touted by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – was speaking at the 10th annual meeting of the so-called Valdai Club, a Kremlin-backed discussion forum that brings together Russian and foreign politicians, academics and other public figures.
President Vladimir Putin is expected to meet with conference participants Thursday.