Sergei Mironov's party has repositioned itself as an opponent of United Russia (photo:dpa)

Russia presidential election: Sergei Mironov - an ‘independent’ who once managed Putin

Day 4 of GIS's Russia mini series looks at the socialist-leaning Sergei Mironov as a challenger to Vladimir Putin in the run up to the March 2012 presidential elections.

SERGEI Mironov is the leader of the A Just Russia party, which gained 13 per cent of the vote in the December 4, 2011, State Duma election. A Just Russia is the smallest of the four parliamentary groups in the State Duma with 38 MPs.

Although Mr Mironov stands no chance of actually winning the presidency, his candidacy may prove a problem for the Kremlin

The party was created in 2006 as a social democratic counterweight to Vladimir Putin's United Russia - allegedly on the initiative of the Kremlin.

Kremlin loyalist

And there can be little doubt that Mr Mironov has a track record as a Kremlin loyalist.

Like Prime Minister Putin, Mr Mironov comes from St Petersburg, and in 2000 he was Mr Putin's deputy campaign manager in the presidential elections that year.

From December 2001, he served as chairman of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament, the Russian Federal Assembly.

However, he caused much bewilderment in the 2004 presidential election when he ran against the incumbent President Putin. Mr Mironov received less than one per cent of the votes. In his own words, his candidacy was a mere ‘backup’ for Mr Putin.

In May 2011, Mr Mironov was recalled from his post as Federation Council speaker. The move was initiated by United Russia, Mr Putin’s party of power.

Soon after, a stage-managed by-election ensured that he was given a seat in the lower house, the State Duma. Whatever the reason behind this move, the position has offered Mr Mironov a better chance to appear as independent.

Ready to debate

On December 10, 2011, he was nominated by his party to run against Mr Putin in the March, 2012, presidential election. After the meeting, he told journalists that he would enter the race not to participate but to win.

While he has also said that he will be ready to debate with Mr Putin, he has declined to name what issues he will choose to place in focus.

Although Mr Mironov stands no chance of actually winning the presidency, his candidacy may prove a problem for the Kremlin. If the current wave of protests continues, he is likely to gather a substantial share of protest votes from the left, making a Putin win in the first round unlikely.

Sergei Mironov

  • Age 58. Married with a son and a daughter
  • In the early 1970s Mironov served in the Soviet airforce before going on to work as a geophysicist from 1978 to 1986
  • Entered politics in 1994 when he was elected deputy of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly
  • In 2000 Sergei Mironov was Mr Putin's deputy campaign manager for the presidential election that year
  • Mr Mironov ran for president in 2004, but gained less than one per cent of the vote. The seriousness of his attempt to win the contest was cast in doubt by his open support for then-President Vladimir Putin serving another term
  • Mr Mironov is considered to have a socialist leaning, wanting to set up agricultural exchanges for state purchases of agricultural goods and have more state intervention in regulating prices of basic food stuff
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