Sergey who? Russian public unaware or skeptical of far-left leader Udaltsov’s political plans

A recent public opinion poll has shown that over half of Russians haven’t heard about Sergey Udaltsov and his plans to unite the opposition leftist movements into a single coalition. Over half of those who are aware believe the plans are doomed.

According to a study by the state-run VTSIOM public opinion research center, only 39 percent of the Russian public knows about Udaltsov, but 34 percent said their knowledge about the politician was only shallow.

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Left Front coordinator Sergei Udaltsov at a news conference in Moscow © Alexey Kudenko

However, the percentage was higher among young people, residents of large cities and members of leftist parties and groups, including Russia’s largest opposition party, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF).

Of those who claimed to know about Udaltsov and his political platform, 67 percent also said they didn’t believe the plans to unite the leftist opposition would end in success.

Thirteen percent said that Udaltsov’s political career was at its peak and they expected no breakthroughs from him in the future, while only 4 percent said that in their opinion Udaltsov still retains some political potential.

When pollsters asked the Russian public about their personal attitudes to Udaltsov and his plans, 52 percent of those who knew about the opposition figure said they couldn’t describe their attitude to him. Thirty-seven percent said their attitude was positive and 11 percent confessed to negative sentiments.

However, VTSIOM chief Valery Fyodorov noted that despite the low current levels of public awareness and support for Udaltsov, the activist could attract a significant number of supporters in the nearest future because he is one of the brightest personalities in the leftist camp.

“On the background of increasing public demand for changes and dropping popularity of the KPRF and its leader Gennady Zyuganov, Udaltsov gets an opportunity to come up with a slogan to create a new, potentially-powerful leftist movement,” Fyodorov wrote in comments to the study.

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Opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, left, charged with organizing mass riots at the Moscow City Court hearing on the merits of Udaltsov and Razvozzhayev's criminal case July 24, 2014 (RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

Sergey Udaltsov is a relatively-experienced Russian politician, but all his previous ventures were connected with fringe and relatively-unpopular movements, such as the ‘Stalinist bloc for USSR’ or the ‘Avant-guard of Red Youth’. In 2014, Udaltsov was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for organizing mass riots in Moscow in May 2012, shortly before President Vladimir Putin’s presidential inauguration.

He was released from custody earlier this month and almost immediately held a press conference at which he called on other leftist politicians to unite and propose a single candidate at the forthcoming 2018 Russian presidential polls.

Udaltsov also promised to recruit more people to his Leftist Front coalition, hold talks with leftist movements from Europe and the United States and launch new protest actions as soon as this autumn.

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