A Just Russia (Russian: Справедливая Россия, СР, Spravedlivaya Rossiya, SR, esers (эсеры)) also translated as Fair Russia, or A Fair and Just Russia, is a social democratic political party in Russia currently holding 23 of the 450 seats in the State Duma.
The party was formed on October 28, 2006, as a merger of the left wing of Rodina, the Russian Party of Life and the Russian Pensioners' Party. Later, six further minor parties joined. A Just Russia's platform is based on the principles of fairness, freedom and solidarity. It calls for a "New Socialism of the 21st Century", which guarantees the rights and freedoms of the individual and ensures the proper functioning of a welfare state. In 2011, Nikolai Levichev was elected as party chairman, succeeding Sergey Mironov who led the party in 2006–2011. On 27 October 2013 Mironov again was elected as party chairman.
"A Just Russia" formed on 28 October 2006 as a merger of three parties: Rodina, the Russian Party of Life and the Party of Pensioners. Of these, the nationalist Rodina (Motherland) was the largest, having won 9% of the popular vote in the 2003 Duma elections. At the time of the merger Rodina had 37 seats in the Duma. Party of Pensioners had gained 3% of the vote, failing to cross the 5% election threshold; it had also been weakened by infighting in its leadership. The social-democratic Party of Life, led by Sergey Mironov, was still relatively young and had won only one regional election.
Rodina, as the only party of the three with seats in the Duma, dominated the unification process. In simultaneous conventions held in Moscow on 26 August 2006, the Party of Life and the Party of Pensioners decided to join Rodina. Two months later, on 28 October 2006, the new party held its founding congress, which decided to change the party's name to "A Just Russia". Mironov was elected the unified party's chairman, while Rodina's former chairman Alexander Babakov became the secretary of the central council presidium, and the leader of the Party of Pensioners Igor Zotov became secretary of the political council. The next year, A Just Russia expanded further, absorbing three additional small parties in 2007: the People's Party, the Party of Entrepreneurship Development and the Party of Constitutional Democrats.
At the party's founding convention, chairman Sergey Mironov expressed support for the direction given to the country by President Vladimir Putin, claiming that "we will not allow anyone to veer from it after Putin leaves his post in 2008". At the same time he harshly criticised Putin's party United Russia and what Mironov called the largest party's "monopoly" of the nation's political, economic and administrative resources. Mironov characterised A Just Russia as a new "leftist political force" and a "hard opposition", saying that "if United Russia is the party of power, we will become the party of the people".
The members of the political party Spravedlivaya Rossiya (A Just Russia) are people who have united in order to strengthen the Russian state in the interests of the people, and to create a just and equitable society in Russia. Such a society, which honours traditions, is proud of its history, and respects the elder generation, is constantly evolving and looks to the future with confidence.
According to Professor Richard Sakwa, the siloviki faction in the Presidential administration supported the establishment of A Just Russia; the aim was to create a more left-oriented alternative to United Russia. The leading force behind United Russia, Vladislav Surkov, opposed the creation of the new party.
In October 2006, shortly after its creation, A Just Russia participated in its first elections, when the party's candidate Dmitry Kuzmin won the mayoral race in Samara. The March 2007 regional elections were dominated by United Russia, but A Just Russia also put up a strong performance. In particular, the new party won a majority in the regional parliament in Stavropol Krai.
The emergence of A Just Russia changed Russia's political landscape and demonstrated that the country's leadership had been split between two parties. United Russia supporters in the presidential administration grew wary of the challenge posed by A Just Russia, worrying that United Russia would lose its position as "the president's party". Before the 2007 Duma elections, the Kremlin had withdrawn its support of A Just Russia, and threw its weight entirely behind United Russia.
On 19 January 2007, in a press conference dedicated to upcoming Duma elections, Secretary of the Central Party Council of A Just Russia Alexander Babakov announced that the party had approximately 300,000 members.
In May 2007, A Just Russia's chairman Sergey Mironov proposed a merger between his party and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, in order to create a new unified socialist party. Mironov invited all "honest socialists" to join the party. However, his proposal was rejected by Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communists, who claimed that A Just Russia's claim to be a leftist party was "a charade".
In the run-up to the December 2007 Duma elections, President Vladimir Putin—the country's most popular politician—explicitly and unequivocally endorsed the United Russia party, and decided to head its national list. Putin's decision significantly changed the election campaign and resulted in a massive boost to United Russia's popularity. This represented a harsh blow to A Just Russia, which also had hoped to ride on Putin's popularity. Polls suggested the party could have difficulties crossing the 7% election threshold.
A Just Russia appointed three persons to its national list: chairman Sergey Mironov; Svetlana Goryacheva (a former member of the CPRF); and Sergey Shargunov, a 27-year-old fiction author. In its regional lists, A Just Russia had 553 candidates, taking its total number of candidates to 556. This was more than the Communists (515) but less than United Russia (600). Although originally positioned as a centre-left party, under Mironov's leadership A Just Russia campaigned as a socialist alternative to the Communists.
In the end, A Just Russia received 5,383,639 votes (7.74%), becoming the fourth party to cross the 7% election threshold and enter the Duma, after United Russia, Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. As a result, A Just Russia got 38 of the 450 seats (8.4%) in the Duma. The party received its highest share of votes in Astrakhan (20%), Saint Petersburg (16%) and Stavropol (13%). In Saint Petersburg, the hometown of chairman Mironov, A Just Russia became the second largest party. Mironov said he would not take up his seat in the Duma himself, but instead continue as the Chairman of the Federation Council. A Just Russia's performance in the elections was a slight disappointment, especially since one of its predecessor parties, Rodina, had won 9% of the votes in the 2003 elections.
On 10 December 2007, A Just Russia was part of a coalition of parties which nominated Dmitry Medvedev as their candidate for the 2008 Presidential elections.
On 25 April 2008, A Just Russia held its third annual congress, where the party expelled thousands of members who were not aware that they were members. The party's charter was amended at the congress to make mergers easier. The congress also disbanded the party's politburo and transferred its functions to the Central Council. The politburo's chairman, Nikolai Levichev, who also heads A Just Russia's faction in the State Duma, was elected as the council's first secretary.
On 30 June 2008, A Just Russia was accepted into the Socialist International, the worldwide organisation of social-democratic political parties, during its XXIII Congress.
The United Socialist Party of Russia and the Russian Ecological Party "The Greens" merged into the party in 2008. This means that the total of parties that have merged into A Just Russia is nine.
In the 2007–2011 State Duma, A Just Russia became a strong supporter of the Medvedev modernisation programme, endorsing President Dmitry Medvedev's view that Russia must move towards a diversified post-industrial economy and democratisation of its political system. A Just Russia also advocated restoration of direct gubernatorial elections and lowering the Duma election threshold from 7% to 3%. A Just Russia voted against Prime Minister Putin's anti-crisis plan in April 2009 and also voted against the governments budgets in 2010 and 2011. According to researcher Luke March, in the 2007–2011 State Duma, A Just Russia clearly moved towards Medvedev. The party has declared absolute opposition to Putin's government, while remaining supportive of Medvedev.
A Just Russia has 23 representatives in the 450-seat State Duma. The party holds two committee chairmanships: Committee on Family, Women and Children Affairs (headed by Yelena Mizulina) and Committee on Science and High Technologies (headed by Valeriy Chereshnev). In the upper house, the Federation Council, the party has 12 members, representing the interests of different regions. On the sub-national level, the party has a total of 309 deputies in 66 regional assemblies.
In 2012, the party had 400,000 members and claimed to be the largest left-wing party in Russia. It has regional branches in all federal subjects of Russia.
A Just Russia calls for a welfare state with less economic inequality, but protecting individual property rights and maintaining a market economy. Under Sergey Mironov, the party has presented itself as a socialist alternative to the Communist Party and describes its ideology as "New Socialism of the 21st century", but emphasises that it does not wish to return to "Soviet bureaucratic socialism". In the party platform, New Socialism is defined as the antithesis of "barbarous, oligarchic capitalism". It represents a more individualist or libertarian socialism.
Improving the socio-economic position of the average Russian is the party's primary aim. It wishes to replace Russia's 13% flat income tax with progressive taxation, and demands that spending on employment programmes is increased to 1% of GDP. In the State Duma, the party emphasises its role as "constructive opposition" that opposes high-level corruption and supports further democratisation of the political system. In the 2007–2011 Duma, A Just Russia declared absolute opposition to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's government, voting against the government's budgets in 2010 and 2011, while remaining strongly supportive of President Dmitry Medvedev and his modernisation programme.
A Just Russia is a full member of the Socialist International.Sakwa, Richard (2011). The Crisis of Russian Democracy: Dual State, Factionalism and the Medvedev Succession. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-14522-0.