The head of the Just Russia (SR) faction in the Duma of the Astrakhan Region, Oleg Shein, who stood at the origins of the creation of the party and was repeatedly elected to the State Duma, announced his resignation from the post of chairman of the council of the regional branch. Oleg Shein held the position from the moment the SR was founded as a result of the merger of the Motherland parties in 2006, where he was a member of the political council, the Russian Party of Life and the Russian Party of Pensioners for about a year.
Shein spoke about the reasons for his resignation from the post of head of the Astrakhan regional branch of SR Shein in his Telegram channel. The politician said that last year he raised the question of “his change of shift” before party leader Sergei Mironov. “Some time ago, events arose, the consequences of which will affect life not even for years, but for decades,” Shein said. He explained his decision by the fact that he is “a man with Soviet views”, for whom “the importance of internationalism and international solidarity of the working class, the need for political freedoms for the effective protection of social rights” is not subject to discussion.
The deputy also said that four years ago, at the congress of A Just Russia, he proposed to nominate an independent candidate in the presidential elections (on February 22, 2023, Sergei Mironov announced that he would yield to the main candidate) and recalled that he was a “supporter of a parliamentary republic.” Since then, events have passed that strengthened him in this opinion, Oleg Shein said: “As you know, the position of the party is different (from the position of a party member), and it seems impossible for me to implement it as a local leader.”
After a series of meetings with Sergei Mironov, they found “complete understanding.” Now the Astrakhan politician intends to focus “on ordinary work in favor of voters, trade union and scientific activities.”
Sergei Mironov recommended that the presidium of the SR consider Maria Lidzhieva, a deputy of the Duma of Astrakhan, whom Shein called his “friend and comrade”, as the new chairman of the council of the regional branch of the party. She has been working in the party since 2006, the politician promised to give her “maximum assistance”. Oleg Shein also declared his readiness to “provide intellectual assistance to federal colleagues in matters of social policy, pensions, labor rights, housing and communal services, protection of historical heritage, ecology and other tasks that I professionally understand to the extent necessary.”
The politician told Vedomosti that he remains a member of the SR.
What is Oleg Shein known for?
Oleg Shein was first elected to the State Duma in 1999 in the Astrakhan single-mandate constituency No. 61 and became a member of the deputy group “Regions of Russia”, was re-elected four years later in the Astrakhan single-mandate constituency No. 63. In the 2003 elections, he participated as an independent candidate with the support of Rodina (after being elected, he joined the faction of this bloc). In 2006, Oleg Shein joined the presidium of the central council of the new Just Russia party. In 2007, as the leader of the list of SWs in the regional group No. 35 (Kalmykia, Astrakhan region), he was elected to the fifth convocation of the State Duma. In the 2011 parliamentary elections, he did not pass to the Duma.
Oleg Shein gained wide popularity in 2012 when he participated in the elections of the mayor of Astrakhan. The head of the regional branch of the Slovak Republic, according to the electoral committee, took second place with a score of 29.96% of the vote, and the current vice-mayor Mikhail Stolyarov (60%) was declared the winner. Oleg Shein did not recognize the election results, his supporters accused United Russia of numerous gross violations of the electoral law.
Together with a number of Astrakhan Right-Russian deputies, the second-placed candidate went on a hunger strike, which lasted from March 16 to April 24. On April 19, 2012, the then head of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Vladimir Churov, acknowledged violations at 138 out of 202 polling stations, but said that they could not affect the voting results. The court refused the candidate for mayor of Astrakhan from the CP to cancel the results of the vote.
Mikhail Stolyarov was detained in November 2013 for a bribe of 10 million rubles, a year later the court sentenced him to 10 years of strict regime and a fine of 500 million rubles. On March 2, 2021, the official was released. Direct elections for the mayor of Astrakhan were abolished in 2014.
On April 13, 2016, Oleg Shein returned to the State Duma, having received the deputy mandate of the St. Petersburg comrade Sergei Mironov, Nikolai Levichev, who went to work in the Central Election Commission. On September 18 of the same year, the Astrakhan politician was elected to the seventh convocation of the State Duma. In the 2021 parliamentary elections, Oleg Shein failed to get elected to the State Duma. In September 2021, he was elected to the Duma of the Astrakhan Region, where he still sits.
Signal for the party
The departure of Oleg Shein from the post of head of the Astrakhan regional branch of the SR indicates the continuation of a systemic crisis in relations between the federal leadership of A Just Russia and its regional branches, says political scientist Konstantin Kostin. “The ideological contradiction between the rhetoric of the once second party in power and classical Eurosocialism is objectively insurmountable,” he believes. According to the expert, the party, which “appeared, formed and developed as an association of quite different political forces of the left flank”, still does not have a clear ideological framework.
Political scientist Yevgeny Minchenko calls the resignation of Oleg Shein logical: “The party has recently been torn between jingoistic and moderately socialist poles, Sergei Mironov has opted for jingoistic patriotism.” According to political scientist Rostislav Turovsky, this is a negative signal for the SR, since Shein was one of its most famous and successful regional leaders. “And this is a reaction to the ideological transformation of the party, since people of the left, like Shein, do not see a place in it. But Mironov, in a sense, will be easier to change the party at his own discretion, ”the expert believes.
“Fair Russia” has changed a lot since its foundation in 2006, reminds political analyst Alexei Makarkin. “Initially, it was a center-left party, which was accepted into the socialist international. Now it is a national-patriotic, if you like, party. Accordingly, this is a completely different party in terms of its positioning, the ideas that it promotes,” he notes.
The views of the Astrakhan politician “turned out to be in clear contradiction with the new image of the party,” the expert says. Shein’s departure from the post of the regional branch of the SR weakens the position of the party in the Astrakhan region, since it was he who was identified in this region with this political force, Makarkin added.
This is not the first demarche in the SR in recent times: on April 6, members of her faction in the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg announced their withdrawal from the party in full force. Political scientist Alexander Kynev notes that there were also local withdrawals that were less noticeable at the federal level, in particular, in the Altai and Perm Territories. All these events deal a strong blow to the party, the expert believes: “Historically, the party has been raised on the topic of the fact that people flocked to it who did not come to court in other organizations. The narrative has changed absolutely radically – the SR has become a party from which they are starting to leave en masse.”