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We Need a Just World/ Peace

Note from LeftEast editors: The following manifesto was released on March 3 in anticipation of the upcoming Russian election on March 17th. It is the product of a number of Russian leftist academics, politicians, bloggers, and activists. Because true opposition candidates have been kept off the ballot, this manifesto calls on Russian voters to spoil their ballots – a sign of opposition to all political options in the tradition of the “vote against all,” a ballot option in the Soviet Union which became a common act of protest against the government in the late Soviet and early post-Soviet period. Though this movement directly opposes Russia’s war in Ukraine, the manifesto cannot explicitly condemn the war (or “Special Military Operation”) nor criticize the military as this would make its distribution a prosecutable offense. You can read the original in Russian here and find the movement’s telegram channel here. A number of the writers discuss the manifesto in Russian here (with auto-generated subtitles available in English). Note that in Russian the title of the manifesto is “Нам нужен справедливый мир” which could be translated either as “We need a just peace” or “We need a just world.” The authors of this document clearly invoke both meanings here and throughout. This double meaning is hard to render in English in an elegant way, and we have opted here and elsewhere to sacrifice elegance for clarity.

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“How to spoil a ballot and not vote for Putin.” From the Справедливый Мир Telegram channel.

The authorities decide for us and without us where to send our military, whether to cut down our parks and reserves, and whether to demolish our houses in the interests of construction companies.

The so-called presidential election is an opportunity to say: we won’t have this anymore. We need a just peace and a just world. Not one of the candidates is talking about this. To make our voice heard, we need to vote against all of them.


In the March 17 “election,” there will be four candidates on the ballot, none of whom advocate for genuine self-government, the return of the mobilized [who are fighting in the invasion of Ukraine], the repeal of unjust and repressive laws. Opposition politicians who might have run for office have been imprisoned, mercilessly murdered in penal colonies, or expelled from the country under threat of criminal prosecution.

A vote against all is a way of conveying to the authorities that we will not indulge them by voting for the toy candidates from the CPRF [Communist Party of the Russian Federation], LDPR [Liberal Democratic Party of Russia], or New People. 

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Unfortunately, in 2006 Putin removed the possibility of voting “against all.” What we can do instead is to invalidate our paper ballots.

A ballot paper with crossed-out candidates is considered invalid, but is taken into account in the total vote count, that is, it reduces the percentage Putin and other candidates will get. However, we cannot rely only on the official final percentage: it is no secret that the authorities often tamper with ballots at polling stations.


Then, even if the result is rigged, the broad support for a just peace/world will be evident to all Russian citizens.


We all need peace. Peace in our country, peace with our neighbors, peace in our families, peace within us.

The absence of peace is fear, vulnerability for us and our children, bitterness for our country, shame at our inability to stop the catastrophe. But there are also those few for whom the absence of peace means huge profits. It is also a way to manipulate us who live from paycheck to paycheck.

At the center of this injustice is the problem of inequality that is literally tearing Russia apart. Economic and political inequality are inseparable. Vladimir Putin and the elites associated with him have appropriated and concentrated in their hands enormous economic resources that were created by the labor of several generations. This is how a handful of officials and businessmen gained unlimited political power. The huge wealth could have been used in the common interest. But instead, pension austerity, the SMO (Special Military Operation), and indefinite mobilization have been imposed on us.


Our initiative has united people of democratic, socialist, communist views – politicians, bloggers, activists. We have developed a minimum program capable of uniting tens of millions of people who currently have no voice. We want to transform our country from an armored train hurtling towards a cliff into a place for peaceful and harmonious development. And we know how to do it.

We demand a just peace! Not a temporary truce, not a brief respite, after which this whole nightmare will flare up again with renewed vigor. We, our children, and our grandchildren need a real, full, and just peace:


Neither the mobilized nor their families understand when the special military operation will end. Brothers, sons, and husbands are waiting to go home, ordinary people like us on either side of the front.

The mobilized must return home. We demand the cancellation of Presidential Decree N 647 of September 21, 2022 “On the Announcement of Partial Mobilization in the Russian Federation”.


Many participants in armed conflicts return traumatized, which leads to an upsurge in domestic violence. It affects the most vulnerable – women, children and the elderly. There is a need for rehabilitation programs for ex-military personnel and shelters for victims of domestic violence. Free psychological help is needed for all those in need.


Borrowing the most radical dreams of American and European ultraconservatives, Russian officials are invading our private and family lives. They teach us who can be loved and who cannot. They are trying to ban abortion; they want to dictate to women when and how many children to have. All this is happening under the pretext of protecting newly invented traditional values.

But modern women who combine work and motherhood do not need those prohibitions. We need other things – free nurseries, kindergartens, schools, an increase in maternity capital, affordable housing for young parents.

Demography directly depends on the general standard of living, on our confidence in the future.


Forced territorial acquisitions are the smoldering fuse of a new catastrophe. They will only fuel an arms race to the detriment of a peaceful economy. Hostilities must stop and all inhabitants of the affected territories must have full social, democratic, cultural, and linguistic rights.


We need life, not survival! A long-term program is needed, including:

  • indexing of pensions at rates significantly higher than inflation
  • consistent increases in the minimum wage
  • Raising wages in the public sector
  • Strengthening the role of labor inspectors
  • active state policy on the labor market – creating socially useful and well-paid jobs (we need more educators, teachers, doctors and social workers)
  • restoration of the retirement age: 55 years for women and 60 years for men.


We are all very dependent on the workplace. We all want to be protected from the arbitrary behavior of our superiors. We all want respect. We all deserve to have a say in the affairs of the companies and industries to which we give a huge part of our lives.

This is only possible if the conditions for true trade unions are created. One such condition is the right to strike. International experience and studies show that wherever workers are protected by democratic trade unions and can influence company policy, labor productivity grows faster, staff turnover is lower, and the atmosphere in the team is better.


In 2024, socialist professor Boris Kagarlitsky was sentenced to a five-year prison term for a post on Telegram. He is just one of 30,000 advocates for a just peace who have been detained, fined, arrested or jailed in the past two years.

A regime that is on the lookout for spies and traitors is splintering society to further suppress it. After Alexei Navalny’s death, it is especially clear: we must demand an end to the civil war unleashed by the authorities against their political opponents in addition to the abolition of repressive articles of the Criminal Code, including Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code (“law on fakes”), and the release and full rehabilitation of all those convicted under these articles.1


The concentration of financial resources in the hands of a few, be it businessmen or officials, leads to dictatorship. It is necessary to limit the influence of wealth on the political process. Oil and gas companies and other large corporations should be brought under public control. Otherwise, their huge profits will continue to be turned into personal yachts, palaces, and instruments of mass murder.

We demand criminal liability for illegal enrichment of officials and deputies of all levels, with confiscation of income if a public servant cannot explain its legal origin. (Ratification of Article 20 of the UN Convention “On Combating Corruption”).


The absurd tax policy whereby the poor in Russia pay, if we count VAT, a higher percentage of their income to the budget than the rich should be reconsidered.

After two disastrous world wars, European governments imposed high taxes on excess income and on inheritance of huge fortunes. This keeps inequality and concentration of power in check, and thus prevents wars and conflicts. We should draw on this experience, as well as on modern economists dealing with the problem of wealth tax.


Russians’ total indebtedness is destroying our psyches and increasing aggression. Dependence on banks forces many to seek sources of income dangerous not only for themselves but for the whole of for society, for example as mercenary soldiers. We need a credit amnesty!


If we want a lasting peace, the country must be governed by the citizens themselves, not by a handful of rich and dignitaries. Federalization, empowerment of municipal councils and real self-government are the keys to a just peace.

Equal distribution of taxes between municipal, regional, and federal budgets. Return of direct elections of mayors and governors, abolition of barriers for opposition candidates in elections at all levels.

Local self-government bodies – real powers to distribute city and regional budgets, control over development and land use, and develop social infrastructure.


Stop turning Russia into a huge toxic dump! The authorities constantly suppress protests against corporations destroying our environment and wildlife. We remember the fight over Shiess, over Kushtau, and dozens of other environmental conflicts. Commercial and government companies – under environmental control.

We need to restore the forest service, launch programs to renew logged forests, clear rivers, and reclaim abandoned areas. Advanced waste sorting and recycling methods are vital.



The imperial ambitions of a few top officials are making Russia a pariah country. We must guarantee neighboring countries that they will never become victims of Russian aggression. Our country should not incite conflicts anywhere.

This does not mean that it needs to withdraw from the world stage and abandon an active foreign policy. We can change our country only if the whole world changes with us, if competition for resources and spheres of influence is replaced by solidarity and mutual assistance.

The new peaceful Russia will have every opportunity to actively participate in solving global economic and environmental problems.


Our country has been suffering for more than 30 years due to the withdrawal of capital and profits offshore. Therefore, Russia should work towards the broadest possible international coalition against offshoring and for the creation of a unified register of large owners and the principles of fair tax policy. The potential of digitalization can and should be directed in this direction.

Such measures will be the foundation for a real fight against corruption. They will block unscrupulous corporations and the super-rich from hiding from taxes. They will help find money to maintain and develop the social sphere. But they will also be aimed at eliminating disparities in living standards between different countries and regions. This is the only way to solve the problems of people’s forced flight from poverty, war, and disenfranchisement. A safe life, education, social support, and paid work must be guaranteed to everyone.

We are many, we are different, but together we can build a just country and a just world!

1 Editorial Note: Article 207.3, referred to as the “law on fakes” or the “law on war censorship” was adopted by the Russian Duma on March 4, 2022, not long after the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February. The law criminalizes anti-war statements or actions and has led to thousands of cases against political activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens and has effectively brought about the end of independent journalism in Russia.