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Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) /
Kommunisticheskaya Partiya Rossiyskoy Federatsii

The left wing of the official Communist Party, which is getting increasingly close to becoming the so-called unofficial opposition. There was a wing of the party that is increasingly working together with the extra-parliamentary left. By 2020 the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) was moving in two different directions. The official top leadership was getting closer and closer to the government (because the government wanted them to be very close to them). At the same time, there were more independent politicians, especially in local branches, who were moving in the opposite direction, forming some sort of united front with the rest of the left. The party leaders (and also, even, the opposition) keep repeating that “there is no split in the party, there are just debates.”

The Russian Communist Party nominated a surprise presidential candidate to run against President Vladimir Putin in the 2018. The party nominated Pavel Grudinin, a largely unknown businessman with links to the farming sector, deciding to drop longtime leader Gennady Zyuganov, who had contested the five last presidential elections. The party said that the decision was made during an annual gathering of the party on 23 December 2017. Grudinin, 57, is a mechanical engineer who has run a farm near Moscow since the 1990s. The party's selection of a younger candidate is seen as an attempt to widen its political appeal.

Grudinin is the longtime director of a large and successful agricultural enterprise in suburban Moscow. The company’s name, Lenin Sovkhoz, mimics the Soviet-era word used to describe state-run farms, but in reality is a closed partnership. The Lenin Sovkhoz has been described by the press as a model enterprise with almost Communist internal rules – the company provides its workers with free housing, healthcare, school dinners and subsidies many of regular payments, such as communal fees. The wages are also reportedly higher that in neighboring farms.

The Communists finished second after the ruling United Russia party, which backs Putin, in parliamentary elections in 2016. But it won only 19 percent of the vote. According to preliminary data of the CEC for the September 2016 Duma election, the Liberal Democratic Party out-paced the Communists of a percent - the Communists were about 16%, the Liberal Democratic Party about 17%. In general, it did not matter whether the Communist Party would be able to recapture third place in the Liberal Democratic Party: the difference in the results is still minimal, it is slightly affect on the number of mandates received, but it would cause a serious psychological blow to the Communist Party and its supporters.

Communist Party was no longer certainly the second party in the political system, and merges with the rest of the parliamentary opposition. The third place of the Communist Party was bound to aggravate the internal contradictions within the party, and call into question the correctness of the personnel policy pursued by its permanent leader Gennady Zyuganov.

The Communists had won around 30 percent of the vote in elections held since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), which held 57 seats in 2009, was the only State Duma party that overtly criticized the regime, although within limits and almost never on foreign policy. KPRF had protested more visibly as the economic crisis has broadened, including through public speeches lambasting the regime's anti-crisis measures and through nation-wide public rallies.

Born in 1944, long-time KPRF leader Gennadiy Zyuganov is credited for resurrecting the Communist Party after the CPSU was banned following the collapse of the Soviet Union. A strong critic of both the West and the Russian government, he has been known to compromise behind the scenes and can assume a very moderate, almost pro-business and pro-reform persona when speaking privately.

Although Zyuganov publicly railed for total nationalization of Russia's natural resources, other party leaders indicated a preference for a more social-democratic model that appeals beyond the traditional pensioner-and-veteran demographic into younger and more entrepreneurial voters.

The 1996 presidential campaign yielded two distinctly opposed theories of governance: the KPRF's frank appeal for return to the central rule of Soviet days and Yeltsin's sometimes timid commitment to democratization and economic reform. In general, however, the national party system remained quite fluid. The KPRF had developed a unified and loyal following among Russians disillusioned with Yeltsin and nostalgic for the Soviet past. As the presidential campaign developed, the KPRF candidate, former CPSU functionary Gennadiy Zyuganov, emerged as the prime competitor of Yeltsin.

The president used his access to broadcast and print media (which feared the repression that would result from a KPRF victory) to climb steadily in the polls. In the first round, Yeltsin defeated Zyuganov narrowly. Before the second-round faceoff with Zyuganov, Yeltsin dismissed the most visible hard-liners in his administration, added popular third-place finisher Aleksandr Lebed' to his administration, and coaxed lukewarm endorsements from Yabloko and other reformist parties.

In the 1990s, politicians eagerly sought the opinion of the church on most important issues, and in 1996 even the communist presidential candidate, Gennadiy Zyuganov, made an appearance with Patriarch Aleksiy II an important element of his campaign. Convinced that their independence would be jeopardized if KPRF candidate Gennadiy Zyuganov won, television broadcasters provided virtually no coverage of his main 1996 campaign events.

In the second round, Yeltsin easily defeated Zyuganov, a dull campaigner who could not convince undecided voters that a KPRF victory would not mean a return to the days of Soviet repression. In what amounted to a contest between anti-Yeltsin and anticommunist sides, Yeltsin attracted an estimated 17 million voters who had voted for Lebed' or Yabloko candidate Grigoriy Yavlinskiy in the first round, and for whom Yeltsin now was the lesser of two evils.

To gain acceptance as the main opposition faction at the national level, after the presidential election the KPRF attempted to broaden its constituency by forming a coalition called the National Patriotic Union of Russia. The coalition included the leftist and nationalist groups that had supported Zyuganov's 1996 presidential bid. To improve its national image from one of disruption to one of constructive cooperation, the coalition softened its antigovernment rhetoric. A prime example of the new approach was KPRF support of the Chernomyrdin government's draft budget in the State Duma deliberations of December 1996-January 1997.

The KPRF found this position tenable while Yeltsin was ill and the moderate Chernomyrdin had a strong position in the Government. However, the Government reorganization of March 1997 gave new power to reformists with whom the KPRF shared little common ground. The party also showed signs of a split between moderates and radicals who rejected compromise. Meanwhile, young Russians showed little interest in joining the KPRF, which offered few constructive ideas about Russia's future and whose membership increasingly was based on an old guard of Soviet-era activists.

The worsening economy benefited the Communists in the form of larger turnout at rallies and higher vote tallies in March 2009 regional elections, although party leaders predicted widespread electoral fraud will hide the extent of their wins. Regardless, KPRF lacked the State Duma votes to derail legislation and requires government permission to rally legally. KPRF did not yet represent a viable threat to the regime, and the Communists focused more on broadening their public support than on calling for public support to unseat Medvedev and Putin. The KPRF failed to develop a social-democratic agenda, and its support base is oriented in an older generation that is passing from the scene.

With Russia's parliamentary elections a month away, in November 2003 political parties embarked on an electoral campaign, with the Communists and pro-Kremlin Unity Party leading the field. On the 86th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 1917, and Russia's Communist party used the occasion to criticize President Vladimir Putin and his government. Thousands of people carrying red flags marched through downtown Moscow, as they do every year on November 7, which was a key holiday during the Soviet period, but is now just a day off from work for most people.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov took the opportunity to denounce what he called the lack of democracy in Russia. A two-time presidential candidate, Mr. Zyuganov said Mr. Putin is now leading the country back into Soviet-style authoritarianism. "After Stalin, there should be no more cult of personality in Russia," he said. "Look what is going on with Putin! He is not worth the cult of personality! He cannot solve even the simplest of tasks, just watch TV … It's terrible."

Kremlin candidate Dmitri Medvedev garnered more votes in 2008 than all of his opponents, combined. Medvedev won more than 70 percent of the vote. Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov comes in second, with nearly 18 percent. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, perennial candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party, received less than 10 percent. Andrei Bogdanov, a complete political unknown, got just over one percent.

Vladimir Putin's confirmation in May 2008 as head of government was never in doubt, with 392 deputies voting in favor and 56 opposed. Mr. Putin's support came from two minority factions and the ruling United Russia Party, which he heads. Communists led the opposition. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov recognized that Mr. Putin unified Russia during his presidency, put down revolts in the Caucasus, and improved the country's international image. But he said Russia is no longer an industrial powerhouse, and it imports half its food, while weeds have overtaken 40 million hectares of farmland. Zyuganov also pointed to a serious demographic decline, noting that Russia's population is falling toward 135 million while that of the United States is surging over 300 million. In addition, he said that 800,000 highly trained professionals have left Russia in recent years. "Your main failure," Gennady Zyuganov told Mr. Putin, "is that you did not develop and protect the fundamentals of democracy." He went on to say that the last election demonstrated once again that the policies of the Putin administration will get Russia nowhere and there will be stagnation even in those areas of which Mr. Putin is proud.

Russia’s Communist Party on 21 December 2015 honored the birthday of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin with flowers and speeches during an annual ritual at his grave on Moscow’s Red Square. Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), gave a long, admiring speech on Stalin to the gathered crowd. ”Today, the experience and courage of Stalin, his genius and talent, should nourish all government officials who truly desire Russia to be kind, happy, and truly sovereign,” he said. "By reinstating and continuing the best Russian imperial practices, following the war he created the most powerful block," said Zyuganov. "A block of Slavic governments and their friends that held NATO at bay, which the entire world feared."

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 17:24:20 ZULU