On January 11, Russia’s Communist Party boss, Gennady Zyuganov, who believes in restoring the Soviet Union and official socialism, predicted that he has a “good chance” of defeating Vladimir Putin, Russia’s “ex”-red prime minister in the March 4 presidential election. He also warned Kremlin authorities that rigging the election would amount to “raping” the country. The 67-year-old Zyuganov opined that Putin’s approval ratings would not allow him to receive the 50 percent plus one vote needed to secure an outright victory in the first round of voting.
“It would be impossible to push him through in the first round, even if votes were added in his favor. At best they have 30 percent,” Chairman Zyuganov told a news conference. “Sticking on another 20 percent would mean raping the whole country,” said Zyuganov, who will be standing in his fourth presidential election since 1996, when he was narrowly defeated by Boris Yeltsin. “An illegitimate president means complete destabilization and … distrust of the authorities,” said Zyuganov.
Putin is hoping to grab his old Kremlin job in a third non-consecutive term, straining most interpretations of the Russian Constitution, but his approval ratings have dived to record lows, following allegations that his United Russia party engaged in vote rigging in last December State Duma election.
According to a December 24-25 poll by the state-run VTsIOM pollster, 45 percent of the Russian electorate would vote for Putin and only 10 percent for the Communist leader in the first round of the election. Analysts also expect Putin to win any run-off, even though some liberals have called for a protest vote in favor of Zyuganov to stop Putin from returning to power. During the parliamentary polls last month, many Russians, including middle-class and young voters ignorant of the party’s ugly Soviet legacy, voted for the Communists in an attempt to thwart United Russia’s bid for another supermajority.
If the Soviet strategists believe that 2012 is a propitious year in which to return an open communist in the Kremlin, then they may resort to several tactics to bring this about.
First, Putin has again declined to participate in televised debates with his chief “opponent,” Zyuganov, a calculated move that will no doubt portray him as “out of touched” and “alienated” from “the people.” Taking time off for debates would “undoubtedly impede his ability to duly carry out his duties,” Kremlin spokesentity Dmitry Peskov haughtily told Russian media.
“Not only must [Vladimir Putin] go on leave, but also officially agree to take part in open political debates,” insisted Zyuganov in remarks broadcast on Russian news channel Rossiya 24. Communist Duma deputy Sergei Obukhov, moreover, accused Putin of “hogging” TV coverage in controlled political advertisements. “In the last 20 days, Putin dominated the television screens 70 to 100%,” he said, adding: “We believe this makes the election process illegal, as does Putin’s continuing status of presidential candidate and prime minister.”
Second, the Soviet strategists could merge the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the social democratic Just Russia into a single and larger left-wing party to challenge United Russia’s “conservativsm.” In past years and months and again just this week, Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov has urged Zyuganov to unite their parties, but the Communist leader has so far resisted all such overtures.
According to Mironov, who is also past speaker of the Russian parliament’s upper chamber, the Left Front recently presented him with a proposal in which either he or Zyuganov could become Russia’s next “transitional president.” The Left Front proposal involves the next president implementing a “comprehensive reform of election law,” making the necessary changes in the constitution, calling a rerun of parliamentary elections and then stepping down in March 2013.”
The Just Russia leader, who is widely viewed as a Kremlin pawn, was recalled as chair of the Federation Council in May 2011 after criticizing former St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko, who was elected in his place a few months later. Mironov’s party fared well in last month’s election, garnering 13.25 percent of the vote.
Mironov admits that he is prepared to act on the Left Front plan, but that he would need an additional year in office. “I would be ready to step down as president, but no earlier than in two years,” Mironov told reporters in Moscow. In recent weeks, Zyuganov has likewise promised to hold a new Duma election if elected to the presidency, as well as alter the constitution in order to reduce the total amount of time one man can spend in that office to 10 years.
A spokesman for the Communist Party has indicated that Zyuganov’s presidential program will be made public in near future. “After being elected as president, our candidate guarantees that he would form public trust government from among patriot-professionals,” said Dmitry Novikov, secretary of the CPRF Central Committee. He added that, among other things, Zyuganov’s program suggests ways of overcoming five main “threats” to Russia, including “huge social inequality, demographic catastrophe, economic disorder, lack of defense capability and moral degradation.”
Incidentally, the leader of the Left Front, Sergei Udaltsov, was in and out of jail 14 times in 2011, prompting 2,000 supporters to rally to his defense on December 29. The 35-year-old communist is presently under detention and on a hunger strike to protest his conditions. Udaltsov is also the founder of Red Youth Vanguard and a past disciple of Oleg Shenin, the Soviet Politburo member who masterminded the fake anti-Gorbachevist coup in August 1991 and who died in 2009.
Meanwhile, Russia’s potemkin politicians are falling over themselves to extend mercy to jailbird Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Komsomol activist-turned-billionaire in 2005 was convicted of fraud and sentenced to nine years in a labor camp, a sanitized “post”-communist term for Russia’s neo-gulag system. Zyuganov, whose party was financed by Khodorkovsky, is among the disgraced oligarch’s advocates. “I think humanity and mercy should be shown,” Zyuganov told journalists on January 11. “Khodorkovsky has already served quite a long sentence.”
Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Moscow Center opined that such “populist” declarations were motivated by the intention of the candidates to demonstrate their “conditional independence” from the Kremlin, without risking “the benefits of cooperation.”
The installation of an open communist in the Russian presidency will probably indicate that the Soviet strategists also intend to re-communize Russian society, restore the Soviet Union under the guise of Putin’s proposed “Eurasian Union,” instigate a new Cold War or possibly hot war with NATO, overtly or covertly back the Democratic candidate in the November 2012 US presidential election, and aggressively and openly support the many leftist regimes in Latin America.
The installation of an open communist in the Kremlin for the first time in 20 years will also vindicate the published predictions of KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, who described the Soviet deception plan decades ago.
In somewhat related story, Russia has rejected Lithuania’s request to question former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev over his role in the Kremlin’s deadly 1991 crackdown on Lithuania’s independence movement. Between January 11 and 13 of that year Soviet ground and airborne troops seized key government buildings in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities, leading to the deaths of 14 civilians and the injuring of 700 others. The military assault against Lithuania was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s response to the republic’s March 1990 declaration of secession.
In May 2011, Lithuania announced it had formally requested Russia to question the 80-year-old Gorbachev on its behalf as a witness in its probe.“We have received a negative response,” prosecutor Simonas Slapsinskas told reporters. Slapsinskas elaborated on Gorbachev’s immunity:
The prosecution service of the Russian Federation argued that complying with this request would prejudice public order, security and the interests of federation. There was not enough evidence to bring charges against former Soviet President Gorbachev. As a result, the request was sent to question him as a witness.
While several Soviet-era Lithuanian officials were convicted of conspiring with Moscow, 21 Russian and two Belarusian citizens linked to the crackdown are suspected by Lithuania of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Relations between Russia and Lithuania have been strained since independence, especially since the Baltic state joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.
Lately, Gorbachev, who has urged President Barack Hussein Obama to implement “perestroika” (socialist restructuring) in the USA, has publicly withdrawn his support for Putin, urging the Russian PM to give up any ambition of once again running for president.