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By Anna Zakatnova

Opposition becomes fashionable

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, December 4, 2001

The law on political parties and active construction of the pro-government party force all political structures in Russia to define their positions long before the onset of the electoral campaigns. The fourth plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party last Saturday was formally dedicated to preparations for the next congress. In fact, however, the plenary meeting outlined the major provisions of the new party programme. Speeches by party functionaries make it absolutely clear that the Communist Party is disillusioned with the government and the president. "We had hopes that Putin would change," Gennadi Zyuganov said, "but oligarchs prevented a possible compromise."

To tell the truth, a conflict between the left-wing and the Kremlin was inevitable owing to the appearance of the right-centrist colossus, United Russia, actively supported by the president (to say nothing of the Kremlin's liberal economic policy). Addressing journalists, the communist second-in-command Valentin Kuptsov admitted that the appearance of new political structures was forcing the Communists to seek new forms of operation. Kuptsov added that the Communist Party viewed the party of Shoigu-Luzhkov-Shaimiyev as its major rival.

In a report on the political situation in Russia, Zyuganov suggested several priorities: more active work with youth, more extensive use of electoral campaigns in party promotion, more intensive protest actions, implementation of the party programme in the regions through "red"

governors, eliminating the split in party ranks, "and convincing the government and the public to get rid of the oligarchs." The plenary session was scheduled to discuss financial problems as well, and Zyuganov suggested two ways of replenishing the party treasury - producing and registering ownership of Soviet symbols.

The Communist Party is not the only opposition structure in Russia. On the right, the government is usually criticized by Grigory Yavlinsky's supporters. Sergei Mitrokhin, Yabloko ideology secretary, says the party has "a distinct position" with regard to the government. Yabloko condemns Russia's inability to end its dependence on raw materials exports, the idea of importing radioactive waste into Russia, the concept of the reforms of housing and utilities, and the lack of an investment programme. On the other hand, Yabloko supports the tax cuts and military reforms. As for Putin's course, Yabloko supports only the president's foreign policy. According to Mitrokhin, the attitude towards Putin will depend on his success in opposing the "construction of an authoritarian-bureaucratic system" and on the future of the TV-6 network.

The list of opposition forces is not restricted to the Communists and Yabloko alone. It also includes the so-called small communist parties and Liberal Russia, the movement scheduled to be transformed into a political party next spring. The Muslim-oriented Euro-Asian Party of Russia held a rally last Saturday. According to our sources, its members protested against the Kremlin's foreign policy course.

See also:

Yabloko contra CPRF

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, December 4, 2001

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