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
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
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.