Friday, May 4, 2018

New Left Emerging among Young Russians as KPRF Loses Ground, ‘Novaya Gazeta’ Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 3 – An increasing number of young Russians are animated by left-of-center ideas about social justice, but they do not see the KPRF as their political home, according to Novaya gazeta. Instead, they dismiss that group as a party of pensioners and the past and are trying to form new political organizations.

            Leftist ideas are gaining influence among young people, political scientist Abbas Gallyamov tells the paper. “The these of struggle with inequality and social injustice ever more often influences the minds of voters,” especially the young; but the KPRF hasn’t been able to capitalize on this (

                The KPRF has tried to acquire a new younger face especially in the regions, but many young leftists view it as too stodgy, too closely tied to the powers that be, too unwilling to challenge the status quo, and too much an organization in which those who participate in it are careerists rather than activists for communist ideals, the paper says.

            As a result, they are turning to other, extra-systemic left-wing parties and groups, most of which are prepared to cooperate situationally with the KPRF but all of which are also willing to cooperate with the LDPR and even with Navalny. The important thing, the activists in these organizations say, is the ideas they can advance not organizational purity.

             They blame United Russia for the situation the country is in, the paper continues; and they believe that Russia must look beyond Putin, something they hope to achieve by promoting the idea that “a strong society does not need a leader in principle.” Instead, they hope to promote more collectivist decision-making at all levels.

                “’Red’ Russia is full not only of systemic communists but also other leftist movements,” the paper says; “and there, supporters of Marxism-Leninism, free from their own ‘systemic’ rules of behavior view the world much more categorically and idealistically.” At the same time, most of them take a longer view, convinced that a revolutionary situation has not yet emerged but will.

            One of the more important of these groups is the Communists of Russia whose leader Maksim Suraykin captured only 0.1 percent of the vote in the recent presidential elections because of the activities of its three young groups, including two versions of the Komsomol and a new movement called “Antikap” for anti-capitalism.

            Novaya gazeta spoke with one of its leaders, Chermen Khutayev, who had worked for the magistracy but quit because of his nationality.  He says that “we are a more left-radical structure,” still weak and “we cannot [at the present time] struggle with extra-parliamentary methods” in contrast to those even further to the left.

                The paper sums up its survey of the members of the radical left in Russia today by contrasting the opinions of the KPRF with those of what it collectively labels “the extra-systemic left” on a series of issues. 

            With regard to Putin, the KPRF views him as “a normal person but his time has passed. We do not consider him a leader the young should follow. We need people with other ideas.” The extra-systemic left says Putin has tried to achieve results “close to ours” but the system has prevented him from doing what’s needed. “We are prepared to help him by coming to power.”

            On Navalny, the KPRF says he spends too much time orchestrating protests than preparing for a real and lengthy struggle. The extra-systemic left says “Navalny is a populist and his studies aren’t worth anything. He is too involved in playing at protest and therefore he is persecuted.

            Regarding the Russian Orthodox Church, the KPRF says that “on the whole, we relate to it in a normal way, but we need a certain division in the party” rather than constantly seeking concord with the church.  The extra-systemic left says “it is possible to believe in God and the church as an institution should exist. But the current structure of the ROC has become an entrepreneurial structure and that should be allowed.”

            On Stalin, the KPRF says he made mistake but “in any case, together with our people, he won out in the Great Fatherland War.” His reputation has been unfairly blackened since 1991, “but our chief leader is Lenin.”  The extra-systemic left says “Stalin was a great leader” and “it would be possible to again life in circumstances” like he created.

            Concerning the film “The Death of Stalin,” the KPRF approves the ban on the film, while the extra-systemic left says “the film is bad” with Stalin being presented as paranoid, but “one should not so categorically do so.”

            And about the future of the left in Russia, the KPRF insists that “communism will triumph but now it is important to engage in enlightenment work.” The extra-systemic left says “Communist will triumph and we, not the KPRF, will take power.”

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