Staunton, June 25 – In an interview in advance of his 75th birthday, KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov says he has been loyal to Putin for the same reason he did not challenge the results of the 1996 election: he fears disorder in Russia now just as he feared war in 1996 -- with all the negative consequences these could have for Russia and the Russian people.
Zyuganov, perhaps the most “systemic” of the systemic politicians who nominally head opposition parties but in fact support the regime, uses this interview to make the point that he has had experience with war and fears being more openly oppositional could spark one within Russia (mk.ru/politics/2019/06/25/zyuganov-obyasnil-loyalnost-k-putinu-boyaznyu-besporyadkov.html).
On the one hand, this helps to explain why he has been so unwilling to challenge the Kremlin since 1991. But on the other, it suggests that his vision of Russia is of a country that is so inherently unstable at the present time that almost anything could send it spinning out of control and into the abyss.
What happened in 1996 was not simply an election but a race “organized according to their rules and their laws,” Zyuganov says. In the first round, he continues, he won the south from the Quiet Don to the Pacific but the millionaire cities voted for Yeltsin. At the start of the second, he had 35 percent and I 32, he says.
Given this situation and the fraud the Yeltsin team engaged in, “it would have been possible to provoke a war between the North and South.” But had that happened, Zyuganov says, there was an enormous risk that the country would have been “lost forever.” Consequently, he refrained from mobilizing his supporters after his loss.
The danger is less now than it was, the KPRF leader suggests, but if disorders were to break out, the risks that they could grow out of control are all too real. And thus caution is again called for and has been his guiding principle, Zyuganov continues.
In the course of his 2800-word interview with Aleksandr Melman, Zyuganov repeats many things that are well known, including his hostility to Gorbachev and Yeltsin, his belief that a Russian Communist Party if formed a year earlier than it was could have saved the USSR, and his assumption that Stalin would have valued him much as the dictator valued Kosygin.
But he makes a number of side comments, two of which are perhaps worthy of note. On the one hand, he says that Raisa Gorbacheva was “much smarter than Gorbachev: She always led him by the hand and he took no decisions without talking to her. This disgrace was thus complete.”