Staunton, February 12 – In a 2,000-word open letter to his fellow Russian citizens, Gennady Zyuganov, the head of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), says that “it is time that everyone recognize that anti-Sovietism is a form of Russophobia and that anyone who fights with Soviet history is an open enemy of Russia.”
On the one hand, this is no more than an example of the way in which political leaders seek to exploit any broader trend to promote their own political agenda. But on the other, it is an indication of the way in which Vladimir Putin’s pursuit of a “single-stream” of Russian history risks tearing apart his coalition and threatening regional stability more broadly.
First of all, because some of the Putin’s most passionate supporters are to be found among the Russian Orthodox who have an anything but positive view of the Soviet past given the anti-religious campaigns of the communist party, they are certain to be less than pleased by this appeal and the ideas lying behind it.
Second, Zyuganov’s call will offend both other Russian nationalists who will see it as an indication that the current regime’s “nationalism” is simply warmed-over Soviet patriotism, something many want to escape, and the non-Russian quarter of the population who will view such calls as an indication that their future is threatened as well.
And third, the KPRF chief’s words will have an international resonance as well, suggesting to many of Russia’s neighbors that the Russia of today is simply the latest edition of the old Soviet Union and its tsarist predecessor and that their status as independent states is now under threat as a result.
Because the KPRF is part of the systemic opposition rather than the real one, members of all three groups are likely to view the words of Zyuganov who has cooperated closely with the regime as a trial balloon rather than dismissing them as many in the West may be inclined to do as nothing more than yet another last gasp of communist ideology.
But however that may be, Zyuganov’s open letter deserves attention as an indication of a powerful stream in current Moscow thinking and one that is likely to have an impact on Russians, non-Russians inside the Russian Federation, and the non-Russian countries around Russia’s perimeter.
Zyuganov’s letter was first posted on the KPRF’s website (kprf.ru/party-live/cknews/139047.html), but it has since been picked up by many other more frequently visited ones as well. (See, for example, regions.ru/news/2545313/.) Among its most important points are the following:
- “It was impossible to destroy Soviet power by economic sanctions. Nor could it be defeated by the force of arms and Hitlerite hordes. But it was undermined from within by the promotoion of the growth of a fifth column of dissident anti-Soviet activists and open traitors.”
- “Despite these tragic lessons, today, anti-Soviet types of various masks feel themselves quite at home … It is difficult to agree with a situation when state television spends money on the propaganda of views of aggressive Russophobes and anti-Soviet types.”
- “Anti-Sovietism is the banner of traitors and defeatists. It is pushing our country toward the abyss. The inspirers and paymasters of anti-Sovietism today are exactly the same kind of debauched political forces who worked against the USSR during the times of the ‘cold war.’”
- “Ahead is the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. Russia has ever basis for marking it just as widely as the jubilee of the Great French Revolution is celebrated in France. This must be recognized now.”
- “In order to get Russia out of the crisis, in order to open before it new horizons, it is necessary to recognize the unity of our history … It is necessary to act without delay, and it is necessary to begin with the institutions of the authorities and their representatives. Anti-Sovietism in them must be decisively rooted out.”