Saturday, July 23, 2016

Lenin and Stalin, ‘More Living than the Living,’ Now Very Much Part of Russian Election Campaign

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 23 – The complexities of Russian election law have helped to make Lenin and Stalin central figures in the current Duma campaign, with officials uncertain how to apply an April 2016 law banning pictures of anyone but candidates in election propaganda. But in at least two districts, it is not just a matter of photographs but of real people named Stalin.

            Invoking the April 2016 law, the election commission in Krasnodar kray has directed the KPRF to remove from circulation election materials showing pictures of Lenin and Stalin, an action that has prompted communist leader Gennady Zyuganov to complain and prompted election officials in Moscow to overrule Krasnodar (

            Sergey Obukhov, a secretary of the KPRF central committee, said that the communists are “grateful that the election commission has recognized that Lenin and Stalin are more living than all the living” and that the party intends to use pictures of Yury Gagarin, Igor Kurchatov and Leonid Brezhnev in its agitation materials as well.

            According to Andrey Buzin, an expert on Russian election law, the 2016 legislation was designed to prevent parties from using the pictures of Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Aleksey Navalny. The law did not address the issue of using pictures of former Soviet leaders. For that, new legislation would be needed.

            Paradoxically, the April 2016 law hits the ruling United Russia Party harder than anyone else because it cannot use Putin’s picture in its propaganda.  The LDPR has no problem using pictures of Vladimir Zhirinovsky because he is a candidate, and other parties are doing the same as the law allows.

            But there are at least two electoral districts where the presence of a Stalin is more palpable, not Joseph but two KPRF candidates with the same name. Both are in the Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous District. In one, Dmitry Stalin is running; in the other, Aleksandr Stalin (

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