Staunton, Nov. 2 – The trumped-up charges brought against KPRF Duma deputy Valery Rashkin, charges to get him out of the running for the leadership of that party, highlights a problem the Kremlin did not expect to face, the renewal rather than the dying off of the communist electorate, Aleksey Shaburin says.
Like many analysts in both Russia and the West, the Kremlin had assumed that the communist electorate, much of it having grown up in Soviet times, was dying off and that the KPRF therefore represents a declining political problem, especially with its lack of a charismatic leadership, the Politsovet editor says (politsovet.ru/72092-ubityy-los-i-buduschee-kprf.html).
The September Duma elections, however, showed that such assumptions were at best premature and at worst wrong and that “the main threat” the Kremlin now must cope with is the possibility of the uniting of the unbroken remnants of the non-systemic liberals with the totally systemic communists, who have access to legislative power in the regions and in the center.
For the Kremlin, such an alliance would be a nightmare; and as a result, Putin is doing everything he can to ensure that the uncharismatic Gennady Zyuganov is not pushed out of office by someone younger and more dynamic who could attract the liberals to a banner of protests both during elections and between them.
The Kremlin thus must address and solve an anything but simple task, Shaburov says. It must “find for the communists a leader who will keep the party in a more or less living state lest its electorate pass over to some third force but who will not attract into the KPRF a flow of radical protest supporters.”
According to Shaburov, the Kremlin would like to see Yury Afonin succeed Zyuganov given that the party functionary lacks charisma but is extremely influential within the party apparatus. “But Afonin is relatively young, and any youth faces in the role of party leaders are dangerous in an of themselves,” given the aging leadership of the other parties.
“Along with the selection of a new leader,” the Politsovet commentator says, “we most likely will see a powerful political and information campaign against the KPRF” lest it become the organizing core of protests against the powers that be. Attacks like the one against Rashkin are thus likely to become commonplace.
Those should be enough to keep most comrades in line, Shaburov suggests; but even they may not be enough to solve the Kremlin’s problems with a party it thought would be on its way to extinction by this time.