Under the impact of economic crisis and impatient with ‘mutant capitalism’ dominated by Kremlin cronies, younger members of the Communist Party say they could provide an alternative to ‘Putinism.’
In defiance of all expectations when the USSR collapsed, large numbers of youthful and often well-educated new activists are moving into Russia’s old Communist Party, and starting to rejuvenate its complexion and its prospects.
And under the impact of a deepening economic crisis, and impatient with what Mr. Popov calls “mutant capitalism” dominated by Kremlin cronies, younger communists say it’s time to vie for power in Russia again.
“Russians tend to be left-wing, by their history and collective mentality,” says Popov. “People are getting poorer and poorer, while all the profits go to a few friends of our president. And every year [Vladimir] Putin holds a televised town hall meeting where he pretends to solve all problems. It’s just theater. He’s actually … slashing social benefits and impoverishing people. Sooner or later, something’s going to break. I’m personally ready for revolution, just like in 1917.”
A real opposition?
‘Period of survival’
But it’s hard to dismiss a party that’s over a century old, once led Russia to superpower status, and is coming back despite all the forces arrayed against it, says Grigory Azhogin, a party activist at Moscow’s State University for the Humanities.
“Here in Moscow you don’t see how bad things are. But I’m from a small mining city, where most mines and factories have been shut down,” he says. “People know the present authorities are corrupt, they’re not interested in listening to the people. For most Russians nowadays, this is the ‘period of survival’. It will be followed by political mobilization, and who are people going to turn to if not the CP?”
The Kremlin has been worried enough about the CP, with its solid and durable base of support, to try about a decade ago to replace it with an artificial but totally loyal left-wing party, Fair Russia. But that did not enjoy much electoral success, leaving the pro-Putin United Russia party scrambling in this election cycle to outflank the Communists’ “anti-crisis program” with populist measures such as raising the minimum wage and increasing pensions.
“Our biggest problem is that the ruling party keeps stealing our ideas,” says Mr. Listov, the CP youth chief. “Of course they’re not solid or systematic about it, it’s just populism. But it shows what they are afraid of. People are hurting, and they know who is the most reliable defender of living standards and social equality in this country. And we are not going away.”
Full article: In Russia, young Communists see moment to vie for power (Christian Science Monitor)