Friday, December 05, 2008

The wind of history

by our European Affairs Correspondent

RUSSIA’S communists must be ready to take power. That was the message of Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov at the 13th Congress of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) in Moscow last weekend.
“The wind of history is blowing in our sails again ... At this time of crisis the world of imperialism is starting to die. We are standing on the threshold of political and social shifts,” Zyuganov said in a two-hour speech opening the Congress attended by delegates and observers from all over the Russian Federation, as well as 88 fraternal delegations from communist and progressive movements.
New Communist Party of Britain leader Andy Brooks and Richard Bos from the Central Committee represented the Party at the Congress and took part in a number of solidarity events held during the Congress.
The CPRF was established in 1993 when the ban on communists was lifted in Russia. It is now the biggest communist movement in the country with some 160,000 members and four million active supporters. It is the second biggest parliamentary party with 57 seats in the 450-strong Duma. Zyuganov won over 13 million votes in last March’s presidential election, which the communists say was rigged by Putin’s United Russia party.
Zyuganov, 64, has led the party from its foundation and he was re-elected on Sunday along with 105 members of the Central Committee, 75 of whom are under 40.
But the CPRF general secretary said the average age of the membership was a cause for concern. Most of the activists are well over 50. People under 30 barely make up five to seven per cent of the Party. “Given the average age of its members, the party will find it hard to be active in the event of a near inevitable deterioration of the situation in the country,” he warned.
The CPRF is the direct Russian successor of the old CPSU – but not that of the CPSU’s discredited politicians who led the Soviet Union to disaster in its final years. Zyuganov dismissed claims in the Russian media that his party was drifting towards social-democracy. “We categorically reject all these allegations. We believe that they are prompted either by incompetence or by wishful thinking. Social democracy is not our path,” he declared.
The CPRF harks back to the great victories of the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin. Though Zyuganov referred to the “abuses of power” and “tragic mistakes” during the political struggles of the 1930s he added: “We have no right to forget that it was in the 1930s that the powerful production and scientific base was laid which ensured the defeat of fascism and still forms the foundation of the country’s economy.”
Zyuganov condemned the corrupt Putin government whose only successes rested on windfall oil profits that were now evaporating and whose sole objective was to cling on to power at all costs. “The ruling class is an alliance of the oligarchy, the new bourgeoisie and the top bureaucrats, who between them own the bulk of the means of production and wield real power”, he said. The working class has shrunk numerically because of the policy of deindustrial-isation and the peasantry in the devastated Russian countryside fares even worse and it has become depoliticised and déclassé.
The communist party has drawn up a programme to restore the rights of working people and prevent the collapse of the Russian economy, including the renationalisation of mining, energy and other strategic sectors. But this, Zyuganov said, would be impossible to implement in the framework of the current system dominated by bureaucrats and oligarchs.
“At one time we believed that we could come to power by taking part in elections at various levels. Now, given massive election rigging and the severe pressure of the authorities on society, this is an unlikely scenario” he said while stressing that the CPRF would “use everything – parliamentary and non-parliamentary forms and methods of struggle – to weaken the ruling group and to expose its essence in the eyes of our compatriots”.