A Brief History of the KPRF
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), as part of the Soviet Union Communist Party (KPSS), was formed in June 1990 at the 28th Congress of the KPSS Congress, converted to 1st (Constituent) KPRF Congress. The initiative of creating an independent party leadership in Russia (which existed in the other 14 USSR republics) came primarily from the KPSS's conservative wing. Ivan Polozkov - First Secretary of the KPRF's Krasnodar Regional Committee and Boris Yeltsin's recent rival at the elections for Chairman of the KPSS Supreme Soviet - was elected First Secretary of the KPRF Central Committee. Ivan Polozkov resigned on August 6, 1991 and was replaced by Valentin Kuptsov.
After the foiling of the attempted coup in August 1991, the activities of the KPRF (as well as of the KPSS throughout Russia) were suspended and then banned by President Boris Yeltsin. Most communists - the Russian people's deputies - joined the Socialist Workers Party (SPT), created after the coup led by dissident Roy Medvedev with the support of Valentin Kuptsov. The Orthodox-Stalinist wing of the former KPRF became the Russian Communist Workers Party (RKRP).
On November 30, 1992, the Russian Constitutional Court partially overturned Yeltsin's decrees on the KPSS and the KPRF, allowing local KPRF organizations to resume legal activity.
The Russian Federation Communist Party (KPRF) was founded at the II Extraordinary Russian Communists Congress (13-14 February 1993). The KPRF Charter states that "formed on the initiative of the communists associated with the KPRF's and the KPSS's primary organizations, the Russian Federation Communist Party continues the work of the KPSS and the KPRF as their ideological successor."
The congress elected the Central Executive Committee (TSIK) comprising 148 members. Congress organizers initially planned that the Party would adopt a co-chairmanship system, and that Valentin Kuptsov would play the leading role. General A. Makashov, however, called Kuptsov "a Gorbachev follower" and demanded that Gennady Zyuganov is elected as the only Party leader - not at the TSIK plenary meeting, but directly by the Congress. A. Makashov did not leave the tribune until V. Kuptsov promised to support Gennady Zyuganov and not to promote his own candidacy. Gennady Zyuganov was elected as Chairman of the KPRF Central Executive Committee at the plenary meeting.
The KPRF Congress decided that parallel membership in other left-wing parties would be allowed up to November 6, 1993, while the creation of factions within the KPRF was declared inadmissible. Most members of the "Lenin Platform," a group of EIF dissidents led by Richard Kosolapov, as well as a significant group of SPT members and many members of small parties such as the Communist League (SK) and the Russian Communist Party (RKK), joined to the KPRF.
On March 20, 1993, the II Plenary Meeting of the KPRF's Central Executive Committee decided to vote against Boris Yeltsin, against the government's socio-economic policy, in favor of early presidential elections, and against early parliamentary elections in the April referendum (NO - NO - YES - NO).
The Party took over the leadership of the Russian Communists parliamentary faction when a solid anti-Yeltsin and anti-reformist majority was created at the People's Deputies Congress and the Supreme Soviet, which was dominated by the Russian Unity parliamentary block (Communists, Agrarians, Baburin's Rossiya (Russia) and the Otchizna (Fatherland) faction, consisting of radical communists with a military slant).
In September 1993 the KRPF condemned President Yeltsin's decision to dissolve the Parliament, but the Party's official structure did not actively participate in the events of September 21 - October 4. A couple of days before the storm, Zyuganov left the Council House and appeared on television with an appeal not to yield to provocations and to exercise restraint. On October 5, the authorities decided to suspend the Party's activities for 17 days.
The First Duma
On October 26, 1993, the First KPRF Conference put forward a federal election list of candidates for the State Duma. The Conference requested elected communists to insist on the re-establishment of the legal regime that prevailed before the September 21, 1993 coup, and to restore the former Russian constitution.
In the elections of December 12, 1993, the KPRF list obtained 6,666,402 votes, corresponding to 12.40% of the votes and, according to the proportional system, 32 Duma seats. 10 KPRF candidates won in single-member districts. Moreover, 4 KPRF members were elected through other electoral formations: Georgiy Lukava, from the LDPR list; Eugene Buchenkov (in the district) and Ivan Rybkin (from the list), from the Russian Agrarian Party; and Janna Lozinskaya, from the Zhenshchiny Rossii (Women of Russia) list.
13 KPRF members were elected Members of the Federation Council (including Victor Stepanov, who had registered himself as a member of the Karelia Communist League - a KPRF offshoot -, and Vasily Starodubtsev, who was also a member of the Russian Agrarian Party). After the elections, Federation Council MP Vyacheslav Zvolinsky also became a KPRF member.
In January 1994, a communist faction of 45 MPs was registered in the State Duma. Gennady Zyuganov was elected Deputy Chairman, Victor Zorkaltsev was elected Deputy Chairman Assistant, and Oleg Shenkarev was elected Coordinator. On January 13, 1994, the KPRF faction put forward an independent candidate, Valentin Kovalyov, for President of the State Duma, but Kovalyov eventually withdrew his candidacy. With the "Coalition List" (approved on January 17, 1994) the KPRF faction secured the positions of Duma Deputy Chairman (V.Kovalev), Security Committee Chairman (Viktor Ilyukhin), Public Associations and Religious Organizations Committee (Victor Zorkaltsev) and Credentials Committee Chairman (Vitaly Sevastyanov).
Ivan Rybkin, KPRF member and Agrarian faction representative, was elected Duma Speaker - an important victory for left-wing forces in the First State Duma. Clearly outnumbered, Gaidar supporters seriously considered boycotting the Duma and demanding its dissolution by the President. Having secured dominance in the State Duma, left-wing forces acknowledged that they were a political force of the establishment and agreed to "play by the rules" of the new Constitution, abandoning the idea of 'returning to September 1993'.
On February 23, 1994, State Duma KPRF members voted in favor of amnesty for members of the Emergency Committee and the participants of the September-October 1993 events. They were released from prison immediately after the publication of the amnesty decrees, despite attempts by President Yeltsin to prevent it through subordinate security forces.
KPRF members voted almost unanimously (with the exception of one member) for non-confidence in Chernomyrdin's government on October 27, 1994, June 21 and July 1, 1995.
On January 10, 1995, the faction expelled Valentin Kovalev, who had agreed to become Minister of Justice in Chernomyrdin's government, considering such an appointment to be an attempt to discredit the KPRF and "to present the current government as a kind of 'coalition' force despite it not being one."
In the summer of 1995, the faction gathered the 150 signatures required to initiate President Yeltsin's impeachment process, but at the Duma Meeting on July 12, 1995 they failed to obtain the 226 votes required to establish the committee in charge of bringing an accusation, thus halting the process.
The Second Duma: The Left majority
On August 26, 1995, the Third KPRF Pan-Russian Conference selected its candidates for the State Duma of the II Convocation. Gennady Zyuganov, Aman Tuleyev (formally a non-party member) and Svetlana Goryacheva took over the top positions in the general federation list.
The KPRF list secured the first place in the State Duma elections held on December 17, 1995, obtaining 15,432,963 votes or 22.30% - 99 seats according to the proportional system. 58 communists were elected in single-member districts. All in all, the KPRF secured 157 seats in the Second Duma. Moreover, 23 candidates officially supported by the KPRF won State Duma seats (independents, Agrarians and candidates from the "Power to the People!" movement). The liberal press noted with bitter irony that they were likely to learn about the upcoming parliamentary assignments from the Central Committee's plenary decisions, just like in the old days. On the opening day of the Second Duma, President Yeltsin sacked Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais and Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev (replaced by Evgeny Primakov), both highly unpopular figures among communists.
Gennady Seleznev, a KPRF representative, was elected Chairman of the State Duma. In the Second State Duma, as per the "Package Agreement," the KPRF was assigned the Deputy Chairmanship (S. Goryacheva), a position in the Law Committee (Anatoly Lukyanov), in the Safety Committee (Ilyukhin), in the Economic Policy Committee (Yuri Masliukov), in the Committee for Federation Affairs and Regional Policy (Leonid Ivanchenko), in the Committee for Public and Religious Organizations (V.Zorkaltsev), in the Education and Science Committee (Ivan Melnikov), in the Veteran Affairs Committee (Valentin Varennikov), in the Women Affairs Committee (Alevtina Aparina), in the Tourism and Sports Committee (A. Sokolov), - the KPRF voluntarily gave another Committee Chairmanship to the Narodovlastie (Democracy) Group - the Chairmanship of the Credentials Committee (V.Sevastyanov) and a Deputy Chairmanship in each of the remaining 19 committees.
On March 15, 1995, KPRF State Duma members initiated the abolition of the KPRF Supreme Council's decree on the 1922 termination of the Union Treaty. These actions almost caused the dissolution of the Duma, but the Minister of the Interior Anatoly Kulikov, having consulted with the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Constitutional Court, refused to act upon President Yeltsin's instructions and the latter waived his demand.
The issue of the President's impeachment was not raised by the KPRF in the first half of 1996, and the Party did not support Yabloko's non-confidence motion in January, hoping to solve the authority problem with the presidential elections in June.
Presidential Elections - 1996
On February 15, 1996, the Fourth KPRF National Conference nominated Zyuganov as the Party's candidate for the presidential elections. He was appointed by a group of citizens, the majority of whom were members of Alexey Podberezkin's Dukhovnoye Naslediye (Spiritual Heritage) movement. In February-March 1996 the KPRF formed the National-Patriotic Forces Unit to support Zyuganov. On June 16, 1996, in the first round of the presidential elections, Zyuganov obtained, according to official figures, 24,211,790 votes - or 32.04% - securing the second place (Yeltsin obtained 35.28%). In the second round, held on July 3, 1995, Zyuganov obtained 30,113,306 votes, or 40.31%.
After the elections. The vote and the impeachment
The KPRF supported Viktor Chernomyrdin's first government after the 1996 presidential elections, deeming it a "coalitional" government. A significant number of communists voted for Chernomyrdin's assignment as Prime Minister in August 1996, approved the budget, etc.. At the same time, while approving the budgets, KPRF members were trying to obtain certain conditions from the government. In particular, in January 1997, these conditions included the allocation of part of the federal budget - the so-called "Development Budget" - which was supposed to be managed by the State Duma Committee for Economic Policy, headed by KPRF member Yuri Maslyukov.
With the formation of "The Young Reformers Government" in March 1997, where Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov acted as First Deputy Prime Ministers, the KPRF gradually became more oppositional, repeatedly demanding the President to dismiss Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, though not questioning the Party's confidence in the government - partly because of the rumors that in this case Yeltsin would nominate Chubais as his Prime Minister candidate.
In April-May 1997, KPRF representatives evaded a vote of non-confidence in the government twice, first put forth by Agrarian communist Vladimir Bayunovym, and then by a group of Narodovlastie and Yabloko members. On June 17, 1997, in an interview with Sovetskaya Rossija, Zyuganov talked about the non-confidence vote as follows: "Yavlinsky and Baburin are making a big fuss about the government's resignation - they want to change two or three people who are honestly performing their duties. Apparently, they also want to legitimize a government made up of Nemtsovs, Chubais, Kochs, Urinsons... Once again they are playing hide-and-seek, trying to reach an agreement with Nemtsov and Chubais, so that they can eliminate the Prime Minister tomorrow, reassign the posts, and continue mocking Russia with new energy."
On October 7, 1997 the KPRF, the Agrarians and the Narodovlastie group began collecting signatures for a non-confidence vote in the Chernomyrdin, Chubais and Nemtsov government. The non-confidence motion was discussed on October 15, with speeches by the Prime Minister and the faction leaders. And then, just before the vote, President Yeltsin sent a telephone message to State Duma Speaker Gennadiy Seleznev, saying that he agreed to make some concessions to the authors of the non-confidence motion, while also promising that the Government would draw conclusions from the criticism they had heard. At the suggestion of Gennady Zyuganov, Parliament members postponed the vote for a week and waited for the implementation of Yeltsin's promises.
On October 22, Zyuganov announced the withdrawal of the non-confidence motion and listed the promises made by President Yeltsin in his previous day meeting with faction leaders: not writing off three zeros from Sberbank's deposits during the denomination process; establishing a permanent round table for political forces and debate land and depositor rights issues; creating a "Parliamentary Hour" show on radio and television; creating "The Parliamentary Newspaper". Most promises were confirmed by specific decrees and orders, and subsequently implemented.
After the resignation of Chernomyrdin's Government in the spring of 1998, on the initiative of President Boris Yeltsin, KPRF State Duma representatives opposed the assignment of Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko. However, at a State Duma meeting held on April 24, 1998, when voting Kiriyenko's assignment as Government Chairman, some communists voted "in favour" (since his rejection could imply the Duma's dissolution). Following the resignation of Kiriyenko's cabinet in August 1998, the KPRF opposed Chernomyrdin as a Prime Minister candidate (despite the initial behind-the scenes agreement), and in September 1998 the Party supported Yevgeny Primakov's candidacy. Primakov's cabinet included KPRF members Y. Maslyukov (First Deputy Prime Minister) and Gennady Hodyrev (Minister for Anti-Monopoly Policy and Business Support) - formally on an individual basis, but in fact with the approval of the Party leadership.
On January 22, 1997, V. Ilyukhin issued a decree ousting President Boris Yeltsin from his office because of his health condition, which was to come into force after the Federation Council's approval (the so-called "medical impeachment"). Allied faction leaders Nikolai Ryzhkov and Nikolai Kharitonov deemed the decree unconstitutional. Together with KPRF representatives Lukyanov and L.Ivanchenko, they suggested alternative solutions: to encourage the President to resign voluntarily and to intensify the ongoing work on Presidential continuity laws, but these proposals obtained less than 200 votes. The decree was taken as a basis. Immediately thereafter, at the suggestion of Mikhail Yuryev (Yabloko), Chairman Alexander Shokhin (NDR) put the resolution to a vote as a whole, but it obtained no more than 87 votes. For the final vote on February 14, 142 MPs supported Ilyukhin's variant, while 131 voted for Oleg Morozov's "advisory" option: instead of ascertaining Yeltsin's inability to rule the country, they requested the Ministry of Health to inform the Duma of the President's health by March 1.
In the spring of 1999 the KPRF insisted that the Duma should discuss Boris Yeltsin's early removal from power. All KPRF MPs/members voted for the impeachment.
On August 16, 1999, 32 KPRF MPs - including Zorkaltsev, Seleznev and Shandybin - voted for Putin as a Prime Minister candidate. 52 members voted against him - including Astrahankina, Bindyukov and Makashov - while 4 other MPs abstained - including Goryacheva. Zyuganov, Ilyukhin, Kuptsov, Kravets, Podberezkin and others did not vote.
The Federation Council initially rejected the social-oriented laws adopted by the left-wing majority. Following the 1996/1997 gubernatorial elections the Federation Council significantly veered left, and in 1998 and (in particular) in 1999, it was the Federation Council, which helped the Duma overcome presidential vetoes on "undesirable" laws. The most notable example was the law prohibiting the restitution of cultural property without Parliament approval.
1999 Elections. The Third Duma
On September 4, 1999, the Sixth (Extraordinary) KPRF Congress decided to run for elections under the Party's own name; KPRF's candidate lists included a significant number of non-party activists and members of other left-wing parties and movements, including Aman Tuleyev, Sergei Glazyev, N. Haritonov (leader of the Agrarian Deputy Group in the Duma) and Alexander Davydov (Chairman of the Central Union of Agro-industrial Workers). Zyuganov, Seleznyov, and Starodubtsev entered the top-three list. The Party stated its goal of achieving a constitutional majority of 2/3 votes in the new Duma.
In the elections held on December 19, 1999, the KPRF obtained 16,195,569 votes, corresponding to 24.29% and (under the proportional system) 67 seats. Having added 700,000 votes and 2% to the 1995 results, however, the Party lost some seats because of the so-called "prize", i.e. votes cast for outsider parties and redistributed among winning parties. In single-member territorial constituencies, the KPRF secured 46 seats. The Party registered 95 MPs.
In January 2000, the third phase of the Sixth KPRF Congress appointed Zyuganov as Russian President candidate. On March 26th's presidential elections, Gennady Zyuganov obtained 21,928,471 votes, corresponding to 29.21% of the ballots (second only to Putin, who won in the first round).
On May 17, 2000, the Duma discussed the approval of President Putin's Prime Minister candidate, Mikhail Kasyanov. On behalf of the Party, Gennady Zyuganov spoke neither for nor against it, wishing Kasyanov success. 28 faction members voted for Kasyanov, 36 voted against, and 7 abstained.
On March 14, 2001, the faction voted for a non-confidence motion against Kasyanov's government (4 out of 85 MPs didn't vote - Maslyukov, Goryacheva, Seleznev and Shakirov).
On June 6, 2001, the third and final draft of the law on nuclear waste (SNF - "Spent Nuclear Fuel") imports - which was opposed by the Yabloko movement and, partly, by the SPS - was passed by the State Duma. 40 KPRF MPs, together with the "centrists", voted for the import of spent nuclear fuel, which was approved by a majority of 243 votes.
On June 15, 2001, when discussing the Land Code's first draft, the faction seized the tribune and shouting "Shame! Shame!," leaving the hall en masse at the time of voting. The Land Code voting in the summer of 2001 was a turning point for the KPRF's position regarding the State Duma. While the legacy of the Second Duma (1996-1999) had sometimes led the Party press to passively assess the Duma - with all its "spinelessness" regarding the President - as a national representation institution that played a positive role, on October 4, 2001, the KPRF staged a rally under the slogan "Down with the Anti-People Government and the Corrupt Duma."
On December 14, 2001, the communist MPs in the Duma voted against the 2002 budget.
In the spring of 2002, the new pro-government ("centrist") majority - which comprised Unity (Edinstvo), Fatherland (Otechestvo), People's Deputies (Narodny Deputat) and Russian Regions (Regiony Rossii) members - deprived the KPRF and the Agrarians of most senior positions in the Duma committees. In response, the TSK plenary meeting decided to remove all remaining committee chairmen and State Duma Speaker G. Seleznev from office. For failing to comply with this decision, Gennady Seleznev, Svetlana Goryacheva and Nikolay Hubenko were excluded first from the faction and then from the Party.
During the second (April 26, 2002) and third and final readings (May 22, 2002), the KPRF (and all other Duma factions) voted for the new law "On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the RF Citizens' Right to Participate in the Referendum". This law prohibited "actions aimed to encourage or encouraging voters to vote for or against specific candidates (lists) or against all" during election campaigns, outside political advertisement outlets, paid by registered electoral funds - in other words, it substantially restricted the constitutional right of the media (and of citizens speaking through the media) to express their opinion on the candidates.
On December 11, 2002, the State Duma's KPRF faction voted against the 2003 budget. On February 21, 2003, the KPRF voted against Chubais' "Law on the Electric Power Industry." On April 9, 2003, the Party voted against the 3rd reading of the government's amendments to the "Law on the Basic Principles of Federal Housing Policy," which provided, in particular, for the eviction of non-payers from their apartments.
On June 18, 2003, together with the Agrarians, Yabloko and Zhirinovsky, the KPRF faction voted in favor of the non-confidence motion against M. Kasyanov's government, but the motion did not obtain the required majority.
The Fourth Duma
In the Duma elections of December 7, 2003, the KPRF obtained, according to official figures, 7,647,820 votes, corresponding to 12.61% of the ballots and 40 seats under the proportional system; only 11 KPRF candidates were elected in single-member districts. 51 MPs were registered in KPRF faction.
Having become the majority, the United Russia Party (Edinaya Rossiya; ER) promptly assigned every Duma Committee chairmanship to their members. The KPRF faction refused to take part in the Committee allocation voting.
The KPRF's candidate for the 2004 presidential elections was Nikolai Kharitonov, a member of the Left Agrarians who obtained 9,513,313 votes (13.69%) and became the runner-up.
In March-June 2004, the State Duma approved the third reading of the law "On Meetings, Rallies, Demonstrations, Processions and Picketing", thereby establishing a lax procedure for holding mass rallies. The KPRF faction voted against it in all three readings.
In July-August 2004, the State Duma adopted a law on the monetization of benefits, providing for the replacement of benefits with meager monetary compensation. The KPRF faction voted against this law in all three readings and arranged demonstrations against it.
In September 2004, the KPRF opposed the President's initiative to adopt a proportional system in State Duma elections. In the same month, the KPRF faction failed to reach an agreement with Rodina on a non-confidence motion against M. Fradkov's government. The KPRF wanted to express their distrust of President Putin's regime and demanded change. This proved to be unacceptable to Rogosin's Rodina.
Between late October and early December 2004, the State Duma adopted (in the third reading) a number of amendments to the laws "On General Organizational Principles of Legislative and Executive Bodies of State Power of RF subjects" and "On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the RF Citizens' Right to Participate in the Referendum," thereby abolishing the direct election of governors. The KPRF faction voted "against."
In the fall of 2004, the State Duma witnessed heated discussions on a LDPR/ER initiative to make amendments to the Labor Code, abolishing several holidays - including the 7th of November - in exchange for New Year holidays and the 4th of November. The KPRF strongly opposed this initiative both in the Duma and in the regions. In early November, Gennady Zyuganov expressed the KPRF's position as follows: "The United Russia Party can abolish the political status of November 7th, but that will only make the glory of October even greater. Let the United Russia, LDPR and Rodina members make all the noise they want in the Duma, but the holiday does not depend on their will. Our people will keep on celebrating the 7th of November the way they used to. I'm sure they will celebrate even more. Holidays are not defined with a poke of a finger in the calendar. A holiday is a mystical thing, this feeling is born and lives in the people's soul, not by behest of the authorities. We may recall the Church's struggle against the pagan Maslenitsa Carnival, which lasted for centuries until this grassroots holiday finally entered the Orthodox Calendar. The bitter experience of the Soviet Communist Party with the Church reveals that destroying churches with bulldozers does not prevent people from celebrating Christmas and Easter.'
In December 2004 (the first reading took place in June), the State Duma adopted the Housing Policy Code, which allowed the eviction of people from their apartments, forbade hostel residents from privatizing residential areas, reduced the period of apartment privatization and de-privatization to January 1st, 2007, abolished State duties to finance major repairs, etc. The KPRF faction voted against the Housing Policy Code.
In January-February 2005, the KPRF organized protests in dozens of regions against the monetization of benefits, in most cases joined by Eduard Limonov's National Bolshevik Party (NBP). In some regions the KPFR also acted together with Yabloko and Rodina. In Moscow, Sergei Udaltsov's Red Youth Vanguard (AKM) joined the KPRF.
In January 2005, 19 State Council members, including 6 KPRF representatives (V. Kashin - Deputy Chairman of the Party's Central Committee, N. Ezersky, N. Kondratenko, A. Makashov, P. Svechnikov, S. Sobko), signed the "500 Letter" demanding that the Prosecutor General's Office file a case to ban the activities of all Jewish religious and national associations in Russia as extremist.
In May-June 2005, the State Duma adopted new amendments to the electoral law, providing for a ban on electoral blocs, an increase in State Duma's electoral access threshold to 7%, the destitution of MP mandates, half of the officials in election commissions (instead of the previous one-third), as well as the impossibility of collecting signatures and pledge to be safe, in addition to an increase in bureaucratic obstacles, making the signature collection process almost surreal, permission to remove entire regions from "against all" ballot counts, and much more. The KPRF voted against these amendments.
In June 2006, the State Duma passed in three readings a bill repealing the "against all" vote. The KPRF voted against it.
In June-October 2006, the State Duma adopted in third reading the law "On Autonomous Institutions", which in fact allows the privatization of public universities; the KPRF faction voted "against".
In late June and early July 2006, the State Duma adopted amendments to the first readings of the laws "On Fighting the Extremist Activity" and "On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right to Participate in Referendum".
According to these amendments, the definition of "extremism" includes "public slander" against a government representative, "coupled with accusations of committing serious or especially serious crimes." For example, publically accusing a government official of corruption is considered extremism. Furthermore, "public calls and speeches" "encouraging" the implementation of extremist activity is considered "extremism". But such "motivation" cannot be proved. Such amendments legitimize the repression of the opposition. The amendments allow for the exclusion of "extremists" from party lists or even the exclusion of entire parties from electoral processes. The KPRF faction in the Council voted against these amendments.
Splits: Seleznev, Semigin, "Waterfowl"
In the spring of 2002, after the redistribution of the State Duma positions, Gennady Seleznev, Svetlana Goryacheva and Nikolay Hubenko, who had refused to show solidarity with their party associates by abandoning their Duma posts, were excluded from the Party. Soon Seleznev created his own party, the Russian Rebirth Party (PVR), and a few months later N. Gubenko was reinstated in the Communist Party.
In late 2003 to early 2004, leaders of the KPRF and the NPSR (Russian National Patriotic Union) were engaged in a conflict concerning the personality and political choices of NPSR Chairman Gennady Semigin. In a joint editorial, Alexander Prokhanov and Valentin Chikin (editors of the newspapers Zavtra and Sovetskaya Rossiya) called Semigin "a mole" of the regime in the NPSR, and accused Sergey Potapov (Secretary of the KPRF Central Committee for Organizational Issues) of condoning Semigin's activities. When selecting KPRF's presidential candidate, Gennady Semigin obtained almost half of the TSK plenary meeting and Party Congress votes, despite the fact that Gennady Zyuganov categorically opposed Semigin and supported Nikolai Kharitonov, who as a result became a candidate.
On April 9, 2004 Semigin created the Russian Patriots movement as a basis for a "broad coalition of leftist forces", designed as an alternative to the KPRF. On May 18, 2004, the KPRF's Central Committee Presidium expelled G. Semigin from the Party because of his divisive activities. On May 20, Semigin seceded from the KPRF faction.
On July 1st, at NSPR's Coordinating Council meeting, G. Zyuganov was dismissed from his post as NPSR Chairman. G. Semigin, Chairman of the Executive Committee, was elected Acting Chairman of NPSR's Coordinating Council. These decisions were based on the assertion, made by Semigin's allies in the NSPR, that under the new legislation the KPRF could not be a NSPR collective member, and that all Communist Party COP members should be removed.
The same day, G. Semigin's KPRF supporters held the plenary meeting of the Central Committee in Moscow, which voted for Zyuganov's removal from the post of Central Committee Chairman - Vladimir Tikhonov, Ivanov's Regional Government, was elected in his place. Later that day, according to the version of Zyuganov's allies, a Central Committee plenary meeting was held in the capital city approving a statement signed by Zyuganov in which the Kremlin was accused of trying to destroy the KPRF from within. History is silent as to which of the two meetings reached a quorum (some journalists say both).
On July 3, 2004, Moscow hosted two KPRF meetings - Zyuganov's meeting in the Izmailovo Concert Hall, and the "Waterfowl's" meeting (held on a boat moored in the Moskva River). Both meetings claimed to be legitimate and to have the presence of the required number of delegates.
On July 6, 2004, Yabloko expressed their support for the KPFR against backstage power games.
The purge of the Party's ranks took place after the Congress. On July 12, 2004, General Albert Makashov was expelled from the KPRF for participating in an "alternative Central Committee plenum", though he remained a KPRF faction member in the State Duma. In July-September 2004, several regional branch leaders and Central Committee members who had attended the notorious "Waterfowl Congress" were deprived of their positions and party membership cards. In late July 2004, the Ministry of Justice confirmed the legitimacy of Zyuganov's Congress. Shortly thereafter, a V. Tikhonov-S. Potapov group announced the creation of the Pan-Russian Communist Party of the Future (VKPB). The VKPB was not a real competitor of the KPRF and existed as a registered party for only six months - from December 2004 to July 2005.
With Yabloko and the Committee-2008
In December 2003, the KPRF conducted a parallel vote count in the State Duma elections, showing that Yabloko overcame the 5% threshold (obtaining 5.3%). Furthermore, according to the KPRF, 1% of the votes had been stolen from the Rodina movement (according to KPRF's data, the movement obtained 10.5%) and about 4% had been added to the United Russia Party. Following the parallel vote count, the KPRF sent the Central Electoral Commission an official appeal denouncing electoral irregularities. According to the KPRF, a large-scale fraud had been committed.
On December 14, 2004, the Supreme Court rejected the claims put forth by the KPRF, the Yabloko Party and Committee-2008 members in a lawsuit for the recognition of State Council electoral results, declaring the election results of December 7, 2003 invalid.
On October 27, 2005 the PKRF, Yabloko and members of the Committee-2008 addressed the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, with a complaint against the Russian Federation's Central Election Commission. The complaint hasn't been considered till now (December 2011).
Purge - 2007
In spring-fall 2007Anatoly Baranov - editor of the kprf.ru website - was expelled from the Party on the initiative of the Central Control Commission, headed by Vladimir Nikitin. At around the same time, Ilya Ponomarev, who was also involved in KPRF's internet projects, left the Party. They were accused of "neo-Trotskyism". For the 2007 elections, Baranov was already on the lists of Alexey Podberezkin's Social Justice Party, while Ilya Ponomarev was included on Fair Russia's lists.
Regional Elections 2003-2007
The Party contested all regional elections between 2003 and 2007, except for Ingushetia (December 7, 2003), Taimyr (January 23, 2005), and Chukotka (December 25, 2005). Under the proportional system the KPRF never had a disastrous result in these elections, and successfully kept the 2nd place as per the total number of elected MPs; in some regions, however, it ranked 3rd and even 4th following Regional Governors' alliances, the Liberal Democratic Party, or, for example, the Agrarians.
In 2003 the KPRF secured 4 second places in 6 campaigns. In 2004, out of 17 elections, it obtained 2 first places (in the Altai region with the Agrarians, and in the Koryak Autonomous District) and 9 second places. In 2005 it secured 1 first place (Nenetskiy Autonomous District) and 11 second places out of 18. In 2006 the Party obtained 10 second places out of 18. In the spring of 2007, 9 second places out of 15.
Between 2007 and 2011 the KPRF had only one Governor - Nikolai Vinogradov (Vladimir region), who was reassigned by President Medvedev. Vinogradov suspended his KPRF membership in January 2008 by mutual agreement with the Party. Furthermore, the United Russia Party came to power after the 2009 Regional Assembly elections, instead of the KPRF, obtaining a 2/3 majority in the RA, which significantly reduced Vinogradov's room for maneuver.
During the 2007 election campaign the Party drew a clear contrast with the United Russia Party, calling out to all opposition-minded citizens to vote for their list. At the very beginning of the campaign the KPRF made an effort to popularize the slogan "Better red than blue!", referring to the United Russia Party's colors.
The Party tried to attract undecided voters, in particular with the campaign "Everyone has a reason to vote for the KPRF."
The election results were as follows: 8,046,886 votes (11.57%, second place), 57 seats in the Fifth State Duma.
In the Fifth Duma, KPRF members held the position of Duma Deputy Chairman (Ivan Melnikov) and the chairmanship of two committees: the Industry Committee (Yuri Maslyukov and, following his death, Sergey Sobko) and the Ethnic Affairs Committee (Valentin Kuptsov).
The KPRF faction in the Fifth Duma consistently voted against all Federal Budgets between 2009 and 2012.
In the 9 regional campaigns held in December 2007, the KPRF secured 8 second places; the only exception was the Kamchatka Territory election, where the Party took the third place, right after the LDPR.
On December 15, 2007, the Twelfth KPRF Congress selected Gennady Zyuganov as the Party's presidential candidate. Regional branches were considering other candidates - in particular, Ivan Melnikov (Deputy Chairman of the Party's Central Committee), but after the debate all regions supported Zyuganov.
Speaking at the Congress, Ivan Melnikov said that pensioners, public sector employees and villagers were no longer the KPRF's electoral base, becoming the ruling party's vote bank instead. But the Party's electorate expanded "with industrial workers, due to the efforts of intellectuals from technical areas and the humanities, whose position is characterized by a kind of political 'Fronde' and by a rejection of the current standards of living. And also thanks to the youth, including critically thinking people who voted in dissent."
On December 26, 2007, Gennady Zyuganov was registered as KPRF's Russian President candidate. In the elections of March 4, 2008, he took the traditional second place, this time with a score of 17.72% (13.243.550 votes).
The 13th KPRF Delegate Conference was held on 29-30 November 2008; St. Petersburg's Committee was represented at the Congress. When the St. Petersburg City Committee voted against Svyatoslav Sokol (who had been proposed as First Secretary by the Party leaders), the Central Auditing Commission and the Central Committee protested against the Conference results and disbanded the St. Petersburg City Committee. Subsequently, Vladimir Fyodorov - First Secretary of the City Committee and leader of the KPRF faction in the Legislative Assembly - was expelled from the Party.
Alexander Frolov, a member of the Presidium, unveiled the voting results for the "Leningrad Case" in his blog. 8 members voted "in favour": Gennady Zyuganov (the Party Chairman), Vladimir Kashin (a "simple" Deputy Chairman), Sergey Levchenko (from Irkutsk), Valery Rashkin (Organization Secretary) Valentin Romanov (Samara), Peter Romanov (Krasnoyarsk), Svyatoslav Sokol (SPb), Valery Shurchanov (Pravda editor), and 6 members voted "against": Ivan Melnikov (First Deputy), Boris Kashin (Mathematician), Oleg Kulikov (Ideologue), Valentin Kupcov (former First Secretary and First Deputy Chairman), Sergey Reshulsky (Faction Coordinator), Alexander Frolov (Sovetskoy Rossii columnist). The Conference was marked by an exchange of caustic remarks between the leader of the Party's national-patriotic wing (TSKRK Chairman Vladimir Nikitin) and the internationalist wing, represented by Vladimir Ulas (then First Secretary of the Moscow City Committee), Oleg Smolin (independent KPRF State Duma MP) and Zhores Alferov (scholar). As a result, 4 out of 6 Presidium members who had voted against the dissolution of the St. Petersburg Сity Сommittee (and only 1 of the 8 who voted for - Svyatoslav Sokol) lost their posts.
Up to February 2009, the St. Petersburg KPRF branch was managed by an appointed commission, headed by the Secretary of the Central Committee for Organizational Issues (Valery Rashkin). Svyatoslav Sokol himself took the position of First Secretary in February, triggering a conflict between the TSKRK and the Moscow City Committee. To begin with, internet discussion forums supported by the Moscow Committee, where participants expressed their sympathy for the leaders of the disbanded St. Petersburg City Committee and posted materials from a number of small radical/communist organizations opposing the KPRF, were eliminated. In May 2010, the Presidium disbanded the Moscow Committee Bureau headed by V. Ulas, and in July the TSK plenary meeting dissolved the City Committee and appointed a temporary commission headed by V. Rashkin. A new Committee was elected in December 2010, now headed by V. Rashkin on a permanent basis.
In response to the rise of V. Putin and the creation of the United Russia People's Front, Gennady Zyuganov announced the establishment of the People's Militia. Militias carried out several activities in the regions, many of which attended by Central Committee leaders, but the structure and purpose of these militias were not clearly defined. In a number of Party publications, the militia appears under the title "People's Militia on behalf of Minin and Pozharsky"; the creation of an organization with such a name was suggested a year earlier by Colonel Vladimir Kvachkov, for which he was arrested on charges of plotting to seize power.
Regional Elections 2008-2011
The KPRF didn't miss a single opportunity to contest elections in the past three and a half years.
The Party only failed to secure regional parliament seats - either through lists or in single-member districts - in 4 of the 53 electoral regions. These were the Chechen Republic (0.33%; there are no single-member districts), Tuva (4.45%), Kemerovo (3.47%), and the Chukotka Autonomous District (4.83%).
In all other 30 regions (i.e. those where active Legislative Assemblies were elected until 2007) the KPRF is represented under the proportional system.
All in all, in the summer of 2011 the KPRF held 462 regional mandates, corresponding to 10.68% of the total number.
Around 9000 communists hold positions as local government members, which is about 3% of the number of municipal representatives. Typically, the KPRF manages to nominate candidates for 10-15% of municipal mandates. Last year, the average result of KPRF municipal candidates was 20-22%. In 2011, according to the KPRF Organizational Department, the average number of candidates per municipal mandate was less than two, which means that in many districts elections were far from competitive - something which was not allowed by the previous 1997-1999 electoral law. According to the KPRF, this situation is due to the ongoing intimidation of local candidates.
In the 2008-2011 elections, KPRF members and candidates became mayors of Apatity (Murmansk region), Bratsk (Irkutsk region), Shatura (Moscow region), Pushchino (Moscow region), Vorkuta, Bronnitsy (Moscow region), Pervouralsk, Irkutsk. As a rule, this is followed - in the most harmless cases - by luring the new Mayor to the United Russia Party, but more often than not by their dismissal under the pretext of changing the power structure (the introduction of the City Manager post) or even by their imprisonment.
According to the estimates of journalist and political scientist Michael Tula - out of 50 town and village mayors who won against an United Russia candidate in 2008-2011 (including the Communists, Equalitarians, independent candidates and others) 45 (i.e. 90%) were "cleaned out" in several ways, while 27 were victims of "special-order" criminal charges (in comparison, over the 8 years of Vladimir Putin's term no more than 20 opposition mayors were removed).
The ideology of the KPRF
KPRF's ideology is rather orthodox and largely based on the classic tenets of Marxism-Leninism. Nevertheless, the Party's ideologues and activists often speak about the need for the transparency of democratic procedures, freedom of speech and freedom of press. The KPRF shows the utmost respect for the "religious traditions of the Russian people," and in particular for the Orthodox Church. The Party's guidelines and activities reflect views that Lenin would consider a "national-reformist agenda" and, to a lesser extent, a "social-reformist program" (gravitating to the left of European social democracy).
Although not formally organized, two competing platforms coexist within the Party - the internationalist, socialist wing (led by I. Melnikov), and the nationalist, "national-patriotic" faction (led by V. Nikitin); KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov is much closer to the latter.
Despite official opposition to the political agenda of the United Russia Party and the Russian Government, the KPRF supports several government positions on foreign policy issues (such as the recognition, in August 2008, of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia).
The Party attends international communist meetings that are regularly organized by the Greek Communist Party, which shares KPRF's rejection of Eurocommunism and commitment to orthodox values.
On the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council, KPRF representatives are part of the European United Left, which congregates various sorts of communists and radical greens.
The first stage of the 14th Party Congress, held on September 24, 2011, put forward a federal list of 597 (595 at the time of registration) State Duma candidates, led by Gennady Zyuganov, Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov (Chairman of the Movement in Support of the Army) and Yuri Afonin (Secretary of the Central Committee for Youth Affairs). The top ten also included scholar Zhores Alfyorov; cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya; Ivan Melnikov and Vladimir Kashin (Deputy Chairmen of the KPRF Central Committee); Viktor Cherkesov (a retired security officer, formerly known as Vladimir Putin's retainer); Dmitry Novikov (Central Committee Secretary); Kazbek Taysaev (First Secretary of the Northern-Ossetian Republican Committee). The list also comprised 51 of 57 KPRF Duma MPs.
The list included Alexei Lebed (former Khakassia Governor) and Vasily Likhachev (former Tatarstan Vice-President). The only communist Governor - Nikolai Vinogradov (Vladimir region) - did not run.
The Party contested the regional elections of December 4, 2011 in all 27 regions, and managed to elect its candidates in all of them.
The main slogan of the KPRF campaign in 2001 was "The Majority Must Win!".
The Party's official results were 19.19% (over 12.5 million votes) and 92 Duma mandates.
In the Sixth Duma, as in the previous five Dumas, Gennady Zyuganov headed the KPRF faction. KPRF representatives were appointed First Vice-Speaker (Ivan Melnikov) and Chairmen of five different committees: the Property Committee (Sergey Gavrilov); the Industry Committee (Sergey Sobko); the Land Relations and Construction Committee (Aleksey Russkikh); the Defense Committee (Vladimir Komoedov); and the Regional Policy Committee (Nikolay Kharitonov).
At the first Duma session, Gennady Zyuganov supported opposition demands for new State Duma elections in connection with law violations during the voting process.
The second stage of the 14th KPRF Congress, held on December 17, 2011, formally nominated G.A. Zyuganov as a presidential candidate. It was his fourth presidential campaign. Zyuganov took the second place after Vladimir Putin (according to official results, he obtained 17.18% of the turnout).
KPRF since 2012
The KPRF took part in the protests against election fraud in Russia (2011-2012), in rallies against the opening of a NATO transit point in Ulyanovsk, and spoke out against Russia's accession to the WTO.
In the Duma, the Party supported the new law on political parties, although expressing some criticism. The KPRF also voted against the second and third readings of the bill on the direct election of governors, and actively opposed the amendments to the Rallies and Public Meetings Law, which increased the responsibility of organizers and participants for any violation of public order at mass rallies. After the adoption of these amendments, the Duma (mostly United Russia representatives), the KPRF and the Fair Russia movement filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court. In 2013, the KPRF also created the People's Initiative project, in opposition to the State's Public Initiative. The project allows any initiative by any person (if it is not contrary to the Constitution and the Party program) to be placed for voting and discussion, and if the proposal gets 20.000 registered online votes, the KPRF will turn it into a bill and present it to the State Duma for approval. Numerous initiatives were posted on the project's website between 2013 and 2016, but only three (as of April 2016) obtained 20,000 votes.
In 2014, the KPRF supported Russia's annexation of Crimea and the struggle of the self-proclaimed DNR (Donetsk People's Republic) and LNR (Luhansk People's Republic) against the new Ukrainian government. On June 2nd, 2014, KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov said that Russia should recognize DNR and LNR as independent states and send the Donbass International Brigade to fight the Ukrainian government, which he called "the Kiev Junta."
In December 2015, at the request of the KPRF MPs and one United Russia MP, the Constitutional Court decided that heads of smaller settlements should be elected by direct vote only.
In April 2016, at the request of the KPRF faction, the Constitutional Court restricted the powers of the Federal Legislator when establishing the order of spending payments on major repairs.
In May 2016, at the request of the KPRF faction (and in the context of a large-scale truckers strike), the Constitutional Court restricted the powers of the Platon electronic toll operator for heavy vehicles; furthermore, the Court banned the Federal Legislator's excessive encumbrance of transportation entrepreneurs brought by this system.
Before the 2016 State Duma elections, the KPRF introduced a kind of primary election for the appointment of future MP assistants. The registration procedure is open to all candidates: everyone - except KPRF members and other parties' representatives or supporters - can present a candidate by posting a voting questionnaire on a specific internet website. It is said, the candidate with the most registered user votes, will then become an MP assistant. Although there are no debates between the contenders, any visitor can ask the candidates a few questions - provided they give their consent.
Maxim Ivanov, a journalist writing for the Kommersant-Vlast newspaper, pointed out that in 2016 the KPRF ceased to be the ruling party's opponent on strategic development issues, especially in foreign policy matters (support for the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the annexation of Crimea, the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine), while on certain issues the Party took an even more radical stance.