The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF; Russian: Коммунистическая Партия Российской Федерации; КПРФ; Kommunisticheskaya Partiya Rossiyskoy Federatsii, KPRF) is a communist political party in Russia that adheres to Marxist–Leninist philosophy. It is the second-largest political party in the Russian Federation after United Russia. The youth organisation of the party is the Leninist Young Communist League.
The CPRF can trace its origins to the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which was established in 1898 and the party split in 1903 into a Menshevik (minority) and Bolshevik (majority) faction; the latter, led by Vladimir Lenin, is the direct ancestor of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and is the party that seized power in the October Revolution of 1917. After the CPSU was banned in 1991 by then–Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt, the CPRF was founded at the Second Extraordinary Congress of Russian Communists on 14 February 1993 as the successor organisation of the Communist Party of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (CPRSFSR). It was the ruling party in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Federal Assembly from 1998 to 1999. As of 2015 , the party has 160,000 members.
The CPRF is a communist party officially based on democratic centralism. This principle, conceived by Lenin, entails democratic and open discussion of policy issues within the party, followed by the requirement of total unity in upholding the agreed policies. The highest body within the CPRF is the Party Congress, which convened every three to four year intervals. When the Party Congress is not in session, the Central Committee is the highest administrative body.
The party's stated goal is to establish a new, modernized form of socialism in Russia. Immediate goals of the party include the nationalization of natural resources, agriculture and large industries within the framework of a mixed economy that allows for the growth of small and medium enterprises in the private sector.
The CPRF was founded on 14 February 1993 at the Second Extraordinary Congress of Russian Communists, where it declared itself to be the successor of the Communist Party of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (CPRSFSR). It formed through the merger of a variety of successor groups to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), including Roy Medvedev's Socialist Party of the Working People (of left-socialist orientation), Alexei Prigarin's Union of Communists; and much of the membership of the Stalinist Russian Communist Workers Party (although party leader Viktor Anpilov rejected the new party). The CPRF quickly became the largest party in Russia, with 500,000 members soon after its founding, more than double all the other parties membership combined.
Gennady Zyuganov, a co-founder of the party along with senior former Soviet politicians Yegor Ligachev, Anatoly Lukyanov, Andrew Konstant and others, was elected to be party leader at the Second Extraordinary Congress. Zyuganov had been a harsh critic of Alexander Yakovlev, the so-called "godfather of glasnost", on the CPSU Central Committee. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he became active in the Russian "national-patriotic" movement, being the chairman of the National Salvation Front (some authors call him a nationalist).
Following the CPRF's success in the 1995 legislative election, it emerged as the primary opposition to incumbent President Boris Yeltsin for the 1996 presidential election, whose approval rating was in single digits. In order to oppose Yeltsin, Zyuganov organised a "popular-patriotic bloc" of nationalist organisations to support his candidacy. After the election, on 7 August 1996 the coalition supporting him was transformed into an official organisation, the People's Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR), consisting of more than 30 left-wing and nationalist organisations, including the Russian All-People's Union, led by Sergey Baburin. Zyuganov was its chairman. It went on to support Zyuganov in the 2000 presidential election. The NPSR was meant to form the basis of a two-party system, with the NPSR opposing the ruling "party of power".
The party suffered a sharp decline in the 2003 legislative election, going from 113 seats to 52. Zyuganov called the 2003 elections a "revolting spectacle" and accused the Kremlin of setting up a "Potemkin party", Rodina, to steal its votes. The CPRF was endorsed by Sergey Baburin's People's Union for the 2007 Russian parliamentary elections.
In the 2012 presidential election, Zyuganov denounced election irregularities in the 2011 legislative election, but he also expressed his opposition to the organisers of the mass demonstrations of December 2011, which he viewed as orchestrated by ultra-liberals exploiting unrest. The party played only a minor role as a catalyst in the protests. Party rallies on 18 December 2011 in protest of election irregularities in Moscow and Saint Petersburg were attended by only a few thousand, mostly elderly, party supporters.
In 2014, the party called for Russia to formally recognise the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic.
XIII Congress of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in 2008
The party's current programme was adapted in 2008, where the CPRF declared that it is the only political organisation that consistently upholds the rights of the workers and national interests. According to the programme, the strategic goal of the party is to build in Russia a "renewed socialism, socialism of the 21st century". The program of the Communist Party declared that the party is guided by Marxism–Leninism, based on the experience and achievements of domestic and world science and culture. According to the party, there comes a "confrontation between the New World Order and the Russian people with its thousand-year history, and with its qualities", "communality and great power, deep faith, undying altruism and decisive rejection of lures mercantile bourgeois liberal-democratic paradise".
According to its program, the CPRF considers it necessary to reform the country in three phases. In the first phase, it is needed to achieve workers' power through representation by a coalition led by the CPRF. Achieving this goal will help eliminate the devastation from the standpoint of the party, the consequences conducted in the past decade of reforms, in particular by the nationalisation of property privatised in the 1990s. However, in this case small producers will remain and moreover will be organised to protect them from robbery by "big business, bureaucrats, and mafia groups". It is planned to reform the management of enterprises through the creation of councils at various levels. The party also plans to transform Russia into a Soviet republic. In the second stage, the role of councils and trade unions will increase even more. A gradual transition in the economy will be made to a socialist form of economic activity, but a small private equity is still retained. Finally, the third phase is to build socialism.
In recent years, the Communist Party has also shown tendency of moving towards Dengism. The First Secretary Gennady Zyuganov also expressed that they should learn from China's successful example and build Russian socialism. He also encouraged all party members to read "Selective work of Deng Xiaoping". He said during his visit to China in 2008: "Had we learned from the success of China earlier, the Soviet Union would not have dissolved".
Communist protesters with the sign "the order of dismissal of Vladimir Putin
for the betrayal of the national interests", Moscow, 1 May 2012
Under the present conditions in the Russian Federation, the CPRF calls for the following proposals:
- Stop the extinction of the country, restore benefits for large families, reconstruct the network of public kindergartens and provide housing for young families.
- Nationalise natural resources in Russia and the strategic sectors of the economy; revenues in these industries are to be used in the interests of all citizens.
- Return to Russia from foreign banks the state financial reserves and use them for economic and social development.
- Break the system of total fraud in the elections.
- Create a truly independent judiciary.
- Carry out an immediate package of measures to combat poverty and introduce price controls on essential goods.
- Not raise the retirement age.
- Restore government responsibility for housing and utilities, establish fees for municipal services in an amount not more than 10% of family income, stop the eviction of people to the streets and expand public housing.
- Increase funding for science and scientists to provide decent wages and all the necessary research.
- Restore the highest standards of universal and free secondary and higher education that existed during the Soviet era.
- Ensure the availability and quality of health care.
- Vigorously develop high-tech manufacturing.
- Ensure the food and environmental security of the country and support the large collective farms for the production and processing of agricultural products.
- Prioritise domestic debt over foreign debt
- Introduce progressive taxation; low-income citizens will be exempt from paying taxes.
- Create conditions for development of small and medium enterprises.
- Ensure the accessibility of cultural goods, stop the commercialisation of culture, defend Russian culture as the foundation of the spiritual unity of multinational Russia, the national culture of all citizens of the country.
- Stop the slandering of the Russian and Soviet history.
- Take drastic measures to suppress corruption and crime.
- Strengthen national defense and expand social guarantees to servicemen and law enforcement officials.
- Ensure the territorial integrity of Russia and the protection of compatriots abroad.
- Institute a foreign policy based on mutual respect of countries and peoples to facilitate the voluntary restoration of the Union of States.
The party is in favour of cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church. According to the words of Zyuganov, the CPRF is a party of scientific, but not militant atheism. Propaganda of any religion is banned inside the party. Unlike the CPSU after 1956, the CPRF celebrates the rule of Joseph Stalin. The party supported a ban on the "promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors", mostly named a ban on "homosexual propaganda to minors" in Western media.
Since its founding the CPRF has had several distinct internal factions:
- Left-wing nationalists. CPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov is from this tendency. The left-wing nationalists in the party identify socialism historically with Russia and Russia culturally with socialism. They are influenced by the writings of historian Lev Gumilyov and see class struggle as having evolved into struggle between civilisations.
- Marxist–Leninists. The Marxist–Leninist faction of the party has a traditional Leninist understanding of class struggle and socialism. They are against both nationalism and social democracy. This tendency is heavily reflected in the party's rank-and-file membership. Richard Kosolapov is a prominent member of this group.
- Reformers. The party's reformers are social democratic or reform-communists, who have a generally critical view of the Soviet Union. This faction had a majority at the Second Extraordinary Congress, but has declined since then.
The CPRF is legally registered by in Russia. In organisational terms, it largely mirrors the CPSU, with the party being led by a Central Committee with a commitment to democratic centralism. It has regional offices in 81 federal subjects. Each regional office is controlled by the local (oblast, city, etc.) committee, headed by the First Secretary. The headquarters of the party is in Moscow. The Leninist Komsomol of the Russian Federation is the youth organisation of the party.
In 1993, the party founded the Union of Communist Parties – Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Since 2001, the organisation has been led by Gennady Zyuganov and it became part of the Central Committee.
The party has friendly relations with the Party of the European Left, but it is not a member of it. The party also has friendly relations with the Communist Party of China.
On 24 March 2017, the party sent a delegation to North Korea and signed a "protocol on cooperation" with the Workers' Party of Korea. During the visit, a stone was placed in the Juche Tower.
In October 2017 the party hosted the 19th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties in the city of Saint Petersburg, marking the centenary of the October Revolution, with an attendance of over 100 parties from around the globe.
Pravda is the newspaper of the Communist Party; it has more than 30 regional editions.
Left-wing nationalist newspaper Sovetskaya Rossiya has also friendly ties with the Communist Party, but is not officially affiliated with it.
Ultra-nationalist newspaper Zavtra used to support the Communist Party, but in 2005 it switched its support to Rodina.
According to the financial report of the CPRF, in 2006 the party received ₽127,453,237 rubles (3,998,835 US$):
- 29% – membership fees
- 30% – the federal budget
- 6% – donations
- 35% – other incomes
In 2006, the party spent 116,823,489 rubles (3,665,328 US$):
- 5% – for the maintenance of regional offices
- 21% – on promotion (information, advertising, publishing and printing)
- 10% – the content of the governing bodies
- 7% – the preparation and conduct of elections and referenda
- 36% – content publishers, media and educational institutions
In 2008, the CPRF received 70% of its finance from the state budget of the Russian Federation. According to a report at the XIII Congress of the CPRF, for ten months of 2008 total income amounted to 148 million rubles, including 8 million rubles from charges membership fees, 36 million rubles from donations and 106 million rubles from government funding.
On 19 October 2008, the leader of the party Gennady Zyuganov appealed to the citizens of Russia to financially support the party to implement its policy goals.
Popular support and electoral results
The CPRF is strong in large cities and major industrial and scientific centers ("naukograds") as well as in the small towns and cities around Moscow. For example, one of the few polling stations that gave a success to the CPRF during the Russian legislative election of 2007 was at Moscow State University. The CPRF is also strong in the far east of Russia, in Siberia and the Urals.
In all presidential elections that have been held in the Russian Federation, the Communist Party's candidate has finished second. In 2012, several opposition politicians, including Boris Nemtsov, claimed that Dmitry Medvedev admitted to them that Zyuganov would actually have won the 1996 election if not for fraud in favor of Yeltsin. According to the official results, Zyuganov received 17.18% of the votes in the presidential election of 2012. According to independent observers, there was large-scale fraud in favor of Putin. He called the election "one of thieves, and absolutely dishonest and unworthy".
Parliamentary election results by oblast
In February 2005, the CPRF defeated the ruling pro-Kremlin party United Russia in elections to the regional legislature of Nenets Autonomous Okrug, obtaining 27% of the popular vote.
In the Moscow Duma election held on 4 December 2005, the party won 16.75% and 4 seats, the best ever result for the CPRF in Moscow. In the opinion of some observers, the absence of the Rodina party contributed to the Communists' success.
On 11 March 2007, elections took place for 14 regional and local legislatures. The CPRF performed very well and increased its votes in most of the territories; it came second in Oryol Oblast (23.78%), Omsk Oblast (22.58%), Pskov Oblast (19.21%) and Samara Oblast (18.87%), Moscow Oblast (18.80%), Murmansk Oblast (17.51%) and Tomsk Oblast (13.37%). These results testify that the CPRF is the most significant opposition party in Russia.
On 21 May 2007, the CPRF obtained an important success in the Volgograd's mayoral election. Communist candidate Roman Grebennikov won election as mayor with 32.47% of the vote and became the youngest mayor of a regional capital. In 2008, Roman Grebennikov switched his allegiance to United Russia, angering many Communists who accused him of using the CPRF as a tool to become elected.
On 7 April 2011, the CPRF candidate Ilya Potapov won the mayoral election in the town of Berdsk with a landslide victory over the United Russia candidates.
In 2015 gubernatorial elections, party's nominee Sergey Levchenko won the gubernatorial election in Irkutsk Oblast.
In the 2018 gubernatorial elections, Communist Party candidates Andrey Klychkov and Valentin Konovalov won the gubernatorial elections in the Oryol Oblast and Khakassia, respectively. In addition, in the election in Primorsky Krai, the party's candidate Andrey Ishchenko could pass in the second round of election in which lost, by official results. The result of those elections was declared invalid due to a large number of violations in connection with which recall election were scheduled for December 2018, but the Communist Party decided not to nominate its candidate for the new election.
In the 2018 elections to the regional parliaments, the Communist Party took first place in the voting on party lists in three regions. However, in two regions, United Russia still managed to get a relative majority in regional parliaments at the expense of deputies-single-mandate holders. Nevertheless, in Irkutsk Oblast, the party received a relative majority and is the largest faction in the Legislative Assembly. Thus, Irkutsk Oblast is currently the only region in which both branches of government (executive and legislative) are controlled by the Communist Party.
Marxist theoretician Boris Kagarlitsky writes: "It is enough to recall that within the Communist movement itself, Zyuganov's party was at first neither the sole organisation, nor the largest. Bit by bit, however, all other Communist organisations were forced out of political life. This occurred not because the organisations in question were weak, but because it was the CPRF that had received the Kremlin's official approval as the sole recognised opposition". Andrei Brezhnev, grandson of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, has criticised the CPRF's Zyuganov's rapprochement with the Russian Orthodox Church.
Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
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