Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 83

The Agrarian Party of Russia (APR), once closely associated with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), appears to be on the verge of a formal split. The APR is set to hold its plenum on May 20, and reports yesterday indicated that it might vote to expel Nikolai Kharitonov from its ranks for allegedly having engendered splits in the party. Kharitonov–who heads the Agrarian-Industrial deputies’ group in the Duma–represents the APR faction which opposed a decision made during a party congress last August for the party to join Fatherland-All Russia, the coalition headed by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. The decision passed the congress by a vote of 285 to 115; in response, Kharitonov and his followers walked out of the congress and ran together with their traditional KPRF allies in last December’s parliamentary elections. Kharitonov said yesterday that he was prepared for any decision by the Agrarian plenum concerning his membership in the party. He added that he remained a member of the “national-patriotic forces of Russia,” the movement headed by KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov, and accused Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin of trying to “privatize” the party. Lapshin, for his part, said that Kharitonov had placed himself “outside the party,” and had to be punished for his attempts to create inter-party splits. The APR plenum does not in fact have the power to expel Kharitonov, but can recommend the move to expel him to the Novosibirsk branch of the party, which Kharitonov heads (Russian agencies, April 26).

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), headed by the infamous “ultranationalist” Vladimir Zhirinovsky, is reportedly experiencing serious internal problems and is close to splitting. A newspaper correspondent who was able to sneak into a closed meeting of regional LDPR leaders held earlier this week reported that the regional leaders strongly criticized him [Zhirinovsky], among other things, for his shocking statements on television and for visiting casinos and gay clubs, which millions of Russians with “moral foundations and miserly wages” found difficult to comprehend. The LDPR has been losing more support with every passing parliamentary election, and Zhirinovsky’s share in the presidential elections has also been shrinking. The LDPR’s representation in the Duma was reduced three times as a result of last December’s parliamentary elections, after which Zhirinovsky, faced with shrinking contributions, reportedly sent all of the party’s functionaries on unpaid vacations as a way to cut expenses. LDPR functionaries were quoted as saying that Zhirinovsky had also ordered that party offices in regions where the LDPR fared badly in the elections should be closed, and the premises sold or rented (Kommersant, April 26).

Despite his party’s reported crisis, Zhirinovsky was holding forth yesterday. Zhirinovsky said he was ready to offer President-elect Vladimir Putin candidates from the LDPR to fill the posts of minister of state property, interior minister, foreign minister and justice minister in the new cabinet. Zhirinovsky urged Putin, among other things, to concentrate on developing relations with such states as India, Iran and Iraq while limiting links with Western countries to such things as sports and culture (Russian agencies, April 26).