Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 83

While the Agrarian Party of Russia and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia are reportedly experiencing severe crises, incipient splits within the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) could soon come out into the open. A new group, under the working name “Union of Peoples of Russia,” will reportedly hold its founding congress in Moscow on May 3. Two leading KPRF members, State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev and Duma deputy Anatoly Lukyanov, along with former Soviet premier Nikolai Ryzhkov, will reportedly be among the union’s co-founders. Their motive in founding the new group is reportedly dissatisfaction with both the KPRF’s performance in the parliamentary and presidential elections and with the KPRF leadership’s “course and forms of cooperation with the country’s executive branch,” an anonymous source told the Interfax news agency. On May 7, the day Putin will be inaugurated president, the new group’s leaders will reportedly give him documents declaring their readiness for “constructive mutual action” with the head of state and government. It was suggested that Seleznev might be offered the post of deputy prime minister in charge of social policy in the new cabinet. Valentina Matvienko currently holds that post.

If some leading Communists have growing respect for Putin, then members of Putin’s cabinet have been expressing a certain reverence for the Communists–or, at least, for their previous incarnation. In comments broadcast last weekend, Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s emergency situations minister and head of the pro-Putin Unity movement, said that in their efforts to turn Unity into a full-fledged political party, its leaders would take the experience of the Soviet Communist Party (KPSS) into consideration. “As concerns the KPSS, by no means everything in the KPSS, in its organizational concepts, was bad,” Shoigu said. “Quite the contrary.” Shoigu added that Unity would also take the KPSS’ “mistakes” into consideration. Unity already has structures operating in all eighty-nine of Russia’s regions, factions in every local legislative assembly and a youth organization that people are already referring to as the “Pusomol”–the Putinite Union of Youth (NTV, April 23).