Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 66

In parallel with the move to end the Communist Party of the Russian Federation’s (KPRF) control over committees in the State Duma–which has been the party’s main base of operations for more than a decade–an initiative has been put forward to ban the party outright. Earlier this week, Aleksandr Fedulov, a member of the Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) faction in the State Duma, announced that he had drafted an appeal to the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor General’s Office demanding that the KPRF be liquidated and that KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov be brought to justice. The appeal claims that the KPRF is “dying for state-political power at all levels by means of agitation and propaganda [and], is using informational psychosis to incite social and national discord.” The appeal claimed that KPRF-controlled media “constantly publish statements, articles [and] letters that are also aimed at igniting social and national discord.” Fedulov also claims that the KPRF’s party program violates the Russian constitution and the law on political parties (Gazeta.ru, April 2). Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev said today that the Duma’s Council, which determines the chamber’s agenda, would consider Fedulov’s initiative on April 19 (NTVru.com, April 4).

Fedulov, who represents the region of Kursk in the Duma, has been in a running battle with Aleksandr Mikhailov, Kursk’s communist governor, accusing his administration of misappropriating budgetary funds and other forms of corruption. Earlier this year Fedulov accused Mikhailov of using public money to buy and renovate two apartments and charged that budget money in the region was being used to finance communist-oriented youth organizations. In October of last year, someone shot at Fedulov’s car. In February of this year, Fedulov publicly declared: “If something should happen to me, I want all to know that Kursk Oblast Governor Aleksandr Mikhailov (a Communist Party member) and his inner circle were involved in it.” Fedulov has previously charged that the KPRF is a threat to democracy, that all of its claims of loyalty to the constitution are a deception and that the Communists are ready to seize power by force (Russkaya Mysl [Paris], February 28).

Fedulov’s anti-KPRF initiative has thus far received public backing only from LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who also claims that the KPRF has engaged in anticonstitutional activities. The OVR itself, meanwhile, has distanced itself from Fedulov’s appeal, with Konstantin Kosachev, first deputy head of the OVR’s Duma faction saying it was Fedulov’s initiative alone. The appeal has not only been criticized by top KPRF members like Seleznev, but also by some of the KPRF’s ideological opponents. Boris Nadezhdin, first deputy head of the Union of Right Wing Forces (SPS) faction in the Duma, said that while the issue of banning the KPRF was debatable on legal grounds, there was absolutely no legal basis to prosecute Zyuganov for anticonstitutional statements. Nadezhdin said he hoped Fedulov could be convinced to withdraw his initiative before April 19 (NTVru.com, April 4; Gazeta.ru, April 2). More important, the Kremlin itself has sharply criticized Fedulov’s appeal: Vladislav Surikov, deputy head of the presidential administration, was quoted today as calling it “complete foolishness that requires no discussion or commentary” (Interfax, April 4). In March 1996, Boris Yeltsin reportedly came very close to banning the KPRF, suspending the Duma and postponing the impending presidential elections. According to the account Yeltsin himself put forward in his most recent memoirs, “Midnight Diaries,” Anatoly Chubais, then his election campaign manager, and his daughter, Tat’yana Dyachenko, talked him out of taking such steps. According to other accounts, Yeltsin changed his mind after then Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov said he could not guarantee that the country’s security forces would be able to maintain order or remain loyal to the Kremlin.