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Russian communists on the cross road

12. July 2003

By Serguei A. Novikov

Next December general elections to the State Duma are to be held. According to the initial law they were appointed on the 14th of December, but last Spring some shrewd people among the bourgeois factions noticed, that this date is very close to the Constitution Day, that is the 12th of December, so many of the bourgeois electorate are sure to be drunk and after having a quantity, they will hardly be willing or able to go to the polls on the 14th of December. Such a circumstance was considered to be too favourable for the communists as their electorate are very well disciplined and, besides, will hardly celebrate the day of the notorious 1993 constitution. So as the result of a special ballot the elections were rescheduled on the 7th of December.

Yet before the previous elections of 1995 and 1999 the problem of alliance with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) of Zyuganov was one of the stumbling-blocks between then Revolutionary Party of Communists (RPC) and the Russian Communist Worker`s Party (RCWP) (1), — the latter was always willing to join them, while the former was strongly against it. Yet in 2001 right before the unification the left wing of the RPC pointed out, that we would be in a very complicated and disgraceful position, if the CPRF once agree to ally with the newly united party and their offer is supported by the majority. We also recalled then, that the real father of both our electoral blocks with the RCWP was not Tiulkin, but Zyuganov, who refused to take Tiulkin to his list and so left him no option but to ally with the RPC. Our argument, however, was not heard then as no one could imagine, that Zyuganov will someday want to take Tiulkin to the top 12 of his list.

Yet last August and last February both leaders made a sort of compromise: Kriuchkov agreed to suggest the CPRF to create an openly united block with another name (just to demonstrate, that it is not only the CPRF in this block). And it was also decided to undertake an unprecedented pressure on the local organizations of the CPRF to urge them press on their leadership in favour of the united block. By doing so Kriuchkov was absolutely sure, that this suggestion will never be accepted by Zyuganov whose main purpose is to keep the CPRF monopoly on representation of the Russian Communist movement. Besides, a move like this had to be undertaken just to avoid the accusation in splitting the movement.

The pressure was made and it resulted in a very tricky proposal to the RCWP-RPC. Zyuganov proposed to take some of our candidates to his list without any changing of the name. This small difference, that looks rather formal for the first glance, is, vice versa, rather crucial. It means, that we join the CPRF not as a partner, but as a group of individuals and will have to agitate for their reformist program and their list full of scoundrels without having a word in decision-making on all important issues.

In the end of last May there was a plenary session of the CC on whether to join or not the CPRF on this basis as the main question. The struggle was rather intensive. The majority of speakers in the discussion were inclined to reject this proposal as humiliating and capitulating, but after a very spectacular speech of Tiulkin 24 members against 10 with 1 or two abstentions agreed to consider this proposal as admissible. After some struggle the wording was slightly changed: the proposal was not mentioned as admissible, but it was submitted for discussion on the rank-and-file level. It is not an inter-party referendum, but it implies, that the local branches have to decide on the proposal by July.

When the final wording was reached Tiulkin was supported by an absolute majority of the CC with only one vote against this bad compromise.

The subsequent discussion, however, was not as unambiguous as supposed. Say, in Moscow Tiulkin was supported by about 105 party members against 81, and the Moscow Committee, that had to say the final word, supported Kriuchkov by 11 against 10. We were especially angered by the mendacious arguments of Tiulkin supporters, particularly their comparison of the capitulation with the peace treaty of Brest (March 1918), — that this is actually more like the plot concluded between Molotov and Ribbentrop (August-September 1939).

So the Moscow branch, that is the second largest after the one in Leningrad (Saint-Petersburg) is now against the capitulation. Other local branches have not yet finished their discussions. The outcome is expected to be next August, and the final decision on this is to be taken by the party congress, that is to be held next August or September.

Moscow, July 6, 2003

(1) On the unification process between RCWP and RPC see