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Lisa Horner served as an intern with SRAS working with translation, writing, and management assignments. She has stayed on with SRAS to assist us in improving student relations and in organizing cultural events for our Moscow students. She has also continued to produce translations for us, such as this one, with the oversight of SRAS staff.

Communism and the Bear of History
Communism and the CPRF in Modern Russia
Part 1: Modern Russian Economics and Politics

A project from The School of Russian and Asian Studies
Introductions by Josh Wilson, Assistant Director, SRAS
Translations by Lisa Horner

An elderly woman holds a Soviet flag durring a celebration of May Day (formerly International Worker's Day).
An elderly woman holds
a Soviet flag during a
celebrations of May Day
(formerly International
Worker's Day).

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) is generally acknowledged as being the successor of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), which had ruled the USSR until 1991.

Critics, and the western media, often portray the CPRF as an antiquated organization on the verge of extinction. Much of the CPRF leadership are former members of the CPSU and most demonstrations held by the CPRF are populated by aging pensioners decorated in Soviet flags and medals.

However, while the CPRF's relatively small membership of just 160,000 is aging, its perennial candidate for president, Gennady Zyuganov, harvested over thirteen million votes (nearly 18% of all votes cast) in 2008. He performed well among industrial workers across Russia, and agricultural workers in Russia's southern provinces.

The ties to and parallels with the past seem to be both helping and harming the CPRF as it seeks to function in present-day Russia.

Zyuganov's official campaign platform, presented below in the original Russian and in a new English translation produced by The School of Russian and Asian Studies, espouses an ideology based on the Marxism-Leninism that once ruled Soviet Russia and is even presented in language that often looks backwards (note the tsarist terms of "grandees" and "viziers" applied to those currently leading Russia).

The plethora of modern-day statistics that makes up the bulk of the introductory arguments of the document, however, are largely accurate and confirmed by both Russian and international sources. The gap between rich and poor is very visible in Russia, especially if one compares the standard of living available to those in major cities and to those living in rural areas.

Young Communist supporters celebrating the 90th anniversery of the Great October Revolution in 2006, Moscow.
Communism in Russia is not a dying
tradition, as shown by these young
supporters demonstrating with flares next to
a CPRF logo at a 2006 rally marking the 90th anniversary of the Great October Revolution.
The event was organized by various (and seperate) communist and socialist movements in Russia such as the CPRF, the National Bolsheviks, and Vpered. Picture by former SRAS student Kathleen Feyh who studied the rhetoric of minority political and social movements as a visiting scholar.

Given Russia's history with Communism and the relatively large class discrepancy, one can see how the party continues to win a solid but distant second place in the presidential polls.

However, to pose a challenge to Russia's current ruling party, United Russia, the CPRF would need to unite more of Russia's disparate opposition voting block. One issue that nearly all these voters agree on is election reform. The CPRF addresses this, promising to remove "informational terror, underhanded technology, and omnipotent money" from the election process. However, as many modern Russian dissidents are also former soviet dissidents or western-oriented supporters of free-market economics, far from all are likely to trust the CPRF on this issue. The Communists are not historically remembered for providing free and fair elections.

The other major campaign promise the CPRF makes is to reform the economy through re-nationalization. While many who work in the still low-paid fields of industry and agriculture would likely support this under the expectation that wages and benefits would increase (wages and benefits were comparatively better under the Soviet Union), consumers are likely to recall that the Soviet period was one of shortages and waiting in long lines for basic goods.

As we shall see in part two of this translation, these perceptions of the party are also hindering other specific proposals of the party.

This translation was published as a series as part of SRAS's monthly newsletters. To subscribe to the newsletter, and be notified of other articles and resources such as this one as they become available, simply send an email with "subscribe" in the subject field to

Forward to Part 2 (The Way Forward)>>>

Осознать. Действовать. Развиваться.
Awareness. Action. Development.

Предвыборная программа Коммунистической партии Российской Федерации на выборах президента России 2 марта 2008 года.

Pre-election program of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation for the Presidential Elections of March 2, 2008.

В России приближаются президентские выборы.

Russia's presidential elections are soon.

Политическая борьба между силами народных интересов и крупным капиталом продолжается.

The political battle between the people's will and big money continues.

КПРФ борется, несмотря на разгул бюрократического диктата.

The Communist Party is fighting despite the raging dictatorship of bureaucracy.

На выборах-2007 в Государственную Думу коммунистам противостояла не соперничающая партия. Против нас выступал чиновничье-олигархический аппарат, закамуфлированный под "Единую Россию".

The Communists won't get a fair chance in the State Duma elections of 2007. We were facing the bureaucratic-oligarch machine, camouflaged under the name "United Russia."

Общество еще не сталкивалось со столь грубым принуждением со стороны "партии власти". Отсюда и неправдоподобные итоги "голосования".

Society has never collided with such barbaric coercion from the side of the "party of power." Take, for instance, the improbable results of "voting."

Ради удержания власти Путин и его "партия" цинично попрали закон и нормы морали.

For the sake of maintaining power, Putin and his "party" have cynically trampled on the law and the norms of morality.

Теперь любой разумный человек видит, что нашим обществом манипулируют - открыто и нагло. Народу навязывают новых царей, визирей и вельмож. Карманный парламент формируют из трех-четырех сотен лиц, главная программа которых - готовность служить олигархии.

Today any reasonable person can see that our society is being manipulated – openly and shamelessly. New tsars, viziers, and grandees are being imposed on the people. The parliament is in their pocket, they form it from three to four hundred persons whose main political program is to stand ready to serve the oligarchs.

Под разговоры о "плане Путина" Россию превращают в гигантскую "потемкинскую деревню" с нефтяными качалками.

Under talks of "Putin's plan," they are turning Russia into a giant "Potemkin Village" with oil pumps.

Страна тонет в болоте лжи и авторитаризма.

The country is drowning in a swamp of lies and authoritarianism.

Пора остановиться.

Пора разобраться в происходящем.

Пора наводить порядок.

Что происходит?

It is time to stop it.

It is time to understand what is happening.

It is time to establish order.

What is happening?

Россия вступила в ХХI век с огромными человеческими потерями. С загубленной промышленностью и разоренным селом. С утраченным лидерством в образовании и науке. Экономика сидит на нефтегазовой игле. Медицина и образование стали практически не доступны для большинства. Цены непрерывно растут. Преступность захлестывает страну. Миллионы детей неграмотны и беспризорны.

Russia entered the 21st century with enormous human loss, with ruined industry and broken villages, and with lost leadership in education and science. The economy sits dependent on the oil and gas sector. Medicine and education have become practically inaccessible to the majority of people. Prices are steadily increasing. Crime is overtaking the country. Millions of children are illiterate and uncared for.

Разрыв между богатыми и бедными постоянно растет. Международные организации признают бедными более половины граждан России. У 10% жирующих - почти 90% всех доходов от собственности. Крошечная часть населения завладела огромными богатствами, созданными поколениями наших отцов и дедов. Они не вкладывают средства в производство, но покупают замки во Франции, яхты в Италии, футбольные клубы в Англии. Россия - на втором месте в мире по числу миллиардеров, но на одном из последних по продолжительности жизни.

The rift between the rich and poor is constantly increasing. International organizations report that more than half of Russia's citizens are poor. Our ten percent of wealthy citizens are fattened with almost ninety percent of all income earned from property. A tiny part of the population has taken hold of enormous wealth – wealth that was gathered by the generations of our fathers and grandfathers. They don't invest this wealth in manufacturing: instead they buy castles in France, yachts in Italy, and soccer clubs in England. Russia has the second highest number of billionaires in the world, and one of the lowest life expectancy rates.

600 миллиардов долларов правительство держит в иностранных банках, но учителя и врачи получают жалкие зарплаты. Крестьяне едва сводят концы с концами. Средняя пенсия - 3,5 тысячи рублей - в два раза ниже содержания заключенного в тюрьме.

The government holds 600 billion dollars in foreign banks, but teachers and doctors receive miserable salaries. Farmers can barely make ends meet. The average pension is 3,500 rubles – half the amount spent to keep criminals in prison.

Из 74 миллионов трудоспособных граждан 55 миллионов получают меньше 5 тысяч рублей в месяц. Прожиточный минимум в 2600 рублей на 700 рублей ниже мирового порога бедности. Из каждых 100 долларов доходов от продажи нефти в казну России поступает лишь 34, тогда как в США - 60, а в Арабских Эмиратах - 91.

Out of 74 million able-bodied citizens, 55 million earn less than 5,000 rubles a month. The official "living wage" is set at 2,600 rubles – 700 rubles below the world income poverty threshold. From each $100 of income on the sale of gas, only $34 goes into Russia's treasury, whereas in the US - $60, and in the Arab Emirates - $91.

Поднимая пиаровский шум до небес вокруг так называемых нацпроектов - "Здоровье", "Образование", "Жилье", - власть ликвидирует сельские школы, больницы, медпункты. Здравоохранение и образование становятся платными. Их качество ухудшается. Лекарства стали не доступны для многих граждан. Цена жилья - не подъемна для обычной семьи.

While making a lot of PR noise about the so-called national projects – "Health," "Education," "Housing," those in power are liquidating rural schools, hospitals, and medical aid stations. Public health services and education are becoming personal expenses. The quality of them is worsening. Many citizens no longer have access to medicine. The price of housing is too high for the average family to bear.

Почему так?

Россия - самая богатая страна в мире. На каждого гражданина у нас приходится природных богатств на 160 тысяч долларов. В США эта сумма - 16 тысяч, в Европе - 6 тысяч. Но живем мы гораздо хуже. Почему? Потому что и природные ресурсы, и деньги олигархи проедают в шикарных ресторанах, прожигают в казино и вывозят за рубеж, обогащая себя и своих западных хозяев.

Why is this?

Russia is the richest country in the world. We have $160,000 of natural wealth for each citizen. In the US, that sum is $16,000, and in Europe - $6,000. But our quality of life is much worse. Why? Because the oligarchs use the resources and money eating in chic restaurants, gambling in casinos, and moving it abroad, making themselves and their Western masters richer.

Современная российская олигархия спешит вписаться в систему мирового капитала. Цена вопроса - судьба народного хозяйства России. Уничтожены целые отрасли экономики. Страну тащат во Всемирную торговую организацию, чтобы превратить Россию в рынок сбыта, усилить экономическую зависимость. Резкий рост импорта добьет российское машиностроение, легкую и пищевую промышленность, сельское хозяйство. Им не выдержать конкуренции с иностранным капиталом.

The modern Russian oligarchy hastens to enter the system of world capital. At stake: the fate of Russia's national economy. Entire branches of the economy could be destroyed. The oligarchs are dragging the country into the World Trade Organization in order to turn Russia into a sales market and make Russia more economically dependent. The sharp growth of imports will finish off the Russian mechanical engineering sector, the food-processing industry, and agriculture. They can't compete with foreign capital.

Дробится электроэнергетика. Ее самые доходные части присвоят российские олигархи и иностранный капитал. Дальнейший рост тарифов на тепло и электроэнергию становится неизбежен.

The power industry is in shambles. The most profitable parts will be appropriated by Russian oligarchs and foreign capital. The price of heat and electricity will inevitably rise.

Нищает село. Поддержка сельского хозяйства государством составляет меньше 1% от расходной части бюджета, когда необходимо не менее 10%. Продовольственная безопасность утрачена.

Villages are becoming destitute. Less than one percent of the state budget goes to supporting agriculture, when it should be at least ten percent. Food safety has been forgotten.

Назначая губернаторов из Москвы, изымая доходы у регионов, страну превращают в экономическое пространство для эксплуатации крупным бизнесом, чиновниками, иностранными корпорациями.

By appointing governors from Moscow, taking away income from the regions, they are turning the country into an economic arena to be exploited by major businesses, government officials, and foreign corporations.

Политика правящих кругов создает угрозу целостности и независимости страны.

The policies of the ruling circle creates a threat to the integrity and independence of the country.

Что делать?

Перед Россией пять главных вызовов:

What is to be done?

Russia is facing five major challenges:

- Колоссальное социальное неравенство.

- Демографическая катастрофа.

- Enormous social inequality,

- Demographic disaster,

- Духовно-нравственная деградация.

- Spiritual and moral degradation,

- Развал экономики, посаженной на иглу экспорта природных ресурсов.

- Утрата обороноспособности и потеря ключевых союзников.

- Disorder in the economy, precariously dependent on the export of natural resources,

- Loss of defense capabilities and key allies.

Компартия России и ее кандидат в Президенты Г.А. Зюганов предлагают свою предвыборную программу всем, кто болеет за судьбы Отечества. В сентябре 2007 года мы предложили программу семи шагов к достойному будущему.

The communist party of Russia and its presidential candidate G. A. Zyuganov present our pre-election program for those who are pained by the fate of the Fatherland. In September 2007 we offered our program of seven steps for a worthy future.

Что предлагает КПРФ?

What does the CPRF propose to do?

Каковы планы кандидата в президенты Г.А. ЗЮГАНОВА?

What kind of plan does presidential candidate G. A. Zyganov have?

У России есть все для возрождения страны: уникальные природные ресурсы, талантливый, трудолюбивый, образованный народ. У нас великая история и традиции. Не весь экономический потенциал страны утрачен. Не все научные школы свернуты. У государства накоплены огромные финансовые ресурсы. Возможность для прорыва в будущее существует.

Russia has everything it needs in order to revive as a country: its own natural resources and a talented, hard-working, educated people. We have a grand history and grand traditions. Not all of the country's economic potential is wasted. Not all scientific schools have collapsed. The state has saved up enormous financial resources. The possibility for a break from the current path exists for the future.

У КПРФ разработана программа-минимум. Ее цель - отодвинуть страну от края пропасти. При сохранении нынешней политики Россия соскользнет туда сразу, как только прекратится приток шальных нефтедолларов.

The CPRF has developed a minimal program. The goal: to move the country away from the edge of the precipice. If the current policies are maintained, Russia will slide off it immediately once the influx of easy petrodollars stops.

Программа-максимум - обеспечить достойный уровень жизни гражданам страны на основе возрождения экономики и духовности России, установить народовластие в стране.

The maximal program will provide a worthy standard of living for the citizens of the country on the basis of an economic and spiritual revival of Russia, and to establish government by the people in the country.

С чего мы начнем?

Три первых шага народного президента

From where shall we begin?

Three main steps for the peoples' president:

- Защитить детство в России. С этой целью Указом N1 будет создана чрезвычайная правительственная комиссия. Проблема детской беспризорности будет решена в течение двух лет. Защита детства станет частью программы КПРФ по исправлению демографической ситуации.

- Protect children in Russia. With this objective in mind, Decree N1 will create a special government committee. The problem of child homelessness will be rectified in the course of two years. The protection of children will become part of the CPRF's program for correcting the demographic situation.

- Пересмотреть антинародные законы. Будут немедленно пересмотрены все законы, ухудшившие материальное положение граждан и давшие "зеленый свет" растаскиванию природных ресурсов страны. В их числе - законы "о монетизации льгот" и "автогражданке", Жилищный, Трудовой, Земельный, Лесной и Водный кодексы.

- Review antipopular laws. All laws that are worsening the economic circumstances of the citizens of Russia and all laws that are giving the "green light" to unnecessary waste of the country's natural resources will be reviewed immediately. Among them: the laws "On the Monetization of Benefits" and "Driver Legislation," as well as the Housing Code, the Labor Code, the Land Code, the Forestry Code, and Water Code.

- Гарантировать права граждан. Пора прекратить издевательство бюрократии над избирательными правами граждан. Устранить систему тотальных фальсификаций при проведении выборов. Гарант Конституции - народный президент Зюганов - добьется наказания виновных в массовых нарушениях закона при проведении выборов в Госдуму пятого созыва. Совет Федерации станет избираться всенародно. Пройдут всеобщие перевыборы в органы государственной власти и местного самоуправления на основе подлинного равенства их участников и свободного волеизъявления граждан. Народный президент обеспечит создание стройной, справедливой, открытой избирательной системы, где не будет места информационному террору, грязным технологиям и всевластию денег.

- Guarantee the rights of citizens. It is time to stop the bureaucracy's brazen violation of the citizens' electoral rights. It is time to eliminate the system of make-believe elections. Zyuganov, the guarantor of the Constitution, the peoples' president, will see to it that those guilty of mass infringements of the law during the elections of the fifth convocation of the State Duma are punished.[1] The entire nation will elect the Federation Council.[2] General reelections for government bodies and local government will be conducted on the basis of true equality between participants and the free will of the citizens. The peoples' president will ensure that a harmonious, fair, open electoral system is established – a system with no room for informational terror, underhanded technology, and omnipotent money.

Главным критерием работы народного правительства станет улучшение жизни людей. Оно возможно только на прочной экономической основе - за счет национализации стратегических отраслей экономики, восстановления нормальной работы промышленности и сельского хозяйства, при формировании культурно и экологически здоровой среды. Отсюда - главные задачи первого президентского срока Г.А. Зюганова.

The main objective of the work of the peoples' government will be to improve peoples' lives. This is possible only through a solid economic basis – by nationalizing strategic branches of the economy, restoring manufacturing and agriculture to normalcy, and by forming a culturally and economically healthy environment. These objectives will make up the main tasks for G.A. Zyuganov's first presidential term.

Forward to Part 2 (The Way Forward)>>>


[1] The Duma elections were held in December, 2007. The Presidential elections followed them in March, 2008.

[2] The Federation Council is essentially Russia's equivalent of the state senate. It's members, however, are not directly elected, but are appointed by politicians from Russia's various regions.


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