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How the West Distorted Communist Political Victories in the Recent Russian Elections

The legitimacy of any democratic system is reflected in the percentage of people who turn out to vote.  By this standard, the recent elections to the Moscow Parliament were relatively “illegitimate” with only 21.8% of eligible voters participating.  Yet despite this low level of participation,  Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin called the campaign “perhaps the most emotional and really competitive in all of recent history.”  One of the reasons for this was “the strong detachment of Communist that had been elected.”  The Communist Party had secured 13 seats while 4 seats went to the liberal party, Yabloko, and 3 to the center-left Just Russia.  Individuals representing United Russia, Putin’s party, are set to occupy 26 of the 45 seats in the Moscow City Duma.  While Communists around the world should celebrate the election of their comrades in the Russian Federation, some consideration should be given both to why their numbers increased and those of United Russia declined.  However, even more important is that we all should recognize how the Western academic and journalistic ideologues, have done their best to obscure and negate the Communist victories.

In the eyes of Western journalists and political analysts, the election of the Communists reflects Putin’s declining power and popularity, which is itself a result of massive, multifaceted corruption in general and political fraud and corruption  in particular.  They assert that this political malpractice has taken the form of coercing or bribing voters to turn out and vote for United Russia, enabling multiple voting by groups of citizens, and ballot stuffing.

As many American political scientists see it,  following the mass protest demonstrations against the regime, in the wake of the Duma elections of December 2011, the Kremlin adopted a new strategy, that of preventing opposition parties and candidates, particularly those who challenged United Russia,  from registering for elections.  This point of view has been propagated by well know Western political scientists to conclude that Russia is not truly a democracy but rather an “electoral authoritarian regime” (Schedler, 2013; Ross 2011, 2014; White, 2017) cited in:

Putin tried to smash the opposition. Instead protests have spiraledhttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-018-0137-1

It verges on the insane that American political scholars should level this criticism against the Russian government, Putin, and the United Russia Party, considering that America has only two political parties, and that election to one of those parties requires a huge amount of money.  Secondly, there is the  Electoral College,the existence of which means that the people of America do not vote directly for candidates, but rather for the state representatives of the electoral college who,in turn, should cast all the state votes for the candidate. Thus, America It is a winner take all system, andnot, like Russia and Europe, a system of many diverse parties and proportional representation.

When viewed historically, the limiting of political parties in Russia appears logical and necessary.  During Perestroika, there were over 100 registered parties the huge majority of which never saw anyone elected to the State Dum.  After Putin’s first election, when more stringent requirements for registering political parties were implemented, the number of parties did decline.  However, before the 2011 parliamentary elections, about 10 opposition parties were denied registration.  In response to a series of protests, restrictions were lifted, and parties once again  increased to more than 48.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_parties_in_Russia

From  2008 to 2012 there were “only” seven parties registered in Russia,six of which had representatives in the State Duma.  The Communist Party was consistently in second place.   There werestill “only” two major parties in the U.S.A. When we include reginal platforms, we find other communist parties such as the Communists of Russia, and the Communist Party of Social Justice, along with a “green” party, The Green Alliance and others.  Again, far more parties than America has ever had.

Yet, roiling in their hypocrisy, western pundits continue label the Russian political system “undemocratic.” Arguing that it isthe refusal of the government to allow any and all parties to register that has brought the people of Russia to the point of “revolution. They trace the “mass demonstrations which erupted in 2011” as well as the recent “massive” protests before the Moscow Duma elections, tothe refusal of government authorities to register certain independent parties.  The west claims that these demonstrations brought “tens of thousands” of people into the street.  Even if there were 100,000 people in the streets, that number should be weighed against the total population of Moscow, which is over 13,000,000, approximately one fifth of which voted in the city elections.

Moreover, from the distorted perspective of the liberal “democratic” Western thinkers,  the election of Communists to the Moscow legislature, was not a victory for the Communists, but “turned out to be a major success for the opposition, even if independent candidates were prevented from standing.”  Who is the leader of  opposition?   It is the Russian version of Venezuela’s Guido,Alexey Navalny, whom the west has been championing for years in the hopes that he will actually be able to lead a coup against Putin  It is at his feet that the Western oriented press has laid the victory of the Communists.  Why?  Because he called on his supporters to vote for opposition parties sanction by the government.  Now remember, there were six such parties, yet it was the Communists who received the majority of opposition votes. As the propaganda goes, Alexei Navalny’s call for his followers to vote for opposition parties sanctioned by the Kremlin meant they got 20 of the 45 seats in the city parliament.  Without any proof he claimed a tactical victory”It’s clear that (the) Smart Voting (political strategy) worked,” Navalny wrote. “Throughout the history of the MGD (Duma), the party in power has not lost so many districts.”

This perspective, this analysis and this conclusion … which takes the facts and twists them into a grotesquerie it hopes will make American “democracy” look good, and Russia and Russian politics look bad, is also aimed at making The Communist Part of the Russian Federationappear as an inconsequential lacky of “pro-Western” Navalny.  After all, how could it be the case that real Russians actually voted to elect Communists?   Well, the fact is that they have and  they do.The Communists are and have been the second most influential political party in Putin’s Russia.  It considers itself the leading opposition party. The stated goal  of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is to establish socialism in Russia. Its immediate goals of the CPRF include the nationalization of natural resources, agriculture and large industries within the framework of a mixed economy that allows for the growth of small and medium enterprises in the private sector.https://www.rbth.com/politics/2013/11/25/modern_face_of_russian_communism_32023.html

To be sure, CPRF has aligned itself with Putin’s party, United Russia, in many respects: it is nationalistic, has an anti-gay bias, and worst of all supports the Russian Orthodox Church. However, not all people who share communist views agree with the policy of the CPRF. The year  2012 was marked by the creation of two alternative communist parties: The Communists of Russia and the Communist Party of Social Justice. The Communists of Russia first appeared in 2009, when it was registered as a public organization.

As I noted in a previous article, more Russia youth are embracing Communism and joining  organizations such as the Russian Communist Youth League, the Leninist Young Communist League of the Russian Federation, the Revolutionary Communist Youth League, a vanguard of Red Youth whose leader, Sergei Udaltsov, is one of the most noticeable figures of the Russian opposition. All of these organizations are influenced by the CPRF.  In previous years the Communist Party garnered 26.45 percent of the vote in Moscow’s university district, placing it ahead of the Kremlin’s party, United Russia. https://www.rbth.com/politics/2013/11/25/modern_face_of_russian_communism_32023.html

JUST AS IN AMERICA, WHERE THE RICH ARE FEW BUT POWERFUL, AND THE MASSES STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE, SO TOO IN RUSSIA.While the US business magazine Forbes counts 53  billionaires in Russia, most of whom acquired their fortunes through  deals with government officials, about 40 percent of Russians must make ends meet with less than 6,000 rubles a month, ($242).(Russia Has ‘Oligarchs,’ the US Has ‘Businessmen’ – In 150 NYT, CNN and Fox articles)  In the face of rising prices for everything from black bread to sneakers, increased unemployment and most significantly, a rise in the age at which people can collect their pensions, people are becoming disgusted with the Putin government and are remembering the good things about Communist rule: free housing, education, health care, summer homes, and guaranteed vacations.

Russia, with its deep social divide between millions of poor and a small class of the super-rich, holds strong potential for leftist candidates. According to a study by the well-known Moscow Levada Center, 55 percent of Russians support the notion of a planned economy. And according to a survey by the Academy of Sciences, 35 percent of Russians believe that the government should control factories and businesses.

IN CAPITALIST SOCIETIES, THE END RESULT OF WHICH IS THE ENRICHMENT OF THE RICH AND THE IMPOVERISHMENT OF THE WORKING CLASS, COMMUNISM HAS A DEFINITE APPEAL.  WESTERN PUNDITS DO THEIR BEST TO OBFUSCATE THIS TRUTH.

Mary Metzger is a 74 year old semi retired teacher. She did her undergraduate work at S.U.N.Y. Old Westbury and her graduate work In Dialectics under Bertell Ollman at New York University. She has taught numerous subjects, from Public Sector Labor Relations to Philosophy of Science, to many different levels of students from the very young to Ph.D. candidates, in many different institutions and countries from Afghanistan to Russia. She has been living in Russia for the past 12 years where she focuses on research in the Philosophy of Science and History of the Dialectic, and writes primarily for Countercurrents. She is the mother of three, the grandmother of five, and the great grandmother of two.


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One Comment

  1. Mary Metzger says:

    There was a comment made on this article which I read, and then set aside to answer. It is frustrating to see that the comment is no longer there.

    The essence of the comment was that in the “good old days of the Soviet Union” there was great inequality. This is very far from the truth. It is true that members of the Communist Party were slightly better off than those who were not. For example, the size of the land they were given to build their summer homes was 9m larger than the land given to non members. Their apartments were also larger and yes, they did have access to more food. But the fact of the matter is, that these ‘INEQUALITIES” pale by comparison to the inequalities generated by capitalistates, including the current Russian- yes, the adjective applies – capitaist, state.

    Quote me not poetry to support your position. Give me facts…..and I will counter you with the facts regarding the most blatant inequalities that define modern capitalist societies.

    And by the way, when Stalin died he owned only one pair of boots….and yes, quite a large dacha.