Nationalization of Russian oil & gas industry tops Communists’ election agenda

Gennady Zuganov, leader of the Communist Party, at the pioneer induction ceremony on Red Square, Moscow. ©  Vitaliy Belousov
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation has made public its program for September’s parliamentary elections, promising government reform, major nationalization and more state support to Russian business, science and culture.

Communist leader Gennadiy Zyuganov presented his party’s program, ‘10 steps to decent living’, at a party conference at the weekend, promising that once he and his comrades gained enough power in parliament the plan would end the economic crisis and at the same time guarantee social justice in Russia.

We are entering the 2016 elections with the program of economic and spiritual revival of Russia. Today we propose our approaches and principles in order to make them into state laws for the government of people’s trust and national interests. The 10 points of our program are the new image of the future for our motherland,” Zyuganov was quoted as saying by Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily.

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The Communists’ main proposal in the economic sphere is the nationalization of major enterprises in the oil and gas industry, the largest banks and infrastructure companies, and communications and defense enterprises. The authors of the document claim these steps would give the economy sufficient incentive for development and at the same time lower Russia’s dependency on foreign sources of capital.

The Communists claimed that once their economic reform has brought results, the share of the manufacturing industry would increase from the current 16 percent to 70-80 percent by volume of production. They also propose to support Russian agriculture through state subsidies both to large cooperatives and ordinary farmers.

The program includes a plan to radically change the Russian tax system, through canceling the value added tax and annulling recent changes to property and real estate taxes which, according to Communist lawmakers, have led to an increased burden on ordinary citizens. The abolished taxes would be replaced by a progressive scale income tax that, according to the authors of the program, would completely negate the damage to the state budget inflicted by the cancelation of some taxes.

The main political novelty proposed in the program was not exactly new – the Communists continue to push for the “government of people’s trust” formed on the basis of parliamentary representation instead of the current system when ministers are hand-picked by the PM, who is appointed by the president with parliamentary approval. The new system would improve national security and increase Russia’s authority on the international arena, Zyuganov told reporters as he presented the plan.

Summarizing the program, the Communist leader stated that it was in the interests of the population, could help Russia end the crisis period in its economy and was both realistic and fast and easy to implement.

In February this year, Zyuganov announced plans to unite all “patriotic forces” under the program of “leftist-centrist turn” to counter the pro-business, anti-crisis initiatives of the ruling United Russia party. This came shortly after United Russia leader and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered that the program for the forthcoming parliamentary elections make a shift from social-oriented policies of the prosperity period to pro-business steps and measures that would help to maintain social peace in times of economic crisis.

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Medvedev also warned his party comrades about the threat from the leftists, who would attack any pro-business initiatives and use populist rhetoric that they had already perfected.