Echo of Aurora salvo: Russian Communists ask longtime leader to join presidential race

Echo of Aurora salvo: Russian Communists ask longtime leader to join presidential race
On the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution the Russian Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov announced that all regional branches support his 2018 bid for the presidency. He added that this required confirmation from a party convention.

We have a very serious attitude to the election and we will definitely participate in it. We have our program ready; it is called ‘Ten steps towards a decent life.’ This program can be implemented by a strong team and later we will name its members.  But we will have a strong team: I am the leader of the movement, my candidacy has been put forward by all party organizations,” Zyuganov announced in his interview with Channel 1 television dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the October Socialist Revolution.

However, he also said that the final decision of the Communist Party candidate for the 2018 presidential elections will be made at a specially convened party convention in December.

In comments to Izvestia daily, Deputy Head of the Communist Party’s Central Committee Yuri Afonin also said that it was premature to call Zyuganov a presidential hopeful because the decision needed the confirmation from the party convention.

Since 1993 Gennady Zyuganov has headed the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, official heir to the Communist Party which ruled the Soviet Union unopposed. In 1994 he ran for president against the incumbent Boris Yeltsin, and came second with 32 percent of the vote while Yeltsin garnered 35 percent, and eventually won in the run-off. Zyuganov also ran for the Russian presidency in 2000, 2008 and 2012. He came second every time, getting 29.3, 17.72 and 17.8 percent of the votes respectively.

The official start of the 2018 presidential campaign must take place in mid-December, after the Federation Council sets the exact date of the poll (it is expected to be March 18 – the anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia). So far, several Russian politicians, celebrities and media-savvy personalities have announced their intention to run. Among the most prominent are Liberal-Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky; Yabloko Party founder Grigory Yavlinsky; anti-corruption blogger-turned opposition politician Alexey Navalny (who is legally banned from participation because of an unserved suspended sentence) and socialite magazine editor Ksenia Sobchak.