Top Communist names farm magnate Grudinin as party’s ‘new Russian national leader’
Grudinin spoke at the plenary session of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, where he expressed the opinion that he had not lost the presidential race, Kommersant daily reports. “We have not lost. I should not only have a moustache, I should also grow my hair really long,” the former candidate joked, referring to the recent removal of his facial hair as a forfeit following a bet on his election performance.
He also suggested that he should have got at least 30 percent of votes (he achieved 11.7 percent in the election). “Local disturbances speak for the fact that the people don’t trust the authorities. There is only one opposition force in Russia, and it is the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, supported by the bloc of national-patriotic forces,” Grudinin told the plenary meeting to applause.
He also thanked Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov for his advice in the course of election campaign. Zyuganov thanked all party members for fighting for “renewed socialism” and announced that Pavel Grudinin had become a new national leader. The party leader also noted that he and his comrades were not questioning the official results of the elections, but doubted the effectiveness of the new system of absentee voting.
The top Communist also dismissed his comrades’ criticism relating to the presidential campaign. He said that the very late, unexpected nomination of Grudinin as a candidate was a smart tactical move, because if it happened half a year earlier, he would have been “trampled” by pro-Kremlin politicians and spin doctors.
At the same time, neither Grudinin nor Zyuganov mentioned the possible career prospects of the newly emerged “national leader.” As the elections campaign was in full swing, many Russian reporters and political experts speculated that Grudinin needed it as a start for a political career that he would continue by trying to become the governor of the Moscow Region in September.
Pavel Grudinin is a successful and well-off director and major stakeholder in the Lenin Sovkhoz agricultural firm, located in vicinity of Moscow. The company is described by Grudinin and his allies as a self-sufficient community with almost-communist internal rules. Its employees are provided with free housing, healthcare and school dinners, as well as having many of their living expenses subsidized. Grudinin’s critics note that his company is a typical capitalist firm that got a large part of its riches from selling land to developers of shopping malls and deprived ordinary workers of their share of property during privatization.
Grudinin is also an experienced politician, having served as a member of the Moscow Regional Duma between 1997 and 2011. He is not a member of the Communist Party, but sees nothing wrong in siding with it and even running for presidency on the Communist ticket. In his electoral manifesto, he calls for ‘10 steps to decent life.’ Grudinin advocated the nationalization of major enterprises, tax reform and Russia’s exit from the World Trade Organization (WTO).