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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Anti-Stalinist Brainwashing' Vexes Zyuganov

Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party's candidate for president, said Tuesday he did not believe criticism of the Soviet Union should necessarily be protected as free speech, and bemoaned "massive ... anti-Stalinist brainwashing."

Zyuganov, who Monday became the only candidate registered on the ballot after turning in 1.7 million signatures in support of his campaign, also said that his party was lobbying some of Russia's most prominent nationalist politicians.

These included, he said, former vice president Alexander Rutskoi, retired general Alexander Lebed, filmmaker Stanislav Govorukhin and eye doctor Svyatoslav Fyodorov -- members of the self-described Third Force. He hinted that by the week's end the positions of some of those men towards the Communist Party would be made public.

Intrigued by the details of Zyuganov's lobbying efforts, such as the news that high-ranking Communist Party official Svetlana Goryacheva "recently spent a Saturday evening with Rutskoi," reporters allowed the comments regarding freedom of speech and Zyuganov's interpretations of the Stalinist era to pass.

"We are for a full freedom of expression, but we want the journalists to be guided by law," Zyuganov said. "I do not think that it was an instance of freedom of expression when those who called themselves democrats gathered together, lay the red Soviet flag out like a door mat and wiped their feet on it."

Zyuganov added that the Soviet Union saved Europe from Nazi Germany by bearing the brunt of the fighting, and said, "I would like to see freedom of expression used to strengthen these good traditions, instead of to erase a long period of history that includes our great achievements, our [World War II] victory and our culture."

Asked why those who sell anti-Semitic literature often turn up at Communist rallies to push their wares, Zyuganov disputed the premise of the question, saying such pamphlets and tracts were available throughout Moscow. He then called for introducing "regulations and standards which would not allow [that] kind of literature."

Zyuganov also spoke of "a group of experts" to whom he hands newspaper articles he considers libelous; in the past, he has referred to the existence of such a group within the Communist Party, and has said that it is preparing a lawsuit against Izvestia.

The group studies articles, "some of which breach not only the law on the press, but all other possible norms," he said Tuesday. "In a word, we know very well who does these dirty jobs. But we will act in strict observance of the law. We want everybody to obey the law, from the president to journalists."

Tuesday was the 43rd anniversary of Stalin's death, and on a snowy evening about 150 die-hard Stalin fans gathered on Teatralnaya Ploshchad. They hung a banner on the back of the statue of Karl Marx that pleaded, "Stalin, Come Back!" and criticized Zyuganov for his unwillingness to support the immediate restoration of the Soviet Union.

Zyuganov gave Stalin's memory a boost Tuesday, bemoaning "massive anti-state and anti-Stalinist brainwashing," then adding: "Let us judge not just by 1937 [the year Stalin's party purges peaked]. Let us try to avoid these grim historical pages. Let us consider the victory [in World War II] and Stalin's role in that victory."

Zyuganov took obvious pleasure in discussing negotiations with Rutskoi, Lebed and others. He said he met Friday with Rutskoi, and the two agreed that some sort of cooperation was possible.

He said he also hoped to soon meet with Lebed, and added that Lebed recently "spent an entire evening" with Vasily Starodubtsev of the Agrarian Party, chatting for 3 1/2 hours about everything from farm policy to foreign policy.

Copies of Zyuganov's income declarations, which each candidate must file with the Central Election Commission, were distributed Tuesday. Zyuganov said he earned 17 million rubles ($3,450) in 1994 and 30 million in 1995. He donated 9 million rubles to the party over that period. With the exception of about 3 million rubles in author's royalties, his sole source of income was his salary as a Duma deputy.