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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Communist Marchers Win Numbers Game

It was the best of times and the worst of times as the communists and the anticommunists staged successive rallies Sunday and Monday.

The communists had the best of times, with a raucous, fiery romp that drew 3,000 participants Sunday, proving once again their organizational and electoral strength.

But it was the worst of times for reformists, who staged a public response to the communist rally Monday -- and attracted a mere 10 demonstrators.

"Don't blame me. Blame the people who organized this," said Kirill Gilanov, one of the 10 anti-communists who managed to keep a stiff upper lip while holding a placard at the demonstration at Truimfalnaya Ploshchad. "There should be more people here."

Sunday's successful communist rally blocked traffic on Kaluzhskaya Ploshchad and made for an impressive spectacle on Sunday's news reports, which showed the large crowd chanting, "Long live the Soviet Union!"

The demonstration was called to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the national referendum on the status of the Soviet Union, in which the overwhelming majority of voters voiced support keeping the union intact.

In the wake of Friday's Duma resolution calling for the reunification of the Soviet Union, the crowd was jubilant, and confident in its anti-reform, anti-Yeltsin message.

The demonstrators were led by former hard-line Politburo member Yegor Ligachev, who drew resounding applause with his neo-communist rhetoric: "The Soviet Union was ruined illegally five years ago, as a result of which our compatriots suffer ... Long live the Socialist Motherland!"

Monday's weak response by the anti-communists showed the apathy and ambivalence of the reform movement.

Valeriya Novodvorskaya of the Democratic Union led the demonstration and attempted to get the small group going with some fiery rhetoric of her own. She predicted that the communist return to power would end in "atomic war" and said that personal freedoms would cease immediately following a change in power. "The communists will prohibit you from walking on two legs, command you to grow a tail, and send you up a tree, simply because it is pleasant to them," she said.

Reformists were disappointed in their rally, and some blamed their lack of support on fear of communists.

"People are already afraid to speak out against the communists," said Pyotr Kaznachevich, had of the Antifascist Youth Action group. "They don't want to come out in public."