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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Key Communist Writers Turn on Zyuganov

Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party's presidential candidate, is a lifelong party bureaucrat who has never done an honest day's work. In 1991, he participated enthusiastically in the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In 1993, he deserted his friends in the White House, leaving them to be bombed, shot at and imprisoned.

That, at least, is the portrait offered independently by two journalists at leading communist newspapers -- one at Pravda and the other recently fired from Sovietskaya Rossia -- who remain prominent in communist circles.

Sovietskaya Rossia fired Nadezhda Garifullina for her 400-plus page biography of radical communist Oleg Shenin that includes some unflattering swipes at Zyuganov. Alexander Golovenko, the other journalist, remains at Pravda despite having published a withering account of Zyuganov's career in Moskovsky Komsomolets, one of Zyuganov's arch-enemies in the media.

"They haven't fired me or otherwise pressured me only because they fear another scandal. I'm not Nadezhda Garifullina, she's going relatively quietly. I'm going to go kicking and screaming," said Golovenko.

At a press conference Tuesday, Zyuganov complained repeatedly about slanted national media coverage. That is a favorite theme of his campaign: In Russia's polarized political world, Zyuganov's electorate sees media like NTV, Izvestia and Moskovsky Komsomolets as favoring President Boris Yeltsin, and thus not worthy of attention.

But if he is usually able to brush off most media criticism as partisan, that doesn't work with Garifullina and Golovenko. They are respected in communist circles. Their criticism is read, pondered and argued over by Zyuganov's core supporters.

"Garifullina's recent book and the articles of Golovenko ... are causing distress in the ranks of the CPRF, especially in the regions," said Andrei Fyodorov, a researcher with the Fund for Political Investigations, writing in Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "He will have to make it through two or three more unpleasant moments in the next few months in connection with similar publications." character. Using their privileged access as communists, they have meticulously re-examined recent history, digging up old stories and quoting disgruntled leaders of the left opposition.

Garifullina, for example, described a long-forgotten plan floated publicly by Zyuganov in 1995 to create a group of Russian "leaders" -- he dubbed it the State Council -- which could then choose the next president on its own, without recourse to national elections.

Golovenko, meanwhile, described in Moskovsky Komsomolets how Zyuganov appeared at the White House in October 1993 to support Vice President Alexander Rutskoi and Supreme Soviet speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov in their face-off with Yeltsin -- only to disappear soon after.

"We thought: They've grabbed the poor guy," Golovenko wrote. "But no, on October 3 we see him on television, where 'Communist No. 1' asked his dear Russians 'to keep their calm and reserve, and not to give in to provocation or to participate in demonstrations or strikes.'"

Khasbulatov, quoted by Golovenko, called Zyuganov's television appearance "a knife in the back."

Both Golovenko and Garifullina described Zyuganov as an undistinguished bureaucrat and an opportunist, who approved of and participated in the breaking up of the Soviet Union in 1991, who backed Yeltsin in the end in 1993 and who will not feel an obligation to remember his campaign promises if he is elected president.

"This 50-year-old candidate for the presidency, who is pretending to the leadership of an enormous Eurasian power, has never even run a real enterprise," Golovenko wrote.

"He is of that breed of party higher-ups who, never having hammered in a nail himself, is constantly lecturing others how to sew and to plow, to mine mercury and smelt metal, and shouting at them for unfulfilled plans, delays and shortfalls.

"Why even Yeltsin in comparison is a work-horse! He at least knows construction, and has run the affairs of the entire Sverdlovsk Oblast and of Moscow."

Garifullina had a loyal readership in her seven years at Sovietskaya Rossia. Her firing surprised and angered many leading communists.

Aman Tuleyev -- a popular Siberian politician who was No. 2 on the Communist Party's Duma elections lists and who Zyuganov has tapped as his vice president -- said at a press conference Tuesday in Moscow that he would look into Garifullina's case.

"I am rendering her maximum support," Tuleyev said. "If nothing comes of my efforts [to get her rehired] I will make her my assistant at the Federation Council."

Although Sovietskaya Rossia is the quasi-official organ of the Communist Party, Zyuganov on Tuesday maintained that it was an independent newspaper.

"Nadezhda Garifullina has committed herself to a particular line and position, and she is entitled to do that, just as the editors of Sovietskaya Rossia are entitled to uphold their own point of view," Zyuganov said, explaining her firing.

Zyuganov demanded that Rossiiskaya Gazeta, the government-owned newspaper, publish his presidential platform, as it is required to do by law, and complained that Russian citizens were more and more relying on foreign news media for information about the campaign.

He also said public opinion polls are regularly falsified to create the impression that Yeltsin's popularity is growing. "These polls are used as a means to influence public opinion," he said.