Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Campaign Void of Any Rules, Limits

The fact that Komosmolskaya Pravda, one of Russia's most well-read and most reliable newspapers, has published what it claims is a Communist Party plan to return Russia to the economic strategies of 1917 is indeed a worrying omen of what might come after a Communist victory.

But at this stage of the election campaign, such claims must be taken with more than a pinch of salt. Nobody in this race, whether on the left or right of the political spectrum, is going to blanch at issuing disinformation. The stakes are too high and the political culture too anarchic.

The document itself is almost a parody of communist economic slogans and it would indeed overturn Russia's current economic system. It talks about renationalizing "illegally appropriated property" and of measures that would be required to overcome resistance from the "bourgeoisie." In fact taken together, its recommendations are not far from the rhetoric of the Bolsheviks in 1917.

But the whole strategy of the Yeltsin camp is to raise the fear of a bloody communist revanche and memories of the devastating civil war that followed hard on the heels the Bolshevik revolution. This view has been seized upon by the democratic press and, to a certain extent, by the Western media.

The Komosmolskaya Pravda article could be a number of things. The document it quotes could simply be a fake. The Communist Party's opponents are more than capable of fabricating such a document and passing it off to a newspaper.

Alternatively, and this perhaps is fairer to Komsomolskaya Pravda, the document may be a draft supported by some individuals or sections of the Communist Party.

But the crucial point is that such a document does not necessarily reflect what the Communist Party really plans after the elections. Drafts, lists of options and musings of think tanks float around political parties without ever leaving a mark on policy.

If it is disinformation, then Zyuganov made amply clear while stumping in the Urals on Wednesday that the Yeltsin camp has by no means has a monopoly in this sphere. He told his audiences of an extraordinary two-page "war" plan drawn up by John F. Kennedy to destroy the Soviet Union. The Soviet media should be infiltrated to cause Russians to lose respect for the system and their elders, equating them with fascists, it said. Nationalist and religious extremism would be inflamed so as to tear the country apart -- and so it went on, laughable in its anachronisms, but potent.

Few modern election campaigns are conducted on gentlemanly rules, but in this one, as byzantine intrigues are played out upon the consciousness of the public, there are no rules or boundaries at all.