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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov Aide Backs Council Of Unity

A top adviser to Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov has added his voice in support of proposals to form a "government of people's trust" ahead of June's presidential election, suggesting that the idea now has active support from factions across the political spectrum.


Whether it is called a government of national trust, of people's unity or simply a coalition, the idea of forming a state council that would combine all parties and neutralize the June 16 vote has now drawn support from top aides in the Kremlin, the Communist Party and several presidential candidates.


"In order to stabilize the situation, you can't allow a clean victory like in sport, where one side defeats the other," Alexei Podberyozkin, a top aide to Zyuganov, said in an interview Monday with The Moscow Times as he explained why the country's fate should not be left to elections alone.


"Imagine you are a candidate. He who loses, loses everything. It's not like in the United States, where he goes into an honored retirement; he loses everything and might even go to jail. The stakes are too high," he said. "Moreover, I'm not convinced that the [current] president would give up power if he lost."


Podberyozkin is chairman of Spiritual Heritage, a nationalist movement claiming 450,000 members which began as a think-tank with close ties to Russia's security agencies. He is "In this way we would get an elite, of 70 people, in which are representatives of power and of all political forces," said Podberyozkin. "No one tries to replace any one else, all guarantee each other's existence, and this is where the main source of power will be located. That's it."


The idea was first floated April 27 in a vague appeal for compromise from 13 bankers and industrialists, in which they warned that whatever their result, the elections could lead to civil war.


A week later, General Alexander Korzhakov, head of the presidential security service and Boris Yeltsin's closest confidant, expressed approval of the "Letter of the 13," as it became known, and urged postponement of the elections for the sake of "stability."


Since then at least two candidates, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fyodorov have spoken out in support of the idea and Yeltsin has said he would consider it.


Zyuganov has not commented on the proposal, and has said repeatedly that he wants elections to go on as scheduled.


"This is not Zyuganov's plan," said Podberyozkin. "I will have to lobby for it, offer it to them, but people [in the Communist Party] are listening and they are prepared to discuss it. Everyone understands that radical changes should not occur."


Other Communist Party officials, including Zyuganov's No. 2 and campaign chairman Valentin Kuptsov, have called the proposal "quite reasonable," although Kuptsov said the body should be formed "only after the presidential elections."


Podberyozkin went on to say that many people supported the plan because they were "Gosudarstvenniki," a term best translated as people who support the creation of a strong Russian state before all else. He described himself as a "gosudarstvennik" and said that in the Kremlin, while few speak openly of it, "I would think there are a lot."


The question of the new State Council would look like, however, remains quite unclear.


In an interview with Moscow News last week, Alexander Smolensky, president of Stolichny Savings Bank and a signer of the "Letter of the 13," also urged the creation of a State Council -- "a supranational superstructure over all branches of power," composed of 30-35 government, judicial, business and societal leaders -- but picked by Yeltsin.


That is significantly different from Podberyozkin's proposal, who has the president less powerful than the council. As a result, some observers consider the plan a pipe dream. But other analysts say the coincidence of the proposals smacks of conspiracy.


"Different people put different meanings in this term 'government of national unity,'" said Andrei Piontkowski of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Studies. "But the main intrigue is developed, to my view, by a group of people around Yeltsin -- I mean Korzhakov, [presidential chief of staff Nikolai] Yegorov, maybe KGB chief [Mikhail] Barsukov, and some people around Zyuganov, including Proberyozkin, who is the main ideologist of the Zyuganov camp."


"This is a plot to create an authority which will be responsible not to society through an election but to a group of bankers and secret service generals. It's a very gloomy perspective," he said.