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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Communist Webmaster Accused of Conspiracy

In a bizarre dispute hearkening back to the rhetoric of the Stalin-era purges, the Communist Party's webmaster has been accused by fellow party members of hatching a Trotskyist conspiracy.

Anatoly Baranov, editor of the party's web site, has been plotting to subvert party policy to reflect "the interests of pro-Western forces," the party's Central Audit Committee said a statement posted on the party's web site over the weekend.

The committee is a body within the Communist Party that monitors the ideological purity of party members.

"The 'Baranov group' stubbornly pushes the Communist Party from the victorious Leninist path onto the false Trotskyist path of a rapid revolution, effectively carried out in the interests of the pro-Western bourgeoisie, rather than in the interests of the Russian people, and leading to the total occupation of Russia by NATO forces," the committee's statement said.

Baranov used the party's Internet resources to disseminate Trotskyist views with the ultimate aim of discrediting the party, the statement said. It added that Baranov and his allies showed "clear signs of Trotskyism, as defined by J.V. Stalin in his article 'Trotskyism and Leninism.'"

Baranov immediately denied the charges and dismissed them as a pro-Kremlin plot to discredit the Communists.

Trotskyism, named after Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky, was seen in the Stalin era as a deviant branch of Marxism. Many of those arrested in the 1930s were accused of being Trotsky's followers.

In a statement posted on the party's web site, Baranov described the accusations as "schizophrenic raving."

Baranov called himself a "neo-Trotskyist," but said it was a term used ironically by young Communist activists. He charged that pro-Kremlin forces were trying to make the party look silly.

"On the eve of the elections, such a document can be the result of only one thing -- active collaboration between the presidential administration and the party leadership," Baranov said.

Baranov could not be reached for comment Monday.

In a meeting Monday, the party's central committee did not disavow the accusations against Baranov but promised to remove them from the party's web site until it had reached a final decision.

The accusations, as well as Baranov's response, had been removed from the web site as of Monday afternoon.

State Duma Deputy Oleg Kulikov, a senior Communist official, said he would not comment on the conflict until party leaders had discussed the issue.