There is something truly fascinating happening in Russia right now, and most of the Western media watching the show hasn’t caught it. Yet.

For years, ever since the collapse of the USSR, the rump Russian Communist Party has been the only nationwide organization to remain constantly critical and defiant of the emerging oligarchic Plutocracy in Russia. First, during the horrifyingly corrupt Yeltsin era, and then during the earlier Putin era, when Putin’s approval ratings hovered in the 70th percentile.  The Communists have always been more popular in the economically-devastated Far East than they have been in European Russia, but they’ve always been there. Mostly alone.

They are alone no more. Russians with complaints about Russia’s “United Russia” party that sound ominously like our own complaints about the Rushpubliscum Party have taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands, across Russia. Russians have finally become exasperated with a Government that benefits the few at the expense of the many, and they don’t care for the Russian flavor of “voter fraud” laws either.

And…. guess who has been in front of the latest protests?

 

Tens of thousands of people held the largest anti-government protests that post-Soviet Russia has ever seen to criticize electoral fraud and demand an end to Vladimir Putin’s rule. Police showed surprising restraint and state-controlled TV gave the nationwide demonstrations unexpected airtime, but there is no indication the opposition is strong enough to push for real change from the prime minister or his ruling party.

Nonetheless, the prime minister seems to be in a weaker position than he was a week ago, before Russians voted in parliamentary elections. His United Party lost a substantial share of its seats, although it retains a majority.

The independent Russian election-observer group Golos said Saturday that “it achieved the majority mandate by falsification,” international observers reported widespread irregularities, and the outpouring of Russians publicly denouncing him throughout the country undermines Putin’s carefully nurtured image of a strong and beloved leader.

 

A foretaste of the public revulsion had its debut just a few weeks before.

 

The parliamentary opposition has blasted Sunday’s United Russia convention for attacks on opponents, the use of state television for election lobbying and for reviving the spirit of Soviet-era Communist Party congresses.

At the grand convention on Sunday, the ruling party’s 10,000 delegates voted unanimously to endorse Vladimir Putin’s candidacy in forthcoming presidential elections. Both United Russia leader Vladimir Putin and incumbent President Dmitry Medvedev made extended speeches on the current situation in the country as well as on future plans.

The convention and the speeches drew harsh criticism from the parliamentary opposition.

The first deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Ivan Melnikov, said the United Russia convention was not a political event but rather a ritual-propaganda one. “They do not have a single argument in their favor, but for the dusty phrase that life was worse in the 90s. However they forgot to mention that oil was trading for 10 to 15 dollars a barrel, whereas over the past 10 years it has been selling for 100 dollars,” Melnikov told the press.

Melnikov, who is also a professor at Moscow State University, went on to say that the authorities, rather than using the profits from the high oil price to benefit the people, had instead used it to service the interests of large capital and bureaucracy.

 

I have said for awhile now that if Lenin were suddenly awakened from his rest in Red Square, that he’d have an audience of millions the world over.

Could his ideological children be getting ready to lead yet another collapse of Russia? I don’t think you can dismiss it. Up until the abortive coup in 1991, no one would have predicted that the Soviet Union was going to fall completely apart.

It may be an interesting year all over, the year 2012.

 

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