The KPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) has selected a new candidate to run for President in March. Pavel Grudinin, a 57-year old agro-businessman, known for running an “island of socialism”, will replace the party’s leader Gennady Zyuganov as the party’s choice.
According to RT, Zyuganov himself pointedly stated that Grudinin would be KPRF’s sole candidate in the election. His choice was backed solidly by the 300+ delegates present, receiving only 11 “no” votes at the party’s Congress on Saturday.
— RT (@RT_com) December 18, 2017
What does Grudinin bring to the race?
Pavel Grudinin is an interesting choice, especially considering the usual perception of Communism. He is a businessman, and a very successful one at that. Further, he is not even a member of the Communist Party per se, though he supports the basic points of the ideology. Even further, he actually was a member of the United Russia party until 2010. After serving in this capacity for one term in the Duma, he became independent. It is as an independent now that he is running as the KPRF’s candidate.
Grudinin has directed the Lenin Sovkhoz since 1995. This is an agricultural business based in suburban Moscow. In an interesting twist, Grudinin made this a successful business and he also created a small self-sufficient community that operates under principles very synonymous with communism.
The Lenin Sovkhoz is Russia’s largest strawberry farm. It is also a major producer of fruit and vegetables. The company also is a model enterprise with near-communist internal rules. Workers are provided with free housing, healthcare and school dinners, and communal fees and other regular payments are subsidized. Additionally, the enterprise has been able to build a very fine school and kindergarten, as well as a local clinic. Reports claim too that the medical specialists and teachers working there are able to purchase zero-interest loans that allow them to purchase real estate in neighboring towns.
Even other former party candidates have given Pavel Grudinin their support. The intent is to rally independent voters who are nonetheless like-minded with the platform of the Communist Party. This has been done once before, in 2004, when Nikolai Kharitonov ran instead of Zyuganov. The outcome of this race was that Kharitonov earned second place, which has been traditional performance for the Party, after United Russia. Kharitonov endorsed Grudinin as the Party choice enthusiastically, saying,
Zyuganov perfectly understands the need for consolidation, the consolidation of all the Left. That is why the party platform — and especially his position in the State Council — that is going to acquire a new form, being led by a communist, would be far better off with [Grudinin].
This is an interesting move by the Communist party, but it is not likely to significantly change the direction the nation is trying to go. The election takes place Sunday, March 18th, 2018.