Russia: Putin's policies behind violent extremism
Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), has blamed President Vladimir Putin's administration for policies that have spurred the growth of violent extremism. Speaking in an interview just hours after Putin delivered a "state of the nation" speech, Gennady Zyuganov said the Kremlin leader had failed to come up with anything positive for Russians and had ignored the poverty and lawlessness afflicting society. "People have nothing to eat. Young people graduate from fine institutes and cannot find work. Entire generations are growing up knowing nothing other than drugs, vodka and life on the street. It is the authorities' extremism which pushes people towards extremism", said Zyuganov. "Our people are calm and reasonable. But if they are pushed, it will be hard to stop", he said. Nationalist groups periodically stage organised attacks on ethnic groups, particularly traders from southern Russia and adjacent ex-Soviet republics. A number of embassies have protested against violent assaults on their nationals. "Communists wanted reforms and had drawn on the experience of other countries, particularly China, in forming plans to develop Russia's economy that took into account Russia's very specific nature. Putting had ignored the CPRF's suggestions", said Zyuganov. The oligarchs — industrialists who made money in the post-Soviet period — had put Russia in its current state, with "nearly 70 million people either going hungry or reduced to begging". The Communist Party leader singled out Anatoly Chubais, a much hated figure, for his role in mass privatisations in the mid-1990s, which had created vast fortunes for some industrialists. Zyuganov accused Chubais of causing widespread misery in his current job as head of the country's electricity utility. "He cuts off power to maternity hospitals and to rocket bases. This is extremism. Whole districts without power, patients lying on the operating table and power cut off." Zyuganov was defeated by Boris Yeltsin in the 1996 presidential elections and lost to Putin four years later. The most recent polls give the Communist Party a 34 per cent rating — far ahead of pro-Putin forces who control the lower house of the State Duma. The CPRF is the largest single group in the Duma, but lost much of their power base when they were removed from top positions on key committees, prompting Zyuganov to declare the Party in "all-out opposition". Zyuganov is confident that good results in recent local elections would lead to mass support in next year's parliamentary polls. Speaking of the May Day demonstrations and the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany on May 9, Zyuganov said: "I think there will be many more people turning out this year. In the past year, because of Putin's policies, no-one has seen improved living conditions, except the oligarchs".