The Guardian May 8, 2002


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".

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