Gennady Zyuganov is in the race for the Russian presidency for the fourth time, at the age of 67 the candidate of the opposition Communist party once again.
Last December the Communists reasserted themselves in legislative elections, coming in second behind the United Russia party of Medvedev and Putin. They won 19 percent of the vote, up from nine in the previous poll.
Communist voters also protested against United Russia’s claims to have won the lion’s share in the country. As the most-credible opposition, the Communist party has attracted new supporters among the young, who never knew the Soviet Union.
Zyuganov used to be a maths and physics teacher, then became a popular politician, rising to Communist Party propaganda heights, with a commitment to Soviet ideals that would survive the fall of the old system.
He hotly objected to President Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost reforms, which led to the end of the Soviet-era Communist Party’s political supremacy. Keeping the party alive with nationalism, Zyuganov also challenged Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin.
In 1995 legislative elections the Communists came first. In the presidential ballot the following year, the result was Yeltsin 53 percent, Zyuganov 40. The next time he tried, Putin, now prime minister, put him in the shade, and he did not even bother in the 2004 race.
But now the 12-time grandfather is back in the ring. His platform is familiar fare, including renationalising natural resources and banks, relaunching the state budget and the economy, and ending the Russian brain drain abroad. He also promises to be the guarantor of democracy.