Last week, AP reported that President Putin had “denounced Lenin and his Bolshevik government for their brutal repressions and accused him of having placed a “time bomb” under the state.”
On Twitter an analyst asked if this meant that Putin saw the Communist Party as a threat in the coming parliamentary elections in September, and speculated about “internal polls”.
In the highly contested 2011 Duma election, the Communist Party came in 2nd place to the ruling United Russia. Granted, they took 19.19% of the vote compared to United Russia’s nearly 50%, but this was a marked increase from their 2007 results of 11.57%.
When looking at the seat distribution, the Communist Party gained 35 seats in Parliament while United Russia lost 77 (the remainder were distributed to the 3rd and 4th place parties with 16 & 26 seats respectively).
The Communists have also been actively fighting for no budget cuts on benefits and have also been supporting some of the protest movements against the Kremlin.
So, yes, the Communist Party is something of a threat to United Russia in the coming elections in September. But is that why Vladimir Putin said what he did about Lenin?
When Putin makes ideological statements like the one he did about Lenin, he is sending a message to his core constituency. And I don’t mean voters. I mean the elite who support him. Particularly those who support his adventurism on foreign soil.
This was not the first time that the President has made a statement criticizing Lenin & the Bolsheviks either. At the annual summer Nashi youth camp in 2014, Putin
“spoke of the Bolsheviks’ ”betrayal of the Russian national interests.” It was the Bolsheviks, after all, who “wished to see their fatherland defeated while Russian heroic soldiers and officers shed blood on the fronts of the First World War.””
Lenin’s name was never mentioned, but the implication should have been clear to anybody who heard it.
Even though he did use Lenin’s name this time, Putin would not make the final step to call for the closure of the Masoleum in Moscow’s Red Square, saying that it would “divide society”.