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Is there still a communist party in Russia?

Russia does have opposition parties to Putin's United Russia, but they are neutered and are in support of his invasion of Ukraine.

A man walks past a monument to the Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin and an Orthodox church at a settlement in the southern Russian Rostov region on February 25, 2022.

Russia is a dictatorship in all but name, controlled at the top by President Vladimir Putin with his cronies and oligarch friends below him. His party, United Russia, dominates both the legislative and executive arms of government, giving him an effective free reign to run the country. As seen days ago his cabinet fears him, stumbling and trembling through a scripted attack on Ukraine while Putin basked in the array of subservience before him.

People would be remiss to compare this government with the Soviet Union. Putin's government is not communist nor even socialist. It is a reactionary and right-wing government. Remnants of Russia's soviet past exist in the form of the Russian communists, who have a not inconsiderbale amount of support inside the state.

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Why are the communists popular?

The Soviet Union still holds a place in the heart of many Russians. It was a time where they were one of two superpowers in the world, and despite how hard Putin wants Russia to be in that state again, Russia is not. Many Russians grew up during the time of the Soviet Union too.

Much has been made of Putin's comments in support of Josef Stalin. Despite the numerous horrendous acts under his regime, Stalin was the leader of Russia when they defeated the Nazi's almost single-handedly in the Great Patriotic War, known the the west as the Second World War. Each year there are massive celebrations in Moscow for this.

Like much support for changes to the status quo, it is also based around economic troubles. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the population rate in Russia has been in constant decline. After small but consistent growth during the 1970s through 1990s, the population decreased for 20 years straight before a small rebound, thoguh is now falling again. Russia is not a happy place to live.

This is further reflected in graphs for living standards. In 2020, the average Russian had 11 percent less money to spend than in 2013. The poverty rate has also been rising consistently since 2014, increasing by 8.5 percentage points in seven years. This breeds dissatisfaction, which could be a pointer towards renewed support for the communists in the last elections in September 2021.

How much political power do the communists have?

In the latest round of Russian elections, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), the successor to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, won 57 out of 450 seats in the State Duma. It is the second largest party in the lower parliamentary house, behind President Putin's United Russia party.

We went out to all the voters and said: this is what we are offering. The voters listened to us. The voters believed us. The voters voted for us.

Gennady Zyuganov, CPRF leader speaking after Russian elections in 2021

Despite being the main opposition, they have next to no power and are enthusiastic supports of Russia's current invasion. In a recent opinion article, leader Gennardy Zyuganov decried the Ukranian government as 'vassals' of the United States. He added that his party was prepared to support Putin's government in defending the two breakaway states in Ukraine, and echoed the Russian propaganda line that Ukraine was committing genocide against Russians.

Russia is a deeply authoritarian state, and none of the small parties in the Duma have any power.