Despite attempts to erase vestiges of the Soviet past, the Communist Party in Russia still has support. On the anniversary of the birth of its founder, Vladimir Lenin, RT talks to its current leader, Gennady Zyuganov.
RT: We are talking on the eve of Vladimir Lenin’s birthday, and this interview will be aired on that day. Lenin is no less an icon of communist ideology than Karl Marx. To what extend does your party still adhere to Lenin’s ideology?
GZ: Lenin remains one of the greatest minds and most brilliant politicians. Like Marx, Lenin offered an ideology on which to build socialism in one country. At the same time, Lenin established a new type of political party that was equal to the task, one that proved stronger than all others. Despite anti-communism reigning supreme in this country for 20 years, Lenin and Stalin were recently named among Russia’s five most outstanding statesmen of the last millennium in The Name of Russia TV show.
RT: Many people still praise him, but at the same time, many curse him. It is still not clear whether he is a hero or a tyrant. Many people demand that his body be removed from the Mausoleum and buried. A recent incident also confirmed that attitudes to Lenin monuments vary widely.
GZ: It’s not an isolated incident, but a more typical barbarism that, incidentally, many countries currently engage in. Estonia is turning the graves of liberator fathers and pulling down monuments; the Czech Republic is attempting to introduce anticommunist laws; the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe made an attempt to equate the Soviet system, this country of ours, with Nazi Germany, to regard them equally. As I see it, it is scoundrels, people as crooked as a corkscrew, that do this sort of thing. Any normal person knows that the whole of Europe would have been entangled in brown barbed wire and the fascist pest were it not for the Red Army’s victory, and the red flag over Berlin. Those people would have never raised their hands against history. There are some very influential forces in the world, for which Lenin is a thorn in the side, even while he is in the tomb. I think he was right in his own time, and he is right today. As far as the burial is concerned, more than 400 people are buried in Red Square: marshals and generals who commanded our army, and defeated Hitler’s fascism, including Zhukov; the world’s first cosmonaut, Yury Gagarin, along with the designer Korolyov, some outstanding scientists, and talented people… This is why, if you sneak in with your excavations, you’ll never be able to leave. You’ll create a Chechnya in Red Square. In my view, our current leaders are aware of this and won’t let anything of that sort happen.
RT: Speaking of Lenin and Stalin, the Soviet Union brings great victories to mind – success in developing the country, victory over fascist Germany. But it also reminds us of great tragedies, for example, millions of people dying in repressions, being sent to work camps following false accusation. What is the current attitude of the Communist Party to this legacy?
GZ: Yes, it’s sad, they were innocent. But the reprisals mostly affected those who engaged in anti-Soviet activities and, effectively, were betraying their country. The innocents were rehabilitated long ago. Apologies were made. More than that, the 20th Party Congress held a detailed discussion, and made all necessary commitments for this never to happen again. This decision was accepted on a national scale, though it was scorned by Yeltsin and all those democratic schizophrenics.
RT: OK, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Communist parties in many Warsaw Pact countries transformed and became, let’s say, more European in style. They remained socialist parties, but they function quite successfully in Europe, in some countries even winning elections. Why did your Communist Party not do the same? Is it much different from the CPSU?
GZ.: I want to stress it once again for the umpteenth time, that the CPSU was not a party. It was a system of state political government. One of those individuals, Mr. Gorbachev, was trying to break it because he was stupid, the other, Mr. Yeltsin, because he was drunken, but anyway it was a crime on a national scale. It’s the same thing as breaking the rudder of a huge ship. As far as my party is concerned, it is one of many parties. But it is the most influential opposition force, and it is well-prepared for the task. Many years ago, we signed an agreement with the Chinese Communist Party, and now we are actively streamlining our relations. Not long ago, my most recent books were published there in Chinese. My view is that the Chinese Communist Party’s record of government has been most impressive over the last thirty years. Even today, they will emerge from the crisis ahead of all others.
RT: You just anticipated my question regarding the financial crisis. During the G20 Summit in London, we saw some unprecedented protests, and in general, protests are gaining force, and at many of those, we see red flags. Is this some kind of revival of leftist ideas; are Marx and Lenin coming back into fashion?
GZ: This is not the matter. You see, people have suddenly realized that Marx’s ideas, particularly his book “Capital” are in great demand. Its last print sold ten times more than it had done recently in Europe. However, if I were Marx, I would say we should have read it earlier. We should have read and studied it carefully. On the other hand, bankers have demonstrated that their private interests, speculations, and machinations are more important than anything else. They have flopped on stock markets. America, with its print machines, printed 500 dollars’ worth of worthless paper per each dollar secured with commodities, and passed that financial HIV onto the rest of the world’s economy. Now that this bubble has burst, and thrown its sickness across countries and continents, they are beginning to reconsider. Suddenly they have realized they can’t make it out on their own. Let me remind you of the previous 12 crises: two of them ended in world wars. After one of them, fascists came to power, though wise Roosevelt applied different methods. In fact, he used socialist methods to cure his economy. Facing reproaches of being a socialist and communist, he replied that he had a country to extract from the grips of recession. We are going to see more and more red flags soaring up across the world. Let’s just see what happens in the autumn. I think the flags are going to fly high in every country.
RT: Mr. Zyuganov, the USA was the major adversary of communist ideology, of the Soviet state. And the Soviet Union likewise was the most fearful enemy of the United States. What is the current attitude of the Communist Party to the United States, and how do you see Russia-US relations developing?
GZ: I have been to America. It’s a big, strong, successful country, but their model has proved inefficient as well. It is not by chance that the financial bubble burst on Wall Street. It is not by chance at all. The Americans could have upheld the genial idea that was proposed at a conference in Rio de Janeiro almost twenty years ago. A resolution was drafted that was named “On the Fairness of International State Relations." The Americans did not want to sign it, and decided to build a world according to their American-globalised perspective. To do that, they did everything to kill the Soviet Union, and then used the body of the dead country for nearly 15 years. They pumped a sea of dollars into it and pumped strategic reserves out. They bought lots of valuables at junk prices, and installed their people in many positions. They plundered this country for nearly 15 years, but then they got stuck, trying to solve the problem by waging a war on the Balkans, bombing Yugoslavia, then trying to occupy Iraq’s rich oilfields, then breaking into Afghanistan, where they finally ran out of steam. As far as America is concerned, there is no anti-American mood here, but their attempts to force their way of life upon the whole planet, and make everyone love Condoleeza Rice and Madeleine Albright are totally counterproductive in my opinion. Foisting President Bush upon the world, who is willing to run around continents with a gun in his hand, insisting the world love and respect his Texan ways, is very dangerous. I think Americans should make some far-reaching conclusions. In my view, Obama and his team are trying to reach such conclusions. I don’t know if they will be allowed to complete that.
RT: So you’re willing to engage Obama…?
GZ: Well, at least he is a younger person, he’s been through life training, he’s seen the underworld, and knows how hard life can be. His first decision was to give almost a trillion dollars to help students, housing, and communal services; to save those in danger of insolvency through over-borrowing and mortgages, and I think that’s a well-grounded decision. His attempts to support production are right per se as well. But there are many influential powers in the US pursuing completely different policies.
RT: Do you consider your party to be a staunch opponent of the Kremlin?
GZ: My party is an opponent of this course, of the liberalization course, of a liberalized economy which should not be implemented. It poses mortal danger to the country. We’ve offered to reconsider the course, to reinforce the team. This program is based on Soviet experience, on changes implemented in Europe and in China, on all the best that’s been achieved in the world. But so far, Putin sticks to his old faithful team.
RT: Do you see yourself on the same platform as Gary Kasparov. What do you think of such radical opposition?
GZ: This is not radical opposition per se. We should not start with Kasparov but with Kasyanov, etc.
RT: Mr. Zyuganov, are you a person of faith?
GZ: Basically, yes. But just like anybody else, I have my own attitude towards faith. Faith, hope, love, and Sophia – their wisdom – is our foundation; at least for any Orthodox person.
RT: For me you are a person full of striking contradictions – a religious communist.
GZ: Sasha, you have a wrong idea about communism. The first communist ever was Jesus Christ. He was the first person on the planet to say – care for the poor, the orphans, and the suffering. I’ve studied all the religions of the world. There are some who can just talk about the Bible, but I actually know the Bible very well. If you read the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus Christ, and the Moral Code of the Builder of Communism – they are identical. And the main communist slogan is the same as in Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians: he, who doesn’t work, shall not eat. I also know the Quaran very well. I’ve studied Hinduism, Baptism and going all the way back to mono-worshippers of Zoroaster – I know all the religious movements of the world. And suddenly I’ve realized that almost all of them have the same main idea. Which is – love your neighbor as yourself. The human race realized even back then. Otherwise – we’ll perish. You’ll see that the 21st century starts with a new impetus to realize this idea. Otherwise, the space ship called the Earth is doomed.