In a surprise change of plans Russia’s communist party registered Pavel Grudinin, an agriculture businessman as its candidate for the nation’s March 18 election.
It was widely believed the national party would name hardline communist, 73-year-old Gennady Zyuganov to be its main contender against current president and repeat candidate, Vladimir Putin.
Putin, who was first sworn in in 2000, announced last month he was running as an independent distancing himself from his ruling party, United Russia, UR. Despite his independent status the UR is backing the incumbent candidate. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev assured Putin that he could “count on the support of the absolute majority of our citizens” on March 18.
According to Reuters the current head of state also has the support of national media and many voters outside of the country’s major cities, and is set to win.
The communist party is hoping that Grudinin will boost the parties popularity with younger voters after its presidential candidate only brought in 12 million votes, less than half of what the long time party won over in 1996 when it received 30 million ballots in that year’s presidential election. Though the party still remains nationally relevant and is a close contender to the UR in elections.
Grudinin, who earns six digit figures per year - $US353,773.00 - per year, states that today’s communist party should follow a more Chinese-style communism. A once Putin supporter, Grudinin more recently has criticized the president’s long term in office and creating polical stagnation.
“When General Secretary Brezhnev sat in his post (for too long) it was bad,” Grudinin said last month in an interview. “Why are we repeating the same mistake?”
Zyuganov, on the other hand, advocates for a more traditional Russian communist stance of Lenin and Stalin.