In the situation of an open split in its ranks, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) opens its 10th congress in Moscow.
The party's dissatisfaction with the policy of Gennady Zyuganov and his company, which intensified after the KPRF's defeat at the parliamentary and presidential elections and numerous scandals over the inclusion of tycoons in party lists, has become known to the public on eve of the congress. Gennady Semigin's supporters have made a present for Zyuganov's 60th birthday - the alternative plenum of the central committee last Thursday dismissed Zyuganov from the post of the party chairman and the leader of the People's Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR). According to the "alternative" KPRF chairman Vladimir Tikhonov, governor of the Ivanovo region, opponents of Mr. Zyuganov constitute the majority in the central committee: 92 out of the 158 voted for Zyuganov's dismissal.
According to Gennady Zyuganov's supporters, at the other legitimate plenum 90 out of the 153 members of the central committee supported the present communist leader and "condemned" the splitters, ousting two prominent figures of the opposition - Central Committee's secretaries Tatiana Astrakhankina and Sergei Potapov.
The latter told a press conference on Saturday that the parallel anti-Zyuganov congress would gather many delegates. The congress has invited representatives of the Justice Ministry and the Central Election Commission.
Unlike the Zyuganov-led congress, to be attended by 1,100 people in the Izmailovo complex, his opponents do not give the whereabouts of the secret congress for security reasons. They maintain that in real fact the party has gathered 300 delegates, while the others are "the Zyuganov support group" or invited persons.
"In the present situation, we cannot put to risk a congress which should handle problems and not just engage in a brawl. The former leadership of the party is literally at war", Mr. Potapov said.
The "legitimate" congress will decide the fate of the communist and the party leader, who has held the post over the last ten years. Much will depend on the position of the heads of the KPRF regional committees, many of who are disgruntled over Mr. Zyuganov.
Observers do not dare predict outcome for the congress. Like in the beginning of the last century, the KPRF may again split into "Bolsheviks" and "Mensheviks", in this way repeating the inglorious fate of the latest Russian parties, which have formed numerous quarrelling "clones".
Public opinion polls show that the communist congress will be held against the background of a sustained decline of the KPRF rating: in the end of last year, the communist party was supported by 14% of the polled; now, it is 8-9%.
Analysts believe that the present fight for power in the KPRF mirrors not so much personal conflicts as a deep ideological crisis in the oldest Russian party.
Early reports by "PRAVDA.Ru":