Zyuganov Strikes a Deal with Udaltsov

In a fascinating development, long-time Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov has announced that the party has formed a solidarity pact with Left Front, headed by opposition Sergei Udaltsov, who most recently rose to fame while serving a 25-day prison sentence following the first major protests (our gratitude to a reader that sent us the story).  In exchange for Left Front’s support of Zyuganov’s candidacy, the Communist Party has pledged to order a re-run of the Duma elections and to fire election chief Vladimir Churov.

Inevitably the conversation will now turn toward whether or not the 67-year-old Zyuganov can really be counted upon as a genuinely independent from the current power structure, or whether this is another move organized and approved from the top down.

From RIA Novosti:

“We risk a split unless left forces rally around a single candidate,” Udaltsov said. “We are placing our stake on Gennady Zyuganov.”

The Left Front leader also said that Zyuganov, who enjoys the support of 10 percent of Russians, according to a survey carried out last week by the state-run VTSiOM pollster, was the opposition candidate “most likely” to defeat Putin at the polls. Nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the Liberal Democratic Party, is Zyuganov’s closest opposition rival on nine percent. (…)

But this unlikely alliance contains advantages for both sides, said analyst Alexei Makarkin at the Center for Political Technologies.

“Zyuganov gets access to Sakharov Avenue,” he said, making reference to the venue for December’s 50,000-plus strong protest rally in Moscow, “while Udaltsov receives the support of a powerful organization.”

Sergey Mikheyev of the Center for Political Assessment told RIA Novosti that the deal was a sign that Zyuganov recognized the extent of popular discontent among the educated urban electorate.

“He is seeking to attract new voters, as he has almost no way otherwise of reaching out to young people,” he said.