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Russian Left-Wing Party Holds Founding Congress

Cofounder Sergei Udaltsov (left) near the presidential administration building in Moscow in August 2009
MOSCOW -- The founding congress of the United Russian Labor Front (ROTF), a new left-wing party, opened today in Moscow, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Party officials said they plan to adopt a charter and a program, to create party chapters in Russian regions, and to elect party leaders.

Sergei Udaltsov, the party's cochairman and main candidate to be leader of the ROTF, said the party's top priority is to become an officially registered, full-fledged leftist political party. He told RFE/RL that representatives from 70 Russian regions were attending the congress.

Udaltsov added that trade union representatives from carmakers Ford and AvtoVAZ, air-traffic controllers, and residents of the Moscow suburb of Rechnik whose homes have been demolished have said they will join the new party.

Moscow-based political analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky told RFE/RL he thinks there is room for another political party in Russia that would be further to the left than the Communist Party and would defend the interests of workers. He explained that "the Communist Party of Gennady Zyuganov is in many ways not communist: it combines nostalgic 'Sovietism' with Russian nationalism and religious aspirations, [Russian] Orthodoxy."

Pribylovsky characterized the Communist leadership as "more bourgeois than revolutionary." He predicted that younger voters who previously voted for the Communist Party may well switch their allegiance to the ROTF.

Pribylovsky added, however, that the ROTF will probably be denied registration because it does not fit the government's mold for an opposition party.