Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov has disputed reports of his impending retirement and changes in the party’s leadership, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Thursday.
A day earlier, far-right LDPR party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky had said that Zyuganov, 76, would recuse himself at the next Communist Party congress. Zhirinovsky added that Yuri Afonin, the deputy chairman of the party’s Central Committee, would likely take the helm.
“Elections of new party leadership will be held in secret,” RIA Novosti quoted Zyuganov as saying. “I will be obliged to fulfill the will of the party: They will elect the new composition of the Central Committee. … I will faithfully serve my country and the ideals of justice, humanism and friendship.”
Along with the LDPR and the center-left A Just Russia, the Communist Party is one of Russia’s three opposition parties with significant representation in the lower-house State Duma. The three parties are in long-term decline and helmed by aging, veteran leaders.
The Communist Party in particular is currently undergoing an identity crisis, with a rift between the party’s pro-Kremlin leadership and more opposition-minded grassroots factions.
The communists could have an advantage against the ruling United Russia party in this fall’s State Duma elections, however, thanks to opposition figure Alexei Navalny’s “Smart Voting” strategy that urges supporters to vote for the candidate most likely to unseat the United Russia incumbent.
The next Communist Party congress will take place on April 23-24.
Russian City Recruits Traditional Gingerbread Cookie for Emergencies Ministry Gig
Anyone who’s visited Russia is likely familiar with the pryanik: that chewy, icing-covered gingerbread cookie filled with fruit jam or honey that hails from Tula, a city south of Moscow.
It’s a treat so beloved that Tula has given it a new gig: as a fire prevention instructor for the local emergencies ministry.
Dressed in an official uniform with his giant, angular head bearing a demure smile, the pryanik attended the swearing-in ceremony for his new job and took pictures with his new coworkers and curious children Tuesday.
The photos of the pryanik quickly spread across the Russian-speaking internet, sparking their fare share of memes and jokes.
The pryanik’s position as a fire safety instructor also drew some criticism given Russia’s handling of this year’s devastating forest fires in northeastern Siberia.
During the photo op, the pryanik received a uniform with the words “Tulsky” and “Pryanik” (Tula pryanik) printed on the front as well as a certificate and a special medal for promoting the rescue business. The eager recruit then conducted a safety lesson to children at a local recreation center.
But as of Tuesday afternoon, the ministry’s announcement has been taken down from its website.
Located some 200 kilometers south of Moscow, Tula considers the pryanik and the samovar to be its points of local pride. Tula residents have even gone as far as declaring the pryanik to be the eighth wonder of the world.