‘Trolling of the highest order’: Russian communists FURIOUS after Lenin’s birthday chosen as date for major public vote

‘Trolling of the highest order’: Russian communists FURIOUS after Lenin’s birthday chosen as date for major public vote

By Jonny Tickle

He died almost a century ago, but they still haven’t gotten around to burying him. So, it’s fair to say Vladimir Lenin still casts a long shadow on the Russian political scene.

For obvious reasons, Russia’s Communist Party has made itself the protector of the Bolshevik leader’s legacy and it tends to react sensitively to any perceived slight. Now many of its members are up in arms over plans to hold a forthcoming national vote on Lenin’s birthday.

When the date for the general ballot on changing the constitution was announced, most Russians were simply happy to have a day off work. However, Communists quickly realized that April 22 happens to coincide with the 150th birthday of their revered icon. Now, they’re not entirely convinced that the clash is purely coincidental.

The first deputy head of the Communist Party faction in the National Parliament (Duma), Nikolai Kolomeitsev, has suggested that the date was chosen to distract attention from the birthday celebrations.

“You understand that this is all a production,” Kolomeitsev told Moscow newspaper Kommersant. “In our country, the cynicism of the authorities knows no bounds. They’re doing the wrong thing.”

Sergei Obukhov, secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, also had some choice words for the Kremlin. “This is trolling of the highest order. After all, it is the 150th anniversary, and foreign delegations will come. Of course, the vote will change everything.”

On Wednesday, Senator Andrey Klishas suggested the date of Wednesday, April 22, for religious reasons. Klishas, who is the co-chair of the working group on the preparation of constitutional amendments, gave his justification for the choice.

“By April 19, Orthodox Lent will be over. It’ll be Easter. On April 24, our Muslim brothers begin the Holy month of Ramadan. Between these dates, the 22nd is a working day,” he said. “April 22 seems to us to be the optimal date.” Klishas also explained that the polling day will be made a fully-paid national holiday.

Leader of the Communists and four-time Presidential candidate, Gennady Zyuganov, proposed holding the referendum on April 26. The party began preparing celebrations for the 150th birthday of Lenin a year ago. On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the choice of date is not related to the occasion and noted that this day is not something that is “widely celebrated” in Russia.

However, not all members of the Communist Party were against the idea of the 22nd. Nikolai Zubrilin, the head of its faction in the Moscow City Council, told Kommersant, “On this day, we will lay flowers at the mausoleum of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and pay homage to him as the founder of the Soviet state, the successor of which is Russia. But it’s okay, we’ll vote.”

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