Category Archives: Dictators

Scientists in Kazakhstan invent “an elixir of youth and energy” to extend rule of dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev


Kazakh President Nursulatn Nazarbayev  Photo: REUTERS

Scientists in Kazakhstan say they have invented a life-lengthening yogurt drink after the country’s veteran leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, pleaded for “an elixir of youth and energy” in order to continue his rule.

Telegraph | Nov 6, 2012

The drink, called “nar” (nourishment), “will enable the improvement of quality of life and its prolongation” said Zhaksybay Zhumadilov a researcher at Nazarbayev University in the capital, Astana.

Mr Nazarbayev, 72, has been president of the Central Asian state since 1990 but he recently began musing on the benefits of immortality.

When an ethnic Korean delegate at Kazakhstan’s People’s Assembly proposed in 2010 that the leader should stay in power for another decade, Mr Nazarbayev answered: “Maybe, then, you’ll offer me an elixir of youth and energy – maybe you have such potions in Korea … I’m willing to go on until 2020, just find me an elixir.”

Cleopatra was famed for bathing in asses’ milk in an attempt to preserve her looks, but Mr Nazarbayev made clear he desired nothing less than the secret of eternal life. “Anti-ageing medicine, natural rejuvenation, immortality,” he mused to a government science committee. “That’s what people are studying these days.”

He added: “Those who do are the most successful states in the world – those who don’t will get left on the sidelines.”

Mr Zhumadilov said his yogurt drink would aid digestion and improve health but admitted: “A bioproduct alone will not solve the problem of longevity. It’s just one of the factors.”

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Tight security as Chinese Communist Party elite prepare to anoint new dictator


New leader: Vice President Xi Jinping is set to take over the leadership of the Communist Party and become the new President

The leader of China is elected every ten years by senior party members

    The announcement will be made at the end of a week-long party conference in Beijing

    It is all but confirmed that it will be current Vice President Xi Jinping

Daily Mail | Nov 7, 2012

By Peter Simpson

China’s Communists leaders will gather amid tight security in Beijing tomorrow to begin a week-long, tightly choreographed display of power and unity – at the end of which they will unveil the mysterious men tasked to lead the world’s second largest economy for the next ten years.

In stark contrast to the nail-biting US election, just who will govern the world’s most populous country has been decided in advance and behind closed doors by the authoritarian regime.

It is almost certain that vice-president Xi Jinping, 59, one of the select group of ‘princelings’ descended from former party grandees, will be appointed Party Secretary and replace current president Hu Jintao.

The other members chosen to serve on the all powerful Politburo Standing Committee remain unknown, though it has been indicated that no women will be among them.

They grip the reins of power facing a slew of challenges – including a slowing economy, rampant corruption, environmental degradation, growing public dissent and the ever restive Tibet and Muslim-populated Xinjiang.

Many observers believe sweeping political reform is vital to keep China stable and prevent an economic meltdown sending the world economy into another tailspin.

‘What they do economically is of vital significance to the world,’ said Jonathan Fenby, the head of China analyst firm Trusted Resources and the author of several books on China.

‘China’s rise has made it the global game changer with the second biggest economy, foreign reserves of more than £2.5 trillion and investments ranging from Thames Water and Heathrow airport to huge holdings in raw materials producers around the planet,’ he added.

But fears are growing the murky power play and jockeying among two cliques has seen hard-lined conservatives smack down liberal reformers.

The toxic run in to the once-in-a-decade power transition has been played out against China’s worst political scandals since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy massacre.

Disgraced senior party member Bo Xilai, whose wife Gu Kailai was convicted of murdering of British businessman Neil Heywood, has been expelled from the party and awaits trial on a raft of charges, including covering up the murder of the Briton.

Earlier this week it was claimed the Chinese government believed Heywood – who had close links with the Bos– was an MI6 informant.

Putin targets foes with ‘zombie’ gun which attacks victims’ central nervous system


Fire: Putin, seen using a traditional pistol, has new weapons in his sights

Could be used against Russia’s enemies and perhaps its own dissidents

Daily Mail | Mar 31, 2012

By Christopher Leake and Will Stewart

Mind-bending ‘psychotronic’ guns that can effectively turn people into zombies have been given the go-ahead by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The futuristic weapons – which will attack the central nervous system of their victims – are being developed by the country’s scientists.

They could be used against Russia’s enemies and, perhaps, its own dissidents by the end of the decade.

Sources in Moscow say Mr Putin has described the guns, which use electromagnetic radiation like that found in microwave ovens, as ‘entirely new instruments for achieving political and strategic goals’.

Mr Putin added: ‘Such high-tech weapons systems will be comparable in effect to nuclear weapons, but will be more acceptable in terms of political and military ideology.’

Plans to introduce the super- weapons were announced quietly last week by Russian defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov, fulfilling  a little-noticed election campaign pledge by president-elect Putin.

Mr Serdyukov said: ‘The development  of weaponry based on new physics principles – direct-energy weapons, geophysical weapons, wave-energy weapons, genetic weapons, psychotronic weapons, and so on – is part  of the state arms procurement programme for 2011-2020.’

Specific proposals on developing the weapons are due to be drawn  up before December by a new Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Research into electromagnetic weapons has been secretly carried out in the US and Russia since the Fifties. But now it appears Mr Putin has stolen a march on the Americans. Precise details of the Russian gun have not been revealed. However, previous research has shown that low-frequency waves or beams can affect brain cells, alter psychological states and make it possible to transmit suggestions and commands directly into someone’s thought processes.

High doses of microwaves can damage the functioning of internal organs, control behaviour or even drive victims to suicide. Anatoly Tsyganok, head of the Military Forecasting Centre in Moscow, said: ‘This is a highly serious weapon.

‘When it was used for dispersing a crowd and it was focused on a man, his body temperature went up immediately as if he was thrown into a hot frying pan. Still, we know very little about this weapon and even special forces guys can hardly cope with it.’

The long-term effects are not known, but two years ago a former major in the Russian foreign intelligence agency, the GRU, died in Scotland after making claims about such a weapons programme to MI6.

Sergei Serykh, 43, claimed he was a victim of weapons which he said were ‘many times more powerful than in the Matrix films’.

Mr Serykh died after falling from a Glasgow tower block with his wife and stepson in March 2010. While his death was assumed to be suicide, his family fear there was foul play.

Last night the Ministry of Defence declined to comment.

Iraqis fear government reverting back to Saddam-style police state


AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES – Iraqi police women march during a parade to mark 90 years since its foundation in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, on Jan. 9, 2012.

“Now everyone is Saddam. We have 300 Saddams, each with his bloc and his party.”

washingtonpost.com | Apr 4, 2012

By Alice Fordham

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government is debating proposed laws that would impose strict controls on freedom of speech and association, prompting fears that the authorities are playing a growing and increasingly oppressive role in citizens’ lives.

As the country settles into its new identity as a sovereign state, about four months after the departure of the last American troops, some Iraqis are nervous that the government is moving back toward the heavy-handed monitoring of citizens that was a hallmark of life under dictator Saddam Hussein.

In parliament, there has been fierce debate of several draft laws. One would carry harsh penalties for online criticism of the government. Another would require demonstrators to get permission for any gathering.

Local and international human rights groups say the proposed legislation is vague and would give the government power to move against people or parties critical of the government.

“In Iraq, we need to respect all the ideas,” said an activist and blogger known as Hayder Hamzoz who is campaigning against a proposed information technology law that would mandate a year’s imprisonment for anyone who violates “religious, moral, family, or social values” online.

Iraqis fear Saddam-style clamps

Iraq unstable, sectarian, with signs of authoritarian rule

The proposed law also contains a sentence of life imprisonment for using computers or social networks to compromise “the independence of the state or its unity, integrity, safety.”

Hamzoz, who does not use his real name out of concern for his safety, said the legislation is intended to allow the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to control social media. The government essentially did just that more than a year ago, when it swiftly smothered an uprising inspired by the Arab Spring revolts sweeping the region.

“It’s to attack the activists,” Hamzoz said.

Activists and nongovernmental organizations have criticized the proposed laws that would impose rules on gatherings and forbid meetings in religious establishments, universities and government buildings for anything other than the facilities’ primary purpose.

The Center for Law and Democracy, a U.S.-based advocacy organization, produced a report in December criticizing Iraq’s government for proposing a “number of legal rules which do not meet basic constitutional and international human rights standards.”

In addition to the legislation on Internet use and demonstrations, parliament is debating a law governing the formation of political parties and media organizations.

The Center for Law and Democracy’s report argues that vague rules “may be used to prohibit a wide range of expression which is either merely offensive or perhaps even simply politically unpalatable.”

Many argue that the country, which is emerging from more than 30 years of autocracy under Hussein and then years of conflict and instability after the U.S. invasion, needs tough laws to establish clear ground rules.

“Something should be organized, and the people should know their rights,” said Tariq Harb, a legal expert close to Maliki.

Harb was scornful of those campaigning against the new legislation, saying that the measures reflect international norms. “In London, when there were riots, there were people jailed because of the Internet,” he said.

Harb also argued that Iraq is far more liberal than some of its neighbors, notably Iran and Saudi Arabia, with alcohol available in Baghdad and no official dress code for women.

But others, particularly women’s rights groups, balked at a letter issued late last year by a government committee suggesting that female government employees dress modestly. Another committee has instructed university students of both sexes — who generally adorn a rainbow of head coverings and fashionable jeans — to adopt a muted palette and “decent” clothing.

Alaa Makki, a member of parliament who is part of the committee that issued the rule, said he had reservations about imposing a dress code on young people. But, he added, members of the powerful religious parties had more influence than did liberals.

“The religious parties are politicians, and they are religious leaders in society,” Makki said. “And politicians have to fulfill the demands of imams or they will be marginalized.”

Basma al-Khateb, a women’s rights activist, said some of the government’s moves reminded her of the harsh controls under Hussein, before he was ousted in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. She said she feared that the new democratic system had brought to power groups with autocratic tendencies and conflicting religious and political loyalties.

“At least with Saddam, we had one red line,” she said. “Now everyone is Saddam. We have 300 Saddams, each with his bloc and his party.”

Beijing Tightens Grip After Purge


Bo Xilai attended the opening ceremony of the National People’s Congress on March 5. Analysts say the Maoist revival Mr. Bo led in Chongqing is unlikely to disappear following his ouster. Getty Images

wsj.com | Mar 21, 2012

By BRIAN SPEGELE

BEIJING—The central Chinese government hardened its grip in Chongqing, the domain of recently ousted Communist Party secretary Bo Xilai, targeting the “red singing” he had encouraged in the southwestern city, part of an approach that has widened an ideological rift among the party elite.

However, political analysts say the Maoist revival Mr. Bo led in Chongqing is unlikely to disappear following his ouster. That is partly because leaders have to be careful not to be seen as going against historical Communist Party values and also because Mr. Bo’s promotion of a strong state role in the economy found widespread support among those who feared rapid privatization of state wealth.

His firing last week has shaken China’s political establishment, and exposed such high-level divisions just ahead of its once-a-decade leadership transition beginning this fall. The highly unusual purge has raised questions about whether the party can restore the internal political unity needed to preserve its grip on power.

Beijing has released little information on its handling of Chongqing, beyond announcing last week that Zhang Dejiang, a vice premier with strong ties to state industry leaders, had taken over Mr. Bo’s position. The whereabouts of Mr. Bo and his family remained unclear, including whether he is under house arrest or has been taken into police custody.

Political analysts have said that Mr. Bo may be allowed to retain his seat on the country’s Politburo and avoid formal corruption or other charges if he agrees to cooperate with authorities and doesn’t challenge his removal.

Wang Lijun, Mr. Bo’s former police chief, is widely believed to have presented damaging material about Mr. Bo during a visit to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu in February. Mr. Wang is also being investigated by Chinese authorities.

Separately on Tuesday, the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Li Yuanchao, the head of the party’s organization department, as warning party members against pursuing individuals gains, “and to resist money-worshiping and hedonism.” He reiterated a recent call by Vice President Xi Jinping for party purity, which has been viewed as a clear rejection of Mr. Bo’s individualist and populist leadership style.

Unsubstantiated rumors across the capital and on China’s Internet underscored the widespread speculation fueled by Mr. Bo’s ouster. Some users on Twitter-like services such as Sina Corp.’s SINA -1.20% Weibo claimed a heightened security presence in Beijing and even a possible political coup against the government of President Hu Jintao. The word “coup” was a blocked search term on Weibo as of Tuesday evening.

The growing interest in Mr. Bo’s fate parallels the efforts by central authorities to solidify control over Chongqing. Authorities in recent days posted a notice in People’s Square—where locals, especially senior citizens, often gathered to sing red songs under Mr. Bo—warning against singing or dancing there.

A picture of the notice posted online, and later confirmed by Chongqing residents, cites excessive noise as a reason to limit the singing and dancing. Nonetheless, according to residents, groups of senior citizens continued to gather, despite the warnings from local authorities.

Mr. Zhang, Chongqing’s new party chief, is the son of an army general, and like Mr. Bo is often referred to as a “princeling.” Nonetheless, he is widely viewed as in the role only temporarily to reinforce the central-government’s positions until a longer-term successor is selected, likely in the fall.

Local government-run media have also reflected the central government’s influence. Saturday’s Chongqing Times in a front-page headline pledged to “earnestly implement the central government’s decision.”

The removal of Mr. Bo, who had been running an unusually overt campaign to thrust himself into the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, is being widely viewed as a rejection of individualist politics in favor of consensus-driven decision making.

Mr. Bo was closely backed by a group of academics and lower-level officials, known as China’s “new left,” who supported a Maoist revival and a greater role for the state in economic development. Mr. Bo’s sacking is a blow to the movement, but its relatively close ties to traditional Maoist thought could shield it from wider attack by today’s party’s leaders, according to analysts, although Premier Wen Jiabao last week warned another Cultural Revolution might again occur in China without reform of the country’s political and leadership systems.Unlike liberal political dissidents in China, who are routinely persecuted for their views, those tied to the Maoist revival led by Mr. Bo aren’t likely to face similar government harassment in the near term, said Mao Shoulong, a well-known expert on Chinese politics at Renmin University in Beijing. “The new left is regarded as a matter of political differences” as opposed to a critical threat facing the state, he said. “Bo Xilai and the new left certainly have a relationship, but [the Bo case] is mainly still an individual thing.”

While China’s top officials have embraced economic and more limited political reform, they are cautious against too greatly distancing themselves from former Chairman Mao Zedong, who remains a revered figure in Chinese politics despite the acknowledgment of shortcomings during his time in power.

Mysterious change to voting tallies boosted Putin at St Petersburg polling station


19. Vladimir Zhirinovsky: 53 changed to 22; 20. Gennady Zyuganov: 176 changed to 83; 21. Sergei Mironov: unchanged at 56 22. Mikhail Prokhorov: 226 changed to 32; 23. Putin: 466 changed to 780

How a mysterious change to voting tallies boosted Putin at St Petersburg polling station: a citizen observer reports

Election monitors across Russia reported alleged vote fixing in the presidential poll. Irina Levinskaya, a St Petersburg historian, gives her eye-witness account of how she saw it happen.

Telegraph | Mar 10, 2012

By Irina Levinskaya

After Russia’s parliamentary elections in December, it was impossible for anyone in my country not to know that there had been electoral fraud on a massive scale. But I am a historian and obsessed with verifying information for myself.

For that reason I joined the more than 3,000 citizens in St Petersburg who committed themselves to monitoring last week’s presidential election.

In training sessions, lawyers explained the kinds of irregularities that might occur and how to avert – or at least to record – them. They lectured us on the relevant laws and regulations. They told us how to prevent ballot stuffing and how to detect “carousel voting”, when people vote more than once.

“But remember,” they warned on several occasions. “The members of the electoral commission are not your enemies: think positively about them and don’t forget the presumption of innocence.”

I was allocated to Polling Station No. 1015 on Moskovsky Avenue in the south of St Petersburg. It was in a special school for excluded children and the head of the election commission was a social-worker-cum-teacher at the school.

Natalya Dmitriyeva was a kindly-looking, smiling woman in her mid-fifties: the sort of person you’d imagine to be perfect for rehabilitating our city’s excluded youth.

Such teachers, according to the school’s website, “prevent youth crime and teach individual responsibility and freedom”.

I arrived at 7.30am on March 4. In all, we were 11 observers from all walks of life and of all ages, including three young women students. We stayed at the polling station all day and well into the evening, when the votes for the five presidential candidates were counted.

At 10.30pm, the final count was made. The results astonished me: Putin had come first but with only 466 votes – 47.7 per cent of the vote. Second was the billionare Mikhail Prokhorov with an unexpected 226 votes (23.1 per cent ). Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party, received 176 votes (18 per cent) and came third in this particular district.

Since most of the voters had been of the Soviet generation, I had assumed that the old habit of dutifully voting for the leaders (combined with aggressive pro-Putin television propaganda during the last few months and coercion in many state institutions) would have given a clear majority to Putin, with Zyuganov in second place.

Ms Dmitriyeva, the senior official, wrote up the results on the wall in large figures, as required by law. I took a photograph of the document. Now, all that remained was for her to make copies for each of us. This was so that the figures could not be falsified at a higher level, as had happened during the parliamentary elections.

Our job seemed to be over. We had spent more than 15 hours at Polling Station 1015. During that time, we had not seen a single irregularity. We were very pleased with how things had gone. Everything had been carried out in strict accordance with the law.

By now it was nearing midnight. Ms Dmitriyeva went off to copy the official documents. And this was when things began to go wrong. Exhausted after a long and tense day, it didn’t occur to us to go with her. Our vigilance slipped.

The sweet, smiling, kindly-looking teacher went off and didn’t come back. We waited and waited. I went to look for her but she had vanished. Now, I remembered with horror what we’d been warned of by our lawyers: “Don’t let the head of the commission out of your sight at the final stage.”

It was some time before another member of the commission appeared (we never saw Ms Dmitriyeva again) with a sheaf of papers in his hand. “You wanted copies of the official results? Here they are.”

“Thank goodness!” I thought. I grabbed a copy of the document, checked that all formalities had been complied with – the official stamp, signature in the right place and so on – then unfolded it.

I couldn’t believe what I saw: Putin – 780 votes (80.2 per cent); Zyuganov 83 votes (8.5 per cent); and Prokhorov 32 votes (3.3 per cent). I was horrified.

I’ll never forget the shock on the faces of the three young students: someone, though we could not know who, had falsified the ballot.

The member of the commission who had handed us the falsified papers was still in the building and so we waited at the exit to confront him. But he appeared to have taken precautions and phoned for support.

Suddenly, a Nissan Pathfinder drew up and three thick-set, young men with shaven heads leapt out. Pushing us forcefully aside, they escorted the commission member to the car and drove off.

I wrote down the number-plate and later established it was from a series used for official cars carrying government employees with the right to state security.

Next day we learned that the same car, and the same men, had been seen at other polling stations, either throwing out observers or escorting election officials.

Of course, this will not be the end of it. Immediately, we went to the constituency level election commission but its chairman had also vanished.

The following day, we filed a complaint and next week we will hand a witness statement, with all our documentary evidence, to the prosecutor’s office – along with hundreds of others from the St Petersburg district.

I am not confident of success, however: I have years of experience, not only of Putin’s Russia but also of our former Soviet paradise. The difference between them is growing harder and harder to determine.

Dr Irina Levinskaya is a senior fellow of St Petersburg Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University’s Centre for Advanced Theological Research

Communist Kremlin hopeful looks to a new generation


Zyuganov has fed off of the largest protests Putin has faced in his 12-year rule, seeking support from young voters who do not remember the Soviet Union or his past failures and simply refuse to vote for Putin’s third term in office.

Reuters | Mar 2, 2012

By Thomas Grove

NOVOMOSKOVSK, Russia – A flashy campaign advertisement sets the scene after Russia’s presidential election: Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov steps out of a black Mercedes in front of the Kremlin, the seat of power since Soviet times.

After three failed attempts to win the presidency, the perennial loser of Russian politics is trying to convince the country once again to vote him into the top office in Sunday’s election.

Addressing the frustration of many Russians who feel powerless to end Vladimir Putin’s dominance, a voiceover in the advertisement asks: “No choice?”

“There is always a choice,” it says, flashing to footage of the stern-faced Communist leader.

Zyuganov has fed off of the largest protests Putin has faced in his 12-year rule, seeking support from young voters who do not remember the Soviet Union or his past failures and simply refuse to vote for Putin’s third term in office.

He says he is injecting new life into the ranks of a party which until recently has evoked images of poor pensioners nostalgic for the days of Soviet glory, waving red flags and clutching portraits of Stalin.

“We have the youngest, strongest and most dynamic team in the whole country,” Zyuganov told a packed hall at a university in the small western city of Novomoskovsk, on St. Tatiana’s Day, celebrated as student’s day in Russia.

“And the youth stand behind us,” said the 67-year-old former physics and mathematics teacher.

Zyuganov, who climbed the rungs of power as an apparatchik in the Soviet Union’s Communist Party, is forecast by pollsters to come a distant second to Putin, who hopes to avoid a runoff by winning more than 50 percent of the vote.

He has to fight off his image as a pushover, a willing cog in Putin’s political system who is satisfied with second place as long as he and his party retain a swathe of seats in parliament, where the Communists are the second-largest faction.

Zyuganov denies it. He says he was first cheated out of an election win in 1996, when an ailing President Boris Yeltsin staged a stunning comeback and beat him in a runoff after a campaign marred by corruption allegations.

The other three candidates challenging Putin face similar suspicions.

“Zyuganov himself wouldn’t know what to do if he woke up on March 5 and found out that the country had made him Russia’s new president,” said one of his young advocates, also a lawmaker.

In a country that preserves Bolshevik Revolution leader Vladimir Lenin’s body on show in a tomb outside the Kremlin but still struggles with the legacy of 70 years of Communist rule, the inroads Zyuganov has made with young people represent a sea change for a party that had seemed destined to die out with a generation.

WHITE RIBBONS, RED RIBBONS

Shivering in a light snow on a Sunday afternoon, Dmitry Usoltsev, 20, stood on Moscow’s Garden Ring road with thousands of others protesting against Putin and his decision to return to the Kremlin.

Born the year after the Soviet Union collapsed, he said neither of his parents ever voted for the Communists, but for him, Zyuganov and his platform is the only way to reform.

“I want a system that isn’t afraid of reforms and can carry them out. Putin can’t do this because he’s afraid,” said Usoltsev, wearing a white ribbon – a symbol of the protests.

“In the current political climate, I’m voting for Zyuganov, because he actually has realistic and concrete measures that can reform the court system, the military, the education system,”

the law student said.

The biggest opposition protests in Putin’s Russia were sparked after a December election gave Putin’s United Russia party a parliamentary majority despite widespread allegations of electoral fraud.

Putin became prime minister in 2008 after eight years as president. Sunday’s election is expected to see him return to the country’s most powerful position.

Zyuganov says his party was cheated out of an election victory in the December 4 poll and he has aligned himself cautiously with the protesters. He has avoided participating in the protests themselves, but has joined their calls for a rerun of the December vote.

Sergei Udaltsov, a scrappy street protester who leads the Left Front opposition group, has publicly supported him.

The barrel-chested, bass-voiced Communist leader also inked a deal with one of the chief protest leaders, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, to take responsibility for thousands of citizens who have signed up to monitor the presidential election for fraud.

Not everyone, however, accepts the politician who has a bust of Lenin in his office and has published books on the achievements of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s brutal reign.

A SOVIET MIX

In Novomoskovsk, a city of 130,000 some 200 km (120 miles) south of Moscow, Zyuganov mixed a message of rejuvenation with rhetoric heavy on references to Soviet glory.

During the Soviet era, the city throve on chemical manufacturing and industrial farming.

With employment dropping and young people leaving for bigger cities to seek jobs, Novomoskovsk is a prime target for Zyuganov’s efforts to win over part of Putin’s provincial electorate.

Addressing students, he promised to nationalize Russia’s oil and gas companies, reform the education system and spread more equally the vast wealth that many Russians believe to be concentrated among Putin’s circle of friends.

The message holds an attraction for some who have never experienced the Soviet Union but have heard of the security it once provided.

“If Zyuganov wins he would increase production at factories, he will provide jobs. People wouldn’t move to Moscow to find work if there were worthwhile jobs here,” said Sergei Vasilkov, 21, a student at the institute.

“Our city is standing empty. There’s no work. The young people are going to Moscow, and the only people who are left are pensioners and alcoholics, everyone else is gone.”