Russian Communists call for rallies to mark revolution centenary

Moscow (AFP) –


Russia's Communist Party on Monday called for rallies to celebrate 100 years since the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, in contrast to the government which has remained largely silent on the centenary.

Russia still has trouble dealing with its revolutionary past, with the legacy of the Lenin-led 1917 uprising and the Soviet Union sparking fierce debate to this day.

"Celebrating the centenary, we need to honour the greatness of Lenin and the greatness of our revolution that opened a new era for the world," Gennady Zyuganov, who has led the party since 1993, told journalists.

He said the party planned to gather by the Aurora cruiser -- a military ship in Saint Petersburg where the first shots of the revolution were fired in 1917 -- and the Smolny Institute, the building that Lenin chose as the Bolsheviks' first headquarters.

There will also be a march in Moscow with representatives of socialists from around the world.

President Vladimir Putin has rarely commented on the centenary and the Russian government has not announced major plans on how to mark the event.

Critics have called the anniversary of the revolution uncomfortable for Putin, who seeks to promote himself as a guarantor of stability but does not want to denounce the legacy of the USSR.

Zyuganov praised Putin for recently speaking at the World Youth Festival in Sochi, a Soviet-era event that continues to be organised by socialist youth organisations.

But he criticised Putin's party United Russia for not attaching enough importance to Russia's Soviet past.