By Yevgenia Borisova
Youths sporting red banners embroidered with the hammer-and-sickle of the former USSR are an
arresting sight among the many opposition groups clustered around Gostiny Dvor peddling hopes,
dreams and politics.
You can be sure that 18-year-old Ivan Melitsa will be one of the young believers selling
communist literature and preaching a philosophy many have claimed is dead.
Ivan is the First Secretary of the Leningrad Komsomol (LKSML) -- the Communist Union of
Youth named after Lenin -- and he is fired with a missionary zeal to return St Petersburg to the
glories of Leningrad past.
"Our main target is the fight for restoration of the Soviet Power, of the USSR, for socialism -- a
regime where everyone would have work for decent wages, free education and medical care," he
The LKSML chief also had some harsh words for Gennady Zyuganov's Russian Communist
Party -- one of the front-runners in the December 17 elections for the State Duma.
"Zyuganov discloses himself more and more. He even says to foreign businessmen that his party
would allow them do better business in Russia than the existing regime.
"They discredit the name of communists -- they would be better off calling themselves socialists."
The LKSML is being backed by the Communist-Labor Working Party, also running for the State
But despite the rhetoric, and a personal faith in communism, Ivan claims communism is not the
LKSML's target. "It is hard now to imagine an ideal regime -- it is of course in the far future," he
In 1993, the All-Union Komsomol (VLKSM) split into a wide range of small groups with
different ideologies and goals.
Before the collapse of the USSR, every youth from 14 to 28 belonged to the Komsomol, with
very few exceptions. St Petersburg's LKSML now has about 150 members in place of the
hundreds of thousands who once came together to follow in the great leader's footsteps.
Most LKSML members are students and workers, but Ivan said only 50 members are really
active enough to keep up with the daily duties of the league.
This does not upset the First Secretary, "Yes, it is not much. But we are doing a lot to obtain
publicity and to organize a material base -- we registered our newspaper, we are creating district
"We are the most organized youth organization of all existing parties. We aim to prepare youth to
fight with the acting regime in the country," he said.
He said they were busy arranging teenage clubs in city districts and restoring pioneer
organisations, "There are about 100 young pioneers already in St Petersburg."
St Petersburg Press, 1995
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