Meet Daria Bagina, Russia’s 23-Year-Old Communist Candidate

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) just had its best electoral showing in years. The party added 15 seats in the Russian State Duma in an election observers say was marred by irregularities. In the days since the September 17-19 election, images of 23-year-old Daria Bagina, a popular KPRF candidate for Moscow parliament, have been spreading across social media.

We spoke to Bagina about the election, Soviet nostalgia, this week’s deadly shooting in Perm, and why she’s urging all people, regardless of political affiliation, to join her and KPRF in protesting against unfair election results.


You just participated in the Russian election. How did it go?

I ran for the Moscow parliament in single-mandate constituency 37. I won in all the districts of my constituency, but my victory was taken away by remote electronic voting fraud, just as it was for the other Communists who ran for the State Duma. There is no longer even an imitation of free elections in Russia. Even during the pre-election race, the Communists were attacked by the administration of City Hall. This calls the results and legitimacy of the 2021 elections in Russia into question. 


Soviet nostalgia is on the rise in Russia. You were born several years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in 1998. What is your generation’s relationship to the Soviet Union and its memory? Do you advocate for the re-establishment of the Soviet Union or something similar?

It’s not just nostalgia for the Soviet past as much as it is regret for lost opportunities. Young people have no prospects in today’s capitalist society, so choosing the socialist path becomes more than an obvious decision. I do not think that the ultimate goal of red youth is the rebirth of the USSR. Young communists dream precisely of a just and fair socialist future, taking into account the mistakes of the past. 


The only opposition figure the majority of people outside of Russia have heard of is Alexei Navalny. What is your opinion of him? 

Although he and I have completely different ideological views and political platforms, I personally recognize him as a political prisoner. There are a lot of people in Russia who are attacked by the authorities because of their political position – one of the iconic figures among the Communists is Pavel Grudinin, who dared to run for president in 2018 and since then has been under enormous pressure from the authorities. 


Some observers have noted that the post-election rallies this week looked like the 2011 protest movement. Is KPRF seeking unity with liberals?

This election was as dirty as the 2011 election. The KPRF intends to lead the protest wave against fraudulent elections in 2021, and urges everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, to come out onto the streets and defend their rights. The more people come out to protest the better we will be able to declare our disagreement with the results of these unfair elections to the authorities. There’s no room for a tug-of-war. 


On Monday, a gunman at Perm State University shot six students. This is the kind of story we’re used to seeing in the United States, not Russia. What do you think is the cause of this sort of violence in Russia and the United States? 

It’s enough to make a comparison with our Soviet past, when such cases of teenage violence were few and far between. All of this was thanks to real, substantial support for the values of family and friendship, consistent educational work with the younger generation, and a fundamentally different system of moral guidelines. Under socialism, even the gravest conflict and crisis situations were inevitably resolved by peaceful means. Today’s school shootings are the result of a lack of prospects for young people and the disintegration of ties in society and between generations. Our state must recognize that it is not inadequate security measures or the uncontrolled circulation of civilian weapons that is killing children and teenagers, but capitalism. 


I am curious about your personal political agenda. What should the priorities be for the city of Moscow and for the country?

My program reflects the wishes of Muscovites and the interests of my electoral district in particular. The main issues concerned expanding the powers of municipalities, controlling Moscow’s renovation program, eliminating legal conflicts in regional legislation, and reducing housing and utility rates. Despite the fact that I ran for the Moscow parliament with an already-established majority of the ruling party [United Russia], my program had a better chance of being implemented.


All photos are from VK

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Lily Lynch

Lily is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Balkanist Magazine. She lives in Belgrade, Serbia.