Less than five years after President Boris Yeltsin's ban on communist activity in Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) rose from the debris of the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union to win over one-third of the seats in the lower house of parliament in December 1995 and to challenge Yeltsin for the presidency itself in mid-1996. This groundbreaking study analyzes the CPRF's evolution as it sought to reshape its program and practice to fit the realities of post-Soviet Russia while also battling the more orthodox Marxist-Leninist groups on its left. The authors examine the CPRF's origins, internal factions, and electoral strategy during the parliamentary and presidential contests of 1995 and 1996. They address in particular the nationalist thinking of CPRF chairman Gennadii A. Ziuganov as well as the political profile of leadership and official program that were endorsed at the Third CPRF Congress in January 1995. The CPRF's alternative strategic choices and prospects in the aftermath of the critical 1995?1996 electoral season are also assessed.