Russia

In Sunday’s elections in Russia Putin won a “landslide victory”. No one was surprised at this. It was a foregone conclusion, as it was not really an election but a plebiscite in the tried and tested tradition of all Bonapartists. Putin had tried to eliminate all opposition parties. The only opposition party, however, that managed to muster a sizeable vote was the Communist Party. Fred Weston looks at the implications of this.

In a surprise broadcast address to the nation last Tuesday, just three weeks before the presidential election, Putin announced that he had sacked his government. The main aim was to get rid of the prime minister, and this has been accomplished. The short-term effect of these changes will therefore be to reinforce Putin and his Bonapartist regime. However, the “strong man” has feet of clay.

A bomb exploded in the Moscow metro at 8:40 local time this morning, at the peak of rush-hour in the busiest underground system in the world. So far the number of casualties has reached 39, though this is bound to increase.  There will be neither lasting prosperity or peace for Russians or Chechens as long as capitalism and the national hatreds it breeds on both sides continue to exist.

On Sunday December 7th, Russians went to the polls to choose representatives for the state Duma, the lower house of parliament. The figures given in business daily Kommersant, based on 97.87% of the total vote, are as follows: United Russia 222 seats, the CPRF 53, LDPR 38, Motherland 37, independent deputies 65, and deputies from political parties who were elected on a first past the post basis 16. This result gives Putin a free hand in controlling the parliament. It is another step towards the consolitation of a bonapartist regime.

In the last week of September, the editor of marxist.com, Alan Woods participated in a speaking tour organised by the supporters of the Russian Marxist tendency, the Rabochaya Demokratiya (Workers’ Democracy) group.

Ten years ago this month in Moscow (on October 3 and 4) the “White House” (as the Russian Parliament building is known) was bombed, and hundreds of people were killed. This was the civil war between President Yeltsin and the Parliament (the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation). Today the Russian authorities prefer not to remember those events, not just because of the bloody nature of what happened, but also because what happened back in 1993 questioned the legitimacy of the present Russian system.

Lenin was said to have stated that under Communism the toilets would be lined with gold. His prediction seems to have been realised in present-day Russia- though in a way rather different to that which he originally envisaged.

St. Petersburg - or Leningrad as it was known during Soviet times - is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but it is having a difficult time now. In 1991 during the "anti-communist" rising the city got back its old name of St. Petersburg and with this name trouble was being prepared for its people.

On May 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his state of the union address. In comparison with the triumphal statements of the past, it displayed unusual frankness about the country's problems. The truth of the matter is that capitalism has been a nightmare for the Russian people and the position of the masses is not improving, but getting worse.

Clausewitz stated that war is the continuation of politics by other means. But in the present epoch peace is also the continuation of war by other means. As we predicted, the détente between Russia and America would not last for long. The underlying antagonisms flow from a real conflict of interest on a global scale.

Recently the State Duma passed a law on the private ownership of land. The redivision of land is beginning all over Russia. The collective farms and state farms that are situated near big towns are subject to the greatest danger. This article highlights the situation at one farm near Moscow.

On May 24, 2002, in the Kremlin's gilded throne room, Putin and Bush signed an agreement reducing long-range nuclear weapons by two-thirds over ten years. As part of the deal with NATO, Russia and America were supposed to cooperate in Bush's plans to build a missile defence shield once the ABM treaty is scrapped in June. Immediately afterwards, the formation of the "NATO-Russia Council" in which was Russia is supposed to participate was announced to the world. Such an agreement between the old enemies Russia and America would have seemed utterly unthinkable just one year ago. Suddenly, the world seemed a more secure place. However, as Alan Woods explains, the relations between...

On Wednesday May 8, Alan Woods interviewed Alexander Kuvaev, member of the Duma, and leader of the Moscow City Committee of the CPRF. There are several interesting features in the replies. In particular, the phrase we have cited in the title is a reply to Zyuganov who has stated publicly that, in his opinion, "Russia's Revolutionary days are over." Unfortunately, there was little time to develop the points raised, as the CPRF were busy with preparations for the big demonstration on May 9 (the anniversary of the victory of the USSR over Nazi Germany).

In bright summery sunshine, thousands of workers and young people demonstrated on the streets of Moscow today. The demonstration, organised by the CPRF and other Communist and Left organisations included a column of over two thousand young communists that united different youth organisations, including supporters of the Russian Marxist paperRabochaya Demokratiya, who played an active role in the preparations, distributing 12,000 stickers all over Moscow.

"The dogs bark; therefore, the caravan is moving!" (Old Arab proverb)

It is not my custom to respond to provocations or enter into polemics with insignificant sects who appear to have all the time in the world to insult each other. For such groups, this is what passes for political activity.

To view these you may need to install the DivX codec. The first is footage from the May Day demonstrations. It is from the bourgeois media, and shows the contingent from the Revolutionary Workers' Party on the march. Click here to play in Real Player or here to open the video normally. The second is footage of the protests in Voronezh on April 11. It shows the official demonstration called by the unions and the Communist Party. However the mood of the protestors was of tremendous anger,...

MOSCOW - Another horrific coal mine disaster has shocked the Russian public and angered coal industry workers. Early on January 18 an explosion and fire in the Tsentralnaya mine in Vorkuta, in the Arctic north of European Russia, claimed 27 lives. This followed a similar catastrophe on December 2, when 67 miners died in one of the pits of the Kuzbass coal region in Western Siberia.

MOSCOW - According to recently announced plans of the Russian government, 1998 is to be the year when the country's coal industry is gutted and cut up, with the most toothsome chunks ready for handing over to private owners. For scores of thousands of workers the result will be joblessness, with only vague, unreliable promises of retraining and resettlement.

The Presidential elections usher in a turbulent period in Russia and on a world scale. From the beginning of the process, we have followed it carefully through all its twists and turns. The present situation provides us with new and important facts which enable us to conclude that we are approaching a denouement. Nothing has been solved by the result of the first round. Yeltsin got 34.8%; Zyuganov, 32.1%; Lebed, 14.7%; Yavlinsky, 7.4%; Zhirinovsky, 5.8%, and all the others put together, a mere 5.2%.

"History knows transformations of all sorts." (Lenin)

The question of the class nature of Russia has been a central issue in the Marxist movement for decades. Now, with the collapse of the USSR and the movement in the direction of capitalism, this question assumes an even greater importance. How we approach this problem will be vital not only for training our cadres, but for our general work in the labour movement, and, at a later stage, for the building of a Marxist tendency in Russia.

We publish this article by Renfrey Clarke, the Moscow-based left wing journalist, about the present situation of the labour movement. We think the article not only provides us with a lot of information but also contributes to the debate about the challenges facing the Russian working class.

The July elections represent another turn in the situation in Russia. On the surface, the result was a massive victory for Russian capitalism. Despite the frightful collapse in living standards, crime, corruption and mafia capitalism, Yeltsin won. This was a heavy defeat for Stalinism, not socialism or genuine communism, but it will usher in a new period of convulsions for Russia. The underlying processes remain as contradictory and explosive as before. The result has resolved nothing.

ANZHERO-SUDZHENSK, Russia - For some reason, the Soviet system had a way of playing cruel jokes on this coal-mining centre in the Kuzbass industrial region of Siberia. One such malign whim was to locate the city administration building hard by the heating and electrical generating plant. Ever since, two immense chimneys have towered over the municipal offices, pouring out dark smoke. In winter the snow here is black; in the autumn rains, the forecourt outside the building is covered with grey sludge.

An interview with Vera Dimitrievna Arfanas, chairperson of the workers' committee of the OAO "Rosselmash" factory, published in the Russian Marxist paper Rabochaya Demokratiya (Workers' Democracy), issue no 45, August 1998

On the 23d of January the first congress of the workers' and strike committees from Syberia and Far East of Russia was held in Anzhero-Sudjensk (Kemerovo region). 155 delegates from Kranoyarsk, Barnaul, Tuva, Khakassia, Kuzbass, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Tyumen', Cheliabinsk, Samara regions attended the congress. They discussed a report on the last year railroad war and exchanged views about the further steps by the workers movement. The delegates highlighted the necessity of revolutionary struggle and overthrown of the regime. They pointed that the state power will be the central question for the workers' movement in Russia. A few resolutions on political situation, on the struggle against

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The new war in Chechnya is a further evidence of a shift of power in Russia in the direction of the military. The generals are now clearly in the saddle. Not only are they deciding the war agenda in Chechnya, but they are doing so without regard to the opinions of the Kremlin clique. Boris Yeltsin is now an irrelevance. But the army caste will not pay any attention to the rest of the so-called government of Russia which they regard as the source of all their troubles. Once having got a taste of political power, they will be all the more inclined to go one step further.

May Day in Moscow. A mass of red flags in brilliant sunshine. The demonstrators - mainly members of the Communist Party (CPRF), numbering about 50,000, made quite an impressive showing as they streamed across the river Moscow up to the ancient walls of the Kremlin. The entrance to Red Square was blocked by a row of burly policemen. Yeltsin does not want the Square used for demonstrations - at least, not anti-government ones. The meeting is held outside the walls, next to the onion-shaped Byzantine domes of the Cathedral of Saint Basil and a huge poster announcing that "Christ is Risen".

The Revolution Betrayed is one of the most important Marxist texts of all time. It is the only serious Marxist analysis of what happened to the Russian Revolution after the death of Lenin. Without a thorough knowledge of this work, it is impossible to understand the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the events of the last ten years in Russia and on a world scale. For Marxists, the October Revolution of 1917 was the greatest single event in human history. If we exclude the brief but glorious episode of the Paris Commune, for the first time the working class succeeded in overthrowing its oppressors and at least began the task of the socialist transformation of society.

The active liberalization of the Russian economy is being carried out simultaneously with moves to strengthen the power of the state. The state is consolidating itself on all fronts, of which the media is one of the most important. The government, evidently, has unleashed a war for the restoration of its monopoly over the distribution and presentation of information.

On February 1, Putin's government introduced new labour laws which curtail workers' rights. The laws were introduced in part by pressure from the IMF although Russia's bourgeoisie is not in the habit of respecting any laws, preferring to settle disputes with workers with the fists of their security guards.

On Sunday May 7, Vladimir Putin was inaugurated as President of Russia with all the pomp and ceremony of a tsar. Nothing was missing: twenty-one gun salute, goose-stepping soldiers with uniforms that seemed to have been borrowed from a Hollywood musical, and even the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. Such empty show and tasteless pomp is very typical of the so- called New Russians--a class of upstarts and usurpers who are anxious to ape what they imagine to be the splendours of the western bourgeoisie. To students of history this will be quite familiar. The Thermidorian counter-revolutionaries in France also tried to ape the life style old aristocrats after they had sent...

During the methane explosion at the "Komsomolyets" mine in Kemerovo province 12 people were killed. This tragedy occurred soon after another terrible tragedy in the Donbass in the Ukraine. The Russian Marxist paper Workers Democracy (April 2000) blames the restoration of capitalism for these miners' deaths.

Ted Grant and Phil Mitchinson look at the reasons behind Yeltsin's sudden resignation and the implications of the new Putin regime for the future of Russia and international relations.

This document was written by Ted Grant together with Roger Silverman in 1967 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian revolution. The article explains how Stalinism arose and clearly shows how even at that time the Stalinist bureaucracy was facing a serious crisis and confidently predicted its inevitable downfall at some stage.

The new war in Chechnya is a further evidence of a shift of power in Russia in the direction of the military. The generals are now clearly in the saddle. Not only are they deciding the war agenda in Chechnya, but they are doing so without regard to the opinions of the Kremlin clique. Boris Yeltsin is now an irrelevance.

An eyewitness report by Alan Woods which explains the effects of the Kosovo crisis in Russia and outlines the utter collapse of the"market reforms" in this country.

"The entire history of the international workers' movement in the twentieth century has furnished us with a wealth of material to show the way in which the working class and its organisations develop. From the study of the workers' movement over several decades, I drew the following inescapable conclusion: that when the mass of the workers enter the arena of struggle to change society, they inevitably gravitate, in the first instance, to the traditional mass organisations. The mass of the workers--and even the greater part of the advanced elements of the class--do not learn from books, but only from experience, and particularly the experience of great events. Where a strong and educated

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As the crisis in Russia deepens, all sorts of workers' committees are emerging: strike committees, salvation committees, etc. Some of them are soviets in all but in name. Renfrey Clarke interviews the Anzhero-Sudzhensk Workers' committee and finds out how workers democracy functions in practice.

Russia stands at the parting of the ways. The strategists of capital are facing a completely different situation from that which they had expected when the old Stalinist regime collapsed. They thought there would be a smooth transition to capitalism. That is not what they are getting. Ted Grant and Alan Woods provide a socialist analysis of why and what is the way forward.

The roar of hundreds of coal miners drumming their helmets on the pavement rolls like thunder up the glass and granite face of Russia's White House, the seat of government. Even more ominous is the repeated mass chant: "Resign! Resign!". Fred Weir reports from Moscow on the latest wave of militancy of Russian miners.

In a follow up on his previous article Renfrey Clarke describes the real reasons behind the recent coal mine "accidents" in Russia. Early on January 18 an explosion and fire in the Tsentralnaya mine in Vorkuta, in the Arctic north of European Russia, claimed 27 lives. This followed a similar catastrophe on December 2, when 67 miners died in one of the pits of the Kuzbass coal region in Western Siberia.

In this article, Renfrey Clarke describes how the Yeltsin administration is preparing an all-out offensive against the miners, one of the best organised sections of the Russian working class. It also explains the steps being taken by the miners to defend themselves and the perspective of a generalised movement as other sections of the workers are also under attack.

We publish this article by Renfrey Clarke, the Moscow- based left wing journalist, about the present situation of the labour movement. We think the article not only provides us with a lot of information supressed in the Western press about the current wave of strikes in Russia but also contributes to the debate about the challenges facing the Russian working class.

An eyewitness report on the effects of the attemps of capitalist restoration in Russia, the situation in the CP and perspectives for the labour movement based on Alan Wood's recent trip to Russia.

An analysis of the current situation in Russia, based on Alan Woods' discussions with trade unionists, left wingers, Communist Party members, and others during his recent trip to Russia. A first hand account of the debates in the Russian left and the beginning of the recovery of the labour movement.