Russia

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the latest spy thriller: the attempted assassination of an MI6 double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, which the Tories are blaming on the Kremlin. But what lies behind this story? Alan argues that there is something suspiciously theatrical about the use of nerve gas (a 'Cold War relic') to bump off an ex-spy. But maintaining a sense of Cold War tension is certainly in the interests of the British ruling class.

Mainstream media have presented Boris Nemtsov as an anti-Putin “liberal” oppositionist. In reality he was part of the oligarchy that began to emerge after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but had fallen out of grace with the main clique that took over. Here Artem Kirpichenok in St. Petersburg gives a very different point of view from within Russia.

On 18 March in front of the Duma in Moscow, Russian president Vladimir Putin delivered a defiant speech announcing the annexation of Crimea, after a referendum on Sunday had confirmed that the vast majority of the Crimean population favours the option of becoming part of the Russian Federation. Immediately after his speech the Crimean authorities signed a treaty which puts that decision into practice, which is now being ratified by Russia's Parliament while we are writing.

Finally the presidential elections were held; massive popular protests were re-launched; and the people once again were unhappy with the fraud. The liberals stand for fair elections and for the restoration (as if they existed!) of democratic institutions of the European type. This is right and correct. We also support the slogan for fair elections. However, we also understand the limitations of representative, bourgeois democracy.

We are publishing this English translation of a leaflet produced by the comrades of Brag Kapitala in Russia on the occasions of the recent protests against the blatant rigging of many of the results declared in the recent presidential elections.

Last week the Internet was flooded with numerous reports and video evidence of fraud and violence in polling stations in favour of Putin’s United Russia. The party “won” 49.32% of the votes on this basis in the recent parliamentary elections. This was the trigger for the masses to take to the streets.

At the end of my article on the Russian electionsI wrote: “What happened in Tunisia and Egypt can also happen in Russia.” Events have begun to move in that direction far more quickly than I anticipated. In the last few days the cities of Russia have been swept by mass demonstrations.

The following leaflet was distributed in Russian in the demonstration in Petersburg by Russian supporters of the IMT who publish the paper Vrag Kapitala and the website 1917.com.

The parliamentary elections in Russia on Sunday, December 4, were seen as a popularity test of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is running for the presidency in March. The result was a blow to Putin, registering a sharp fall in support for his United Russia party. According to the official results, which are undoubtedly rigged, United Russia obtained just under half of valid votes cast, which gives it a very small majority in the State Duma.

Last night I received an email from Petersburg informing me of the death of comrade Vladimir Morozov, who passed away on August 24. This news was a terrible blow. Vladimir, or Volodya as he was known to his friends, was a key figure in the ranks of the supporters of the International Marxist Tendency in Russia.

Following the report published last week on the Russian miners’ protest, yesterday (Monday) we received the following message from a comrade in St. Petersburg.

An explosive situation is developing in the Kuzbass, the heart of Russia’s mining industry. 66 miners were killed in an accident at work and 24 (on some accounts more) are still unaccounted for The real figure for dead miners is more like 150. Grief turned to anger at the lying and indifference of the company and government.

On Monday afternoon (January 19), after leaving a press conference, Stanislav Markelov was shot dead near Kropotkinskaya metro station in Moscow. Anastasiya Baburova, who was with Stanislav at the time, was also murdered. Some activists and journalists have asked who was responsible for these disgraceful murders. It’s not possible to say at this stage, but nobody believes that the state will seriously seek to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

Although still in its early stages, there is clearly a reawakening of the Russian working class taking place with a growing number of strikes taking place. Once this picks up steam at some later stage it will cut across all the confusion and demoralisation that have been dominant features in the past.

An example of a very militant strike in Severouralsk, one of a series in the recent period. The miners were determined but the bosses were ruthless. This experience is another indication of growing working class militancy in Russia.