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


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.