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 the Jacobins to the guillotine.

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.