Russia

At 6pm on Friday 10 October, at the Plekhanov Memorial Library in St. Petersburg, comrade Alan Woods, the editor of marxist.com and a leading member of the International Marxist Tendency, addressed an audience of about 70 people, who crowded into the small conference room. In addition to the members of the older generation associated with the library, the majority of those present were young people — students and workers — members and sympathisers of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party who had organised the event in collaboration with the Plekhanov Library. The meeting was chaired by the director of the Library, Tatyana Filimonova.

Elections to the Moscow City Duma (city council), despite the typical vote manipulation and skullduggery, inflicted a crushing defeat on United Russia in comparison with previous contests. The opposition received almost half of the seats in the city Duma, while some districts were taken by United Russia, thanks to bureaucratic measures and the actions of pseudo-communist wreckers. It was only due to these underhanded methods that the government was able to maintain a controlling stake in the local Duma.

“This land is your land, this city is your city! And no one has the right to decide its future, but you – the working people of Moscow!” This appeal from a Russian IMT activist was greeted with an explosion of applause at a recent rally in the Zyuzino district of Moscow.

We publish the following report, originally written in July by an activist of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party from Northern Russia. It concerns an ongoing struggle against attempts to illegally construct a waste disposal site at Shiyes in Arkhangelsk Oblast, which would cause grave environmental damage and risk the health of local residents. This is an important development that has gained widespread support and sparked protests across the country.

In St. Petersburg, 2,000 people took part in a rally organised by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) at Lenin Square, in front of Finland Station, to protest against Putin's counter-reform to pensions. Comrades of the IMT raised the slogan of revolution!

The Russian masses are in uproar over President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to raise retirement ages for men from 60 to 65, and for women from 55 to 63 by 2034. In addition, VAT is being raised from 18 to 20 percent. The tremendously unpopular ‘reform’ has sent Putin’s approval ratings plummeting by 15 percentage points (from 82 to 67), and has resulted in major demonstrations across the country.

Trump and Putin’s meeting in Finland made headlines worldwide. Just like in other places, Trump’s visit was met with street protests in which thousands of workers and youth expressed their anger. This was despite the best efforts of the liberal organisers to water down the main protest’s message and create confusion about its time and location.

“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.” The judgement of President Donald J. Trump delivered from the heights of Helsinki followed hard on the heels of his first summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin. If anything, it was even more bizarre than his visits to the NATO summit and the United Kingdoma few days ago. And it made even bigger waves.

There is an old film starring Peter Sellers called The Mouse that Roared that describes a comical situation in which a tiny, insignificant, European nation declares war on the United States in order to obtain aid. By a peculiar twist of circumstances, they win. The scenario of this amusing production was strikingly brought to mind by the events of the last few days in Britain.

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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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We provide an interesting interview with Moscow train drivers who were recently on strike, that reveals the terrible conditions imposed on the workers but also the militant mood of the organizers.

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Officially Putin's right hand man, Medvedev, has won the Presidential elections with over 70% of the vote on a turnout of more than 70%. But no one seriously believes this. Many Russians have commented on the meaninglessness of the elections. Putin will remain the boss. However, for all the pomp that surrounds Putin there is a strong undercurrent of hatred against capitalism. The fact that the CPRF yet again showed that it is the only opposition to the Kremlin, confirms this.

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As background the Presidential elections we publish an analysis of the December parliamentary elections. These reflected political consolidation following on from economic stabilization after the financial crisis of 1998. These new relations are now in turn leading to a reaction. The modest gains of the CPRF reveal both the potential for an organized opposition to Russian capitalism and the path that this opposition will take in the mass organizations.

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We have received a very interesting interview with A. Etmanov, the leader of the trade union of Ford (Saint Petersburg). This reveals many things, not just about the Ford strike but about the state of the Russian workers' movement, the struggle of the trade unions and their attitude towards capitalism and the political parties.

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Last year's strike at the Russian Ford plant marked an important turning point for the Russian labour movement. The Russian economy is growing and this has strengthened sections of the working class. With this growing strength comes a militant mood. At some point this will lead to a wider movement of the Russian working class and with it will come important political repercussions.

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The strike at the Ford plant in St. Petersburg is extremely symptomatic. After the collapse of the Russian economy in the 1990s now we have an upturn. With it comes also a renewed confidence of the working class. The victory of the Russian Ford workers would strengthen enormously the whole of the Russian working class. They need your help.

50 years ago on 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world's first artificial satellite into space - Sputnik 1. The launch came as a complete surprise, even to the US intelligence community which was caught completely unawares. The launching of the satellite not only shocked the world, it completely changed it by ushering in a new age - the Space Age.


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Yeltsin was a symbol for the capitalist system that emerged following the capitalist counter-revolution he headed. The fact that his death yesterday was met with indifference in Moscow shows just how weak support for capitalism is in the capital, a city where unlike in the provinces a layer of the population is better off than in Soviet times.

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In the Russian political dictionary Kondopoga has emerged as a new negative concept. Over a short period we have already experienced a number of such events, and everywhere along the same lines. Mass disturbances under nationalist slogans, which stemmed from everyday conflicts, xenophobic pogroms, public calls “to clear off the blacks” – all this is Kondopoga.

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The collapse of the Soviet Union was not the end of Marxism. On the contrary it confirmed what the Marxists had stated long ago, that the bureaucracy was a threat to the very survival of the planned economy. But there was no Marxist party on the scene that could offer the workers an alternative. Thus the whole system imploded with devastating effects on industry and with it the working class, which was thrown back decades, divided and atomised. It became a passive force, which explains the impasse facing today’s Russian left. But now we can see the first signs of the working class beginning to come together again as a class.

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On Wednesday July 26 the supporters of the International Marxist Tendency in Moscow and comrades from Vpered organised a picket against electoral fraud in Mexico.

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The recent conflict between Ukraine and Russia over the price of gas brought to the surface the contradictions in the Ukraine, a country which is being pulled towards the western sphere of influence. That was what the so-called Orange Revolution was about. Now the Ukraine people are disillusioned as they watch an international conflict for control of resources that stretches right across the former Soviet Union and beyond.

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A long standing dispute at the Saint Petersburg docks is escalating into what could be come an all-out strike. We have received a request for international solidarity. Please act now. Raise this in your union branch and send messages of solidarity.

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Putin is still holding on to his popularity among wide layers of Russian society. But his party, United Russia, is not doing so well. In a series of local elections it has done rather badly. This reflects a crisis within the Russian ruling elite. The Communist Party (CPRF) has made some gains, in spite of the total inertia of its leadership. Misha Steklov in Moscow looks at the situation facing the country.

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Misha Steklov in Moscow comments on last month’s victory of the Russian team, CSKA (The Central Sporting Club of the Army) over Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA Cup final. “From the Taiga to the British seas, the red army is the strongest of all,” went the chorus of the fans. But only the words of the song reminded you of the club’s origins.

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We received this letter from our correspondent in Moscow on the recent Russian Social Forum.

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On March 8th, Aslan Maskhadov was killed. There are currently conflicting reports as to how Russian forces killed the recognised leader of Chechen resistance against the Russian state. His death has been painted as a personal victory for President Putin, who was compelled to admit the weaknesses of the Russian state following the Beslan tragedy. But there is still no end in sight for the war of attrition between Chechen independence fighters and the Russian army.

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In the aftermath of the Beslan massacre President Putin has used the pretext of the fight against terrorism to abolish the direct election of national deputies and regional governors. He has also introduced other measures which are an attempt to gain tight control over the state apparatus. But he is doing this as a growing disillusionments spreads among the Russian masses. At the moment this remains below the surface, but it must emerge in one form or another at some point.

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We received this report shortly after the storming of the school in North Ossetia. It highlights the divide between the ordinary people of Beslan and the authorities, and also the responsibility of the Russian government in creating the conditions upon which terrorism flourishes. The barbarity of what happened in Beslan has struck the minds and hearts of millions of people around the world. The unfortunate thing is that all this will now be exploited by the Putins of this world, and by the Blairs and Bushes too. This barbaric act of individual terrorism will not serve the cause of the Chechen people.

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The events unfolding in Russia are of a dramatic nature. Gunmen are holding 350 children, parents and teachers in a school in Beslan, North Ossetia. The taking of these hostages is the latest in a series of attacks that have shaken Russia in the recent period. All this is a product of the ongoing conflict in Chechnya. Earlier this week there were new elections in Chechnya and another stooge of Moscow was elected president. This has not served to pacify the area.

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It is clear that the Putin regime can't solve the problem of Chechnya. It is now slowly becoming a problem of all of the North Caucasus. The Russian army can't do anything about it, but Putin cannot put an end to the war either.

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We have received this report from comrades in Russia as well as members of the Student's Residence Soviet and the Student's Union in St. Petersburg about a recent demonstration against the policies of the university administration.
See also in Russian:
Студентов и аспирантов выгоняют из общежитий

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Behind the recent split in the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) lies the sinister hand of Putin. He wants to eliminate any kind of opposition on the left as he embarks on one of his most vicious attacks on the Russian workers. He will fail to destroy the CPRF, but the lessons for the left must be drawn.

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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.

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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.