Russia

During his recent visit to Russia, editor of marxist.com, Alan Woods, was interviewed for the online news program, STATION MARX International. The discussion covers a range of topics, from the fall of the Soviet Union, to Trotskyism, to the situation in Great Britain, to the current prospects for communism in Russia. The central theme of the interview: "is revolution possible in Russia today?"

Recently, Alan Woods returned from a very successful, 10-day visit to St. Petersburg and Moscow, made at the invitation of the Revolutionary Workers Party (IMT). A few months ago, the Russian section of the IMT was hugely strengthened by the adhesion of a large number of Trotskyists who, although they were formally outside our ranks, had been following our material for some years and were in complete agreement with our ideas, tactics and methods of work.

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.