Russia

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.

Ted Grant and Phil Mitchinson look at the reasons behind Yeltsin's sudden resignation and the implications of the new Putin regime for the future of Russia and international relations.

This document was written by Ted Grant together with Roger Silverman in 1967 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian revolution. The article explains how Stalinism arose and clearly shows how even at that time the Stalinist bureaucracy was facing a serious crisis and confidently predicted its inevitable downfall at some stage.

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.

An eyewitness report by Alan Woods which explains the effects of the Kosovo crisis in Russia and outlines the utter collapse of the"market reforms" in this country.

"The entire history of the international workers' movement in the twentieth century has furnished us with a wealth of material to show the way in which the working class and its organisations develop. From the study of the workers' movement over several decades, I drew the following inescapable conclusion: that when the mass of the workers enter the arena of struggle to change society, they inevitably gravitate, in the first instance, to the traditional mass organisations. The mass of the workers--and even the greater part of the advanced elements of the class--do not learn from books, but only from experience, and particularly the experience of great events. Where a strong and educated

...

As the crisis in Russia deepens, all sorts of workers' committees are emerging: strike committees, salvation committees, etc. Some of them are soviets in all but in name. Renfrey Clarke interviews the Anzhero-Sudzhensk Workers' committee and finds out how workers democracy functions in practice.

Russia stands at the parting of the ways. The strategists of capital are facing a completely different situation from that which they had expected when the old Stalinist regime collapsed. They thought there would be a smooth transition to capitalism. That is not what they are getting. Ted Grant and Alan Woods provide a socialist analysis of why and what is the way forward.

The roar of hundreds of coal miners drumming their helmets on the pavement rolls like thunder up the glass and granite face of Russia's White House, the seat of government. Even more ominous is the repeated mass chant: "Resign! Resign!". Fred Weir reports from Moscow on the latest wave of militancy of Russian miners.

In a follow up on his previous article Renfrey Clarke describes the real reasons behind the recent coal mine "accidents" in Russia. Early on January 18 an explosion and fire in the Tsentralnaya mine in Vorkuta, in the Arctic north of European Russia, claimed 27 lives. This followed a similar catastrophe on December 2, when 67 miners died in one of the pits of the Kuzbass coal region in Western Siberia.

In this article, Renfrey Clarke describes how the Yeltsin administration is preparing an all-out offensive against the miners, one of the best organised sections of the Russian working class. It also explains the steps being taken by the miners to defend themselves and the perspective of a generalised movement as other sections of the workers are also under attack.

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 supressed in the Western press about the current wave of strikes in Russia but also contributes to the debate about the challenges facing the Russian working class.