Russia and the Anti-imperialist Movement


By Serguei A. Novikov

Gradual change of the Russian regime

Currently, the dominant spirits of the Russian masses is anti-American, pro-national and even pro-nationalist to a certain extent. There are some tiny pro-NATO youth movements, that is associated with the so-called Alliance of Right Forces, as well as some circles among scholars and scientists, but in the latest study of public opinion about 70 or 80% of respondents said, that they are not going to leave Russia for any other country. Many former collective farmers and those associated with the National industry have also become very suspicious about the US as their deadly competitor. It is not enough, however, to oppose consistently the new world order. For instance, there is no serious protest against Russia`s joining the WTO. The industrialists are counting, what they lose and what they gain. Actual and potential exporters are very keen about the WTO, while those, who rely on the inside Russian market and the CIS are against. There certainly is some growing feeling of national identity, some anti-Americanism, but this sentiment is very moderate. As to the Russian bourgeoisie, it is obviously split on these, who benefit from export-import operations, including most of bank financial capital, and they are seeking for stronger Russian Rouble in respect to the US dollar to sell cheaper outside Russia and, accordingly, to sell exported goods in the internal Russian market for a good price, which is murderous for National producers, and those, who benefit from the internal Russian market and, consequently, are interested in weaker Rouble, which makes foreign goods more expensive and let them survive with their relatively cheap goods. It was the former, that were strong under the governments of Gaidar and Chernomyrdin, and in 1995-98 they kept the dollar "in the corridor" to the last, though yet in spring 1998 it was clear, that this corridor had nothing to do with the realities. After the crisis of 1998 the situation changed, and the latter started to gradually take the upperhand in the struggle. This year the latter were reinforced by at least two factors. Firstly, a strong campaign to disgrace the Russian oligarchs in the Western mass media, that was obviously motivated by the intention to replace them and thus to subjugate Russian industries to the US controlled capital and, secondly, the new spirit of Bush administration, that is willing to be strict to the neo-capitalist Russia, rather than to sponsor its neo-capitalism any longer.

The Putin regime is an attempt to oppose the US hegemony. The arms deals with Iran and India, the visits of Putin to Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam and some other new orientations in the Russian foreign policy – all that is just the move to meet the nationalist and anti-American sentiments as well as that of nostalgia over the Soviet period. Combined with some economic stability, coming from high oil prices, it gave him 75% popularity last March against 69% a year ago. Once again, the regime has gradually changed. And the most profound evidence of it is the repression against Gusinsky and Berezovsky. Both of them are absolutely dishonest and may well be brought to trial, but both of them are a rule, rather than an exception, thus one can easily bring to trial hundreds of them, including the notorious Anatoly Chubays, who was responsible for the privatization, which resulted in selling off about 60% of Russian industry for 3-4% of its initial cost, and he is now in charge of RAO EES Rossia, that is the name for the power industry in Russia. So why Gusinsky? Because his newspapers, radio stations and NTV were openly pro-American, and for this they are often described as the "fifth column in Russia". And yet all these "media-holding" mass media is very professional. They lie not in a simple and blatant way, as most of the pro-governmental media do, they manipulate information, giving the floor to all sorts of political spectrum including communist, but always with the result they need. I can prove it with my own experience, since once I took part in NTV debates The Voice of People. They allowed a communist to speak against Putin and Yeltsin, but later added, that communists are even worse. As the head of the Russian Jewish Congress in Russia Gusinsky is an ideal target for such a performance. Last summer many of the left hoped, that the crash of Kursk submarine and the fire of Ostankino TV-centre will cause a political crisis, but it was a mistake, because Putin made a very cunning move and turned the anger and indignation against Gusinsky for his continuous efforts to disgrace the Russian army in every possible way. Yet it was added, that "the previous administration is in charge", and it has worked.

CPRF tailing Putin

And in the same way the CPRF has really embarked on the nationalist line. But take into account, that the CPRF had proclaimed their course on the "national-patriotic degeneration of the regime" and on gradual infiltration into the state power on all levels yet in 1992-1994. They used to say, that the revolution (a counterrevolution is a particular case of a revolution) will sooner or later "devour its children" and then they will come to power. Putin could be well interpreted as their success, the success of their strategy of associating and alignment with all sort of national-patriotic pro-state and pro-power forces up to the Russian Orthodox Church, but there are still several hated "children" of the counter-revolution in his team, such as Anatoly Chubays and German Gref. So now the CPRF policy is to isolate Putin from these hated pro-American liberals and turn him to national-patriotic forces. That was the motive behind their ridiculous attempt to bring a motion of no-confidence to Mikhail Kosianov government last March. Their official explanation behind it was that they are not against Putin, but they just want to help him to get rid of anti-national elements. They are not entirely associated with Putin yet, they do not support him directly, but in the rank-and-file level, in the grassroots their local bosses like to say, that they and the Kremlin (read Putin) are both against the Jewish Danger. Incidentally it was openly articulated by Mikhailov – a CPRF local leader, who won from Rutskoy (former vice-president of Russia under Yeltsin and in 1993 one of those, who led the anti-Yeltsin revolt of the Supreme Soviet) the post of governor of the Kursk region. And according to my own impressions, during the 1999 elections to the State Duma the CPRF considered as their main enemy not the pro-Putin "Unity", but the "Fatherland – the Whole Russia" with Gusinsky behind it. But if the CPRF is still in opposition, some so-called patriotic newspapers and leaders (such as the nationalist newspaper "Den" (the day) or, say, Sazhi Umalatova, the woman, who was the first in yet 1988 to call on Gorbachev to resign) – they are openly supporting Putin.

Neo-liberal and authoritarian

However, this regime is really rather authoritarian. According to the draft of the new law on political parties, that was already accepted by the State Duma last February in the first reading, not only the RPC, but even the RCWP (that of Tiulkin) will have very few chance to participate in official political life, but it is even worse. The regime is pro-liberal. On having finished the year 2000 with the acceptance of the music of the old Soviet anthem as the official anthem of the RF, and the red flag as a symbol of the Russian Army in spite of protests from the right, who refused to recognise these symbols (say, to stand up when the anthem is performed), the Putin regime is gradually promoting the second bourgeois-liberal offensive, that is designed:

- to put an end to the state subsidizing of living and municipal expenditure, that will result in a severe re-division of flats,

- to put an end to the distributive system of pensions, that according to the new draft are to be saved by the working people during their working age, they are going to increase the pension-rate to 65 for both men and women,

- they did away with progressive taxation (a worker and, say, Putin himself - both have to pay only 13% as their income tax),

- they are boosting a bourgeois reform of the army (the so-called "contract system"),

- they are eliminating free education, imposing private ownership on land and so on and so forth.

And all this second stage of bourgeois reforming is exercized accompanied by the sounds of the former Soviet anthem and under the Red Flag. Thus the national idea turned out to be stolen and misappropriated by the Putin regime, openly supported by the FSB and the military, who are now actively penetrating into the establishment – state power. Yes, pro-American liberals are angry. They are anxious about the freedom of speech, and from their point of view they are absolutely right. The freedom of their speech has drastically subsided. In spite of 15 thousand meeting in support of the NTV in Moscow on the 31st of March, today the NTV speaker Evgeny Kiseleov announced, that his weekly program may well be the last, because the Gasprom has taken control over the NTV after all. One of such liberals, a student, even argued to me, that Putin is a real communist (for his authoritarian way of rule). But they have lost. Their liberal bourgeois cause is stolen from them by the former KGB children very much like the cause of bourgeois transformation was stolen from old dissidents by the party and state bureaucrats, who changed their power for properties, leaving those dissidents to live on their own. The idea of liberalism has finally linked up with that of strong power and authoritarian rule, well combining the most militant liberalism and exploitation with pro-national and even anti-American rhetoric in favour of the multi-polar world, equality in international relations and so on, that is nothing more than a pure reflection of their need in "just competition".

Communist rte-construction: self-reliance or internationalism

Really radical Communist opposition may now well tend to Soviet nostalgia, but not to the block or any other alliance with the National Russian bourgeoisie. That`s why basically the Roscomsoyuz parties did not give up to this obsession. While the CPRF and their allies were satisfied with the red flag and the Soviet anthem, these symbols were rejected by the RPC and the rest Roscomsoyuz parties for they are just a cover for the new bourgeois offensive. Another example is the case of Pavel P. Borodin, who was detained in the USA. While some CPRF deputies in the State Duma supported him, the RPC Mysl newspaper came out against this pillar of the Yeltsin regime. And the fact, that the Russian Party of Communists has actually renamed itself into the Revolutionary Party of Communist is also one of the proofs. The real problem now is to dissociate our anti-capitalist concept of the Nation from that of the bourgeoisie and other reactionary elements.

The traditional self-reliance and autarchy, brought up by tens of years, reappear now in no-confidence to the World revolutionary process and, consequently, the inclination to the alliance with the "national bourgeoisie". So it is really worthwhile to propagate the idea of combination of the anti-Western feelings with the alliance with world revolutionary movement and communists as its most consequent part

On Anti-imperialism in Russia

The idea of an anti-imperialist centre or a committee in Russia is to unite the anti-Western, anti-imperialist feelings of masses with the world anti-imperialist and communist movement, and to mobilize revolutionary activists for resolute anti-imperialist actions with the purpose to tear masses away from the CPRF, seeking for a block with the National bourgeoisie and rejecting the revolutionary perspective in both Russia and the whole World. The reference to the CPRF as a reformist party is obligatory, because otherwise the idea will have no sense. Then there must be a clear say, that the struggle against imperialist interventions in Iraq, Yugoslavia and so on is crucial, because it gives to the revolutionary and internationalists elements an occasion to mobilize for subsequent revolutionary takeover in the World. And it is worthwhile to add, that the peaceful epoch is gradually ending, and the new era of conflicts, wars and revolutions is on. So the anti-imperialist campaign is necessary not only for its immediate purpose, but as a possibility to organize and get used to co-ordinated actions. It would be fair to say, that not only in Russia, but in many other countries the revolutionary movement is doomed to minor achievements because of a lack of international perspective and scarce knowledge of the World movement. So the choice: either moderate national front or revolutionary anti-imperialist alliance – must be reflected. And, of course, it is to be shown that after the demise of socialism and collapse of the USSR the revolutionary movement did not stop. It continues in Latin America, in the Philippines, in Turkey and so on, and international revolutionary consolidation is the only chance for this movement to survive. In a sense it is not quite so, because, say, the movement in the Philippines is very much stick to self-reliance, but the World consolidation is the only way to re-orientate, to reshape this movement in a right internationalist direction. And it would be important to stress, when it comes to our positions on Iraq, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Columbia, Philippines and so on, that we are neither classless (as you know, Zhirinovsky is one of the active defenders of Iraq in Russia, he is a friend of Saddam Hussein and defends Iraq only from anti-American point of view, being very reactionary and hostile to communists), nor unwilling to support any case of anti-imperialist struggle, even if it is not purely communist. It is no less important to show our positions in respect of Chechnya and self-determination in Russia to dissociate from those, who still take these Chechens for a national-liberation movement. The practical programme is to organize and make public joint international manifestations against major imperialist states as well as to come up with solidarity campaigns. The date and slogans are nominated jointly, and every organization defines its own forms of participation. It is very important to touch upon the topic of political prisoners and an idea of informational centre to provide all participants with fresh, detailed and original information from the spots of anti-imperialist struggles as well as to circulate world-wide the information about Russia.

Moscow, April 3 2001