By Brian Williams
The Western media are presenting the big story of the Russian parliamentary election as being the loss of support by Putin’s United Russia party. It is not – the big story is who United Russia lost support to.
First published: October 1998 In one of the most spectacular financial explosions in history, on 17 August, in the space of one day, Russia’s entire financial system collapsed. Stock markets around the world were sent reeling, not because of Russia’s weight in the world economy, nor the big losses incurred by Western banks speculating on the Russian bond market, but because Russian capitalism had run into a dead-end from which there appeared to be no way out. What really rattled the markets was the possibility that, faced with destitution this winter, the Russian people might call a halt to the re-introduction of capitalism, which having already resulted in the greatest peacetime industrial collapse in history, now promises worse. As one commentator said, it began to dawn on the markets that capitalism’s victory over socialism might turn out to be only a short episode at the end of the 20th century. Even the financial press, and people like George Soros, echoed this sentiment.
First published: July 1997 The first East European states will be admitted to NATO in July at a summit in Madrid and become full members by 1999. Having delayed for fear of losing Boris Yeltsin last year’s presidential elections, NATO is now poised for rapid expansion towards Russia’s western borders.The states most likely to be admitted in July are Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. All three occupy the strategically crucial central European corridor between Russia and Germany. Other candidates are Romania, which has the backing of France, and Slovenia, sponsored by Italy.
First published: July 97
In his political report for the Central Committee to the congress of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation on 19 April, party chair Gennady Zyuganov correctly pointed out that Russia remains ‘the main stumbling block in the path of the creators of the new world order’ – the United States and its allies. That is why the class struggle in Russia today is the most momentous in its historical consequences since the Second World War. As when Hitler came to power in Germany, no person in the world is going to be able to escape from the consequences of the outcome of the class struggle in Russia.
First published: June 1997Since the beginning of March this year the middle ground has been smashed out of Russian politics. On one side, at the beginning of March President Yeltsin re-organised his government around the neo-liberal politicians closest to the United States – notably the architect of the corrupt privatisation program, Anatoly Chubais, and the governor of Nizhny Novgorod Boris Nemtsov. The new government immediately announced plans for a second wave of economic shock therapy – to remove state subsidies on housing, heating, electricity and transport while simultaneously acceding to US demands to attack the power of Russia’s remaining giant monopolies.
On the other side, all of the classical signs of a rising mass radicalisation of the population are apparent. Millions participated in the trade union day of action against non-payment of wages on 27 March. Given their limited economic muscle, workers are resorting to more and more desperate tactics ranging from hunger strikes to seizing local officials and buildings, blocking roads and railways and in parts of Siberia setting up local ‘salvation committees’ – embryonic soviets.
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