|Written by IWL-FI|
|Sunday, 25 December 2011 22:52|
|In view of the demonstrations taking part recently in Russia with a broad impact all over the world, we hereby reproduce the statement of our section in that country, the POI (Internationalist Workers’ Party)The fact took everybody by surprise. After years of political stability, when demonstrations just never occurred, not even for the most elementary demands, a great manifestation with a clearly political significance burst out.
On 10th December, about 40 000 people gathered together with 10 000 in St Petersburg, 5 000 in Novosiborsk and other minor demonstrations in about 80 cities) to protest against the shameful fraud in the parliamentary elections to the State Duma, where the United Russia Party of the Prime minister, Vladimir Putin and President Dimitri Medvedev achieve 49% of the votes and 53% of the seats in the Duma. Different analysts estimate that United Russia self-increased their votes in about 15%. Hundreds of reports have been issued saying that those responsible for counting the votes had closed the ballots with a determined result and that the following day they learned that the official outcome was completely different.
But the problem did not stem out of this coarse electoral fraud. These elections as a whole have been a farce right from the beginning. There is a saying in Russia: “these are elections where anybody can win as long as he is Putin”. It is impossible to legalise a party in Russia without the blessing from Kremlin. The fielded by the government United Russia holds monopoly of mass media and there are no debates or anything. Apart from the fraud, the situation was further stirred up by the arrogant tone Putin and Medvedev used when the first reports of fraud and the first demonstration cropped up referred to protest in the Tchistye Prudy Boulevard on December 5th, when over 6 000 people gathered saying, “It looks like somebody is saying something somewhere. Protesters were accused of being parrots of the USA.
A similar effect was caused by the statement uttered by the president of the Electoral Commission, Tchurov, to the effect that the “depraved fantasies of this mob casting a shadow of doubt on our honesty do not bother me.” All this represented the stem of straw that broke the camel’s back and drove thousands of people, who for years had been putting up with this dirty game of Russian, to put an end to the indifference and to get nearer, even if only a bit nearer to the those European countries that have already been shaken by the demonstrations of the indignant. Putin had never seen anything like this. He has grown used to popular support. What we can see now is but the beginning of the process and yet we can already see that the events of Bolotnaya Square, the police-mafia regime of the oil and gas oligarchy of Putin’s has begun to enter the phase of clear political crisis.
Demonstrations could not be hindered by repression by the OMOM (shock troops) or by the summons on that same day for a centralised examination in all the schools of the country so as to demobilise teachers and youth, nor the ridiculous warning of the Russian head doctor saying that winter demonstrations were harmful for health”, not even the extremely isolated site (on an island) allowed for the demonstration.
With dozens of thousands of footprints stamped in the new snow, people made it very clear what they thought of the present-day government. People demanded the annulment of the results of the elections, removal of Tchurov, president of the Electoral Committee and new elections. Chants for “Russia without Putin” and “Freedom” shook the square. The demoralization of the police and loss of prestige of the regime and of the bureaucrats made Putin appear, for the first time, as a weakling, somebody who had to resort to shameful falsification in order to make it look like he still has the support of the population. In a country that appreciates “strong leaders” so much, this was a bad defeat for Putin. These December days put an end to the long years of silence, people lost their fear and now it was the turn of regime to fear. In those days, while moving across the country young people could feel the spirit of Tahrir Square in the same way as the older generation felt the spirit of those demonstrations in the USSR of the 80s. Putin’s official victory turned against him. More likely than not, his great defeat opened a stage of declination of his regime.
Independently from the falsification of the results, Putin’s loss of political support for his administration is undeniable, the same as the predisposition to fight among at least a sector of the population. Even taking into account the official results, Putin’s party, United Russia, lost plenty of votes. They lost the constitutional majority they had so far, which allowed them to modify the Constitution whenever they wanted to. However, they still have the simple majority, which empowers them to pass laws even with their own solitary votes. At the same time, participation in elections dwindled. According to official statistics 40% of the population failed to go to vote. Some analysts say that not more than half the population voted. Most people either failed to go or voted “anything except United Russia”. This kind of silent protest, which has always been there, has now reached a level that cannot be concealed. Even the official results of the elections were a slap on Putin’s face.
A process that is just beginning
But, in spite of the tough blow suffered by the regime, the situation cannot be overrated. The geography of the electoral results as well as the character and geographic composition of the demonstrations prove that the process is still in its early stage. Up to now, demonstrations engulfed mainly the middle class, university students and intelligentsia of the big cities. The working class is so far absent from this process. In the more backward rural regions, United Russia – even if losing votes – received more votes than in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other cities. Also great demonstrations took place only in the most densely populated cities. It was fundamentally youth and middle class who demonstrated at Bologna Square. That is why there’s a long way of struggles from this first signal to the last nail in Putin’s tomb.
As the Russians say, “Putin is only half the problem; the other half is the opposition”. The fact is that the parliamentary opposition is direct accomplice in the fraud. Four parties obtained parliamentary representation. Apart from the pro-government United Russia there is the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPFR) trying hard to be a “civilized” and “constructive” opposition. We also have the party of Just Russia, created by the Kremlin as a left wing for Putin. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) of the xenophobic right and pro-government. These parties, even if they criticized the fraud, are very happy with the increase of their votes thanks to which their representatives and their revenue accrued and so did their negotiating power as compared to the government’s.
The CPRF (biggest party of the opposition) is especially cynical. They doubled their votes (they reached nearly 20% according to official results and has momentous responsibility at present for they are the main recipient of votes of the anti-Putin opposition. Their leader said, “These elections have been illegitimate from the moral and ethic point of view”. And yet, this does not mean that they will boycott the Duma or anything like that. The contrary is true. Ziuganov said that they would take advantage of the increase their “power of control” in the presidential elections in March. Very happy at having doubled their votes, the CPRF was conspicuously absent at the demonstration at Bologna Square, for they were not among those summoning and they merely sent a lower-rank representative.
The situation is different with the Russian liberals; they are direct agents of American and European imperialisms who had bee partly squeezed out of their legal political space by the regime and that is why they are not represented in the parliament. They (i.e.: imperialism) have something to win and something to gain. That is why they manoeuvre and play about with the protests. Today, if imperialism is to carrying out their plans of colonising Russia and other countries influenced by it, they must negotiate with Putin who is the one that monopolises the entire political space of the country. Putin collects a heavy toll for the services rendered for the implementation. This is the cause of the rubs they have. West would rather take direct part in Russian politics and that is why now and again they spawn political problems for Putin in the country using their liberal agents (Nemstsov, of the Solidarity Movement, Yavlinsky from the Yabloko Party, Kasparov from The Other Russia, etc. taking advantage of the electoral fraud and the lack of democratic liberties. And now it was the liberals who turned into organisers of the Bolotnaya Square.
But people went to the Square not “in defence of the liberals” but in defence of democratic liberties. As on of the speakers at the demonstration joked, according to the Russian government, Hilary Clinton had sent messages from her cell phone to each person present at the Square. The anti USA feelings are strong in Russia. Furthermore, it is very difficult for the liberals to win over popular trust after the catastrophe of the 90s, when Russian industry was destroyed in order to import products from imperialist multinationals. It was precisely this policy that spawned Russian oligarchs (This is what Russians call the country’s great capitalists), who grabbed state property for themselves, natural resources and other wealth of the country. It was the same liberals who opened the gates for foreign capital, which now controls practically all the areas of economy and sends billions of dollars’ worth of profit abroad while bleeding the country’s economy and increasing poverty. It was also they who implemented the “absolute freedom of market”, which led to crisis. All the liberals are fully responsible for the current situation of the country. Today, they criticize Putin, but they propose the same policy of privatization, cuts in social expenditures and submission of the country to foreign capital in practically the same way as Putin did. If anything, they are even more radical about complying with the IMF recipes. That is why they never say a word about today’s economy or about corruption and fraud. They keep silent where Putin’s economic plan of adjustments and privatisations is concerned. That is why their mottoes are only “Russia without Putin” or “Down with United Russia, party of wrongdoers and thieves”. They, too, fear the demonstrations that jeopardise the semicolonial economic model of the country already in serious trouble, especially now that situation is increasingly explosive.
Falsification in the service of the oligarchs
The fact is that the fraud was but the last straw, but the accumulated erosion of the government stems out of much deeper causes: it comes from the application of the adjustment plans and cuts demanded by the IMF and even by the Russian oligarchs themselves eager to increase their profits. The same as in all the countries in the world, the government saved the bankers and oligarchs in crisis with public money, driving the state into debt and now is eager to economise making people pay for it all. In all the countries, especially in Europe, governments and employers are practising brutal reforms and adjustments: privatisations, adjustments of wages, layoffs, etc. in order to impose a new level of exploitation on workers. At their international meetings, such as G-20, governments of the world discuss and coordinate their measures against workers in order to save employers from the crisis they had caused and for which workers are not liable.
Russia and her governments are no exception. They have already been reforming education, calling it “worldisation education”, the name requires no explanation. At the same time, due to inflation, common people are increasingly poor. The Russian government has already passed several laws that will become valid after the election and will further burden Russians with the so-called “unpopular measures”. Putin gives the country away bit by bit, to foreigners even if it is already dependent on foreign investments held by the multinationals drawing heaps of money out of the country. He complies unflinchingly with the orientation coming from the IMF, the WB and the governments of the dominating countries consisting in reducing social expenditure. A new budget already exists, with great cut in social area while simultaneously increasing the resources allotted to the police, FSB (former KGB) and the repressive apparatus in general.
All this happens while the oligarchs continue with their record profits. It is because of the compulsion to continue with these plans that the government found it necessary to falsify the elections. This falsification of the elections was necessary for Putin to be able to continue with the reforms against the majority of the population and in favour of the oligarchs and foreign capital. Putin wanted it to look as if all was just fine and that people massively trust him. That is why, as usual, he falsified the elections: in order to surface as fortified by popular support and so go on with his measures against people. This time, however, this backfired. Today, Russian people are learning from their own experience. And they got thoroughly fed up with the governmental hypocrisy for we can all see how the oligarchs get richer and richer while people get poorer and poorer and are forced to shut up about it.
How do we go on?
At present it is necessary to further spread the protest demanding the annulment of the electoral results. All the parties that claim to be opposition (with the CPRP in the first place) should fight for the stolen votes, that is, rebuff the elections overtly, boycott the new Duma and all together issue an ample summons for massive demonstrations for the liberation of all those who have been imprisoned during the demonstrations, annulment of the results of the elections and the eviction of the president of the Electoral Commission, Tchurov. Any other position will be considered as overt or concealed support for fraud.
For joint protests and for the annulment of the results of the elections!
The current position of the CPRF of abstaining from active participation and from summoning for demonstrations against the fraud and having taken up their seats in the Duma is unacceptable! With the authority of being the greatest recipient of opposition votes, a simple statement of the CPRF, refusing to acknowledge the elections and boycotting the falsified Duma would place the entire system in an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy. Furthermore, if their mobilizing power were to be drawn together (used for electoral campaigns) added to the 40 000 at the Bologna Square, the political situation in this could be completely altered.
Today there are many who pose the demand “Clean elections”. Seeing the current rules, according to which there are no democratic liberties, and when “anybody can win as long as he is Putin” talking about “clean elections” makes no sense. For a real freedom of expression, of publication, of demonstration, of meeting and of getting organised! For the abolition of the current legislation of parties and the legislation of “anti-terrorism” and “anti-extremism” intended to eliminate the existence of different opinions. No to repression! For freedom of organization and legalization of alternative parties! For freedom of distribution of information and access to the different parties and point of view on TV! For an ample TV campaign of parliamentary debates! With these democratic rights at the foundation line, new elections in the country!
Out with the privatisations and the reform of the education! Nationalisation without indemnity of all the energy sector and natural resources! Use all the resources stemming out of the above to boost a new industrialisation boom that would absorb the unemployed! No posting of profits abroad! Nationalisation and unification of the financial system to prevent speculation, posting of profits and corruption!
Out with the oligarchs, bankers, thieves and evildoers! For a workers’ and popular government that will govern for the majority and take up a programme of rescuing workers and not bankers and oligarchs! Out with united Russia, party of oligarchs, bankers, Mafiosoes and thieves!
The main hindrance on the way of Russian workers is still the absence of independent organisations and of a political leadership; this delays the entrance onto the stage of the working class. Today, none of the legal parties represents the interests of the toiling masses nor does it wish to defend them. The CPFR defends some of the point of the above programme, but only in electoral campaigns and never pretended to mobilise people in defence of these demands. The working class has no independent trade unions or parties or other fighting organisations in which they could trust. Having no organisations of their own, workers will keep on being hostages of employers and bureaucrats. Today it is necessary to organise workers and popular sectors in groups en each workplace, university, neighbourhoods, among friends and coordinate between them to resist the anti-popular, repressive and pro-oligarchic Putin regime and his electoral farce.
Building a political class and socialist alternative is an urgent must for the Russian working class today!