Russia

Russia: the return of the army

By Dale Street

Widespread disillusionment with the results of market reforms and privatisation is now rife throughout the Russian Federation. This has combined with conflicts between different sections of the old Soviet elite to lay the groundwork for a resurgence of Russian nationalism.

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Who Were The Soviet Ruling Class?

The Bureaucratic Collectivist/State Capitalist theory says that a new ruling class emerged in the Soviet Union. This class ruled not by ownership, but by control of the meansof production. If this theory were true then by the time the USSR collapsed such a class should have consolidated itself like all such classes and castes by passing on this control to its children. If true then the Godfather of this class should have been the child of some high ranking bureuacrat. What in fact was Mikhail Gorbachev's background.

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Preparing for the G8: wave of arrests in Russia

BY Vicki Morris

FRESH from his PR appearance on the BBC, President Vladimir Putin of Russia is preparing to host the leaders of the new free world at the G8 summit at St Petersburg (15-17 July). A counter-summit and the second Russian Social Forum have been organised, but, as was feared, they are meeting with sinister repression. A report from French journalist Carine Clément was sent to the email lists of the European Social Forum. Here is a translated extract:

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Preparing for the G8: wave of arrests throughout Russia

Fresh from his PR appearance on the BBC, President Vladimir Putin of Russia is preparing to host the leaders of the new free world at the G8 summit at St Petersburg (15-17 July). A counter-summit and the second Russian Social Forum have been organised, but, as was feared, they are meeting with sinister repression. A report from French journalist Carine Clément was sent to the email lists of the European Social Forum. Here is a translated extract:

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Police and fascists attack Moscow gay pride

By Peter Tatchell

Russian gays have won an important moral and political victory. Yuri Luzhkov said a gay pride parade would never happen while he was Mayor of Moscow. But Moscow Pride did happen, on 27 May, despite the Mayor’s ban, police arrests, and violence from neo-fascists, right-wing nationalists and Orthodox Christian fundamentalists.

Moscow Pride has been a milestone in Russian lesbian and gay history. By insisting on the right to protest, they were defending more than gay rights. They were defending the democratic freedoms of all Russians, gay and straight.

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SWP/IS: history and myth

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Sean Matgamna

Eric Hobsbawm somewhere discusses one of the oddest conundrums in labour historiography, one paralleled now in the historiography of IS/SWP: the 20th century reputation of the Fabian Society as far-sighted pioneers of independent labour representation - the gap between what was and what is afterwards widely accepted as having been.

An examination of the historiography of IS/SWP, by a one-time member, and of the realities behind the encrusted mythology. (1997)

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What is the Bolshevik-Trotskyist tradition?

Workers' Liberty

What follows is a summary of the political and ideological traditions on which Workers’ Liberty and Solidarity base ourselves.

Isaac Newton famously summed up the importance of studying, learning, and building on forerunners. “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”, he wrote, referring to René Descartes, his contemporary Robert Hooke, and presumably also to his direct predecessor Isaac Barrow.

In science few people think they can neglect the “tradition” and rely on improvisation. In politics, alas, too many.

A summary of the political and ideological traditions on which we base ourselves.

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Platform: Nuclear Politics

While George Bush hypocritically rails against nuclear proliferation in Iran, the US and Europe are colluding in extending nuclear energy in the countries affected by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. This survey — we have edited it slightly for reasons of space — was published recently on the Schnews website.

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Putin’s victims

By Dale Street

Aslan Maskhadov, a long-standing Chechen separatist leader and one-time president of Chechnya, was killed by Russian forces on 8 March in the south-Chechen settlement of Tolstoy-Yurt.

Maskhadov was born in Kazakhstan in 1951. His family had been victims of the mass deportation of the Chechen people carried out by Stalin at the close of the Second World War. Maskhadov’s family survived and was allowed to return to Chechnya in 1957.

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Hunger strikes over wage arrears

A wave of hunger strikes by workers protesting over wage arrears has swept across the Urals in Russia.

In Tavda, 38 workers at a bankrupt methanol plant are on hunger strike. They were dismissed last autumn but received no severance pay after the factory closed and were not paid their last two months’ wages.

Nearby, in Novouralsk, 34 employees of a car factory have been on hunger strike since 18 February. Last year there were dozens of hunger strikes over wage arrears in Russia, mostly by workers of bankrupt private companies.

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Pathology in the name of liberation

By Chris Reynolds

At least 338 people have died since gunmen claiming to champion Chechen national rights seized a school in North Ossetia (a territory neighbouring Chechnya) on 1 September and took pupils, teachers and some parents hostage.

Nearly 400 people are still missing according to teachers at the school. Many of the dead and missing are children.

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Putin uses Beslan to increase his power

By Dale Street

The series of “reforms” announced by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in the aftermath of the Beslan school massacre have nothing to do with fighting terrorism. They are another stage in the evolution of Putin’s authoritarian and semi-dictatorial regime.

The Washington Post summed up the ‘reforms’ as: “An unambiguous step towards tyranny in Russia. There is no complexity or fuzziness about the significance of Putin’s actions.

Putin is imposing dictatorship the old-fashioned way. …Russia needs to fight terrorism.

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A spiral of regression

Nearly 370 people have died since gunmen claiming to champion Chechen national rights seized a school in North Ossetia (a territory neighbouring Chechnya) on Wednesday 1 September and took the children hostage.

Nearly 200 people are still officially missing. Many of the dead and missing are children.

Nothing the hostage-takers might say about Chechen rights can blur the horror of what they did. Discussing the need for harsh measures in revolutionary and class struggles, Leon Trotsky wrote:

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A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya

by Anna Politkovskaya

This is not a weighty political analysis of the conflict in Chechnya, but a collection of newspaper articles by Politkovskaya in which the focus is on the "inhumane empirical detail".

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Support Eastern European workers!

In 1989 Mikhail Gorbachev was forced by the political and economic condition of the dying 'Soviet Union' to withdraw Russian troops from the Warsaw Pact countries. These Stalinist satellite states rapidly collapsed, the regimes overthrown by their own people. The collapse of the 'independent' Stalinist states of Yugoslavia and Albania, and the USSR followed. It was a demonstration of the power of workers and ordinary people to change history.

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The changing face of Russian trade unionism: The demise of Stalinism?

A conversation between Bob Arnot and Kirill Buketov in Moscow, July/August 1997. Kirill Buketov is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the trade union newspaper Solidarnost and the producer of a trade union radio programme on Russian radio. Bob Arnot is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Critique.

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