The former Soviet Union
Stan Crooke looks at the background to the recent slaughter of up to 500 people by the Uzbek government during demonstrations in the eastern city of Andijan.
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.
The former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan is standing against Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in Blackburn. He was sacked after making complaints about the UK goverment using information obtained under torture by the Uzbekistan government. Stan Crooke reviews a new book by Shahram Akbarzadeh, Uzbekistan and the United States - Authoritarianism, Islamism and Washington's Security Agenda (Zed books). It won't he says, answer all your questions about this former Soviet republic.
A fair election result was finally secured in the Ukraine over the Christmas period — although only after mass protests had secured a re-run.
There will be no such happy outcome in Uzbekistan where all five parties taking part in the 25 December parliamentary election supported the incumbent President, Islam Karimov. Additionally, two-thirds of potential candidates were not allowed to stand.
At the time of writing, the wave of protests which swept through Ukraine’s cities after the presidential elections on 20 November may be beginning to have an affect.
By Stan Crooke
Three weeks of popular protest in the Caucasian republic of Georgia culminated in the resignation of its president, Eduard Shevardnadze, on 23 November.
Shevardnadze was a Communist Party bureaucrat turned "democrat". He had joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1948 and rose steadily through its ranks. By 1972 he had become head of the CPSU in Georgia.
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.
It seems that the AWL has been a (relatively minor) victim of a scam being operated in the Ukraine by members of the Taaffe group's (CWI) section.
A few weeks ago we got an email posting from some people (with whom we have had some Internet contact) in Moscow. We have consulted with other British groups mentioned there.
It seems that the SPGB gave some substantial money to what they thought was a Ukrainian sympathising group. They funded trips etc; sent people out there, bought a computer.
1953 was the year Stalin died, and a year of revolt in several Soviet bloc countries, in the first place, East Germany. This article by Jean-Michel Krivine, at the time a member of the French Communist Party, is from Rouge (2 January 2003), the paper of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire in France. In it he describes some of the momentous events that followed the - very partial - Soviet thaw after Stalin's death.
Chris Reynolds reviews Martin Amis's new book, Koba the Dread.
In the Stalinist labour camp of Vorkuta, in the freezing north of the USSR, there were in the late 1930s several thousand Trotskyists - partisans of the Russian Revolution of 1917 who opposed Stalin's rule in the name of socialism.
Most of them had already been in exile or in jail for ten years, since 1927. But they were not broken. In 1936-7 they led a hunger strike in the camp which won an eight-hour work day, better food and other concessions.
The mass hostage-taking in Moscow was the latest incident in an unequal and increasingly brutal war between the Russian state and the breakaway Chechen Republic in the south of the country.
Chechnya declared its independence in 1991. The following year it adopted a constitution defining it as an independent secular state.
Concerned that other regions might follow Chechnya's lead, and also anxious to divert attention away from ongoing domestic economic problems, the then Russian President, Boris Yeltsin ordered Russian troops into Chechnya in 1994.
One hundred thousand people, many of them civilians, died in the subsequent 20 months of war.
by Dale Street
Russia out of Chechnya! No war on Iraq!
By Gerry Bates
A monstrous act of scarcely believable terrorism against innocent civilians was committed last week. At least 119 people were killed. The victims were Russian citizens. The terrorists were the Russian government and the Russian military.
Stalinism and capitalism in the 20th century, according to Susan Buck-Morrs, were driven by parallel “dreamworlds”. “Stalin’s First and Second Five Year Plans amounted to the largest technological transfer in Western capitalist history... [Most] design and layout [of new factories]... was American, probably one-half of the equipment installed was German. Of this, a large amount was manufactured in Germany to American design on Soviet account. In quantity, American-built equipment was probably second and British third...”
Marx noted in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte that the bourgeois crisis of mid-nineteenth-century France was resolved in the cry: “Rather an end with terror than terror without end.” Stalinism was an end with terror, as a new book of light commentary and heavy reproduction of documents confirms.