The Guardian November 14, 2001


Russian communists call for mass actions

A meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian 
Federation (CPRF) on September 28, raised ideas for organising mass protest 
actions against the present government.

Ivan Melnikov, deputy chairman of the CC of the CPRF said that the present 
regime has created a lot of contradictions. Many people still believe that 
promised wage increases will eventuate. The authorities have provided the 
majority of the population with their meagre wages unlike some time ago 
when many remained unpaid for months.

At the same time, the authorities are pushing through anti-people reforms 
which will make it absolutely impossible for the majority of the population 
to make a decent living. Once again, government spin-doctors are assuring 
people that things will be better after the reforms.

Considering the reforms and the impact they would have on the country and 
its people, the CPRF came to the conclusion that the present government is 
acting in a more cynical way than even the much-hated Yeltsin regime. In 
this situation the Communist Party regards the mobilisation of a mass 
protest movement to be the most important task in its organisational and 
political work.

December 2001 marks 10 years since the break-up of the USSR  "one of the 
most tragic events of our history", said Ivan Melnikov. "[The] restoration 
of capitalism has lead to the theft of public property, mass unemployment, 
inequality, ethnic conflicts and the legalisation of organised crime.

"By the end of the '90s national income had dropped by more than 50 per 
cent, investments by 80 per cent and real incomes were less than half their 
former levels. The numbers of orphans and homeless people exceeded the 
numbers during World War 11 and the immediate post-war periods.

"Eighty-five per cent of Russians are sorry about the disintegration of the 
USSR", said Ivan Melnikov. 

"Socialism meant that millions of working people escaped poverty, received 
an education and were able to acquire high-tech skills. They enjoyed social 
equality and created the second-largest world economy. Nobody will be able 
to erase these achievements from the historic memory of the people and this 
guarantees the resurrection of socialist ideas."

Mr Melnikov pointed out that the last ten years had also shown that the 
struggle to restore socialism in the country would be more difficult than 
it was envisaged 7-8 years ago.

There was an illusion that it was possible to change the situation in 
Russia through parliamentary means and many people had been taken in by 
discussions about creating a "civilised, rule-of-law state".

In the 1995 elections the left forces were successful and these illusions 
were somewhat strengthened. However, events in 1996-2001 demonstrated that 
the already formed clan of oligarchs closely bound to those in power would 
never voluntarily give up their positions.

The last two years have seen an avalanche of anti-people legislation on 
land, labour, pensions, education and other measures aimed at promoting 
private ownership, a user-pays system and the further undermining of 
people's basic rights.

It is clear that to fight against those attacks on working people by 
parliamentary means only is impossible. Parliamentary struggle should 
continue but the development of the protest movement is an urgent necessity 
and must be regarded as the main form of struggle in the present 
circumstances.

Mr Melnilov said that Russian communists are optimistic about the future 
and their optimism is based on the fact that Russia was and continues to be 
the country where ideals of social justice have always been supported by 
people. Up to 60 per cent of voters are prepared to vote for those who 
fight against "unfair authorities".

He said that the CPRF was the only force that could realistically challenge 
the authorities and unite the majority of people for their just struggle. 
There was still a lot to be done to convince people that the CPRF is the 
party which is honest, intelligent, responsible and strong. The CPRF 
Program states that the CPRF "should lead the growing people's resistance 
to the forced capitalisation of the country".

"This task has not been accomplished for a number of reasons. Non-
parliamentary struggle has not been as well developed as the parliamentary 
form. We must overcome our own organisational and theoretical deficiencies 
which hinder the effective combination of both parliamentary and non-
parliamentary means of struggle.

"It is time to analyse why the masses are not active enough and work 
towards finding solutions.

"We must", said Mr Melnikov, "know the people who are potential 
participants in the protest movement. The main problem here is two-fold: to 
understand why people who are obviously not happy with the state of affairs 
remain politically passive and what is to be done to overcome this 
passivity and to convince people that only strong collective resistance can 
change things for the better."

Mr Melnikov said that the authorities were using the powerful mass media to 
persuade people that any forms of mass struggle and resistance would 
backfire and that they would be the ones to suffer in the end. The idea of 
looking after No 1 instead of worrying about the common good was being 
relentlessly inculcated through all media.

Paradoxically, living conditions under socialism where people were not 
faced with the necessity of protest actions and where the authorities and 
the people were on the same side have made it very difficult for people to 
realise that the authorities are actually working against the people.

Another reason for the absence so far of a mass protest movement is the 
fact that the majority of working collectives do not exist anymore. A great 
part of the active population and the youth are engaged in commercial, 
small business type enterprises in order to survive and have been, thereby, 
removed from political struggle.

The CPRF has called on all its members and supporters to pay more attention 
to both economic and political struggles and has set out a number of 
concrete measures for better feed-back between branches and central bodies.

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