Russia: May day 2007 – Putin’s allies dominate official May Day rallies

But socialist opposition makes impact

Pictures are of Socialist Resistance (cwi) in Moscow with their new flags.

Putin’s allies dominate official May Day rallies

In Moscow, alone, there were 15 May Day demonstrations, organized by different parties and trade unions. Across Russia, up to 2 million people participated. But there was barely a word about international workers’ solidarity anywhere.

the Socialist Resistance banner

The official state trade unions in Moscow held a joint demonstration with Putin’s party. Up to 10,000 participated, but the demo was so stage-managed that one of our CWI comrades, who works as a correspondent on the trade union paper, was not allowed to take part by the police because he "Wasn’t on the guest list". Moscow Mayor Luzhkov, apart from his usual demagogy, promising young families with three children free mortgages, upped his nationalist rhetoric with calls for a trade boycott against Estonia. (This week, Estonian authorities demounted a statue to WW2 Soviet troops, who the Russian state consider liberators of Europe from fascism but many Estonians regard as occupation troops). On this demonstration, political agitation for any party other than Putin’s was not tolerated.

The ‘Communist’ organized demo was little better. This annual event declines in numbers, year by year, as the aged party membership passes away. Communist speakers demanded tough action against "fascist Estonia". Sadly, amongst the ten or so thousand demonstrators, at least one quarter openly sympathise with, if not actively support, Russia’s myriad fascist and nationalist chauvinist organizations. Fascist papers were openly sold on the communist demonstration. The so-called ‘National Bolsheviks’, who recently were banned by Putin’s government, also appeared on May Day. They no longer wear swastika-style armbands, with the hammer and sickle in place of the Nazi symbol, but, instead, this year the National Bolsheviks marched under a banner proclaiming "another party" and carried flags representing the 18th century Russian empire. The only thing that can be said about the CP demo is that political agitation was not banned. A lively Socialist Resistance – Left Anti-Fascist contingent was about the only section of the march that chanted anti-capitalist slogans.

CWI in Vladivostok

The other large "march", in Moscow, was organized by the Kremlin’s second party – its so called, "left leg", which is led by the Speaker of the upper house of the parliament. Just as the ‘trade union’ march was made up of contingents delegated by employers, the ‘Justice Russia’ march consisted of people paid to attend. The event finished with dancing, music and other free entertainment, as did the others. Speakers at the Justice Russia parade also concentrated on the situation in Estonia, despite previous promises to highlight "social justice".

and again the banner with the new flags

The independent trade unions, in Moscow, organized a meeting at the ‘1905’ metro station. This was attended by about 100 people. Unfortunately, the right wing trade union leaders, with the support of ex-Trotskyists now linked to the USFI, restricted the participation of political parties and warned participants that people distributing leaflets were provocateurs and extremists! This did not prevent Socialist Resistance (CWI) members handing out their leaflets and selling papers.

In other Russian cities often all the demonstrations were merged into one. This was a strange sight. The CP, which complains about the strengthening of Putin’s authoritarian rule, marching side by side with Putin’s party! 

Nevertheless, where possible, Socialist Resistance made as big an impact, as possible. For the first time, in Vladivostok, which is in Russia’ Far East and ten hours flight from Moscow, a CWI poster was displayed on walls and street posts before the march.

In Moscow, the CWI’s impact was dramatically improved by the recent acquisition of our new flags. We sold over 100 papers, in Moscow alone.

approaching the Kremlin

The only workers on the CP demo were waiting to clean the streets after – comrade Denis hands them out leaflets

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May 2007