Russia: Moscow left holds May Day Moscow demonstration

Lively and political CWI contingent attracts variety of activists

The last years have seen May Day parades in Russia were taken over by the authoritarian regime, which uses them in an attempt to demonstrate they have popular support. This year was no different. Tens of thousands of workers were paid and cajoled to turn out in Moscow to wave balloons and flags in a march behind former and current Presidents Medvedev and Putin. In scenes reminiscent of the former Soviet Union, marchers were shown dancing and singing in the city’s central streets. As soon as the two leaders left and the TV cameras turned away the participants piled their flags on the ground, disgusted that they had been forced to participate in such a way.

In Moscow, at least until recently, the ‘alternative’ was to participate in the demonstration organized by the Communist Party. These have become increasingly irrelevant to the masses and are frequently attended by large contingents of the far right and even fascists. The march was even smaller than previous years and was dominated by elderly marchers carrying portraits of Stalin in anticipation of the speech of their leader, Zyuganov, spouting his usual combination of Great Russian patriotism and Soviet revanchism, tempered with calls to restore the might of the once feared super-power.

“Let big business pay for the crisis”!

It was a great step forward this year that the left was able to organize a joint demonstration in Moscow attended by about 2,000 people. The largest contingent consisted of anarchists (about a third of the march) but there were also 200-300 hundred "left" communists and members of the "left front".

These contingents were marked by the sterility of their chanting, which were matched in insipidity by the former Trotskyists from the ‘Russian Socialist Movement’ with their placards declaring saying the "Revolution is tender", "Socialism is love" and with a big banner stating "We don’t talk about the weather"!

Against this background, the CWI contingent, a couple of hundred strong, which attracted women’s rights and LGBT campaigners, environmentalist activists and even a group of anarchists, was marked by the lively and political nature of its chanting: “Let big business pay for the crisis, no to budget cuts, finance the budget by nationalizing the banks”; “While the Nazis divide us, the bosses and bureaucrats rob us. Struggle together against fascism and capitalism – for a workers’ party”; “Power to the millions and not the millionaires – remove all restrictions on social and workers’ movements to participate in the election”; “Women make revolution, not borsch”; “No to xenophobia, homophobia and sexism, for workers’ solidarity” and “Capital has many parties, the workers need their own!”

Lena Voronina and Ainur Kurmanov, who both spoke on behalf of the CWI at the left rally, were the only two speakers who tried to map out a programme for action to fight the cuts and Russia’s authoritarian regime.

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