Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 21 July 2000

Building a left-wing opposition in Russia

BORN IN 1970, a history teacher by profession, Oleg has participated in the workers' movement in Russia Shein throughout the 1990s with an internationalist perspective. A member of the Astrakhan regional council, Oleg was elected as an independent workers' deputy (MP) to the Duma (Russian parliament) in 1999. On a recent tour of Europe organised by International Solidarity with Workers in Russia, he spoke to The Socialist.
Tell us about your work and what you hope to get from this visit.

IN 1995 the independent Left trade union in Russia called 'Defence' a Workers Trade Union was established and in 1999 we began to build a Movement for a Workers' Party which is an attempt to unite various Marxist groups in Russia under a common platform through workers' struggle.

We believe we cannot win in Russia unless we establish very good contacts with workers in other countries who too are suffering under the same capitalist conditions.

What has capitalist restoration meant for the lives of working class people in the former Soviet Union?

THERE HAS been a catastrophic decrease in living standards and the destruction of access to good education and health care. Significant sections of industry have been destroyed and there's mass unemployment which has added to the 'de-proletarianisation' of the population.

This will result in the drastic reduction in the budget of the Russian state and the lowering of social services. Last spring 26 social programmes had to be cut.

Also, the government is trying to raise the retirement age. At present, women in Russia retire at 55 men at 60, the government wants to raise the retirement age for both sexes to 65. In Kazakhstan this is already the situation.

They also want to impose a system of payment for local telephone calls (at the moment local telephone calls are free).

The government is imposing taxes on soldiers and on other categories of workers who up to now have been exempt tax. This is a naked programme of ruling class self-interest. You can see this in the imposition of a flat tax where both workers and bankers pay 13% despite the huge disparities in incomes.

Putin is centralising state power. How has this increased authoritarianism affected workers rights?

RIGHT NOW we are starting to see the end of the 'bourgeois-democratic' period of the growth of capitalism in Russia.

The coming to power of Vladimir Putin and the beginning of an authoritarian state is a defining moment in this transition period.

Since 1994 there have been attempts by the bourgeoisie to impose a new labour code, to break the rights of workers under the existing law. The new code will make it easier to sack workers and liquidates all the rights of trade unions to organise.

Matters came to a head during the government of Sergei Kiriyenko [1998] who was a servant of international finance capital. The IMF and World Bank demanded that Kiriyenko change the labour laws.

The new code establishes a 12-hour working day - a four hour increase! It eliminates maternity leave. It establishes individual employment and allows for the collection political information about workers.

Workers have become used to striking and fighting back against their employers (winning about 95% of strikes and about 60% of actions brought before the courts) so now the bourgeoisie want to change the legal structure under which labour is regulated.

Trade union protests delayed the new labour law which will be reintroduced into Parliament in December. We are doing all kinds of protest actions then and we are counting on the support of workers in the West.

What are the prospects for advancing the struggles of the working class? In particular the development of a new workers party.

RIGHT NOW there is no working-class political party in Russia that defends workers interests. All the bourgeois parties (and I include the KPRF - the Communist Party of the Russian Federation) are discredited.

The active working-class movements in Russia today are generally of a socialist character. The union [Defence] includes socialist trade unions, left-wing trade unions but also other independent trade unions.

While there is every possibility of forming a workers party in Russia, we also have barriers.

One problem is the collapse of the bourgeois-democratic state that had allowed us some political leeway. Another problem is the relative weakness at an organisational level of our movements as well as problems of lack of resources.

Since 1990 [collapse of the former Soviet Union] there has formed in Russia a class of people who want to live free. These people have gone through many experiences - strikes, blockades, pickets, railway blockades.

Our group has set itself the task of uniting these people and giving them the tools to fight for and liberate themselves from capitalism and to found a society based on equality.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 21 July 2000:

Brown's Spending Mirage

Peugeot workers ballot: Strike Action Now!

M25 Three Free at Last

Building a left-wing opposition in Russia

Workers' movement adopts CWI programme


Home   |   The Socialist 21 July 2000   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleThe striking relevance of Leon Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution

triangleMueller report underlines Democrats' weakness

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Russia - The rise of Stalinism

triangleSupport for Putin's regime dips over major attacks on state pensions

triangleThem & us


triangleEast London Socialist Party: The state - a warning to Corbynism

triangleCatalonia independence movement two years on

triangleBristol South Socialist Party: Is the state neutral in society?

triangleSouthampton Socialist Party & Socialist Students: State and Revolution

Trade unions:

triangleCorbyn promises 'power in the hands of workers' - how can Labour do it?

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Labour and the trade unions - a complicated relationship

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: The role of trade unions in the fight against racism in Britain


trianglePCS union - A reply on political strategy

triangleTony Mulhearn 1939-2019: Courageous fighter for the working class and socialism





Mass united action against the war on Syrian Kurds



Uprising in Ecuador forces government climbdown



Catalonia: Mass protests against punitive political jailings



Trump gives green light to Turkey to attack Kurds



Trump, impeachment and the need for an independent workers' party



Chinese revolution of 1944-49: 'The second greatest event in human history'



Egypt: Street protests challenge Trump's favourite dictator



Catalonia independence movement two years on


Saudi Arabia

Drone attacks on Saudi Arabia: Tensions ratcheted up


South Africa

Violence against women in South Africa



West Papuans demand self-determination in London


South Africa

South Africa: Xenophobic violence - a product of failed capitalist policies


Far right

Far right makes gains in Germany


Hong Kong

Hong Kong protests: No let-up in trial of strength



Italy: Governing coalition fractures as Salvini looks to capitalise on crisis

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019