Over the past two weeks, mass protest actions have erupted in Russia calling for an end to the Putin dictatorial regime. Hundreds of thousands of people have courageously protested in the streets of Moscow and other cities despite violent suppression by state police and despite freezing temperatures in some cities. The tyrant Putin has unleashed his police thugs arresting and detaining several thousand people.
The mass protests were sparked by the regime’s arrest and imprisonment of its critic and bourgeois liberal oppositionist Alexei Navalny. Navalny just arrived home last January 17 from Germany where he spent a few months to undergo treatment for poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent which he has blamed on Putin and the FSB (the Russian Federal Security Service).
Navalny styles himself as an anti-corruption crusader. He enjoys the support of some big oligarchs in Russia, as well as the open endorsement of the US government. He identifies himself as a liberal and has devoted himself to exposing the “crooks and thieves” of the Putin regime. His advocacies, however, do not extend to supporting the urgent demands of the Russian toiling masses and working people for higher wages better working conditions or for their aspiration to end capitalist exploitation. He is, in fact, an advocate of neoliberal ideas calling for reduced taxes for big business and state deregulation. He has also promoted Russian nationalism and anti-immigrant views.
The hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are roused by the call for the release of Navalny because they are fed up with the Putin regime and demand an end to its more than 20-year reign. They are outraged by the thievery, corruption and high-living of Putin and Russian bureaucrats, in connivance with some big oligarchs and criminal syndicates. They are angered by the plans of Putin to seek another term and extend his reign.
The anti-Putin Russian bourgeoisie wants the Russian people to rally around Navalny. The demonstrators, however, are being galvanized beyond the issues raised by Navalny. There is deep going unrest among the Russian working class and people brought about by deep social inequalities, rising prices, low wages, unemployment and homelessness, police surveillance, repression and abuses. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the Putin government’s neglect of the welfare of the masses, with Russia ranking fourth among the countries with the highest cases of Covid-19 due to the government’s failures.
In behalf of the Filipino people, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) extends its solidarity and support to the Russian workers and people in their struggle to end the Putin dictatorship. The Filipino people are inspired by the determination and courage of the Russian masses in confronting the brutal onslaught of the Putin regime.
The current situation in Russia challenges the revolutionary proletarian forces to provide political leadership to the working class and people. While marching in step with the broad masses in the struggle against the Putin regime’s corruption and dictatorship, they are challenged to put a spotlight on the gross social conditions of the toiling people and energize the workers’ struggles for such urgent demands as jobs, wage increases and better working conditions.
The communists must raise the political consciousness and ideology of the working class for them to grasp the fact that their conditions are bound to further deteriorate whether Putin perpetuates his dictatorship or is replaced by another representative of the bourgeoisie. The communist forces must build their own political strength and raise their capability in mobilizing the Russian workers to march back along the path of socialist revolution.
Since the restoration of capitalism in Russia since the late 1950s, the Russian workers and toiling people have suffered worsening conditions of oppression and exploitation. This is in deep contrast to the conditions under socialism where they enjoyed full employment, free education, free public health service, freedom from hunger, guaranteed housing and so on. Thus, even as they fight for their urgent demands and reforms within the capitalist system, the victories and achievements in their socialist history continue to inspire them to raise the red banner of revolution.
[This is an amended version of the original statement issued on January 24, 2020 to more clearly define the nature of the Russian oppositionist Navalny and to present the challenges to the communist forces in Russia.]