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Communist Party Wins Mayoral Election in Russia's 3rd Largest City
by Steven Argue
Monday Apr 7th, 2014 9:06 AM
[Photo: Russian Communist Party rally supporting the right of the Crimean people to join Russia.]

Communist Party Wins Mayoral Election in Russia's 3rd Largest City

By Steven Argue

In a surprise victory, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) has defeated the pro-Putin United Russia party in the Siberian city of Novosibirs. Winning the election was Anatoly Lokot with 43.75 per cent of the vote. Anatoly Lokot defeated acting mayor and supporter of Putin's ruling central government, Vladimir Znatkov, who garnered 39.57 per cent of the vote.

A major campaign promise of Anatoly Lokot is to expand public transportation in Novosibirs. Such moves should be supported and advocated everywhere as a means of curbing global warming and expanding needed services that particularly help the working class.

The Russian Communist Party also supported Crimea's right to self-determination as the United States and EU carried out a coup against Ukraine's central government. This was also the correct position. That coup government is filled with neo-Nazis in top posts and full of hatred towards all of the national minorities of Ukraine, including Russians. The Crimean people, in their vast majority, rightly saw that coup government as a deadly threat to Crimea's Russian and Tatar minorities.

The Ukrainian coup government is also a tool of the IMF. In fact, it has now agreed to IMF demands of austerity that include a 50% increase in the price of heating fuel. That cost increase will cause poor Ukrainians to freeze to death. It was the opposition by Ukraine's elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, to this kind of austerity that caused the United States to intervene to overthrow him. The current IMF austerity imposed on Ukraine adds to other injuries of capitalism that include massive unemployment (where there was none) and big cuts in pay.

In addition, the fascists mobilized by the western imperialists to carry out the coup in Ukraine have carried out massive attacks against free speech and democracy, using brute force against the media and opposition political parties, including the Ukrainian Communist Party. The imperialists surely hope that these fascist mobilizations will help them to impose the unacceptable conditions of austerity, privatization, and other neo-liberal restructuring demanded by the western imperialists.

The Russian Communist Party was correct in supporting Crimea's right to national self-determination which was to join Russia after the coup in Kiev. Trotskyists like myself also support this right. There are, however, a number of fake Trotskyist groups that have supported U.S. and European imperialism in Crimea. Among these are Peter Taafe's Committee for a Workers International (CWI) who claimed, “what is happening now will not lead to genuine self-determination; it will only mean that Crimea becomes a Russia protectorate.” Actually, true self-determination is the right to decide, and the vote was 96.5% of the people voting for Crimea to rejoin Russia. In fact, 82% of the population participated. Those who participated were 60% Russian, 25% Ukrainian, and 12% Tatars. The reason why 40% of the Tatars participated was because the Crimean parliament extended a number of rights to Taters and the fascists of the Kiev government want to take those rights away. The CWI, which includes Socialist Alternative in the United States, opposed this right of the Crimean people to vote on their future.

Actual Trotskyists like the Revolutionary Tendency and a few others are in direct opposition to the pro-imperialist stands taken by groups like the CWI.

As Boris Yeltsin carried out the capitalist counterrevolution in the 1990s, he banned the Communist Party in 1991. Under that capitalist counterrevolution, the socialist planned economy was destroyed and the standard of living in Russia dropped by every measurable standard. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) was established in 1993 and is now the second largest party in Russia. Their broad support comes in part from being seen as the continuation of the former ruling Communist Party. Their program includes immediate goals of the nationalization of natural resources, agriculture, and large industries. This, however, is not the program of Lenin. Instead of calling for a sweeping revolution to bring back the socialist planned economy, they instead call for a mixed economy.

As opposed to the program of the KPRF, Leninist-Trotskyists call for the total overthrow of capitalism in Russia on the program of permanent revolution. It was this program that changed the USSR from being one of the poorest countries in the world to becoming an industrial power house, capable of defeating two major imperialist invasions, including Nazi Germany, and rebuilding to guarantee everyone a job, education, and health care. As capitalism has brought back all of these problems solved under socialism, what is needed is bringing back the socialist planned economy established by Lenin and Trotsky, not the half-way measures of the mixed economy advocated by the KPRF.

An additional key concern of Leninist-Trotskyists is the lack of authentic workers democracy under the Stalinist systems. True workers democracy is an essential component of maintaining the health of any socialist system. The KPRF instead comes from a tradition that has opposed many of the most elementary elements of workers democracy.

In addition, the October 1917 Russian Revolution, led by Lenin and Trotsky, was truly revolutionary on many other levels, including the fact that it ended state persecution of gays and lesbians. After Lenin's death, Stalin, however, once again made homosexuality illegal. The KPRF continues to have this Stalinist homophobic position and both backs the homophobia of the Putin regime and has physically attacked protesters for gay rights. Leninist-Trotskyists instead call for building a revolutionary communist party that acts as a tribune of the people, standing up for all of the most oppressed in society, including homosexuals.

While the election of Anatoly Lokot may represent a step forward over the ruling capitalist Russian Unity Party, what is truly needed in Russia is the rebuilding of a Leninist-Trotskyist party with the goal of leading a new October Revolution.

-Steven Argue of the Revolutionary Tendency

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