Comrades, a congress is always a milestone event in the life of the Party. It is a review of troops and of the results of the work accomplished. It sets the tasks for the near term and for the longer perspective. It provides new benchmarks of theoretical, political and organizational activities. It is a powerful impetus for more active work of the whole Party and every individual member. It is a challenge to the political opponents, an address to friends and allies, to the country and the world with our vision of the problems and the ways to solve them.
Today this vision is becoming ever more relevant. Life dictates a transition to the socialist forms of the structure and development of society. It vividly demonstrates the crisis of modern imperialism, its ideology of globalism and the unipolar world. The wind of history is again filling our sails. It strengthens our optimism, our faith in the triumph of socialist ideals and the rule of the people, in the growing strength and authority of our movement in Russia and the world. Our faith in the cohesion and militant solidarity of all the left-wing forces.
Permit me to welcome from this rostrum all the brothers-in-arms and like-thinking people who have come to take part in the work of our Congress from more than 80 countries. Our special greetings to the representatives of the Communist Party of the Great China which is moving into the leading positions in the modern world and demonstrates the superiority of socialism over senescent capitalism. We watch with admiration the successes of Byelorussia, Cuba, Vietnam and India, our friends and allies in Asia, Latin America and Africa, the steady growth of left-wing forces in Europe.
And of course I would like to express profound respect, gratitude and sympathy for the Communists of our near abroad. We are linked by unbreakable bonds of brotherhood, a sense of belonging to one family which took shape over the centuries of joint history, the struggle to build socialism in the USSR, for early revival of our common Homeland.
Dear comrades, thank you for being ever ready to offer the Russian Communist Party a supporting shoulder. You can rest assured that we remaian committed to waging an uncompromising fight against any attempts to divide our peoples and deepen the consequences of the criminal collusion at Byelovezhskaya Pushcha. The future of our countries does not lie in running away from each other, but in mutual assistance, rapprochement and support. This has been and will be the firm stand of the Russian Communist Party.
We and the World
Our Congress is taking place at a time of profound aggravation of the systemic crisis of the imperialist world. We see its mainstays shaking ever more violently. The heads of monopoly associations together with their political and bureaucratic servants can no longer cope with the processes of collapse and disintegration. They are feverishly forming themselves into packs under the slogan: “Oligarchs and exploiters of the world, unite to save capitalism”. It is significant that the epicenter of the crisis is the Wall Street, the citadel of the world capitalist system, its heart and brain. They have been paralyzed not by noble revolutionaries or assorted terrorists, but by the forces that the American ruling class has fostered itself, only to precipitate its own demise. Fate is knocking on the door of the “yellow devil” as Maxim Gorky described American imperialism. This is the sign of the times.
Twenty years ago when, as a result of the treacherous Gorbachev-Yeltsin policy and the intrigues of their Western accomplices, the Soviet Union was destroyed, it was announced to the whole world that an end had come for all the forms of social justice, that everything would develop according to the model of the free market and the world dominance of the US. Many will remember how socialism and everything connected with it were trampled underfoot and reviled. Only strong and courageous people, those who were convinced adherents of our righteous cause, withstood the attack. The fellow travelers, career-seekers and time-servers scattered like cowards and became the servants of the new masters.
But truth has always been on our side. After swinging to the right in the early 1990s the pendulum of history is moving left with growing speed. It has set its course on people’s rule and socialism. It is becoming increasingly apparent that socialism is not a whim of ideologists, but a natural and inevitable stage of human progress. The collapse of the speculative financial market with its unpredictable consequences for the US and globally marks a turning point. There will be no return to the past. The model of society which has been assiduously imposed on the whole world is sinking in the waves of the crisis.
The octopus of world capitalism is sinking.
Its apologists had promised to make base instincts, greed and lust for gain, aggressive egoism, the cult of consumption and violence the engine of human prosperity. And now they are suffering a crushing fiasco. The much-touted “beacon” of the capitalist world, the USA, ceased to be attractive. Now even the main servants of capital in Russia are saying: the US can no longer act in its former capacity. The liberal market philosophy has failed dismally. It is failing in Russia too.
The crises of the world capitalist system in the past century gave rise to fascism and two world wars. Humanity must draw far-reaching conclusions from this.
It would seem to provide the ruling group in Russia with a unique opportunity to adjust its dead-end policy, especially since it claims to be patriotic. Yet nothing has been done towards that end.
A patriotic government would never have frittered away the reserve resources. Instead of throwing trillions of roubles into the market melting pots to rescue the financial predators and speculators it would have invested them in the development of the real economy, in making the country self-sufficient for food, in saving agriculture. As it is, the reverse is happening.
Instead of relying on the Soviet science foundation and the best education system built during the 20th century they are starving science of cash, pushing the schools on the path to degradation and supplant our unique culture and spiritual values with surrogates.
Instead of enlisting broad popular support the country is saddled with a “sovereign democracy”. That means the dictate of the new masters who have unlawfully lined their pockets, trampled underfoot all human rights and cover up their outrageous actions by the lame and false “Basmanny Court justice”.
Instead of protecting the country’s heritage, strengthening the army with modern means and the legacy of the great traditions the nation’s defense shield is being dismantled, the personnel and control structure is being destroyed and the mentality of shop-keepers is inculcated in the Army. The Army is shrinking physically.
It is the task of the Communists to issue a denial of such policy as being a total and final failure thus putting an end to the prolonged period of turmoil, humiliation and plunder of Russia.
The world is waiting for Russia to stand up on its feet. The world wants to see its comeback as a great humanistic power. As an equal member of the family of nations. As a champion of peace, justice and progress. As a wise protector of the weak and the oppressed. It is our duty to do all we can to accelerate the movement in that direction working hand-in-hand with all the progressive forces on our planet.
The Party In-Between Congresses
With your permission I will pass on to the analysis of the state of our Party. Our Congress is taking place in the wake of two major election campaigns. We have repeatedly commented on its preparation and conduct. Let me just note that there are grounds for assessing the outcome of the elections, especially the presidential elections, in a positive life.
Everything becomes clear by comparison. We should recall the situation on the eve of our 10th Congress. At the time the group that ruled the country, taking advantage of its agents and the defection of some comrades, launched an attempt to “raid” and hijack the CPRF. The situation was very serious. Some members of the Central Committee and the heads of regional organizations came out against the Party’s line. They were confident of success and were already busy dividing the portfolios among them.
But they met with the most powerful resistance where they least expected it: from the Party grassroots which were quick to realize that the petty bourgeois opportunists were trying to lead them into a quagmire. We have seen fresh proof of that again when the new draft of the Party Programme was discussed. The broad Party ranks value the Leninist revolutionary principles, the socialist ideals and Communist convictions. The plans of political adventurers were overturned at local Party meetings and conferences. This confirms that the true base of the Party are its “primary cells”, the rank-and-file Communists. During the report period the leadership of many regional branches has changed significantly. They are now headed by battle-tested, staunch and often young people.
We were criticized at the time that the allegedly most experienced and competent cadre had been thrown out of the leadership. Where are these “capable people”, these heroes of the “water-borne congress”? Practically all of them have either vanished from the political arena or have become the servants of the ruling regime.
By throwing out “the turncoats” the Party has grown stronger organizationally and ideologically.
The CPRF remains the major and active left-wing patriotic party in the country. We have courageously withstood the attempts to ban us, intimidate us and destroy us from within. We stood our ground against attempts to put us in the dock, to bribe us, to absorb and discredit us. The CPRF is a true Party of and for the working people. Today it enjoys the growing support of the thinking, honest and patriotic forces in our society, of educated and highly qualified people. We must live up to the faith they put in us.
During the four years between the report congresses, the Party’s collective bodies have worked vigorously. Two extraordinary Party congresses, the 11th and 12th, were held to discuss the preparation for national elections, 15 plenary sessions of the Central Committee, more than 100 sessions of the CC Presidium and 156 sessions of the Secretariat took place. Dozens of issues pertaining to the Party’s strategy and tactics, its organizational and ideological work were considered. In order to gather and analyze collective experience 12 seminars/ conferences with the heads of regional branches were held. Zonal seminars with our activists was another widely used format. The Electoral Headquarters of the Central Committee headed by I.I. Melnikov demonstrated good teamwork during these four years. Elections to power bodies of various levels are now held twice a year, so our comrades are on constant “operational duty” looking for new approaches and developing modern methods of political struggle. The Party, in spite of all the efforts of the authorities to discredit it, successfully withstands the electoral pressures and is strengthening its positions.
An effective coordinator of mass activity is the All-Russia Protest Action Headquarters headed by V.I. Kashin. The headquarters has mounted a series of nationwide campaigns which have met with broad public resonance. I am referring to the campaign against the penetration of NATO into Russian territory. The tough fight against the egregious Law No. 122 “On Monetization of Benefits” and many other anti-people laws. The marches on the “Empire of Lies” at Ostankino. The protection of the Victory Red Banner. The rallies and demonstrations to mark the anniversaries of the government coup in October 1993. We must now resolutely move forward and create such a system of actions in every city and region.
An important element of our struggle has been the judicial process in which we charge the authorities of rigging the parliamentary election. The battle over the results of these elections continues. We have no illusions about the biased Russian courts. But these trials enable us to publicly expose the mechanisms of the massive machinations of the authorities, to demonstrate the base and wicked nature of many of its local stooges who brazenly cook the books and openly steal votes.
We have fought and will continue to fight at the Constitutional and the Supreme Courts. At the Constitutional Court, much to the surprise of the authorities, we have managed to uphold the right to an All-Russia Referendum. The Party has managed to defend its activists who had been illegally prosecuted by police: Krasnodar comrades A.I. Kiryushin and N.V. Priz, young champions of genuine democracy and some other comrades. We are currently defending I.I. Kazankov, the recognized Communist leader in Mari-El. I must say that the Legal Service of the CC CPRF, headed by V.G. Solovyov, has become a powerful instrument of our Party policy. His young deputy, Andrei Klychkov, is doing a good job.
We have not only criticized the authorities but we have engaged in active creative work. We came up with major alternatives to the policy of the regime. We launched the preparation for a nationwide campaign, the All-Russia Referendum. After it was illegally banned we have organized a People’s Referendum which evoked a broad public response.
Among our initiatives are 11 targeted programmes to ensure economic recovery and an election platform, “Twenty Steps to Ensure a Worthy Life for Everyone”. We have done much thinking and we have been able to offer society many ideas during our thorough work on the new CPRF Programme. Much credit must go to our intellectuals whose activities were coordinated by CC Secretaries D.G. Novikov and N.V. Arefyev.
The Central and local Party bodies have carried out a lot of time-consuming work to take stock of the Party’s property after it was pillaged by the “Semigin moles”. We have managed to pay back the debts the then pseudo-allies had saddled us with. We have been vigorously strengthening the material basis of the Party, including premises, transport and office equipment. A good deal of work has been done and I think that it has been very real for many of the delegates present here.
In the period between congresses the collection of dues and voluntary donations have significantly improved. One must give due to the efficient work both of local and central organizations as well as the Central Committee’s administrative office headed by A.A. Ponomaryov.
One must note that side by side with the CC CPRF the Central Auditing Commission led by its Chairman V.S. Nikitin was acting in a constructive and principled manner. We are grateful to the Central Auditing Commission for its joint work, for its exacting and active attitude. In the period after the 10th CPRF Congress the meetings of the Commission heard reports by all the leading Party members, which contributed to strict compliance with the Party’s Programme and Charter.
The Party in the Duma has acted aggressively on a broad front. Its work is constantly coordinated by S.N. Reshulsky. Of course the ruling party at the State Duma is trying to obstruct any initiatives put forward by the Communists. It sometimes comes to ridiculous lengths: first United Russia rejects an important and vital draft law proposed by us and then, after making slight changes to it, proposes the same document on its own behalf. Our parliamentary party at practically every meeting scrutinizes the draft laws proposed by the “ruling party”, makes proposals regarding parliamentary queries and protocol assignments, puts forward draft laws and resolutions of the State Duma. Among the most diligent and energetic Party deputies are Zhores Ivanovich Avlferov, Vasily Alexandrovich Starodubtsev, Pyotr Vasilyevich Romanov, Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya, Tamara Vasilyevna Pletneva, Nikolai Mikhailovich Kharitonov, Valentin Stepanovich Romanov, Victor Ivanovich Ilyukhin, Sergei Georgievich Levchenko, Yuli Alexandrovich Kvitsinsky, Vladimir Petrovich Komoyedov, Alevtina Victorovna Aparina, Nina Alexandrovna Ostanina, Nikolai Vasilyevich Kolomeitsev, Vladimir Nikolayevich Fedotkin, Anatoly Yevgenyevich Lokot, Oleg Nikolayevich Smolin and Sergei Ivanovich Shtorgin. The newly elected Duma deputies N.F. Ryabov, N.V. Razvorotnev, S.P. Obukhov, A.Yu.Russkikh and A.V. Kornienko are joining the work ever more actively. In the regions the young deputies Yu.V. Afonin, A.A. Andreyev and K.V. Shirshov are working vigorously. Our chief editors Valentin Vasilyevich Chikin and Valentin Sergeyevich Shurchanov have been working aggressively and very fruitfully. That enabled the Party to build up its information and propaganda muscle. In the report period the circulation of special issues of the newspapers Sovetskaya Rossiya and Pravda reached 10-15 million copies. That work was coordinated by the department of the CC CPRF under Secretary O.A. Kulikov.
The development of the Internet site of the CC CPRF as well as the Internet resources of some regional organizations was a major step forward. We are making more active use of modern means of agitation and propaganda aimed at young supporters of the Party. Setting the tone in the organization of Internet work are our young Communists Zhenya Kozin, Anya Klyuyeva, Yura Lyashuk and others. We have more and more organizations that are working in a creative and committed manner and achieving good results. These organizations often work in difficult conditions. For example, the Party organization of the Novosibirsk Region (headed by A.E. Lokot) is constantly looking for new, modern and more effective forms of work using state-of-the-art means of communication and information diffusion.
In the Bryansk Region where the Party organization is headed by S.N. Panasov, our comrades came in third in the parliamentary elections, and in the presidential election 27.3% voted for the CPRF candidate. This is the best result in the Party. In the Bryansk Region between 30 and 40% of voters at 100 polling stations voted for the CPRF candidate.
In the Tver Region where the First Secretary is L.F. Vorobyova, a charming and courageous woman, we won 31.5% of the votes in the elections to the City Duma. We increased our representation in the municipal councils by almost five times.
In the Omsk regional organization under its able leader of many years, A.A. Kravets, a modern base for tackling many Party tasks has been created. Work with the media is handled professionally. A system of alternative subscription for our newspapers has been put in place which provides activists with constant feedback from the population. In spite of stiff resistance from the authorities, protest actions are pursued aggressively.
In the Rostov Region the two Kolomeitsevs have been an effective tandem for more than ten years. They have to work against heavy odds, yet they manage to work in an interesting, vigorous and effective way.
The Tobolsk city Party organization in the Tyumen Region enjoys great authority under T.N. Kazantseva, a member of the CC CPRF.
The Communists of Sakhalin and Yakutia where the Party secretaries are S.V. Ivanova and V.N. Gubarev have been working in difficult political and climatic conditions in a militant and aggressive way.
It is impossible in the report to enumerate all the Party branches which are conducting vigorous and creative work, which have actively discussed the Party’s policy documents, making concrete proposals on how to improve its work. But I can safely say that an overwhelming majority of our Party organizations are like that.
However, there are organizations which, even in the current emergency situation, devote the lion’s share of their time not to championing the interests of the working people but to internal squabbles. Unfortunately, this is true even of some major Party organizations. But they do not set the trends in the Party. I am sure that we will put that department in order.
In What Situation We Work
To act effectively and confidently the Party must understand in what situation it exists and works. What are the historical perspectives of our movement? What are the key internal and external factors to be borne in mind?
First. The state-controlled media and the United Russia, together with their underlings in the Duma, keep saying that the regime is solid and has a brilliant future. They are drumming it into people’s heads that the Russian state has left the dire crisis behind it and that we are entering an era of resurgent Russian power under the leadership of Medvedev and Putin. There are many people in the country who want and are ready to believe it because they are tired of two decades of degradation, hopelessness and national humilitation. The people are longing for a return to justice, order and normal life and respond credulously to the Kremlin’s promises and handouts.
Second. Objectively, Russia’s position remains complicated, not to say dismal. The population is dying out. Thanks to the “heroic efforts” of the Yeltsinites the country has lost 5 out of the 22 million square kilometers of its historical territory. Russia has lost half of its production capacity and has yet to reach the 1990 level of output. Our country is facing three mortal dangers: de-industrialization, de-population and mental debilitation.
The ruling group has neither notable successes to boast of nor a clear plan of action. All its activities are geared to a single goal: to stay in power at all costs. Until recently it has been able to keep in power due to the “windfall” high world prices for energy. Its social support rests on the notorious “vertical power structure” which is another way of saying intimidation and blackmail of the broad social strata and the handouts that power chips off the oil and gas pie and throws out to the population in crumbs, especially on the eve of elections.
Third. The capitalist paradise our people were promised back in 1991 has remained a mirage. It is crumbling before our eyes. Instead of a paradise the people have to support 100 dollar billionaires and 200,000 millionaires. Meanwhile a severe financial and production crisis has set in. That accounts for the natural and tangible interest in past Soviet experience and the ideas of social justice. The present administration, under the pressure of public sentiments, increasingly has to adopt left-wing patriotic rhetoric.
All this prompts a very important conclusion: we are on the threshold of major social-political shifts and changes both in the world and in our country. This requires from us new approaches, new ideas and a new quality of work.
Our conclusions about the state of society and proposals on how to get Russia out of its deep crisis are spelled out in the new edition of the Party Programme on which we have all worked together and which we are about to adopt. A more detailed analysis of the text of the Programme will be provided by Comrade Melnikov. In the meantime, proceeding from the main policy goals, I would like to concentrate on the assessment of the Party, society and the State, and on key international problems.
The State of the Economy and the Social Sphere
Politics is known to be a concentrated expression of the economy. It will be recalled that the so-called democrats came to power on promises that the wrecking of the socialist-economic model and the introduction of the capitalist market model would quickly improve the life of the whole people. They declared that these mechanisms were far superior to the plan mechanisms, that the market would create a modern industry which would quickly absorb the latest scientific and technological achievements.
A sound economic policy usually begins to bring returns within 2-3 years. It is 18 years since the rabid “pro-marketeers” seized power. But under their rule Russia has been in an interminable crisis. The scale of devastation caused to the country is monstrous.
Industry has been smashed. The production of metal-cutting machine tools has dropped by 11 times since 1991. I stress, not by 11%, but by 11 times. The production of tractors has dropped by 14 times and of computer technology by 15 times. Industrial plant has on average outlived 50% of its lifespan. Industrial output is a mere 45% of the 1991 level. A similar production slump only occurred when the fascists had seized a third of the most developed European part of the country.
Not a single major modern enterprise has been built since 1991. Entire sectors that set the pace of technological progress – electronics, radio and instrument building – have been wiped out. Russia is capable of producing only half of the components needed for its defense industry. The space industry, once our pride, has little to show for it. As it marked the 50th anniversary of the first sputnik and the 45th anniversary of Gagarin’s spaceflight, the country did not have a single weather satellite in space. How can it claim the status of a superpower in such conditions? There will soon be no one to man our industry. The age of most of the workers is 50 and older. Young people don’t want to work in factories, mostly because of low wages. Our system of vocational technical training, once the best in the world, has been destroyed. Even business is worried. It turned out that money alone cannot generate profits without working hands. Capital has no one to exploit. Once again it urgently needs a working class.
The situation in the countryside is nothing if not tragic. The countryside is dying out. During the years of “reform” 15,000 villages have disappeared from the map of Russia and 9,000 villages have between 20 and 30 residents left. More than 40 million hectares of arable land have been abandoned and half of the cattle population has been slaughtered. Rural areas have been swept by unemployment, destitution, drunkenness and a high death rate. Village schools and hospitals are shutting down. As a result of a deliberate devastation of the countryside the country has lost its food security. It buys half of its food abroad.
The authorities are shouting from rooftops that their main concern is to combat inflation. Yet this year the official inflation runs at 15% and for many of our voters at all of 25%. The tariffs for housing and utilities services, and the prices of consumer goods are up 20-30%. Most of the growth is due to the rising tariffs for energy which are mostly in private hands. Petrol in oil-exporting Russia costs more than in the US. We see the old truth confirmed: the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer. Could this be the essence of the economic policy pursued by present-day rulers?
The authorities brag that they have almost paid off all the foreign debts. However, the debts of Russian corporations and regions are soaring. They already topped $500 billion (12.5 trillion roubles) to almost equal the country’s sovereign wealth reserves and the Stabilization Fund.
Such huge loans make our economy unstable and totally dependent on the West. This became clear in the early days after the financial crisis broke out in the US. Our “effective owners” instantly turned out to be insolvent, and the ruling elite rushed to their rescue.
The gold and currency reserves and the Stabilization Fund kept in foreign banks began to rapidly lose their value. They may even be confiscated on political grounds. The impression is that Finance Minister Kudrin who has put in place a system of unrestrained export of national capital is not answerable to the parliament, to the head of government and to the country’s President? Whose interests then does he represent? The answer was highlighted by the way the Russian authorities have behaved in recent months. They had no money for the invalids, the pensioners, for children’s allowances, for healthcare, for the development of production and culture or for strengthening the country’s defenses. The Stabilization Fund had been declared to be a sacred cow not to be touched. But it was immediately taken to the slaughter house as soon as our “fat cats” – the bankers and the oligarchs who are already wallowing in luxury and gold – needed more money. Trillions of government money were found within hours. I hope that by now even the most naïve of our citizens have realized in what state we live, whose interests it represents and caters to. Certainly the State and Russian power are neither people’s nor democratic, nor free, nor fair. The authorities boast of economic growth. Yet the whole secret of “growth” calculated in terms of the GDP is the windfall profits that came to Russia in the shape of high world prices of oil during the eight “Putin” years.
However, this year saw the beginning of a slump not only of the world oil prices, but of oil production in Russia. Scientists say this is an irreversible process because the oilfields had been exploited in a profligate way in order to maximize profits. Geological exploration has been destroyed. So, against the background of industrial and agricultural decline, the fall of oil production and oil prices augurs hard times ahead. The golden rain is ending and a severe drought is descending on the economy. The authorities pretend that they have finally put their act together and are going to rectify the situation. But it would be a dangerous illusion to think that the present-day Russian state can effectively run the economy. Russia is experiencing a profound crisis of state management. The United Russia still ridicules Lenin’s dictum that every “housewife” should be able to run the state. Yet having a government machine that could be run by any literate housewife is the ideal of any society. It is far worse when the state is run by fools and alcoholics. Because a fool who finds himself in power tends to embark on “acceleration”, “restructuring”, to declare a “transition” economy – and everything collapses.
The Russian civil service will soon lose the last remaining competent Soviet- era managers and will become increasingly incompetent. Corruption has penetrated all the pores of government making it disastrously dysfunctional. The government is simply unable to implement major projects. Nothing of any importance has been built for the 2014 Sochi Olympiad, yet there has been one high-profile scandal after another.
Instead, there is a lot of hollow rhetoric on television. It would not be irrelevant to recall Konstantin Simonov’s words about Stalin: “He spoke little, did much, had many business meetings with people, seldom gave interviews, seldom made speeches and as a result every word of his was weighed and valued not only here, but all over the world.” The prevailing style of today’s top leaders is diametrically opposite: a lot of television appearances, interviews, promises, meetings with actors and directors, but little real work.
The Kremlin has recently been talking about restoring production, innovation and diversification. But it has neither the organization, nor the human resources, nor other prerequisites for that. It is not by chance that present-day rulers paint glowing pictures of a happy future for Russia in 2020 or even in 2050. It is important for them to give the people hope, and it does not matter what will happen in 20-30 years and where they will be themselves.
The Social Sphere
We have two Russias. One is rich, living in luxury behind the tall walls of elite houses and country palaces. A hundred richest citizens of the RF have a combined fortune of $520 billion, which equals Russia’s gold and currency reserves. The other Russia is poor. According to Academician Lvov, 85% of the people derive only 8% of the incomes on property. Yet three quarters of these incomes are generated by land, oil, gas, forestry and water resources, that is, by the use of natural resources which by definition belong to the whole people. Why then are they owned only by the rich and those who cater to their needs?
As a result of the grab of the people’s property by a handful of the new rich the gap between the incomes of the 10% of the richest and 10% of the poorest people is widening. Officially it is 15:1, but experts say it is 30:1 and in Moscow 42:1. On that, as on some other indicators, Russia is one of the unhappiest countries in the world. This is nothing if not apartheid.
The situation in the social sphere is becoming catastrophic. Healthcare is less and less accessible and its quality is deteriorating. Over the past 8 years more than 3000 hospitals and 2500 polyclinics have been shut down. The prices of medicines are rocketing, the most essential and even habitual medicines are out of reach for the majority of people. Drinking is killing this country. The consumption of pure alcohol per person, including infants, stands at 18 liters a year. Up to 70% of men and 40% women use alcohol every day. Stresses, disease and drinking are one more manifestation of people’s uncertainty about tomorrow.
Education and science are also heading for disaster. 7800 schools have been closed. Free higher education is practically a thing of the past. The division of higher education into Bachelor’s and Master’s courses deprives the country of fully-fledged specialists. The “pro-marketeers” in government are selling out research institutions. Already 800,000 top-notch specialists have left Russia. So have more than 100,000 scientists. 20,000 scientists work for the needs of the EU countries while remaining on the payrolls of Russian institutions. The country is becoming an intellectual donor and a human resource colony for the “golden billion”.
Cultural degradation is in full swing. Russia is losing the look of a great and original civilization becoming part of the surrogate American mass culture. Lumpenization affects even those social strata which form the cream and the pride of every nation. They are the technical intelligentsia, scientists, doctors, teachers, librarians, cultural workers and university professors. All this is being done deliberately. The 2009 budget allocates 12% to the law enforcement bodies and less than 9% to education, healthcare and sports. In the USSR an average 128 million square meters of housing was built every year. In the late 1980s eight out of ten urban families lived in free government apartments. Today 3 times less housing is built in Russia. Even if one counts in the elite houses, palaces for the rich. House mortgage is failing because of the exorbitant housing prices and the high mortgage interest rates. One square meter of housing costs 100,000 roubles. The price of housing in other big cities is almost as high. Who can afford to buy such housing? The authorities may shout about economic success. But a single factor – demographics – overthrows this beatific picture. The population continues to shrink, above all at the expense of the Russian people which forms the core of the state. The country’s population is falling by 500,000-700,000 a year. Today Russia has a population of just over 141 million. It ranks 157th in the world in terms of life expectancy. And yet Russia has had no epidemics or natural disasters. The cause of the current disaster is the course and the policy pursued by the ruling group. What can be a more damning indictment of the current administration than the existence of millions of homeless children. Even in the most difficult years, after the Civil War and the Second World War, the state cared for the children. Now children, a privileged class in the Soviet era, have become a burden for the state run by oligarchs. With such an attitude can a demographic disaster be prevented?
The Character of the Political Struggle
How do we see the essence of the political struggle in the country? In our opinion, the main contradiction is the contradiction between oligarchic capital which has unlawfully grabbed most of the public wealth and the labour of the multinational people of Russia deprived of political and economic power. It has a class and national character. The cleavage runs both between Labour and Capital, and between the interests of the pro-Western “elite” and the country’s national interests. The CPRF believes that its key task is to combine social-class and national-liberation struggle. Such a combination is the key condition for Russia’s transition to socialism. For socialism is a political system that alone can ensure both the national and class interests of Russia’s working people. We are not calling the country “back to the former socialism”, we are calling society to move “forward to 21st century socialism” which takes into account the spectacular achievements of the USSR as well as its bitter lessons and negative experience.
We are convinced that the fight for reviving a strong, authoritative, economically and culturally developed power will have the support of the broadest social strata.
The Russian question is the key factor in uniting the two strands of social struggle. The Russians have become the biggest divided people in the world. 25 million of our fellow countrymen live outside the country. Ethnic Russians constitute 80% of Russia’s population. However, they have effectively been denied a decisive say in the country’s political, economic, information and cultural spheres. Look at the oligarchs who really run the country, at the list of those who dominate the mass media, and you will hardly need any further explanations.
However, for the working people there is no difference between the oligarchs of Slavic origin and the exploiters from amongst ethnic minorities. We seek to give back the stolen public wealth, the command heights in the economy and political power to the whole multinational people of Russia of which the Russian people forms the core. The humiliation of all the peoples of Russia can only be ended by giving them back the natural riches and nationalizing the main means of production. That is, through socialist transformation of Russia.
Our opponents are well aware that the liberation of the Russian people from the oppression of the oligarchs would liberate all the peoples of Russia. They understand that the Russian people forms the nucleus of the unique multinational community. If that nucleus is split, that community will fall apart and Russia will disappear. That accounts for the years of attempts to denigrate the Russian people, to infect them with an inferiority complex, to drive them into apathy, intimidate them by accusations of chauvinism and xenophobia, to separate them from other fraternal peoples by fomenting crude and primitive nationalism.
We come out resolutely against Russophobia. But we are also against nationalism which represents people’s morbid reaction to the suppression of their language, culture, customs and traditions and which the bourgeoisie uses to pursue the “divide and rule” policy.
That question, if anything, is becoming ever more pressing. What do we propose as the immediate steps to solve the Russian question? Our programme was declared at the 10th Party Congress. It was closely examined by the Plenum devoted to the protection of Russian culture. In spite of fierce opposition from various sides, we will steadfastly seek to implement that programme. Below are its main items:
Resisting any forms of Russophobia as extremist manifestations of instigation to ethnic discord.
Real equality in the representation of Russians, like all the peoples of Russia, in government bodies from top to bottom.
Protection of the Russian language. An end to the “Americanization” of our life, especially on television. Vigorous resistance to the spiritual aggression against the Russian people, its national and cultural traditions. Protection of the historical sacred monuments of Russian history.
Proper representation of Russians in the information and cultural spheres, especially in the mass media.
Equal opportunities for Russians and all the other peoples of Russia in the sphere of entrepreneurship.
Vigorous protection of our compatriots abroad.
Government is unable to propose to society ideas that could unify it, mobilize people’s energy to great exploits because the state today reflects the interests only of a handful of parasites who seek to grow rich by plundering the people. The authorities, seeking to conceal this fact, have to resort to hypocrisy taking on board “patriotic vocabulary”, engaging in populist demagogy while keeping political gimmicks and police clubs at the ready. The people readily recognize all this as bluff and the apologists for the regime get a worthy rebuff. Here is a recent example. In spite of all the tricks used by the organizers of the “Name of Russia” contest Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin are invariably named among the most outstanding people of this country over its thousand-year history, according to opinion polls.
The name of Lenin is associated above all with the old dream of justice. That puts him in one category with such world historical figures as Jesus, Mohammed, the Buddha, and Moses. A hundred, two hundred and five hundred years will pass, but Lenin will remain the greatest and most revered of our countrymen. He will remain that “name of Russia”. But not today’s Russia which is kowtowing to Uncle Sam, but the great Russia that chased away the lords, saved the world from the “brown plague” and put the first man in outer space.
Our people are beginning to understand that the Soviet past was about the great transformation of the country and not a succession of crimes, as some would have us believe. Our Party has condemned the abuses of power during the political struggles of the 1930s and the tragic mistakes committed at the time. But we have no right to forget that it was in the 1930s that the powerful production and scientific base was laid which ensured the defeat of fascism and still forms the foundation of the country’s economy.
The history of the USSR is the history of mass heroism and inspired service to the Motherland. The GOELRO plan, the liquidation of illiteracy and unemployment, the Dneproges and Magnitka, Kuzbass and BAM projects, the nuclear and space programmes, the galaxy of great scientists, winners of the Lenin and Nobel Prizes, writers, poets and artists. No other country in the last century produced in such a short space of time such a constellation of great names and accomplished so many great deeds and exploits as the Soviet Union. The collective labour and military feat of the people could not have been accomplished out of fear or due to reprisals. It was a conscious exploit in the name of our socialist Motherland. We were rightly proud of our Motherland, of our Soviet land. As the great proletarian poet Mayakovsky rightly said, “with such a land as ours people lived and worked, celebrated life and died”. They did it consciously and selflessly.
History has again confronted the peoples of our country with a choice similar to that they faced in 1917 and in 1941: a great power and socialism or further devastation of the country and its degradation into a raw materials appendage. And we say again: the national and class issue can only be solved on the path of socialism.
We are a great people and we will cope with this twin challenge.
Russia’s Path to the Future
Our programme for the revival of Russia has been thoroughly considered and spelled out. This is what we propose:
To stop the nation from dying out, first of all through a dramatic change of the social and economic course and also by boosting the birthrate, restoring benefits for families with many children, restoring the network of kindergartens, providing housing for young families and elimination of homelessness among children.
To bring back to society the natural wealth of Russia and the strategic sectors of the economy: the power industry, transport, the defense industry, oil and gas fields, unlawfully privatized factories and coal mines. To bring back to Russia the assets of the Stabilization Fund and to use them to revive the country.
To stimulate the development of science-intensive production, and not screw-driver assembly. To cut taxes on production. To stop the practices of bogus bankruptcies of enterprises and capture of enterprises by “raiders.”
To ensure the country’s food security. To allocate no less than 10% of the budget spending to support agriculture. Collective farms for the production and processing of farm produce should be the drivers of the resurgence of the countryside.
To revise the laws that have worsened the position of citizens and made it possible to plunder the country’s riches. These include Law 122 On the Monetization of Benefits, the Labour, Housing, Land, Forestry and Water Codes. To pass a new package of laws on local government.
To immediately tackle the problem of poverty. To introduce state control over prices for prime necessities and fuel. To set the living minimum at the level of 10,000-12,000 roubles a month. To guarantee that the wages, pensions and grants are not below that living minimum. To bring back the benefits to the vulnerable categories of citizens.
To introduce progressive taxation. To exempt low-income citizens from taxes. To establish the priority of the internal over the external debt. To bring back to the people what the state owes them, the deposits that disappeared during the years of reform.
To restore the responsibility of the government for the housing and utilities sector. To expand government construction of houses. To forbid evictions of people. To limit the size of utilities rates to no more than 10% of the aggregate family income.
To increase the funding of science. To support the existing “science cities” and to create new ones. To provide scientists with decent salaries and everything necessary for research activities. To stimulate the return of scientists to their country. To restore high quality universal free education. To preserve its secular and edifying character. To stop the destruction of the world’s best Soviet system of higher education. To restore the system of vocational technical and secondary specialized education.
To make quality healthcare accessible. To provide subsidized medicines to those who need them. To encourage people to go into sports. To revive sporting schools, clubs and groups for children and youth. To propagate the healthy way of life.
To ensure that culture is accessible and to stop its commercialization. To protect the Russian culture, the basis of the unity of multinational Russia, the national-cultural and spiritual traditions of the country’s peoples. To ensure an objective study of the history and culture of Russia as the basis of patriotic upbringing. To prevent the spread of vulgarity and cynicism.
To make government more effective. To cut the number of bureaucrats. To support diverse forms of self-organization of the people to control the civil service. To smash the system of wholesale falsification in elections. To create an electoral system free of administrative and information terror and foul technologies. To restore direct elections of the Federation Council and the heads of regions.
To curb corruption and crime. To lift the moratorium on the death penalty for very serious crimes. Broaden the powers of law enforcement bodies and enhance their responsibility for abuse of office.
To enhance the combat ability of the Armed Forces, provide them with modern weapons and enhance the prestige of military service. To ensure social guarantees and housing for servicemen, to pay back arrears on military pensions.
To ensure the territorial integrity of Russia and protection of compatriots abroad. To implement a programme of measures to develop Siberia, the Far East, Northern Russia, to stop the outflow of people from these areas.
To pursue a foreign policy based on mutual respect among countries and peoples. To oppose the forces of aggression. To contribute towards overcoming as early as possible the tragic rifts between the fraternal peoples of the USSR and voluntary restoration of the Union State. There are no impossible items in this programme. What is needed is the political will. However, the ruling group does not and cannot have such will because its goals are opposite to the interests of vast majority of the people. Hence change of power is necessary if this programme is to be implemented.
Russia’s Position in the World
Now on our vision of the country’s international position. Internal instability in Russia is increasingly compounded by the growing external threats.
With the destruction of the Soviet Union war has again become a legitimate policy instrument for the leading imperialist powers. They use it ever more frequently and brazenly. After Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan followed a barbarous attack on South Ossetia. It had been thoroughly prepared long in advance. Its aim was by no means to restore the alleged territorial integrity of Georgia. In reality it hasn’t existed for the last 20 years.
No, the aim was to quash Moscow’s timid attempts to deal with the West as an equal, to discredit Russia in the eyes of its neighbours and to allow the US and its allies to break into the Caucasus and Central Asia. The assumption was that Russia, as before, would not have the guts to defend its own interests and would confine itself to protests on paper and futile appeals to international law.
Did the West have grounds for embarking on this adventure? Yes, it did. Early in the year the Russian leadership did not dare to use the Kosovo crisis in order to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and protect them. Such behaviour was seen in the West as an invitation to launch an offensive on Russia in the South, to speed up the admission of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO, and to increase pressure on Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to induce them to take an anti-Russian stand. The Kremlin continued ambivalent maneuvers over Iran, tolerated the discrimination of Russians in the Baltics and in Ukraine, demonstrated its helplessness over the issues of Sebastopol and the Crimea, paid lip service to the agreement with Byelorussia to create a union state and humbly listened to lecturing on the part of the European Union.
Those were not accidental mistakes of the Russian Foreign Ministry. No, it was a considered line which was again clearly manifested in the Foreign Policy Concept written under Putin and signed by Medvedev on July 12, 2008, i.e. less than a month before the attack on Russian citizens and peacekeepers in South Ossetia.
What was in this document, which the West surely had studied before giving the green light to Mr Saakashvili? While fulminating against the plans of including Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, the authors of the concept at the same time proclaimed the “commitment to finalizing the international legal formalities to fix the state border of the Russian Federation”, i.e., final recognition and sealing of the results of the criminal Byelovezhskaya collusion. This was also the aim of the recent initiative of the Russian President: to renounce the international documents that define the situation in Europe, such as the Helsinki Final Act, and instead work out a new European Security Pact that “is relevant to the realities of the 21st century”.
Such a pact could have brought nothing but the recognition and consolidation of Russia’s losses in the 1990s and its contraction to within its 16th century borders. The concept declared that Moscow was ready to build its relations with the CIS not in order to integrate them with Russia, but in order to put them on a “market footing”. In other words, there was no question about a new Union.
The proclaimed main foreign policy goal was “the unity of the Euro-Atlantic region from Vancouver to Vladivostok” which effectively ran counter to the earlier calls for creating a multipolar world in which Russia would be one of the poles. Our self-styled strategists expressed “an interest in a stronger European Union, and the development of its capacity to act in concert.”
Well, Russia was opposed “in concert” when Saakashvili unleashed a war against the people of South Ossetia under the guidance of the US and with the support of NATO and the EU. Now, the Kremlin’s much loved partners are doing everything to whitewash that war criminal and libel Russia.
In the face of this brazen aggression the Russian leadership, not without hesitation and intense internal struggle, took the necessary counter-measures because it could not behave otherwise. The damage for the ruling regime inside and outside the country would have been too great.
Russia finally recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. That is undoubtedly an important step forward. The CPRF has been advocating it for many years. Our efforts have been crowned with success. And not only there. For the first time the Russian Government has been speaking about international affairs in a language we had urged it to speak throughout the past years. At the time we were branded as “red-brown” for our adherence to patriotism and the national interests. We were accused of chauvinism and other deadly sins for always regarding NATO as the main danger to Russia’s interests and warning about the West’s hostile intentions.
The defeat of the Georgian aggressors enabled Russia to boost its international authority which had been greatly damaged since 1991. Patriotic sentiments began to increase in the country, there was a growing sense that the policy of submitting to the US, NATO and the EU without a murmur could not continue. Unwittingly, the West “set up” the pro-Western group in the Russian leadership when it declared that it was impossible to preserve the former relations with Russia. Deprived of outside support that group had, reluctantly, to accept an adjustment of policy in order to give greater consideration to the national interests and to make Russia more independent.
Let us not forget, however, that the current Russian elite still seeks to be part of the imperialist world and is ready to live according to its laws and act together with it. That “elite” still dreams of being admitted to the “golden billion”, but only as an equal member.
The Russian elite has been trying to do it for some fifteen years. The West keeps it in the anteroom, seeks to dictate its terms and misses no opportunity to take advantage of its weakness. It remains to be seen whether the current government will have the determination to stay the course for restoring Russia’s independence. The South Ossetia conflict is a harbinger, a test for the Russian leadership. The test occurred because of the pressure of the patriotic forces and broad popular support, but still more difficult times lie ahead.
It is high time, for example, to revise the muddled and spineless policy with regard to Ukraine. Ukraine’s admission to NATO which would bring the hostile bloc to the Kursk-Don-Krasnodar line with subsequent extension of that line to the Caucasus must be prevented. Kiev is currently run by out-and-out nationalists, the heirs to that traitor, Mazepa, and the German underling, Bandera. The preservation of their power in Ukraine poses a mortal danger to Russia. Ukrainian nationalists must not be allowed to ruin the lives of millions of Russians living in Ukraine. They should not be allowed to put the peoples of Ukraine in a NATO yoke. NATO’s jackboots cannot be allowed to trample Sebastopol and the Crimea, Donbass, Kharkov and Odessa. We will demand from the Kremlin a fundamentally different approach to Ukrainian affairs, well-thought out and vigorous and aggressive actions. I am sure we will be able to mobilize the people of Russia and Ukraine in support of that course.
Our relations with NATO and the EU are in need of a fundamental revision. We should stop kidding ourselves and pretending that these are two entirely different organizations. In reality these are just different names for the alliance of the same imperialist countries. As a rule they act together. The last vivid example was their support of Saakashvili, his regime and his territorial claims. There are, to be sure, differences between them as to how to handle Russia. These differences, by the way, were first clearly manifested after the West met with a resolute rebuff on our part in the Caucasus. But there are no differences between the US and the EU, nor within the EU itself as to the need to keep Georgia as an outpost of the West’s anti-Russian policy in the Caucasus. Our government should not entertain any illusions and engage in wishful thinking by praising the constructive European approach as distinct from NATO’s approach. Self-deception in policy is a losing approach.
We do not need a powerful European fist in the shape of the European Union close to our borders. That is a dangerous neighbourhood. We do not need the kind of cooperation with NATO which may easily end up with NATO moving its army into Russia. We do not need to take part in aggressive “peacekeeping” led by the US and NATO in various regions of the world. We do not need NATO or EU military posing as peacekeepers in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transdniestria and the Crimea. We know the negative role they have played in the Balkans.
Our natural allies are the peoples of the former USSR. We should seek to restore a voluntary union of our countries and not reduce Russian policy in the CIS to preserving some kind of “civilizational and cultural” values and personal friendship between the leaders of these states regardless of the policy they pursue towards Russia.
Among our natural allies are the countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa which face similar problems in their relations with the “globalizers” and need a strong Russia that pursues an independent foreign policy and whose might deters those who seek to dominate the world.
We should not be misled by the current tough foreign policy rhetoric of the Russian leadership. In reality no decision has yet been taken at the top as to what to do next: to raise hands or to let them drop, to surrender the national interests or try to uphold them in the face of Western pressure. In order to uphold them it is necessary to have popular support. However, it is far easier and more habitual to continue the surrender to the acclaim and plaudits of a handful of comprador moneybags and the people around them. Time will tell who will gain the upper hand. If more retreats happen, an unenviable outcome for the present government and for Russia can be safely predicted.
As a result of the complex intertwining of internal and external factors a new situation is emerging for the work of the Party. It should try to get the maximum mileage of this situation to step up our actions in the foreign policy field.
It is clear even to a child that Russia’s international position hinges on its strength or feebleness. When the country is strong it is respected and its opinion is taken into account. When it is weak, it is pushed around, humiliated and plundered. It is high time to put an end to the policy of hostility and hatred based on selling national riches and plundering the working people. We should resolutely expose its apologists, tackle the problem of reviving industry, agriculture, the army, science, culture and education. The current Russian government must take this turn if it doesn’t want to find itself on the sidelines of history.
I would like to stress once again that patriotism and anti-Sovietism are absolutely incompatible. Look at the calendar, Messrs democrats and United Russia supporters. The Civil War ended 77 years ago. And you still continue your attack on the foundations of our historical statehood that you began in August 1991. The October Revolution and the Great Victory in the Second World War had put Russia at the center of world politics securing its status of a world power. By contrast, your “perestroikas” and “reforms” reduced the country to the level of developing states. All that remains for you is to keep saying that the country was following a wrong path during the 70 years of Soviet government. We were following the right path: towards the summits of justice, people’s rule and strong statehood.
The CPRF’s International Activities
During the report period the CPRF has significantly increased its international activities, it has been declaring ever more loudly and vigorously its claim to having a real say in the shaping of the foreign policy of Russia. Our firm and staunch line went a long way to induce the Kremlin to take the decision to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The party and its representatives at the State Duma claim an undoubted credit for that. The active stance of the CPRF put a serious obstacle in the way of penetration of NATO into our territory, making the Russian Government move and postpone joint exercises with the NATO troops. Together with the Communist Party of Ukraine and the patriotic organizations in the Crimea we managed to disrupt NATO exercises on that peninsula and to force the US naval ships to leave the Crimean harbours ahead of time.
Our deputies are members of 11 permanent missions to international and regional parliamentary organizations where they play a notable role. The CPRF was one of the main initiators of opposing the anti-Communist hysteria at the PACE. As a result the attempt to demonize Communism, present it as fascism and launch a massive offensive on the Communist movement worldwide was disrupted. We have caught the provocateurs and stooges by the arm. However, the attempts have not stopped. They will continue in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Soviet-German non-aggression treaty of 1939. The anticommunists throughout the world are preparing major provocation inspired, financed and coordinated from American, NATO and European centers. We must resolutely rebuff that provocation. In this, we count on the broad support and solidarity of the Communists and the Left in other countries.
In the light of the unfolding crisis of the global capitalist system and the inevitable rise of protest movements we should expect the ruling regimes of the leading imperialist countries to take ever new measures to restrict the influence of the Communist and left-wing parties. They are likely to persecute them and may even launch reprisals against their leaders. There are already early signs of that happening. The Union of Communist Youth has been banned in the Czech Republic. In Hungary, a trial of the Communist Party has lasted more than two years. In Poland, prosecution has resumed of the former President and First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party Wojciech Jaruzelski which has an aggressively anti-Communist tinge. Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic see continued attempts to pass legislation that would equate Communism and fascism… The Ukrainian authorities and the leaders of the Baltic Republics openly glorify Bandera and other Hitler accomplices as the fighters against Communism. That requires that we be vigilant and proactive. Our movement must pass from defense to a resolute offensive against the enemy.
The situation for that is favourable. The positions of the Communist and left-wing forces at the international and regional levels have grown noticeably stronger. They enjoy broad popular support. Elections to the parliament and local power bodies bring fresh proof of that. It is happening in Brazil, Venezuela, Greece, India, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Sri Lanka, Germany, Holland, Denmark and Norway. On Cyprus the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Progressive Working People’s Party, D. Christofias, was elected President of the country. In Bolivia, Nicaragua, Chile and Ecuador the forces that are coming to power pursue an anti-imperialist course in domestic and foreign policy. In the Middle East the Communists and left-wing forces play an important role in opposing the policy of the US and Israel and promoting the movements of solidarity with the Palestinian people.
All this confronts our Party with more ambitious and responsible tasks of interacting with the like-thinking people and allies abroad and establishing and strengthening our links with them. The CC CPRF has done a significant amount of work in this field. Suffice it to mention the “Memorandum on the Tasks of the Fight Against Imperialism and the Need to Condemn its Crimes” which we have prepared. The International Moscow Conference devoted to the 60th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War which was attended by the representatives of 30 communist parties from the CIS and Europe. The highlight for the Communist and workers’ movement in 2007 was the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Great October Revolution. Events in Moscow and Minsk organized to mark the occasion were attended by 83 foreign Communist and workers parties. As a member of the standing Working Group which comprises 17 authoritative Communist parties, the CPRF has initiated and was an active organizer of international meetings of fraternal parties and political associations. The Union of Communist Parties formed on the territory of the former USSR is working vigorously.
We intend to do all we can to build up and deepen the bilateral ties between the CPRF and other parties, to exchange information and experience, promote contacts with their parliaments, government and political leaders and, in turn, help our friends and partners to establish links with Russian politicians and disseminate information about themselves and their countries.
The Balance of Class Forces in Society
Comrades, permit me now to tell you how we see the class structure of Russian society.
The social-class structure of modern Russia is in flux. After the government coups of 1991 and 1993 society has changed dramatically. A new class of exploiters emerged in this country for the first time since 1917. The working class and the peasantry have been totally denied political power and saw the property of the whole people forcibly taken away from them.
The ruling class is an alliance of the oligarchy, the new bourgeoisie and the top bureaucrats who between them own the bulk of the means of production and wield real power. That class arose as a result of government coups and criminal seizure of public wealth. However, it constitutes a tiny minority of the country’s population. The rich and the very rich in Russia account for no more than 3% of the population. But since 1991 the stratum of bureaucrats and entrepreneurs, objectively part of the ruling group, has increased dramatically. On the whole that class, together with the middle stratum that is in its service, accounts for 12-15% of the population. However, the top of the ruling class is not homogenous. The comprador oligarchs are firmly integrated in the “golden billion”, have invested their stolen fortunes there and have even moved to the West to take up permanent residence there. That part sees our country only as a target for completing the orgy of plunder and sees its future not together with Russia, but as part of the world oligarchy. That accounts for the perverse economic and social policy leading to the destruction of the country and its national economy.
For the bureaucrats and representatives of the security and military forces in our “elite” the way to the West, if not entirely closed, is fairly difficult and sometimes dangerous. Think about the arrests of major Russian bureaucrats abroad, the freezing of their accounts, the charges against top officials in connection with the actions of the security structures in Chechnya and in the Caucasus generally. Everybody knows the example of Yugoslavia, the tragic fates of President Milosevic and Karadzic. This may be why part of our elite has been increasingly vocal in expressing patriotism in order to secure themselves and their capital against still more predatory “partners” in the West.
In recent years Russia has seen the emergence and strengthening of the Russian variety of Bonapartism. The regime emerged as a result of a fierce power struggle between clans of oligarchs. It is trying to balance between comprador capital and the mass of the population robbed by Capital and the bureaucrats that are in its service. Like any Bonapartist regime, it is inherently, first, unstable and second, incapable of coping with the major problems facing the country. At best it can make some half-hearted decisions which merely drive the disease inside, which makes them constantly resort to ploys, engage in demagogy and cheat both the people and their true masters. The conventional wisdom is that the Medvedev-Putin tandem is a clever ploy in order to keep the country under control. It is thought that Putin will continue to run Russia from behind Medvedev’s back and with his consent, while keeping open the option of becoming President again.
There are many signs however that this is a simplistic view. Anyway, it is hard to believe that Putin, who could have remained in power by revising the Constitution, has decided against it simply because he is noble and adheres to the letter of the law.
Well-informed people, including Henry Kissinger, a friend of our former President, believe that in reality it was all preceded by a complicated struggle as a result of which Putin decided to quit as President. The West increasingly mistrusts him. He has managed to tread on the toes of many oligarchs.
All the signs are that rivalry at the top, far from subsiding, is mounting. The struggle for influence and power continues. Its outcome is uncertain. The opposing groups are not strong enough to overcome each other. The current power is unstable. The groups that are locked in combat will seek support outside their present narrow circle. It is in the interests of the opposition forces to use that situation above all to limit the sway of the compradors, to break the unity of the ruling elite and ultimately take the country out of its crisis through a change of government.
If a revolutionary situation arises in the country, and it will inevitably arise if the present course continues, the key issue will be, what forces will spearhead the process of change and in what direction will the changes be.
Meanwhile the social forces that can remove the current ruling group from power are still evolving. The majority of the population are wage-earners and small entrepreneurs who are suppressed and humiliated. The set of laws passed in the interests of the oligarchy makes the people shoulder all the burdens of the official policy. Discontent with the existing state of affairs is great and continues to mount.
However, the oppressed social strata are being artificially kept in a state of apathy and fear for their future. The working people have lost much of their class consciousness. They are exposed to information and propaganda terror while active people face police persecution. The Labour Code which has been pushed through the State Duma by the United Russia deputies, dramatically limits the possibilities for workers to use their main weapon – strikes.
The working class has shrunk numerically because of the policy of deindustrialization of the country. Its level of concentration has diminished. The number of big enterprises has diminished sharply. They are being divided up into a multitude of small firms. The work collectives are also being fragmented. The level of skills, professional and political competence is declining. Short-term contracts are widespread, keeping workers in fear of loss of job and destroying work collectives. The workers of different nationalities are being set against each other. In short, the ruling group, the “new masters” are implementing a system of measures to prevent the working class from regaining its role as an influential social force.
By advocating the restoration of the country’s industrial power (which would revive the working class), we simultaneously must seek to draw closer to the workers and their emerging organizations in the shape of independent trade unions. Introducing class consciousness in the minds of workers and providing them with political goals is our strategic task. The Party has its work cut out for it there.
The peasantry in the devastated Russian countryside fares even worse. In effect it is depoliticized and déclassé. More and more often peasants deprived of their land turn into labourers working for the land grabbers. They depend even more on the local bureaucrats who can make a rural dweller’s life miserable if he shows signs of political activity. To this end blackmail over affairs that are vital for the farmers is used: provision of fuel for the winter; provision of transport for trips to the hospital; red tape in the issue of various certificates; and the issues of employment, given the high unemployment level in the rural areas.
The economically and politically the most active part of the peasantry – young and middle-aged people – have to migrate to the cities where they quickly turn into tramps and even swell the ranks of criminals. The elderly people who stay in the countryside are particularly amenable to blackmail by the local authorities. That accounts for the paradoxical phenomenon: the most disadvantaged part of society – the peasantry has — in recent years appeared to be a staunch supporter of the authorities that plunder it.
The programmatic principles of our Party and the vital interests of the peasantry fully coincide. The peasant is potentially our major ally and support. We should seek new forms of working with peasants considering the plight of the rural folk, their dependence on the new land-owners, those who have grabbed land and the bureaucrats. We should be more energetic in promoting the package of laws in support of the countryside prepared by our deputies. We should seek to enroll more peasants into our Party.
I would like to cite a tell-tale example. After the Agrarian Party declared its merger with the United Russia, the manager of the Chernyakhovsky Collective Farm in the Lgov District, Kursk Region, S.I. Fomin, decided to resign from the Agrarian Party. 35 members of the Agrarian Party followed suit and switched to the CPRF. Now our Party has a new large “primary cell” in the village of Krom Byki.
The petty bourgeois stratum which is engaged not in production but in trade and middleman activities and in the services forms an ever larger part of society. Its position in the political and economic respects is ambivalent. On the one hand, that stratum seeks to become part of the bourgeois class, on the other hand, it comes under powerful pressure of the corrupt government and criminals, which makes it a potential ally of the workers and peasants. We should seek not to fight it, but to win it over. It is necessary to explain and demonstrate to them that the Communists can best ensure real freedom of entrepreneurial initiative. Odd though it may seem, the most active members of small and medium business often vote for the CPRF. It is incumbent upon us not only to study that phenomenon, but to forge more active contacts with that stratum.
The intelligentsia, which in the late 1980s clamoured for more freedom, has largely put itself in the service of the ruling group. That is particularly true of the creative intelligentsia large sections of which have assumed an openly antinational position. It is not the bureaucrats and the oligarchs who make films and TV broadcasts, and write articles that grossly distort the history of our country, that violently destroy the centuries-old traditions of collectivism and promote the cult of gain and individualism. No, this is done by yesterday’s “engineers of the human soul” who have morphed into the “wreckers of souls” and who are bribed into glorifying and strengthening the present anti-people regime. Of course many creative intellectuals have had the fortitude to oppose the destruction of Russia and we must support them in the most resolute way.
One cannot ignore the fact that most members of various election commissions are teachers working at schools, technicums and higher education institutions. Many of them consciously take part in the massive falsification of election returns. That has an extremely corrupting impact on the whole society.
Even so, the intelligentsia has an immense potential for strengthening the positions of our party. That is why the scientific and technical intelligentsia concentrated in “science cities” is the most supportive of the CPRF in elections.
It is our task to turn this passive support into real and effective support. We should not hesitate to nominate active representatives of the intelligentsia as our candidates for the legislatures of all levels.
Simultaneously society has a numerous marginal stratum of former workers, peasants, intellectuals and failed entrepreneurs who have been thrown to the sidelines of life and are passively supporting the authorities or the bogus parties such as the LDPR. History shows that this stratum more readily supports the rich and powerful than those who seek to protect them. To influence these masses of misguided and disadvantaged people the Communists must speak to them in a language they understand, and display vigour and confidence of the ultimate victory.
Thus the current social structure is complicated and in a state of flux. Hence the instability of political sentiments among much of the people. On the one hand, many still hope to fit into the present economic system or at least to become adjusted to it. On the other hand, there is growing discontent with the opposition and an awareness that under the current government the majority has no future. Severe exploitation and glaring social inequalities generate a new class consciousness among the working people.
There is no doubt that the industrial proletariat, the peasantry and the working intelligentsia are still our natural allies. Objectively, our allies include new social strata, small entrepreneurs, workers in the services and the so-called office proletariat, that is, highly educated people who work in offices and are subject to exploitation in the same way as the industrial proletariat.
Work with pensioners continues to be highly important. However, it is quite clear that it would be naïve to put the stake on their nostalgic sentiments. Yes, it is a great generation which has borne the brunt of the war and the post-war reconstruction. That generation has built the great power, the USSR. But now the pensioners are under powerful pressure from the authorities. Because of their position, especially loneliness, they are easy prey to brainwashing by television and various handouts. Out of habit, they obey the authorities.
It is our duty to study the mood of each social group in order to win it over to our side and react effectively to every action of the authorities aimed at social manipulation.
Strengthening the Party
As we have noted, the position of the Party has improved in many ways since the 10th Congress. However, we cannot afford to be complacent. We must be highly self-critical in assessing the weaknesses in our activities and outlining ways to overcome these weaknesses.
We should promote criticism and self-criticism which prevent Communists from becoming “arrogant” and the leaders from losing touch with the Party grassroots. Lenin taught the Communists to see “the difference between squabbles and the critique of a functionary, critique that is obligatory for every Party member, but in an open form and addressed directly to the central Party bodies, and not underground, private and inner-circle critique.”
Criticism and self-criticism strengthen the comradely equality within the Party, its ideological and organizational unity. Glossing over the real state of affairs in some party organizations is a grave danger because it prevents the Party leadership from having an accurate idea about the potential of this or that organization.
Needless to say, the main responsibility must be assumed by the Chairman and the Presidium of the CC CPRF who have not always properly monitored compliance with the Party decisions and have neglected preventive “treatment” of obvious cases of stagnation. That applies, for example, to the Sverdlovsk, Tomsk, Kamchatka, Kabardino-Balkar Party branches, to the situation in the Kemerovo organization where the disease had been so neglected as to make the most extreme measures necessary.
Our prime and most important task is to strengthen the Party organizationally and ideologically.
Today the CPRF has about 160,000 members. There are more than 4 million active Party supporters. The institution of Party organizers is being established within the CPRF. They number more than 23,000. Young Communist League and Young Pioneer Organizations are active.
A number of regional branches, including the Moscow Region, Severo-Osetinsk, Bashkir, Murmansk and Mari branches have been able to meet the target set by the Central Committee and to increase CPRF membership by at least 10%. At the same time some organizations have lost many of their members. The Moscow City branch lost 980 members, the Dagestan branch, 687, the Krasnodar branch, 413 members. The Party organizations in some major cities, especially St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, are unjustifiably small.
In terms of organization we face two major tasks: to increase Party membership and to make its activities more effective.
The average age of the Party membership gives cause for concern. Most of our activists are well over 50. People under 30 barely make up 5-7% of the Party. I need hardly say how dangerous that trend is for the Party’s future. Given the average age of its members, the Party will find it hard to be active in the event of a nearly inevitable deterioration of the situation in the country.
What is the root of the problem? Of course, there is a measure of political apathy in society, and the authorities are trying to intimidate or bribe active young people and to draw them into some bogus organizations such as “Nashi”. But the main problem is that our Party organizations and their leaders do not regard recruiting young people into the Party as their main concern.
In some places organizations list among their members “dead souls” who do not even pay their Party dues, not to speak of being actively involved in political struggle. Sometimes instead of looking for and educating young militants we see window-dressing when Party cards are issued to people who quickly forget that they had ever joined the CPRF.
At the same time it is obvious that young people are attracted to the Party, as witnessed by the large number of young faces at our demonstrations, in electoral campaign meetings and pickets. However, in some cases young and energetic people are denied admission to the Party or are expelled. Yes, today’s young people are different, they have not been to Soviet schools, they speak a different language and offer a different algorithm of actions. This often irritates our older comrades, which accounts for repressive administrative actions. For two years now we have seen this happening in the Kurgan region Party organization. There is some evidence that the veterans who constitute the majority of Party organizations reject young people.
The CPRF leadership, I must admit by way of self-criticism, is derelict in addressing that problem. The Presidium and Secretariat of the CC should not look on as honest communists are being victimized. The Party leadership must react uncompromisingly to any instances when criticism is muzzled and initiative is suppressed. Otherwise we will not get very far.
We need the life experience and the fortitude of the older generations and the creative energy and fearlessness of the youth. This blend alone will enable us to carry out the tasks that we tackle. I repeat: bringing into the Party energetic and aggressive young and middle-aged people must be the main task of all the Party organizations. This is the key criterion by which we will assess the performance of the Party committees and their leaders.
Today we are pleased to note that the rotation of leadership of the Party branches in Udmurtia (N.I. Sapozhnikov-V.P.Bodrov), Samara Region (V.S. Romanov – A.V. Leskin), Rostov Region (V.A. Kolomeitsev – N.V. Kolomeitsev) has passed off successfully. On the other hand, in renewing the personnel we have to be on our guard against the danger of careerist attitudes. Since elections for the local legislatures of various levels started to be conducted by Party lists, getting to the top part of the CPRF list has largely guaranteed seats in the legislature. That was when those wishing to use the “Party lift” for their selfish purposes have come out of the woodwork. We have burned our fingers on that many times. How to oppose it? There is only one criterion: performance and collective assessment.
The role of the personnel commission and the Party Organization Work Department of the CC CPRF must be enhanced. Over the past years it has been headed by experienced, active and authoritative functionaries, V.S. Romanov and V.F. Rashkin. They have given of their best to prepare the replacement cadre. But today the emphasis should be on recruiting young people and having them join the Party work actively. In this field we pin our hopes on the Komsomol and its leader, Yu.V. Afonin. We must constantly watch young people who have already proved themselves in our struggle, support them, direct and correct them if necessary, but at the same time help them to grow politically and morally. We should not hesitate to promote women to leading posts and to parliaments. We should everywhere help to develop women’s movement and cement its links with the Party.
At the same time, in the light of our own experience and the extensive experience of the fraternal parties we should think about creating a system of internal security within the CPRF so as not to be taken by surprise, as happened when “moles” started to come out to the surface. Life shows that the danger of alien elements, and sometimes downright provocateurs and stooges infiltrating our ranks and the danger of betrayal on the part of some leaders persists. We must be vigilant.
The Party’s Komsomol and youth organizations have a priceless role to play in preparing the new cadre. However, we do not pay due attention to them. Regional Party organizations which have strong Komsomol organizations can be counted on the fingers of one’s hands. Moreover, even young people who have proved to be effective workers are often kept “waiting in the wings”, their initiatives being ignored and even quashed. Young Party members become disenchanted because a formalistic approach to Party work alienates young people. They want concrete actions. This is what the Party needs too. Unfortunately some organizations are still in thrall to bureaucratic methods and stubbornly resist new forms of struggle.
Political work is above all creativity. Life forces us to give up the schemes created in the times when the CPSU was the ruling Party. We are an opposition Party. We must cast aside bureaucratic dogma and learn new forms of influencing the masses if we are to have popular support.
The harmful and disgraceful affliction of duality cannot be tolerated within the Party. You cannot say one thing at the Central Committee in line with the opinion of the Communists and, once back on your home ground, turn everything upside down. Discipline in an opposition party must be conscious and moral relations must be decent. Only a sense of responsibility and comradeship combined with the political creativity of the Party masses can turn our Party into a united and powerful political force.
One of our key tasks is democratization of the Party. The CPRF leadership must set an example of close ties with the Party’s grassroots. The practice when members of the Presidium and Secretaries of the CC go to the local branches only after trouble breaks out there cannot be tolerated. The Party leaders must be constantly in the thick of local events and rather than “putting out fires” they should above all render practical assistance, study and disseminate useful experience.
Discipline in carrying out assignments, monitoring of compliance with the decisions of the Party congresses and plenums must continue to be at the focus of our attention. The best of decisions are useless if they are not carried out. Perhaps we should give thought to creating a special structure within the CC to take charge of this important area of our work.
As for the Party’s effectiveness, some organizations have tended to tacitly collaborate with the local administrations, especially when the budget is adopted. Our comrades pull out all the stops berating the “anti-people regime” which is far away in Moscow but are afraid to challenge the local bosses. Yet the authority of the CPRF rests precisely on its ability to resolutely respond to the actions that infringe upon the interests of concrete individuals or groups of people.
The protest movement is an important instrument of political struggle. Much has been done in this area. The headquarters of protest actions meets regularly, it has organized many impressive all-Russian actions.
But it has to be admitted that this movement often arises spontaneously, and sometimes without our participation. We are not always able to initiate protest actions. However, once they arise, it is the duty of the Communists to immediately determine our attitude to them and to join them. In keeping with Lenin’s behest, we must go where the masses are. Today the CPRF protest movement headquarters comprises about 30 organizations. Yet there are hundreds of non-governmental organizations across the country and many of them have a protest character. And even the “non-protest” groups have many active people who could join the ranks of our supporters and eventually become Party members.
It has to be admitted that our work with non-governmental organizations is weak. Many of our functionaries are inclined to conduct their activities only within the Party following the principle “those who are not with us are against us”. That is inadmissible. We must work with everyone. Once they become aware of our effective support they will begin to support us. If the working people are our main social base and we claim to represent their interests it is our duty to closely cooperate with their organizations.
That applies to the trade unions in particular. Of course the elite of the “official” trade unions as represented by the Independent Trade Union Federation have become servants of the ruling class. However, the deteriorating living and working conditions impel the working people to stand up for their rights. That is why independent trade unions are springing up. So far they are in an embryonic state. But it is a sign that the organized working class, our main strategic ally, is coming back to the political arena.
We have experience of intensive interaction with militant trade unions such as the trade union at the Ford factory in the Leningrad Region. We have supported miners’ strikes in Severouralsk and strikes by locomotive drivers at the Moscow branch of the Gorky Railway, and we are helping the local trade union at the Taganrog Motor Works to stand on its feet. The parliamentary CPRF has signed an important agreement on interaction and support with the aviation trade unions.
However, many Party bodies still do not consider this to be a priority task. It is a very challenging task because the mass of workers do not yet have a class consciousness and workers’ leaders often are reluctant to “become involved in politics” confining themselves to the issues of pay and working conditions. However, ferocious exploitation on the part of the bourgeoisie and the cruelty of its police inevitably make the workers seek contact with us. We must respond and reciprocate more vigorously.
As it is, even the proposal to hold a conference on the status of the workers’ movement and its interaction with the CPRF put forward at the March Plenum of the CC has not been taken up. That is a serious omission and it must be rectified.
It has to be borne in mind that the struggle for the new trade unions is already underway. On the one hand, the authorities are trying to strangle them, not stopping short of police methods. On the other hand, we see the attempts of pro-Western “orange” forces to seize control of the workers’ movement in order to use it as a ram that would help them to come to power. It is our duty to do everything to enlist the trade unions and the broad circle of non-governmental organizations our allies and supporters. That is another key task of the Party organizations at every level.
This is especially important because we are preparing to hold an All-Russia Referendum on the key problems facing this country. It is a massive event that will require an immense concentration of energy, mobilization of all the Party’s forces and broad social support. Preparation for the referendum must be conducted not only in the political or legal spheres, but as part of our actions to strengthen the Party.
All the functionaries and activists must be aware that without massive support of non-governmental organizations we risk to find ourselves in isolation. This is what the authorities are seeking to achieve. We cannot afford to be confined to the circle of like-thinking people and fence ourselves off from the stormy sea of social life.
That brings me to another acute problem. We call on people to be politically active and civically committed. But the people who respond to our calls immediately come under severe pressure and sometimes reprisals on the part of the authorities. We receive dozens of reports about illegal detentions, beatings, interrogations, the taking of fingerprints, sackings and other methods of intimidation. We address only the most outrageous instances of arbitrary acts of the authorities. That is not right. If we call people to come out into the streets we must be able to protect them.
The time has come for creating a human rights organization on the broadest social basis under the CPRF aegis. It could be called a Committee for the Protection of the Rights and Dignity of Citizens or by some other name. But considering the official course of suppressing any political activity under the cover of laws on the fight against extremism we must challenge police arbitrariness on the legal front. That front must become one of the most important for us.
Now about the material base of the Party work. As I have mentioned, much has been done in this area. But it is often done with the funds of the Central Committee. We have and will continue to spend most of our funds to support our branches, but we should get rid of the “sponging” attitude, the reliance on money coming from the top to finance the Party work.
All over the world raising money to finance political work is considered to be a key element of that work. The issue of newspapers, the upkeep of full-time Party functionaries, the cost of transport and premises must be financed out of locally raised funds. That is closely linked to the task of recruiting young and middle-aged people. It is one thing when Party dues are paid by a pensioner off his income of 3000 roubles and it is another thing when they are paid by a skilled worker off a wage that is 20,000 and more. Collection of Party dues and donations is a key criterion of the performance of Party organizations. There is nothing wrong with displaying a bit of entrepreneurial spirit and seeking support among sympathizing sponsors. However, it cannot be tolerated when Party activists work only for a remuneration. We can never outrival our opponents in terms of money. We should rely on conviction workers.
On the Party’s deputies. Today the CPRF is represented in the legislatures of all levels, from the State Duma to the local government bodies. The Communists are represented in the parliaments of 70 regions. The largest parliamentary groups are in the Moscow and Oryol Regions. The Communist deputies have amassed unique experience of law-making and analytical work. They are doing much to help strengthen the local Party organizations. They are aware of being the Party’s key instrument in protecting the interests of the working people. However, the work of our deputies at the State Duma and in the regions is still not coordinated enough. The creation of such a vertical structure must be one of our priorities. Simultaneously we should nip in the bud the attitudes of arrogance displayed by deputies in a number of regions. We are only significant and important if we work persistently to implement the Party’s policy under the Party’s leadership.
On the whole I think that in recent years there has been a certain tilt in our activities away from organizational work. We must enhance the responsibility of the organization departments at all levels. We need operational Party headquarters to coordinate and direct the multifarious activities of the far-flung network of our Party branches. Without it we will find ourselves reacting belatedly to every situation rather than controlling it.
At the same time there can be no question of diminishing our efforts in the agitation, propaganda and information work of the Party. That work is very important.
We are sensitive to the situation in the country and we are able at any moment to provide a competent and critical assessment of the activities of the current authorities. The challenge is, however, to get our assessments across not only to our members and supporters, but to the mass of our compatriots who are exposed to the powerful official propaganda machine. This is the essence of the work of any political party. I must admit however that we still have a long way to go before we come to possess an effective system for disseminating our views.
Obviously, we will be debarred from television. But we cannot afford an attitude of resignation. We have the Party press, the newspapers Pravda and Sovetskaya Rossia which are popular and well-known to the people. The distribution of our newspapers must become the key task of every Party organization and every member. Let me remind you of Lenin’s formula: “the Party press is not only a collective propagandist and agitator, but a collective organizer”. Let me also remind you that the network of the agents of the newspaper Iskra formed the core of the Bolshevik Party. The distribution of the Party press can solve two tasks: bring our views across to the broad circles of people and provide activists with an occasion to meet with people. By the way, there is demand for our newspapers. It is absurd to let the merchants who earn handsome profits from the sale of Party press keep all the proceeds.
The website KPRF.RU has become far more interesting and active recently. It now has a video section where everyone can see what television channels do not show: TV reports on the Party’s activities. We must now seek to develop Internet pages of regional Party branches, to coordinate their activities and form a single Party information and propaganda system. It is necessary to increase the circulation and improve the quality of the regional papers.
It has to be admitted that the CPRF newspapers and the Internet sites reach out only to part of our electorate and our supporters. Leaflets is another way to reach new millions of people. Lenin had devoted a special article to this in his time. The Central Committee departments must immediately begin creating a system within which creative groups prepare texts and drawings for mass-circulation leaflets, distribute them by an e-mail, make copies and distribute them among local organizations.
The language we speak to the youth, and to society as a whole, is often ineffective. This language is sterile, dry, devoid of attractive colours and images and replete with clichés and stereotypes. We need vivid colours and music for our events. We need to make them “theatrical”.
The Party’s theoretical work must be stepped up. Unfortunately, it is often reduced to attempts to mechanically apply the ideas of Marx and Lenin to the present-day conditions. These ideas of course are still immensely important, especially since we are again living under capitalism. But a scholastic approach is unacceptable. We have to understand that present-day capitalism is as different from the capitalism of the early 20th century as Mozhaisky’s plane was from the Buran spacecraft. New economic methods have emerged and new social strata have emerged. We see society being transformed before our eyes. It is imperative for us to be able to creatively analyze the essence of these processes, the prospects and the essence of socialism in the 21st century. The Party should hold a scientific-practical conference on these problems in the near future.
The theoretical work cannot be confined to the activity of full-time Party “ideologists”. It should be the work of the masses. To be sure, not everyone is capable of theoretical thinking. But no one should be a passive “cog” in the Party mechanism.
It is our duty to enlist theoretical workers not only from among the Party ranks, but from among the ranks of its supporters who are in the midst of the world of economics, finance, culture and who have inside knowledge of these spheres. Otherwise we will not be able to keep abreast of rapid change, we will not be ready, when called upon, to assume responsibility for running the country and to implement extremely important reforms in a competent and confident manner.
However, it is necessary to bear in mind that some “new ideas” are being peddled to us: renouncing Marxism-Leninism and Socialism as the strategic goal and dropping the word “Communist” from the name of our Party. In return we are promised an alliance with the “left-wing” forces which in reality are secret agents of the bourgeoisie. We should not let down our guard.
We should be mindful of the reaction of the bourgeois media to the publication of the draft of the new edition of the CPRF Programme. The press has carried comments about a change of our programmatic principles and about the Communist Party of Russia drifting towards social democracy. We categorically reject all these allegations. We believe that they are prompted either by incompetence or by wishful thinking.
Social democracy is not our path. The Party activists have no doubt about it. Nor do the Party’s governing bodies have any doubts. Social democracy is incapable of delivering the fundamental goals for the sake of which the CPRF was created. The social democrats in the modern world have almost everywhere given up the fight for socialism and in some cases have assumed right-wing liberal positions. In Russia, moreover, that political trend has been greatly discredited by those who have tried to act on its behalf, beginning from Mikhail Gorbachev, Ivan Rybkin and Gavriil Popov. A new stage in this process is associated with the activities of Mr Mironov whom you all know very well.
So, in the coming period we must dramatically strengthen our Party organizationally and ideologically. To do it we must change the criteria by which we assess the performance of Party organizations. The following parameters must come to the fore:
Broadening the Party ranks.
Taking part in protest actions.
Collecting Party dues and donations.
Subscription for Party press and its distribution.
Increasing the number of allies in non-governmental organizations.
The Struggle for Power and Relations with Power
We have put forward a serious alternative to the course pursued by the present Administration. The question legitimately suggests itself: how to implement this programme of transformations? Obviously, it is impossible in the framework of the current system dominated by bureaucrats and oligarchs.
At one time we believed that we could come to power by taking part in elections at various levels. Now, given massive election rigging and the severe pressure of the authorities on society, this is an unlikely scenario. It does not mean that we will stop taking part in elections. We must make effective use even of the limited political opportunities that the present system still affords.
At the same time, as we have noted, the administration clearly does not cope with the task of running the country. Against the background of fabulous enrichment of a tiny handful of oligarchs and the top bureaucrats, the living conditions of the majority of the people are deteriorating. A mass social protest is brewing. It is impossible to predict when and in what form it will erupt. History shows that such revolutionary explosions are objectively the product of the activities of the ruling groups themselves. Bismarck in his time warned that revolutions are a “consequence of brazen and persistent neglect of the aspirations of the vast majority of the population”.
But it would be naïve to expect that power will just drop in our laps. We must use everything – parliamentary and non-parliamentary forms and methods of struggle – to weaken the ruling group and to expose its essence in the eyes of our compatriots. By the same token, we must strengthen the CPRF as a truly people’s Party, capable, in alliance with other patriotic forces, of assuming the responsibility for the country and for rescuing it from the crisis.
However, we must enlist the support of society not after the inevitable crisis of power breaks out, but long before it. This means that we must conduct painstaking day-to-day work in all areas to convince the people that the Communists do not only have a viable programme for taking the country out of its crisis, but are able to put it into practice.
Under the pressure of the CPRF, the growing protest movement, and the increasingly complicated situation the regime is beginning to wobble and to make concessions. Our task is to take advantage of that, increase the pressure on the authorities and force them to make further concessions to the working people. Without solving the tactical tasks we won’t solve the strategic tasks. Without loosening the regime of the oligarchy we will not be able to prepare the advent of people’s power.
In this connection permit me to say a few words about our fundamental approach to the possibility of interacting with other parties and with the Russian authorities.
The CPRF does not live and work in a vacuum, but in the concrete conditions of savage Russian capitalism which increasingly gravitates towards authoritarianism, the police state, arbitrariness and restriction of rights and freedoms. We cannot for a minute entertain any illusions regarding the regime’s goals and intentions. And that includes its attitude to our Party.
The regime merely suffers us gritting its teeth. It tolerates our existence because we are ready to stand up for ourselves and those who are with us. In the uphill struggle for the socialist ideals we must have both our feet firmly planted in reality. We cannot confine ourselves to just condemning the surrounding reality. Such a position would be tantamount to giving up practical politics and would be fraught with self-isolation.
To change the reality there is no other means but an active, diversified and pragmatic policy. As Lenin taught in his historic work Left-Wing Communism – Infantile Disorder, such a policy is unthinkable without temporary alliances with rivals and even enemies, without maneuvers and compromises. To forego such alliances under the pretext of keeping ourselves squeaky clean would be myopic. It is important to seek alliances and compromises that would benefit our struggle. Such alliances and compromises cost dearly. Often they win battles. However, one cannot tolerate rotten compromises that damage our Party, or compromises on principle and appeasement of the powers that be disguised as flexibility.
Actions that spell the loss of the Party’s identity or it being dissolved in other organizations and movements are not an option. At the same time mutually beneficial cooperation with non-Communist forces on a clearly defined range of issues and actions to solve the tasks facing the country and the Party should be regarded as useful.
We must remember that fighting by the enemy’s rules, you can never win. If we decide to cooperate with our opponents, it can only be on a limited range of issues and only when the authorities do not use us, while we have a chance to strengthen our position. That is how we should approach our interaction with the Medvedev-Putin tandem and other sections of the ruling group. They have not relinquished and undoubtedly will continue their attempts to change the character of our Party and make it amenable. We will have to be vigilant and circumspect. But we should not be afraid and be on the defensive, which never is a sign of boldness or confidence. Bowing to necessity, the Kremlin had to unfreeze part of the funds which it had for years been hiding in reserve funds refusing to use them for the country’s needs. At the same time it has to be borne in mind that the billions and trillions earmarked for financial rehabilitation and the national projects provide a legal means of dividing the money among the self-same clans of oligarchs. They have long tried to gain access to the “big feeding trough”. The Kremlin is well aware that much of the Stabilization Fund and other reserves will inevitably be stolen by our roguish “elite”. But the essence of Bonapartist government is that it constantly balances between a handful of moneybags and embezzlers and the rest of society giving the juiciest pieces to the rich and crumbs to all the rest.
We must get the maximum “mileage” out of this situation. First of all we must closely follow the Kremlin’s and the Government’s compliance with its promises at the center and in the regions, on the construction sites and on the factory floor, in hospitals, universities and schools. We must expose not only the limitations of the “Putin plan,” which cannot revive Russia, but the inevitable widespread embezzlement, mismanagement and incompetence that this plan entails.
I would like to dwell on the subject of increases of pensions, wages and stipends the ruling regime is touting. Obviously, these increases cannot compensate for the growing prices which the authorities are unwilling and unable to control. In reality this is a way of concealing the real worsening of living conditions for those they are supposed to benefit.
Only a couple of years ago there could be no question of any increases. They were introduced on the eve of the elections in order to win support for the authorities of those social strata which traditionally backed the CPRF. Now that there is no need for their support the administration will be less and less willing to pursue this line. It is not for nothing that Putin has to repeatedly remind his ministers that promises must be kept.
Having made a step in that direction the authorities, however, find themselves on thin ice. It will be hard to stop without risking to provoke indignation over dashed hopes. We must take the authorities up on their words and drive them forward, further and further on thin ice confronting them with a choice: either to meet the just demands of the citizens or to suffer a crushing defeat. The present-day comprador power is sure to meet with a crushing defeat sooner or later. It is only then that change for the better will begin in Russia.
In recent years our Party has not only urged the need to actively protect Russia against external threats and change its former policy, revive real production instead of just fiddling with financial flows; it argued that it was wrong to keep on a lean diet more than a third of the population, that the fight against corruption and crime must be waged, that the army and the national security system must be strengthened, that the cultural and moral crisis of society and many other ills and failures of present-day Russia must be addressed, but it also came up with the programme of concrete actions. The Kremlin and the White House have recently indicated their readiness to address the problems that are crying for solution.
That means that over the past years it was us and not the authorities that were right. Now life forces them to recognize the erroneous and dead-end character of the policy they have pursued so far. A new and wide field for an offensive on the authorities is opening up in connection with its widely trumpeted readiness to fight corruption. If they are serious about it, all power to their elbow and our full support for them. It is high time. But is that what they really want?
Corruption is not a wild twig grafted on the healthy body of Russian “democratic” power. No. It is a systemic phenomenon that reflects the marriage between criminalized business and the state machine. That marriage grew stronger under Putin. During his presidency the share of former businessmen in the Russian ruling elite increased to 40%. Who would believe that once they are ensconced in government positions they will stop thinking about their business and will start caring about the common good at the expense of their own profits. A wolf is always a wolf no matter how hard you try to cover its grey ears with a red riding hood.
The notorious presidential vertical power structure is riddled with corruption from top to bottom. Government jobs are for sale. State officials, of the highest rank, are as a rule protecting their own firms. The character of laws and court rulings often depends on how much has been paid for them.
This summer President Medvedev approved an anticorruption plan. Various bills have been introduced at the Duma in accordance with this long and legally convoluted document. One may get the impression that the problem is lack of corresponding legislation and regulations. Of course, the Russian elite has for 15 years been writing decrees and laws that left many loopholes and justified their wrongful enrichment. Nevertheless it would not have been difficult to slap on the wrists the most brazen corrupt officials in the past and now. To slap them hard and immediately. The existing legal framework is sufficient for that. But that has not been done or, if it has been done, it was mainly in order to settle accounts with the enemies.
Considering the scale of corruption, uprooting it would undoubtedly call for a serious overhaul of the existing state machine, punishment of thousands and tens of thousands of loyal servants and pillars of the market democracy. That will need to be done sooner or later. The CPRF believes that the sooner and more resolutely it is done the better.
We have been invited, along with other Duma parties, to join anti-corruption measures. We have accepted the invitation. But we have warned in advance that we will demand truly drastic measures. At the same time, we are ready for active and honest cooperation if that great evil and disgrace of Russia is challenged in earnest.
Comrades, our Party is a hard-line opponent of the present Government. This is not tactics. This is our conscious and principled stand. We have reaffirmed this by unanimously voting in the Duma against Vladimir Putin’s appointment as the head of Government, and then against the bill on a three-year budget and the extension of the terms of the President and the Duma. We spoke at the Supreme Court exposing the actions of the ruling regime in falsifying the Duma election returns. We continue to fight the brazen crackdown on free speech, freedom of assembly, demonstrations and against arbitrary court decisions.
We are acting as our conscience and our hearts bid us. We rely on the rich experience and the traditions of the Socialist and Communist movement in Russia.
There is no other party in Russia that has such political and government experience, such human resources, such a considered and consistent programme of actions as our Party. We, Communists, embody the project that is a real alternative to the present state of affairs in Russia and in the world. Our project is the path to the revival of our great Motherland, its secure and happy future. I am sure that working people will hear us better and better and that the peoples of the world will again look to Moscow and to Russia.
A Russia whose existence is reduced to the lust for gain and the introduction of Western-style democracy cannot offer anything that is new, attractive or inspiring to our citizens or to people in other countries. Today’s Russia, by the will of its rulers, is following the path of futile copy-cat behaviour. Following that path it will never move into leading positions that it deserves owing to its history, unique civilization, and its vast natural and human potential.
The CPRF is a full-blooded and strong political party. Like any self-respecting party it exists in order to seek power. We do not conceal that we are seeking to gain power in Russia. This is our right. This is our duty to our people. We will hold it sacred. We will not be stopped or misled by libelous attacks, intrigues and persecution by our enemies. Their goals have been well known for a long time. Their political practice in Russia reveals the true face of those who are subservient to the oligarchic elite. They will shout that Communism is outdated, they will pour abuse on our glorious past and deceive people in order to keep in power and continue to exploit Russia and its peoples. We take up their challenge. And we are confident that our cause is right.
Ahead lies intense work to assess what has been achieved, to creatively seek to overcome the shortcomings and to strengthen the Party, to turn it into a still more effective instrument of the struggle for the interests of the people.
I call on the delegates to the Congress not to enlarge on their personal achievements, not to try to gloss over the true state of affairs and not to waste time condemning the actions of the authorities and engaging in petty squabbles. The main thing is to concentrate on assessing the internal state of the Party, its problems and methods of solving them, on the search of ways to take the country out of its severe crisis.
We are confident that the cause we are serving will inevitably triumph. But the road to success will be neither short nor easy. This is no reason to be dispirited or disenchanted, but a stimulus to become even more persistent and to show the will for victory, and a creative approach to solving strategic tasks. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Assessing the report period and the prospects opening up before the CPRF our Congress has every reason to state that we are on the right path and we are moving down that path ever more resolutely and successfully.