People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 45

November 11, 2007



Celebrations In Russia


CPRF general secretary Zyuganov at the beginning of the march at Pushkin Square, Moscow on November 7


Sitaram Yechury

from Moscow


EIGHTY three communist and workers party delegations from seventy five countries across the world, marched in sub-zero temperature, along with thousands of Russians, from the Pushkin Square to Karl Marx's statue in the Tverskaya square, next to the Red Square, Moscow, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.


Since the collapse of socialism and the dismantling of the USSR, November 7 is no longer a public holiday anywhere in the erstwhile socialist super power except in Belarus. Therefore, these celebrations and the gala function had to be organised after office hours, after dark when the temperature drops appreciably. Yet it is remarkable that thousands turned up.


Contrary to bourgeois propaganda these thousands were not only retired veterans and pensioners. A significant presence of youth was a welcome sign. An important experience was to see the domination of Comrade Stalin's role in all this. As speaker after speaker (This was not a public meeting of our style in India. Speakers would speak for five minutes or so) referred to Stalin there was a huge applause. Stalin's portrait was carried by thousands and some stuck his photo on their coats !


While the demonstrators were estimated to be over ten thousand, the state deployed a police force of over four thousand ! The Red Square was closed, ostensibly for renewal purposes.


However on the 6th as we arrived from Minsk, we went straight to the Lenin Masoleum. The grave continues to attract the largest number of visitors. Later that evening a gala concert was organised by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). Some of the best artists of the Russian Federation performed in the famous hall of columns. This hall was the first seat of the Supreme Soviet before it moved into the Kremlin. This was the hall where Lenin's body was kept in state to permit public homage. Subsequently all general secretaries of the CPSU were brought here for a public farewell.


This concert, in a way, also served the CPRF to launch its election campaign for the forthcoming Duma (Russian parliament) elections on December 2. Speaking on this occasion CPRF general secretary Zyuganov described the sorry state of affairs of the people since the demise of socialism. He said that while the October Revolution was a people's upsurge, the dismantling of socialism and the disintegration of the USSR was a coup organised by forces of counter-revolution, both domestic and international.


Zyuganov went on to inform that there was a 150 per cent drop in the levels of livelihood of the people since the counter-revolution. Nearly 2.5 million children were not going to school despite the fact that the free universal schooling system could not be abandoned by the new regime under public pressure. Around four million youngsters were drug addicts, 50 per cent of graduates are unemployed. Over 10 per cent of Russians, he said, lived in abysmal conditions, almost starving. He appealed to the Russian people to vote CPRF to end this sorry state of affairs.


Though the Russian state and government do not officially recognise the October Revolution, in an effort to counter the popular sentiment, the Moscow municipality organised an official parade at the Red Square. This army parade, as a proxy, was dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the parade led by the legendary commander of the Red Army Marshal Zhukov, who led the Red Army from the Red Square to the front line to face the fascist Hitler's Nazi attack on the Soviet Union. The subsequent years of war saw the Soviet Union lose over 20 million lives, till the Red Army finally hoisted the Red flag over Hitler's German Reichstag (seat of power). This was, indeed, an epic saga of people's victory over fascism in the 20th century. Nearly 20 million children were brought up by single mothers in the post war years.


The CPRF is seeking to restore the past glory by appealing for a popular vote in the forthcoming elections to the Duma. Currently there are 11 registered political parties. According to the Russian law each require a minimum of seven per cent of popular vote to validate such recognition. It is widely believed that only four of these eleven parties, including CPRF apart from Putin's United Russia party will cross this threshold. The results, widely again believed to favour Putin, and the consequent coalitions will determine the future of Russia.


In any event, these celebrations of the 90th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution brought back not merely memories of a glorious past but also the determination to change the present course of events. This was the first time, we were told, that there was such a broad participation of international delegations since the dismantling of the mighty USSR.


Finally, one cannot but go down the memory lane to recall the 70th anniversary of the October Revolution in 1987. A special CPSU Congress was convened. The CPI(M) delegation was led by the then general secretary E M S Namboodiripad and included Harkishan Singh Surjeet and myself. The thesis presented by Gorbachev, outlined for the first time, the disastrous course of counter-revolution. While the CPI(M) delegation disagreed with this, a rare exception at that time, its central committee issued a detailed resolution denouncing this Gorbachev thesis and forewarned the consequences. In the event, Gorbachev and the liquidationist leadership of the CPSU turned out to be the offspring of the illegitimate relationship between imperialism and revisionism.


As we participated in these celebrations of the 90th anniversary, the singular question on everyone's mind was whether the glory of the past can be recovered. Conscious of the fact that the mistakes of the past need to be corrected, more importantly never repeated, the determination writ large on everyone's face was: Yes, we shall have to win.


Sub-zero winds swept across us as these thoughts crossed our minds. But then, the October Revolution triumphed in such temperatures or worse! There can be nothing that can weaken, less undermine, our defence of the revolution and the effort to advance the course of universal human development.


(November 7, 2007)