From Red Youth (Krasnaya Molodiozh)
October 1998

General Strike in Russia October 7th 1998

On October 7 a general strike took place in Russia. Despite the propaganda of the regime and the expectations of the bourgeoisie and also of the organizers of the strike - the Federation of Independent Unions of Russia (FIUR), the official unions, and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), led by Gennady Zyuganov - the general strike has had an important significance for raising the revolutionary mood of the masses.

Millions of workers throughout the country stopped work and went out into the streets to protest against the president, the government and the bourgeois regime as a whole. This time the self-organization and militancy of the masses overwhelmed the organizers of the general strike, the official yellow unions and the pseudo-communists of the CPRF.

The official unions were only willing to put forward economic demands: the pay-off of wage arrears (wages are miserable in Russia and workers are often not paid for more than 6 months), the payment of miserable social benefits, pensions, etc. The demands of the CPRF were very close to those put forward by the official unions, apart from some cautious political demands such as "Yeltsin should resign". On the other hand, the CPRF has been admitted into the government of Primakov, in which one of the party members, Maslyukov, former president of the Soviet Gosplan in the late '80s, holds a key position. The CPRF is now more involved than ever before in the policies of the anti-popular regime, supporting Yeltsin´s regime through the legislative activity of the puppet State Duma. The slogans put forward by the leadership of the CPRF reduce themselves to calling for the resignation of a sick president who is not able to fulfill his executive duties. The leaders of the rest of the so-called left opposition are no more than tailing the CPRF and no longer have the political strength to conduct independent political struggle.

On the other hand, millions of communists and workers throughout the country came out to the streets with revolutionary slogans calling for the overthrow of the bourgeois regime and the struggle for socialism as the only solution to today's crisis. These slogans were put forward by numerous left organizations in the regions and by the working class. In this sense these slogans proved far more revolutionary that those put forward by the so-called left opposition in the country. Rallies and demonstrations took place in hundreds of cities throughout the whole country, drawing millions of workers into the streets. Unlike other actions of popular protest in the past, this time millions of workers took to the streets throughout the country in an organized manner and in very large numbers, and in a very militant way.

For instance, in Vladikavkaz, the capital of the republic of North Ossetia, in the south of the Russian Federation, some 12,000 demonstrators took to the streets, a very significant number of people for a population of 380 thousand. Unlike in Moscow, where the protest actions were supported by the right-wing opposition to Yeltsin like Yuri Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, in Vladikavkaz as in most of the regions the strike met resistance from the power structures. Many students came to the demonstration with red flags and militant slogans despite the threats of expulsion made by high school, professional school and college administrations.

The All-Russian strike of October 7th showed that the country is living through a period of revolutionary upsurge. The self-organization and political consciousness of the working class is growing day by day. What the workers movement needs now more than ever is a revolutionary leadership. This will take place only when a strong revolutionary, Marxist-Leninist party of the working class is formed.

Click here to return to Index on Russia