URGENT

RUSSIA « The Workers Do Not Want War! » – Interview of Alexei [1], Trade Union Activist of the Solidarity Platform

What is your view on the march to war in Eastern Europe? 

Alexei: It is a confrontation between two economic and military blocs. On one side, NATO, on the other, China and Russia. Ukraine is only one of the fields in this confrontation. The Ukrainian working class is suffering from its own government and is under pressure from both East and West. 

In my opinion, both sides do not intend to go to a world war, but any slippage or provocation could lead to it. In the areas of the so-called « people’s republics, » the war has never really stopped since 2014. But a world war is not part of the imperialist plans at the moment. 

In Russia, the threat of war is a convenient pretext for attacking political rights: It is almost impossible to organize legal demonstrations, the opposition and the media have been crushed. Even the simplest forms of self-organization (trade unions or environmental initiatives) are under heavy pressure from the security services. Every disgruntled worker is suspected of being a « Western agent. » 

How can the World Conference Against War and Exploitation be useful? 

The only possible position is for the labor movement to take a stand against the war. In Russia, workers do not want war and are much more critical of the government than they were in 2014 when Crimea was annexed. The standard of living of the population has fallen, prices are rising, Putin’s promises of a « happy life soon » have been replaced by rhetoric about « the whole world is against us, we have to endure and survive. » 

The labor movement has the duty to say, « Yes to the workers’ demands, No to the imperialist wars! » It is our task as communists to conduct agitation and propaganda to explain to the workers that their interests are different from those who use the threat of military conflict. Unfortunately, in Russia, the possibilities for public political activity are shrinking. Workers’ organizations and communists must learn to work under these new conditions.

February 19, 2022 

[1] The name of the interviewed Russian unionist has been changed.