RUSSIA Despite the war, workers’ resistance is making its way

Despite the repression of any expression of protest against the war in Ukraine, one of our correspondents says: « It is extremely significant that several groups of soldiers have refused to go to Ukraine. For an enlisted man, refusal means immediate and permanent dismissal from the army and possible legal action.” Among the collective refusals of soldiers to go to Ukraine were twelve members of the Russian Guard from Krasnodar (1 March), eighty sailors from a Crimean regiment, sixty enlisted men from a Pskov regiment, eleven members of the special forces of the Ministry of the Interior from Khakassia, fifty-eight enlisted men from a Kaliningrad regiment (29 March) and the bulk of a South Ossetian regiment (31 March). These enlisted soldiers often come from the poorest regions, where the only employer is the army. 

Thousands shout: « Fuck the war! » 

Despite the « patriotic » brainwashing, rejection of the war is being expressed whenever possible. On 20 May in St. Petersburg, thousands of young people were attending a concert by the rock group Kis-Kis. Suddenly, a chorus arose from the crowd, chanted and repeated by hundreds and thousands of voices: « Fuck the war! »

The war has provoked an unprecedented crisis in the Communist Party, whose leaders, says one of our correspondents, « unsurprisingly took a chauvinist position in supporting the war ». A leader of the Komsomol (Communist Youth) in one region explained to us: « In the CP organisation in our town, all the young people without exception, but also some middle-aged people and a very small part of the leadership are against the war, defending Marxist positions. Conversely, all the older members, party officials and almost all the leaders support the war. » In Surgut (Central Siberia), fifty-seven CP activists collectively returned their party cards, protesting « against the anti-people and reactionary positions » of the leadership. Their decision was taken after Nikolai Kolomeitsev, MP and CP leader, made a speech demanding that Putin intensively bomb the Ukrainian capital.

« We, the menof the 3rd Rifle Battalion… »

Unbelievable, but true: this video has gone viral on anti-war Telegram channels. In front of at least 200 students and workers in paramilitary uniforms enlisted in the pro-Russian militias of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) in Ukraine, a man reads an address to Denis Pushilin, the head of the DNR, on behalf of all those enlisted. He demands that all the draftees be immediately demobilised. Challenging Pushilin, he reads: “Contrary to your statements that mobilised reservists do not take part in combat, but only in maintaining public order, we, the men of the Third Rifle Battalion of the 105th Regiment, were sent into combat in Mariupol and have remained there since 13 March 2022. And this despite the fact that, before being mobilised, most of us were students or workers in various businesses and industries, with no connection to the army, and that many of us should have been exempted on medical grounds. We are physically and morally exhausted, and 60 % of the forces are no longer fit to fight!” 

From the courts of justice to the schoolyards, from concert hall and even in the army, a cry rings out loud and clear : « No to war! »

Among the working class, the war and the Kremlin’s patriotic propaganda have failed to prevent strikes from breaking out, while sanctions have led to a 20 % rise in food prices and a wave of layoffs. 

An activist says: « In Novosibirsk, 200 workers of the rubbish collection company EkoTrans-N have been on strike since 19 April 2022 against deteriorating working conditions. On 9 May, the general assembly decided to form a trade union, and two days later the union was declared. On 16 May, the union proposed to open negotiations.”

In Novosibirsk, workers of the Eko Trans-N garbage collection company are on strike

Another activist informs us that in the Kolomna locomotive factory in the Moscow region, « the workers have just elected a new leadership of the union, and they chose the new leaders from among their comrades. The union is now actively fighting against the arbitrariness of the management. The factory management has tried to intimidate the activists with police methods, but it has not succeeded.” 

From and with our correspondents