Russian activists denounce the war

(from Communist Voice #24, June 14, 2000)

. While all the bourgeois political trends in Russia (the government, the free-market liberals, Zyuganov's Stalinist "Communist Party of the Russian Federation", etc.) have stained themselves with the blood of the Chechen people, there are small activist groups who have passionately denounced the war. They have demonstrated in the streets, and addressed manifestoes to the public. These groups are composed of people from a number of different left trends, and we are not endorsing any particular group among them or all the views of any such group. But we are reprinting excerpts from the leaflets of the Chelovechnost (Humanity) group, which is itself a coalition of different trends, simply to show that activists in Russia are fighting the war. They are not speaking in the parliamentary double-talk of the bourgeois politicians, but directly denouncing Russian imperialism and calling for the development of a movement from below.

Solidarity against war -- February 2000

by the Chelovechnost group, Moscow

. As we enter the 21st century, Russian society is confronted with the shameful fact of the bloody colonial war in the north Caucasus. The whole might of the `democratic' Russian state has been thrown into subjugating a small people, that volunteered to join neither the Tsarist or Stalinist empires nor Yeltsin's 'Federation'. Tens of thousands killed or physically or spiritually maimed; masses impoverished or turned into refugees with no rights; towns and villages reduced to ruins; this is the price paid to satisfy the political ambitions of a Russian ruling class bent on reinforcing and redoubling its dominance.

. This war, cynically presented as an `anti-terrorist operation', is in fact an act of state terror on a grand scale by Russia's rulers, which, in its turn, will lead to armed revenge by desperate Chechen people who have been deprived of everything they had and lost relatives and friends. The federal armed forces ravaging and burning everything in their way, are not `rooting out fundamentalism' but plunging Chechnya socially and economically into the middle ages--and thus creating the conditions for reactionary radical-Islamic political forces to gain influence.

. The aggression mounted against Chechnya, the genocide against its people, brings to the people of Russia itself the threat of a military-police regime, the repression of civil rights and the prospect of living in something like Lukashenko's Belarus or a Latin American dictatorship. 'A people that oppresses another people can never itself be free'; these words of Frederick Engels take on real meaning today.

. This war is fraught with no less catastrophic consequences socially and economically. Waging war and installing a regime of occupation requires vast resources--and these can only be taken from the working people, who even without this have been condemned to crushing poverty. While many millions live in want, tens of billions of rubles are spent on murder and destruction. Truly the cynicism of the ruling class and its political representatives--all the Putins, Chubaises and Zyuganovs, competing with each other to play the hangman--knows no bounds.

. The crimes of Russian imperialism against all the peoples who have been drawn into its military adventure must be stopped, before it is too late. We call for:. * An immediate end to military operations and the withdrawal of occupying forces form Chechen territory.

. * For the Chechen people's right to decide independently its future; the status of Cehchnya must be freely decided by its own population, observed by international human rights organizations;

. * The payment of sufficient compensation to all victims of the war, regardless of their nationality, out of the money set aside to fund the war;

. * The punishment of war criminals at all levels.

. We can not count on Russian politicians' good will. And it would be equally naive to rely on the ruling circles in the West, who condemn the Russian military machine's actions in words only, and have never upset their own plans or their partnership with the Russian establishment for the sake of defending the lives and rights of those who are suffering. Military barbarism can be stopped only by the growth of a social movement of protest in Russia itself. A democratic solution to the conflict in the north Caucasus will be achieved only by means of popular action from below.

. To start such action and do everything to help it develop, is the duty of all democratic and antitotalitarian left-wingers, who take a principled stand--in pursuit of the ideals of freedom, social equality and respect for every human being--against the exploitation and great-power interests who are running this war.

. We call on all people of progressive convictions, good will and common sense to do all that they can to give help, including material help, to the victims of the imperialist adventure in the Caucasus, and to take part in a campaign of practical solidarity with the Chechen people--a campaign against the war.

. The alternatives for our future are simple: either humanitarian civil society declares itself in Russia, or we will be left with a great-power police state, ready to make new wars and capable of the most monstrous crimes. It's time to make a choice!

March 2000

. To all organizations of working-class people, left political organisations, all those who have an internationalist and humanitarian outlook. A call to help the victims of Russian imperialism.

. From The editorial board of the antifascist newspaper Chelovechnost

. . . . The military action, which is no more nor less than genocide against the people of Chechnya, is accompanied by a growth of authoritarianism in Russia itself. The attacks on freedom of speech, the inflammation of hysterical great-power chauvinism, the growing political designs of the military-police apparatus--all this is a real threat to the civil society taking shape in Russia and, above all, to the independent movement of working people that forms the basis of that society. The ruling circles who today sanction mass murder of civilians, tortures and beatings in concentration camps and the "disappearance" of people the regime disapproves of, could tomorrow use the same methods against movements of social protest.

. All the political groupings of the Russian ruling class--from the "communists", who dream of returning to the days of Stalin's empire, to the liberals, whose demagogy about human rights amounts to empty words--have united in support of the colonial adventure in Chechnya. Only a small number of left-wing and human rights groups, who demand the immediate withdrawal of the army of occupation from Chechnya and the right for its people to decide their own future independently, have been consistent in their opposition to the barbaric military onslaught.

. In February 2000 two left groupings, the Praksis centre and the editors of the anti-fascist newspaper Chelovechnost [Humanity], set up an action group in Moscow with the aim of starting a campaign of practical solidarity for the victims of the Chechnya war. This group has already begun the collection of material and financial aid for refugees from Chechnya, who have lost their homes, their property and their basic human rights.

. We address to all organizations of working-class people, left political organizations, all those who have an internationalist and humanitarian outlook a call to help the victims of Russian imperialism. They must know that they are not alone, that the international workers' movement is staying true to the traditions of international solidarity and struggle for the liberation of the oppressed and is on their side!

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Last modified: October 15, 2001.