Over the weekend Vladimir Putin was re elected as president of Russia with a big majority as expected. But what does this mean for Russians and the future of the region.
Firstly there are many calls from wide layers of people that these elections were not fair or legitimate.
The Presidential elections took place on 4 March. They were no more legitimate than last December’s parliamentary elections. There were only five candidates; Putin, Zyuganov (the increasingly right nationalist ‘communist’), Mironov (the leader of the Just Russia Party that was originally set up by Kremlin spin doctors to try to neutralize any opposition), Prokorov (a liberal oligarch notorious for his call for a 60 hour working week and promoted by the Kremlin to give an image of pluralism) and the right-wing nationalist clown Zhirinovskii. Even the relatively ‘safe’ Grigorii Yavlinsky, who would have no chance of winning anyway, has not been allowed to stand. The same methods of vote fixing and fraud, as were used last December, have been said to have been used. Orders were dispatched to regional chiefs telling them what percentage of the vote they need to organize for Putin.
I have read some people claiming that support should be going to the communists this are very misguided and false in thinking. The communist party in Russia is nothing of the sort. It uses that name cleverly to attract workers and people who think of themselves as communist but are nothing of the sort. They are more akin to a right of centre nationalist party with pro Russia and other such anti working class ideas.
No support should be shown to these either. They were formed in 1993 and claim to be the refounders of the old communist party but nothing could be further from the truth.
In calling for a boycott of the presidential election, the CWI in Russia was not urging passivity, but on the contrary, believes that the opposition should be mobilizing its supporters to leaflet and campaign outside the workplaces and educational institutions, to build genuine committees of action in opposition to the fraud. The so-called oppositionist ‘Communist’ and ‘Just Russia’ deputies elected in December’s rigged election are not boycotting the work of the Duma but have instead passed a statement recognizing the “legitimacy” of the election. The CWI believes the post of President should be abolished, not just to establish a ‘Parliamentary republic’ but to allow the convening of a genuinely democratic constituent assembly to which the working class and the oppressed can send their representatives to decide how society should be run. Most of all, the CWI calls for the working class to organize in trade unions and to form a genuine left workers’ party that can challenge the rule of big business and its representatives in the Kremlin, and to struggle to form a government representing workers and the oppressed masses with a bold socialist programmed.