Russia

Bush visit to Georgia increases tensions with Putin government

By Simon Whelan, 18 May 2005

Speaking in Tbilisi on May 10, President George W. Bush quipped that he was in the neighbourhood and “thought we’d swing by.” However, his visit to the capital of Georgia was anything but casual. Amidst the self-satisfied bonhomie, Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili discussed issues with potentially explosive ramifications for the struggle between Russia and America for dominance over the Caucasus and all the territories that once made up the Soviet Union.

More than 500 killed, thousands wounded

Uzbekistan: US “war on terror” yields a bloodbath

By Bill Van Auken, 16 May 2005

The Bush administration’s “global war on terrorism” has recorded one of its bloodiest victories yet with the slaughter of several hundred men, women and children in the Uzbekistan city of Andijan.

Uzbekistan: US-backed dictator drowns uprising in blood

By Bill Van Auken, 14 May 2005

Local hospitals reported that dozens of people were shot to death and scores more wounded by Uzbekistan government forces in the eastern city of Andijan Friday after protesters stormed government offices and a jail, freeing thousands of prisoners.

Victory Day celebration in Russia reveals deepening political and social tensions

By Andrea Peters, 11 May 2005

While Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had intended the 60th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany as an occasion to boost Russia’s standing in world affairs, the day’s events largely served to reveal the depth of the political and social tensions wracking the country.

On the 60th Anniversary of the victory of the Red Army over Nazism

Anti-Russian nationalism in the Baltic States

Part two

By Niall Green, 10 May 2005

This is the concluding part of a two-part series. Part one was posted May 9.

On the 60th anniversary of the victory of the Red Army over Nazism

Anti-Russian nationalism in the Baltic States

Part one

By Niall Green, 9 May 2005

This is the first part of a two-part series.

Kyrgyz president forced to flee as opposition seizes power

By Andrea Peters, 28 March 2005

On March 24, rioting protesters forced Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev to flee the small Central Asian republic over which he has presided for 15 years. In the wake of his departure, a loose coalition of opposition forces under the leadership of Kurmanbek Bakiyev seized power, setting up an interim government in the capital city Bishkek. New presidential elections have been scheduled for June.

US money and personnel behind Kyrgyzstan’s “Tulip Revolution”

By Andrea Peters, 28 March 2005

The interim government established in Kyrgyzstan in the aftermath of the overthrow of the regime of President Askar Akayev is largely the product of US intervention (See: “Kyrgyz president forced to flee as opposition seizes power”).

Ukrainian President Yushchenko presses for closer ties with European Union

By Patrick Richter, 24 March 2005

New Ukrainian president Victor Yushchenko visited Berlin two weeks ago, under conditions in which the foreign policy of the German government of Gerhard Schröder, with its orientation towards Russia, is coming increasingly under pressure. A section of the ruling elite in Germany and Europe as a whole wants to use the change of government in Kiev to prosecute, alongside the US, a more aggressive foreign policy in eastern Europe.

Wealth and poverty in modern Russia

By Vladimir Volkov and Julia Denenberg, 11 March 2005

Since the beginning of the year, protests have been under way, primarily by pensioners, against the transformation of social benefits into substantially smaller cash payments. (See: “Russia: wave of protests against welfare cuts,” 27 January, 2005; and “Russia: Putin lays siege to social benefits,” 21 September, 2004.)

Two mysterious deaths in Georgia’s “Rose Revolution” regime

By Patrick Richter, 16 February 2005

On the night of February 3, 41-year-old Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania was found dead at the home of a friend and fellow party member, 25-year-old Raul Yusupov. Apparently, he had indicated he would stay “only briefly” in the flat, but then failed to make contact for a number of hours. His bodyguards, who were waiting outside, made their way into the dwelling and found the two dead, the friend lying in the kitchen, Zhvania in an armchair in the living room.

By Justus Leicht and Peter Schwarz, 31 January 2005

Following his January 23 inauguration as Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko travelled to Moscow for his first official visit and assured his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that Russia would remain Ukraine’s “eternal strategic partner.” These words were largely a matter of diplomatic protocol, however, motivated by Ukraine’s heavy dependence on the economy of its biggest neighbour. Russia has long been Ukraine’s most important economic partner.

Abkhazian elite come to settlement with Kremlin

By Simon Whelan, 27 January 2005

After a debacle lasting three months, a new government has finally been established in Abkhazia. Georgian authorities, including President Mikhail Saakashvili, denounced the elections as unlawful, but the Putin government in Russia congratulated the new incumbent Sergei Bagapsh, who takes over from Vladislav Ardzinba.

Russia: wave of protests against welfare cuts

By Stanislav Smolin and Vladimir Volkov, 27 January 2005

Since the beginning of January, a growing wave of protests has developed in Russia against the so-called monetarisation of social security benefits.

Oil giant Yukos and the struggle for Russian energy sources

By Ulrich Rippert, 10 January 2005

On December 23, the American government renewed its sharp criticism of the action taken by Russian authorities to break up the oil company Yukos. Adam Ereli, US State Department deputy spokesperson, told journalists in Washington that the takeover of Yuganskneftegas, the most important Yukos production company, was “not open or transparent.”

US client Yushchenko to assume Ukraine presidency

By Justus Leicht, 6 January 2005

Nothing now stands in the way of a change of power in Ukraine following decisions by both the Ukrainian Supreme Court and central electoral committee rejecting objections raised to the result of the repeated presidential election of December 26. The defeated candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, resigned from his post as prime minister on New Year’s Eve. Officiating president, Leonid Kuchma, who has held the post for the past decade, also accepted the election result.

A revealing commentary by a German newspaper

The price of Ukrainian democracy

By Peter Schwarz, 31 December 2004

“Triumph for democracy” was the title of a recent commentary in the German Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper dealing with the results of the Ukrainian presidential elections. The author of the piece, Thomas Urban, is the newspaper’s European specialist. For weeks he has been describing the Orange opposition in Kiev in glowing and uncritical reports. But in his recent comment, written in a flush of enthusiasm, he says more about the character of Ukrainian democracy than perhaps he intended.

Ukraine election: on-the-spot report from Kiev

A fight between millionaires and billionaires

By Patrick Richter, 29 December 2004

Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko has been declared the winner in the third round of the Ukrainian presidential election. He received 52 percent of the vote, while his opponent, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, trailed with 44 percent.

Yushchenko claims victory in Ukraine presidential election

By Justus Leicht and Peter Schwarz, 28 December 2004

In all probability, Viktor Yushchenko will be the new president of Ukraine. In the repeat election held December 26, the opposition candidate, who ran with the vocal political support and financial backing of the US and other Western powers, obtained 52 percent of the vote. His opponent, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, who was backed by Russia, gained 44 percent. The election turnout was approximately 75 percent, somewhat less than in the original ballot held November 21.

The power struggle in Ukraine and America’s strategy for global supremacy

By Peter Schwarz, 23 December 2004

In 1997, former US security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski published a book entitled The Grand Chessboard that attracted considerable attention and treated America’s strategy for global supremacy. By chessboard, Brzezinski meant Eurasia, the enormous land mass comprising two continents and containing the majority of the world’s population.

Ukraine power struggle: constitutional settlement favors opposition leader Yushchenko

By Peter Schwarz, 10 December 2004

Under strong international pressure, the Ukrainian parliament on December 8 enacted a new election law and a change in the constitution that largely met the demands of the opposition movement led by Viktor Yushchenko. The measures were immediately signed into law by President Leonid Kuchma.

What US-backed “democracy movements” have produced in Serbia and Georgia

By Justus Leicht, 9 December 2004

A change of regime is being carried out in Ukraine along the same lines as those carried out in Serbia (2000) and Georgia (2003). So-called “democracy movements,” which enjoy substantial financial, ideological and logistic support from American and European institutions, put the existing regime under pressure until it is forced to give way to a new regime more completely dominated by Western imperialist powers.

Power struggle in Ukraine continues

By Peter Schwarz, 8 December 2004

Conflicts continue between the opposing camps following the decision by the Ukraine Supreme Court to annul the disputed result of the presidential election of November 21 and order a revote on December 26.

Ukraine: ultra-right groups active in Ukrainian opposition

By Justus Leicht, 7 December 2004

In its enthusiasm for the Ukrainian opposition, the Western media has conveniently overlooked the fact that ultra-right groups are active inside the opposition movement known as the “Orange Revolution.”

Ukraine Supreme Court orders new presidential run-off election

By Peter Schwarz, 4 December 2004

On Friday evening, after five days of deliberations, the Ukraine Supreme Court issued its ruling on the disputed presidential election. The court invalidated the November 21 run-off vote, in which the sitting prime minister, Viktor Yanukovich, was declared the victor by state election authorities, and ordered a new vote to be held between Yanukovich and the leader of the US- and European-backed opposition, former prime minister and central bank head Viktor Yushchenko. The court cited claims, coming mainly from the Yushchenko camp and its Western sponsors, of widespread election fraud.

The creation of the Ukraine “democratic” opposition

By Justus Leicht, 2 December 2004

If one were to believe the Western media, one would conclude that the Ukrainian opposition movement developed independently as the result of a spontaneous popular movement for liberty and democracy against a corrupt regime. In fact, what has characterized the media coverage of recent events in Ukraine is the absence of any critical journalism. Virtually none of the media oulets has bothered to investigate who is behind the so-called democracy movement and the nature of its political program.

Crisis in Ukraine: rival camps await Supreme Court verdict on election

By Peter Schwarz, 2 December 2004

In the power struggle surrounding the Ukrainian presidency, the camp of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich has been increasingly pushed onto the defensive. Nevertheless, following the narrow passage of a no-confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, Yanukovich said he would not step down as prime minister, declaring the vote unconstitutional.

Power struggle in Ukraine: what do Yushchenko and Yanukovich stand for?

By Patrick Richter and Andy Niklaus, 1 December 2004

Neither of the two official factions fighting for power in Ukraine—the group led by opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko and that led by the current prime minister, Viktor Yanukovich—represents the interests of the broad masses of the population.

US intervenes in disputed Ukraine election: Who the hell asked you, Mr. Powell?

By Joseph Kay, 30 November 2004

If it were not for its reactionary political implications, US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s declaration last week that the Ukraine presidential election is unacceptable because it does not meet the high standards of the Bush administration would be a moment of high comedy. Here is the American secretary of state, the chief international spokesman of an administration that first came to power after a stolen election, declaring the Ukrainian election to be illegitimate “because it does not meet international standards and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse.”

Great power rivalries erupt over disputed election in Ukraine

By Peter Schwarz, 25 November 2004

A struggle for power has broken out between the two candidates, acting head of the government Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, following the Ukrainian presidential elections last Sunday. The official electoral committee pronounced Yanukovich to be the winner, but the opposition has refused to recognize the result. It maintains that the election results were falsified and Yushchenko was the legitimate winner.

US introduces sanctions against Belarus

By Niall Green, 30 October 2004

On October 20, US President George W. Bush signed into law a bill that establishes sanctions against the former Soviet republic of Belarus and authorises the provision of assistance to groups opposed to the country’s president, Alexander Lukashenko.

Lithuania: election sees low turnout, large gains for Labour Party

By Niall Green, 28 October 2004

The Labour Party—a recent political formation led by multi-millionaire businessman Viktor Uspaskich—became the single largest party of the 141-seat Lithuanian parliament following the October 24 second-round elections. Gaining 39 seats, Labour beat the governing coalition of the Social Democrats and the Social Liberals, who saw their combined representation in the seimas (parliament) plummet to 31 seats from the 80 that they won in the 2000 election.

Russia-Georgia tensions worsen following Beslan siege

By Simon Wheelan, 11 October 2004

The school siege at Beslan in the Russian republic of North Ossetia has exacerbated tensions between Russia and Georgia, its neighbour in the South Caucasus.

The Caucasus powder keg: Russia threatens military interventions

By Peter Schwarz, 28 September 2004

The reaction of the Russian government to the Beslan hostage crisis increasingly recalls that of the American government to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The horrifying events in Beslan, which shocked and angered millions of people all over the world, are being used by the regime of President Vladimir Putin as a pretext for a domestic offensive against basic democratic rights and the implementation of a foreign policy agenda that will inevitably lead to new wars.

Russia: Putin lays siege to social benefits

By Vladimir Volkov and Andrea Peters, 21 September 2004

This summer, the Russian Duma and the Federation Council, the lower and upper houses of parliament, passed an array of measures that effectively liquidate the social benefits of 40 million Russian citizens. The elimination of these entitlements, which were established during the Soviet period, marks the latest stage in the destruction of the living standards of the Russian masses, who have experienced a historically unprecedented social retrogression since the breakup of the USSR and introduction of capitalist market relations in 1991.

Putin strengthens his authoritarian regime

By Vladimir Volkov, 18 September 2004

The hostage drama in North Ossetia, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of schoolchildren, parents and teachers, has revealed the enormous gulf between the interests of the Russian ruling elite and the broad masses of the population. Now Russian president Vladimir Putin is using these events in a thoroughly cynical manner to rein in democratic rights, strengthen the structures of the state, army and intelligence services, and open the road to an increasingly open dictatorial regime. Long discussed plans for a “strengthening of the power verticals” are now to be put into practice.

The Beslan hostage tragedy: the lies of the Putin government and its media

By Vladimir Volkov, 8 September 2004

The hostage-taking tragedy in the town of Beslan in North Ossetia has demonstrated the lengths to which the ruling elite in Russia is prepared to go in deceiving its own people. Four days after the hostage drama began with terrorists seizing over 1,000 children, parents and teachers, elementary facts still remain unclear. The Russian government has denied the people the most important and elementary right—that of reliable, rapid and extensive information on what has taken place.

Russia: school hostage atrocity ends in bloodbath

the Editorial Board, 4 September 2004

The siege of a Russian primary school in North Ossetia has ended in massive bloodshed, leaving possibly hundreds dead.

Russian miners protest again, as they did 15 years ago

By Stanislav Smolin and Vladimir Volkov, 26 August 2004

The series of miners’ strikes that swept across many parts of Russia (the Rostovskaya and Chelyabinskaya regions, Primorye, and the Republic of Komi) during April and July of this year are a harbinger of a new period of mass struggle by the working class for its rights and interests.

Russian-Georgian tensions escalate

By Simon Wheelan, 13 August 2004

There is mounting evidence that London and Washington are encouraging the Georgian government to challenge Russia’s presence in the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Strategically situated between the Black Sea and the oil-rich Caspian, and sitting astride two key oil and gas pipelines, Georgia borders Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Lithuanian elections return US Republican as president

By Niall Green, 9 July 2004

The presidential election in the Baltic country of Lithuania has returned former President Valdas Adamkus to office, following the June 27 second-round defeat of rival candidate Kazimeira Prunskiene. The elections were called as a result of the impeachment in April of Rolandas Paksas, who had beaten Adamkus, incumbent since 1998, in the presidential election of January 2003.

Russia’s Putin announces further attacks on living standards

By Vladimir Volkov, 10 June 2004

On May 26, in his annual address to the Federal Assembly, comprising both chambers of the Russian parliament, President Vladimir Putin announced a new round of shock therapy treatment for Russia—i.e., a new round in the social war conducted by the ruling elite against the majority of the population.

New law on Russian referendums: crude attack on democratic rights

By Vladimir Volkov, 8 June 2004

In his recent annual speech before both houses of parliament, Russian President Vladimir Putin placed particular emphasis on the necessity of creating “a free society of free people.” However, the actual actions of the government are aimed in the opposite direction.

Georgia sends troops to border with South Ossetia

By Richard Tyler, 7 June 2004

Georgia’s dispute with the breakaway republic of South Ossetia moved a step nearer to military conflict this week.

Georgia: Tensions increase between Abkhazia and Tbilisi

By Simon Whelan, 22 May 2004

For the time being at least, a war of words rather than bullets has ensued between the breakaway Georgian republic of Abkhazia and the Saakashvili regime in Tbilisi. As soon as the Tbilisi central government wrested back control of Adjaria, they began to alternately threaten or cajole the Abkhazian authorities. Regardless of repeated claims from the proclaimed capital of Sukhumi that Abkhazia is no Adjaria, the new government in Tbilisi is undoubtedly pursuing a similar scenario.

Georgian authorities wrest back control of Adjaria

By Simon Whelan, 11 May 2004

On May 6, Aslan Abashidze fled his fiefdom of Adjaria to a comfortable exile in Russia, thereby averting clashes between his local militia and the Georgian army.

Human rights violations in Chechnya and Ingushetia

By Peter Reydt, 3 May 2004

On April 8 Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, and Memorial published a joint statement condemning human rights violations in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Divisions within ruling elite drive impeachment of Lithuanian president

By Niall Green, 23 April 2004

In a move that marks a sharp increase in tensions within Lithuania’s fractious social elite, the country’s parliament has voted narrowly to impeach President Rolandas Paksas. Paksas was removed from office and temporarily replaced by the parliament’s speaker—and Paksas’s main political rival—Arturas Paulauskas.

Threat of civil war hangs over Georgia

Part Two

By Simon Whelan, 16 April 2004

This is the concluding part of a two-part article on the growing tensions within Georgia. The first part was published on April 15.

Threat of civil war hangs over Georgia

By Simon Whelan, 15 April 2004

This is the first of a two-part article on the growing tensions within Georgia.

Latvian government collapses

By Niall Green, 5 March 2004

A month after Prime Minister Einars Repse announced that his 14-month-old government was stepping down, Latvia remains in political turmoil. On January 28, one of the parties making up Repse’s centre-right government, the First Party, resigned, leaving the prime minister without a majority in the 100-seat parliament.

Russia: Putin sacks government on eve of presidential elections

By Vladimir Volkov, 1 March 2004

On February 24, President Vladimir Putin announced the surprise dismissal of the government of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. The decision expresses differences and conflicts that have reached a crisis point. It concentrates the levers of state power in the hands of the incumbent president and serves to prevent any disruption of Putin’s re-election on March 14.

Russia:

Behind the disappearance of presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin

By Vladimir Volkov, 24 February 2004

The mysterious disappearance of Russian presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin for five days earlier this month and then his reappearance and the strange explanations he furnished recall the spooky appearance of Volands, the Mephisto figure in the Michael Bugakov novel, The Master and Margarita. Events at the pinnacle of Russian politics are increasingly sliding towards irrational darkness.

Georgian election worsens Russian-US tensions

By Simon Whelan, 12 January 2004

Mikhail Saakashvili is almost certain to be announced as the landslide winner of Georgian presidential election held on January 4. At least half of the country’s population voted, thereby validating the result. Final results have not yet been released, but exit polls indicate a victory for Saakashvili by a significant margin. Some believe the 37-year-old has achieved at least 85 percent of the total vote, other claim at least 90 percent. The official tally is scheduled for completion on January 12.

Georgia: “Rose revolution” destabilises southern Caucasus

Part 2

By Simon Wheelan, 30 December 2003

The following is the conclusion of a two-part series on the US-backed coup in Georgia and its aftermath. The first part was posted December 29.

Georgia: “Rose revolution” destabilises southern Caucasus

Part 1

By Simon Wheelan, 29 December 2003

The following is the first of a two-part series on the US-backed coup in Georgia and its aftermath. The concluding part will be posted tomorrow, December 30.

Russian elections: Putin consolidates regime of “managed democracy”

By Vladimir Volkov, 18 December 2003

The December 7 elections to Russia’s State Duma gave a sharply distorted expression to the dissatisfaction felt by tens of millions of citizens with the conditions created by more than a decade of “market reforms.” The popular vote showed that the population is increasingly hostile to the ongoing destruction of social welfare, collapsing living standards and growing social inequality. At the same time, it is left without any real political alternative in a system that is crudely manipulated by ex-Stalinists and the rising class of criminal businessmen.

Oil intrigue and US Realpolitik heighten tensions in the Caucasus

Georgia’s “rose revolution”: a made-in-America coup

By Barry Grey and Vladimir Volkov, 5 December 2003

The United States has followed its successful regime change in the strategic Caucasian nation of Georgia with a series of moves aimed at pressing its advantage over its major rival in the region, Russia.

Uzbekistan: Britain’s ambassador embarrasses Bush administration

By Peter Reydt, 22 November 2003

Last week, Baroness Symons, a Foreign Office minister, announced that Ambassador Craig Murray would go back to Tashkent. The Labour government hopes this will bring to a close one of the most embarrassing scandals to hit a British foreign mission in years.

Election fraud induces political crisis in Georgia

By Simon Whelan, 19 November 2003

Ongoing political unrest in Georgia in the southern Caucasus region is threatening to get out of control.

Khodorkovsky’s arrest and the defenders of billionaires’ “democracy”

By Bill Vann, 4 November 2003

On October 25, Russian billionaire oil mogul Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested on charges of tax evasion and corruption dating back to the wholesale theft of state property that constituted the privatization process of the early 1990s.

Azerbaijani presidential election fixed with the approval of Bush and Putin

By Simon Whelan, 30 October 2003

On November 31 Ilham Aliyev will be inaugurated as president of Azerbaijan. Two weeks earlier, Azerbaijanis entered the polling booths to elect their president, not that it made any difference. The outcome was preordained courtesy of a crude stitch-up approved by both the US and Russian governments. Once the fabricated result was announced, both Washington and Moscow congratulated Aliyev.

Azerbaijan succession is focus of oil conflict

By Simon Wheelan, 18 September 2003

During a live televised debate this month, brawling broke out between opponents of the ruling New Azerbaijani Party. Glasses and punches were thrown between the warring Azeri politicians. The unedifying melee forced state executives to pull the debate off the air in mid-transmission.

Three hundred years of Petersburg—festival’s facades hide destitution

By Julia Denenberg, 21 June 2003

From May 23 to June 1, St. Petersburg celebrated its 300th anniversary. Preparations for this event were conducted over the course of the past two years. The scope and scale of the arrangements, which were widely reported in the Russian press, suggested that in May of this year both visitors and residents of St. Petersburg could expect something unprecedented and impressive—the city itself would be unrecognizably transformed. In reality, the Jubilee celebration was more of a vulgar window-dressing for Russian and Western officials. For the ordinary residents of this “Northern Capital”, the festivities largely passed by as little more than an unpleasant burden.

What lies behind the recent explosions in Chechnya?

By Vladimir Volkov, 29 May 2003

A series of powerful explosions in Chechnya earlier this month gave the lie to claims by the Russian government of Vladimir Putin and by the pro-Russian local administration of Ahmad Kadyrov that the present situation in the republic is leading to peace and the restoration of normality.

Russia: School fires in Yakutiya and Dagestan kill 50 children

By Vladimir Volkov, 30 April 2003

The end of spring break and commencement of the final term of the school year in Russia were tragically disfigured by two terrible fires that took the lives of 50 children, aged 5 to 18.

Plebiscite in Chechnya held at gunpoint

By Vladimir Volkov, 5 April 2003

The success of the referendum recently held in Chechnya cannot disguise the fact that it was nothing more than a police farce from start to finish.

Russia: Putin condemns Iraq war as an "error"

By Vladimir Volkov, 29 March 2003

Only hours after the first American missiles landed on Iraqi territory, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a public declaration, condemning the onset of the US invasion as a “great political error.”

Russia: Izvestia changes its design and redefines its “values”

By Vladimir Volkov, 22 March 2003

Last month, Russia’s flagship national daily newspaper, Izvestia, announced a change in its format and an increase in its page count. The initial issues published in the new format reveal that not only the newspaper’s external appearance, but also its guiding ideas have been reformulated.

Russia and the war against Iraq

By Vladimir Volkov, 20 February 2003

The war against Iraq, whose prime mover is the American Bush administration, assisted by Tony Blair’s British government, might start any time in the next few weeks, perhaps even in a few days. Having begun as an act of naked neocolonial aggression against a weak and almost defenseless country, it will inevitably set off a chain of events producing deep changes in political and social relations throughout the world.

Putin’s gas attack in Moscow—the outcome of Russia’s barbaric war in Chechnya

the Editorial Board, 29 October 2002

The World Socialist Web Site condemns the storming of the Moscow musical theatre by special units of the Russian secret police. With this brutal action, employing poison gas, the government of Vladimir Putin brought the type of indiscriminate killing it routinely employs against the Chechen masses into the nation’s capital, directing it against Russian hostages as well as Chechen hostage-takers.

Russia: a railroad deal lies behind Putin’s meeting with North Korean leader

By Vladimir Volkov, 19 September 2002

Recent events show that Vladimir Putin’s government is trying to exploit US preparations for war against Iraq to improve the economic and foreign position of Russia.

Caspian Basin oil pipeline company founded

By Paul Stuart, 30 August 2002

On August 1, after eight years of bitter political intrigue, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Company (BTC Co.) was founded during a document signing ceremony in London. Witnessed by representatives of the pipeline’s host countries Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, the new corporation marks a major step in the opening of a new export route for Caspian Basin oil resources to the United States, Israel and Western European markets.

Thirty-three killed as fire erupts in Ukranian mine

By Julie Hyland, 10 July 2002

At least 33 miners were killed when a fire erupted in the Ukranina mine in the Donestsk region of eastern Ukraine on Sunday, July 7. Two others were injured by the fire that broke out 670 metres below ground at the mine, near the town of Ukrainsk.

Bush’s Moscow summit: Putin submits to Washington’s "partnership"

By Patrick Richter, 5 June 2002

In recent days there has been more talk of a fundamental change in US-Russian relations—“an historic event”, the “end of the cold war”—than at any other time in the past ten years.

Fascist attacks in Moscow

By Patrick Richter, 15 November 2001

During the evening of October 30, around 300 skinheads armed with wooden clubs and iron bars launched a vicious attack on Tsaritsyno market in the south of Moscow. They assaulted dozens of stallholders, most of whom originate from the southern regions of the former Soviet Union. Following their initial attack, about 100 skinheads then entered the subway station near the market—lashing out at passers-by and those using the tube. They got off one station further on and then attacked Afghan refugees residing in the Hotel Sevastopol. Some of those assaulted suffered life threatening injuries.

The struggle for influence and oil in the Caucasus

Renewed fighting in Abkhazia

By Patrick Richter and Peter Schwarz, 2 November 2001

While public attention is concentrated on America’s war against Afghanistan, a conflict in another part of Central Asia that has gone largely unnoticed has flared up again. Since the beginning of October, violent clashes have been taking place in Abkhazia between guerrilla groups and government units, which threatens to develop into a conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Andrei Sakharov and the fate of liberal democratic thought in post-Soviet Russia

By Vladmir Volkov, 25 June 2001

Last May 21 academician Andrei Sakharov, renowned as one of the developers of the Soviet hydrogen bomb and later as a dissident and liberal critic of the Stalinist regime, would have celebrated his eightieth birthday. This date was marked by a wave of publications in the Russian press.

Freedom of speech under attack in Russia

The Kremlin assumes control over the NTV oppositional television station

By Vladimir Volkov and Stanislav Smolin, 21 April 2001

The battle over the fate of Russia's largest non-governmental media conglomerate Media-Most—which was created and controlled by the former business “oligarch” Vladimir Gusinsky, who has been in Spain since last autumn—reached its climax in the first half of April.

The death of Georgy Gongadze—Ukrainian state implicated in journalist's murder

By Andy Niklaus, 25 January 2001

On September 16 last year the 31-year-old journalist Georgy Gongadze, publisher of the Internet journal Ukrainska Prawda [pravda.com.ua], left his office to go home. His wife and two young children waited for him in vain. He never came home.

Unicef report highlights situation of children in E. Europe and the former Soviet Union: The terrible price of capitalist restoration

By Elizabeth Zimmermann, 6 January 2001

About half a million young people aged 5-14 years of age, who lived in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union at the time the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 are no longer alive.

The battle for control of state television

Russian President Putin tries to break Berezovsky's grip

By Vladimir Volkov, 28 September 2000

In recent weeks, the battle for control of the most important Russian television channel ORT has intensified. The Kremlin is trying to strengthen its own control over this semi-state-owned broadcaster, since it adopted an extremely critical attitude to the government following the disaster on the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk.

Moscow's Ostankino TV tower goes up in flames

By Patrick Richter, 30 August 2000

On Sunday afternoon, Moscow inhabitants watched incredulously as the city's landmark Ostankino TV tower, one of the technical miracles of the post-war period, went up in flames. As the blaze spread through the tower the stabilising steel cables inside were melting one after another in the intense heat, threatening to send the whole building toppling over.

The sinking of the Kursk and the crisis of the Russian military

By Ute Reissner, 29 August 2000

The sinking of a nuclear submarine of the Russian North Sea fleet on the 12th of August occurred in the midst of a conflict between the Defence Ministry in Moscow and the Russian Chief of General Staff, which had grown increasingly heated over the previous weeks.

Putin's "Chernobyl": The tragedy of the Russian submarine disaster in the Barents Sea

By Vladimir Volkov and Julia Dänenberg, 23 August 2000

The tragedy of the Russian nuclear-powered submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea has lasted over a week. Millions of people all over the world have been witness to an unbelievable display of incompetence, spinelessness, arrogance and hypocrisy on the part of the Russian political elite and military, with President Vladimir Putin at their head.

Bomb explodes in the middle of Moscow—terrorism and politics in Russia

By Vladimir Volkov, 21 August 2000

The bomb explosion which rocked the centre of Moscow on August 8 has once again vividly highlighted the political instability of Russian society.

The Gusinsky affair: where are the dangers to democracy in Russia coming from?

By Vladimir Volkov, 17 July 2000

The arrest on June 13 of Russia's biggest media tycoon, the “oligarch” Vladimir Gusinsky, caused a stir both in Russia and internationally. For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a member of the “caste of untouchables” was arrested. In the course of the stormy events of the past 10 years governors, ministers and even the chief state prosecutor have been imprisoned, but never one of the handful of super-rich Russian oligarchs.

Russian President Putin moves toward authoritarian rule

By Vladimir Volkov, 3 June 2000

Last month Russian President Vladimir Putin presented a package of measures aimed at the establishment of an authoritarian state with tightly organised central powers. At the heart of the measures was a so-called administrative reform, ostensibly intended to "increase the effectiveness of federal power in the regions" and secure “the constitutional authority of the president".

The elections in Georgia: an analysis of Shevardnadze's victory

By Vladimir Volkov, 2 May 2000

Incumbent Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze won the presidential elections in Georgia on April 9 with a landslide majority. Of the 70 percent of voters who went to the polls in the Caucasian republic of 5.5 million inhabitants, 80.4 percent cast their vote for Shevardnadze. His biggest rival, Communist Party Chairman Dzhumber Patiashvili, got 16.6 percent of the vote.

Hypocrisy and double standards during Russian President Putin's London visit

By Chris Marsden, 19 April 2000

Russian President Vladimir Putin chose London for his first foreign visit since winning last month's elections. He was accorded, literally, the red-carpet treatment by the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, culminating in an audience with the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Putin's election as president signals authoritarian turn in Russia

By Vladimir Volkov, 30 March 2000

Vladimir Putin won the Russian presidential elections on March 26. With 52.6 percent of the votes cast, he was far in front of his opponents and so avoided a run-off. In second place came Gennady Zyuganov , chairman of the Communist Party of Russia (CPRF), with 29.3 percent, and third was Grigori Yavlinski, chairman of the liberal-democratic "Yabloko" party, with 5.8 percent. At 68.8 percent, turnout exceeded the 50 percent necessary for a valid presidential election.

The West courts Russia's Putin

By Patrick Richter, 25 March 2000

On the eve of the Russian presidential elections, leading representatives of NATO and Western governments have followed one another to Moscow. Since early February, a series of Western politicians have travelled to Russia for discussions, including German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, British Foreign Minister Robin Cook, German Defence Secretary Rudolf Scharping and, finally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Their avowed aim was to improve relations between Russia and NATO, which have been disturbed since the Kosovo war.

Britain's Observer newspaper suggests Russian secret service involvement in Moscow bombings

By Julie Hyland, 15 March 2000

An article in Britain's Observer newspaper on Sunday, March 12 claims to have uncovered evidence of Russian secret service involvement in last year's bombing of two Moscow apartment houses. The blasts killed 200 people.

Anatoly Sobchak (1937-2000): leading representative of capitalist "reform" in Russia

By Vladimir Volkov, 10 March 2000

In the early hours of February 20, Anatoly Sobchak, the former mayor of Saint Petersburg, died in Svetlogorsk in the Kaliningrad district. A confidant of acting President Vladimir Putin, Sobchak was on an election tour in support of Putin's candidacy in the coming elections when he died. He was buried on Thursday, February 24 at the Nikolsky cemetery in Saint Petersburg.

The rehabilitation of Stalin—an ideological cornerstone of the new Kremlin politics

By Vladimir Volkov, 29 February 2000

The replacement of Boris Yeltsin by Vladimir Putin as president of Russia signifies not only a change in the personal composition of the Kremlin leadership, but also a shift in political emphasis. By forging an alliance with the Duma (Russian parliament) Communist Party faction under Gennady Zyuganov, the Kremlin has departed from its official liberal-democratic orientation, and now regards Stalin's heirs as its strategic partners.

Struggle of Russian workers for control of Vyborg Cellulose Combine

By Vladimir Volkov, 16 February 2000

A number of significant workers struggles took place in Russia in 1999. One that attracted most attention was a conflict at the Vyborg Cellulose and Paper Combine (ZKB), where workers took over control of the factory, organising production themselves for nearly a year and a half.

Russian President Putin introduces widespread state monitoring of the Internet

By Andy Niklaus and Peter Schwarz, 4 February 2000

Russia's acting President Vladimir Putin has substantially strengthened the rights of the secret services and granted them extensive monitoring powers over the media, including the Internet.

A political balance sheet of the Yeltsin era

By Vladimir Volkov, 21 January 2000

On December 31, 1999 Russia's president Boris Yeltsin announced his early departure from office. This put an end to an era that must count as one of the most dramatic and contradictory in Russian and international history, marked above all by the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the introduction of capitalist relations into the territory of the “socialist camp”.

The political and historical issues in Russia's assault on Chechnya

the Editorial Board, 17 January 2000

For more than three months, Russian troops have been waging war against the Caucasian republic of Chechnya. Estimates of those killed run as high as 10,000. A third of the Chechen population have been made homeless and a quarter of a million are now refugees. An estimated 30,000-50,000 people are trapped in the besieged capital, Grozny, suffering Russian shelling and sporadic troop incursions.

The transfer of power in Moscow: what it means for Russia's political trajectory

By Peter Schwarz, 8 January 2000

What does Putin stand for? This is the question that has dominated newspaper columns since the surprise resignation of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who transferred power to his self-appointed successor Vladimir Putin on New Year's Eve.