Russia: Masses on the Streets

Big protests broke out in Russia on January 23 in response to the arrest of oppositionist Alexei Navalny by Putin’s regime. While we have no illusions in liberals like Navalny, the Marxist Tendency in Russia intervened in these protests against political repression by Putin’s gangsters (which will hit working-class and socialist movements hardest), and raised a revolutionary Marxist banner.


A wave of political repression has been sweeping across Russia, year after year. The bonapartist regime of President Vladimir Putin finds its support slipping, and is trying to “show its teeth” on the eve of the next election campaign.

Political repression in Russia is therefore intensifying: the authorities falsify cases against dissidents, and the regime uses every means to silence all expression of discontent and protest. Recently, we observed the Network case, and just a few days ago in Moscow a court passed a shameful sentence against the anti-fascist Azat Miftakhov. The September elections are just around the corner, and the regime feels that it is a good idea to terrify citizens with threats of “terrorists” and “extremists.” The same motivations underlie recent events surrounding liberal oppositionist Alexei Navalny, who is persecuted by the authorities, not for any acts of theft and fraud he has committed (accusations that are used only as a formal pretext), but for political reasons.

Russia protests 2021 3 Image IMT Moscow
Our comrades and supporters actively intervened at rallies in Moscow, Leningrad, Irkutsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Vladivostok, Chelyabinsk, and elsewhere.

While not offering one iota of solidarity with the political and economic views and aspirations of the liberals, we are categorical opponents of political repression carried out by Putin’s dictatorship, since we understand that in the end, the machine of political persecution will hit the working class and left-wing activists hardest of all. Every state is a body of armed people who carry out violence in the interests of the ruling class. The current state—the Russian Federation—is no exception. As long as power remains in the hands of the capitalists, repression of the social, workers’ and communist movements will be an integral part of Russian politics.

In this regard, we called on our supporters in all cities of the country to take part in protests against repression and police violence on 23 January, demanded the release of political prisoners and explained to other protesters that only a socialist revolution and the complete dismantling of the entire existing political and economic system can put an end to oppression.

We are convinced that the struggle for genuine democracy is the struggle for socialism. We called on everyone who shares this conviction to come out on 23 January in the squares of their cities and say no to the police state and capitalism. And the appeal was heard. Our comrades and supporters actively intervened at rallies in Moscow, Leningrad, Irkutsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Vladivostok, Chelyabinsk, etc.

Thousands of leaflets were distributed from Kamchatka to the westernmost regions of the country, including in major cities such as Moscow, Leningrad and Kazan. The people have heard our voice. Whereas the sectarians on the left shouted “this is not our protest!”, we found a lot of young workers were interested in our ideas. They did not support the liberal Navalny, but participated in the protests because they were fed up with capitalism, and looking for a way out of the existing situation.

Of course, Navalny does not in any sense represent the left flank of politics, but the very logic of his activity opens up very important opportunities for the radical left. By revealing, in a populist manner, the outrageous wealth of Putin and his entourage, he pushes the poorest into the streets, where we are already meeting them directly.

It is important to note that the protests were accompanied by massive fights with the police. The brutality began on the part of the police, but unlike in previous years, this time people actively fought back. The mood itself has changed. A revolutionary mood is maturing among the Russian masses. Although thousands of people have been arrested and the authorities are unleashing new criminal cases, people are ready to act, they are looking for a way out of the hopeless situation into which capitalism drove them.

Our duty is to convey Marxist ideas to them and to show the real solution, which lies far beyond the bounds of liberal illusions.

We demand:

  • Workers’ democracy for the absolute majority!
  • The seizure and transfer to public ownership of all assets of the oligarchs, appropriated through privatization!
  • An open investigation and trial of Putin and his entire bureaucratic clique, who are responsible for poverty, repression and plundering of the country!
  • A democratically organized planned economy!
  • Freedom of assembly, rallies and press, and the right to strike and association in trade unions!
  • The socialist transformation of society!

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