Guest post by Dale Street
A great day out for all the family, thoroughly enjoyed by one and all.
This was the verdict of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) on its “All-Russian Day of Action”, called “in Support of the People of Crimea and the Re-unification of Crimea and Russia, and Against the Persecution of Supporters of Friendship and Union with Russia by the Illegitimate Banderist Government of New-Ukraine.”
The nineteen slogans raised by the CPRF for the Day of Action, staged last Saturday (22nd March), included:
“We Will Not Abandon Our Kith and Kin!”, “Fascism Will Not Pass!”, “USA – Out of Ukraine!”, “NATO equals NAZI!”, “Berkut – an Example of Courage, Firmness and Righteousness!”, “Ukraine Will be Soviet!”, “Long Live the USSR!”, and “Let Us Defend the Victory of Our Fathers and Grandfathers!”
Given that the days of the USSR – when only state-sanctioned placards and slogans were allowed on demonstrations – are long in the past, participants in the Day of Action in different cities were able to “embellish” the official slogans with some of their own:
“Yankee Go Home!”, “We Went as Far as Berlin (i.e. in the Second World War) – We Will Go as Far as Washington!”, “EU, USA – Wipe Away Your Spittle!”, “We Defended Crimea – We Will Defend the Balkans As Well!”
Leaving aside the slightly tasteless “Crimea has Returned From Deportation to Russia” (given that it was actually the indigenous Crimean Tatars who suffered mass deportation from Crimea during the last war), other DIY slogans included:
“Crimea Was, Is and Will Be Russian!”, “Crimea – Welcome Home!”, “Long Live the Russian Spring!”, “No to the Euro-Banderists!”, “No to Global Capitalism in Ukraine!”, “One Country, One People!” “Victory Is Ours!” and “KPRF – For Russians! For Crimea!”
It would also be remiss not to mention the closing words of the standard resolution passed (unanimously) at the larger rallies staged on the Day of Action:
“Let the proponents of various brands of ‘universal human values’ and their foreign patrons know: Russians do not surrender! Russians do not abandon their kith and kin! We were born in the USSR! We are with you, our Slav brothers and sisters! We will bring back a renewed Soviet Union! Forwards, to the victory of socialism!”
The tone of the speeches at the rallies held on the Day of Action had been set by Gennady Zyuganov, First Secretary of the KPRF, the previous evening in a round-table discussion broadcast by the Russia 1 television channel:
“The situation today is reminiscent of the victorious May of 1945, of the launch of the world’s first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin. … I always went to pay homage in this sacred land (Crimea) because it is indeed sacred, watered by blood.”
“In early May we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Sevastopol and Crimea from German-fascist aggressors. We must therefore be proud that again we did not allow the Banderists, the Nazis, into this sacred place.”
(The irony of Zyuganov making such anti-fascist strictures in a round-table discussion which included LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky – well-known for his own racism, ultra-nationalism and pro-fascist leanings – appeared to be lost on him. Or, more likely, he just didn’t care.)
The same euphoria about the results of the Crimean (bogus) referendum and the ‘return’ of Crimea to Russia permeated the rallies of the Day of Action.
“A historic hour for Russia and our people,” declared the opening speaker at the Moscow rally. For speakers at the rally in Tomsk the referendum had been “a historic event, a restoration of justice.” In Ulyanovsk speakers hailed the referendum as a victory for “the real Ukrainian patriots” and for the unity of “the fraternal Slav peoples.”
In Krasnodar speakers paid special tribute to their local Cossack comrades: “We cannot fail to notice the great role played by our compatriots – the Kuban Cossacks, who helped their neighbours in their hour of need.”
(That would be the same Cossacks who, always ready to lend a helping hand, had beaten up members of Pussy Riot in nearby Sochi only three weeks earlier.)
But for many speakers at the different rallies Crimea’s “return from deportation” was only the start of the tasks now at hand. There was still unfinished business in Ukraine. And there was even more unfinished business in Russia itself.
According to a speaker in Rostov-on-Don, the Ukrainian government was “a fascist junta, supported by the European Union and the USA, which will do everything to destabilise Russia as well.”
In Moscow a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of KPRF explained that it was not a popular revolution but Western intervention which had installed the new Ukrainian government. It was therefore “a government of occupation.”
Consequently, another speaker at the Moscow rally explained: “Now we must do everything possible to support the population of the eastern regions of Ukraine which need our solidarity. We cannot allow fascist youth to spread their ideas in the eastern territories of Ukraine.”
“We must defend the Russians in the south-east of Ukraine, we must not allow the Banderists to remain in power in Ukraine,” a speaker at the Kuryan rally put it more bluntly.
In Russia itself, it was important to maintain the momentum and the dynamic unleashed by the ‘reunification’ of Crimea and Russia.
According to a speaker at the Moscow rally, the significance of recent events in Crimea was that “we did not give in to the pressure of the Banderists, the European Union and NATO, who threatened us with all the means at their disposal. This resolute stand continues to inspire all our people.”
“A revival of Russian self-consciousness is underway,” he continued, “a revival of the country’s greatness. Russia is arising from its knees, at a geopolitical level and also at the level of spirituality, a revival of the Russian world.”
“The United States created Al-Qaida, they helped the Taliban, and today they are sponsoring the Banderists. But the boomerang has already returned to the aggressor on more than one occasion. … Whoever approaches Russia with the sword will die by the sword!”
The following speaker developed the theme of reviving Russian power: “Now it is time to impose order on Russia itself: to cleanse the power structures of the Western fifth columnists, and to unite all patriots under the banner of the KPRF.”
According to a speaker in Ulyanovsk, it was time to put an end to “attempts to play down the leading role played by the Communist Party in the economic development of Soviet Russia, in strengthening the country’s defensive capabilities, and in organizing the defeat of Nazi Germany.”
In the interests of “national unity”, the speaker continued, the Russian government should put an end to “the wholesale disparagement of the history of the Soviet period.” Apparently unaware of the meaning of the word “irony”, he concluded: “Having a monopoly over state politics can lead to the collapse of the state.”
In Murmansk speakers called for “strengthening the military power of our armed forces, and the morale of our army and navy,” for “supporting with all out strength our army and our sons,” and for avoiding “dependence on the West, whether it be for food, for medicines, for the economy, or for anything else.”
For one of the KPRF speakers in Moscow, the imposition of sanctions, toothless as they were, was almost to be welcomed:
“If they exclude Russia from the World Trade Organisation, the day should be declared a public holiday. … We need to rebuild our own industry, fill the shelves of our shops with domestic produce, and create (trading) unions and blocks with countries friendly to us.”
“In the light of recent events and external threats,” another speaker at the rally also emphasised “the necessity of reviving domestic industry.” After all, “on the eve of the Great Patriotic War the industrialization and collectivisation which were carried out made possible breaking the backbone of fascism and achieving the Great Victory.”
In Tyumen, where the rally opened with a rendition of “Sevastopol Waltz” and concluded with the singing of “Black Sea – Russian Sea”, the KPRF Regional Secretary demanded “the introduction of sanctions against America and the European Union. The time is long overdue for developing our own industry and leaving the World Trade Organisation.”
Stalinist nostalgics who missed last Saturday’s bacchanalia of Russian nationalism masquerading as socialism and anti-fascism need not despair. Although on a smaller scale, the KPRF has organized an event guaranteed to give vent to the same politics:
“24th March – 15th anniversary of NATO aggression against Yugoslavia – assemble at 1.00pm outside the German Embassy in Moscow – followed by a picket at the Serb Embassy, in solidarity with the fraternal Serbian people, victim of NATO aggression. All patriotic movements and unions are welcome to attend.”