Oligarchs Go Bust As World Crisis Hits Home

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Russia’s super-rich oligarchs, who made their fortunes by stealing or purchasing for a pittance chunks of the Soviet nationalised and planned economy under the patronage of Boris Yeltsin, have been brought down to earth with a crash by the capitalist crisis, and the capitalist system that they chose to embrace.

They are now having to go cap in hand for a bail out to the men who were once their comrades in the Soviet Communist Party and who along with them served first Andropov, then Gorbachev and then Boris Yeltsin.

It has been estimated that $200bn of the $300bn assets that were held in the grip of the Oligarchs has been lost in the collapse of the Western banking system.

Among those who have been hit the hardest are ex-Gorbachev lieutenant Alexander Lebedev, and Mandelson’s friend Deripaska.

The Russian business press calculate that Deripaska has lost more than $28 bn, while Abramovic, Putin’s friend, is said to have lost $20 bn.

Deripaska, who owns 25% of the strategically important Norilsk Nickel, used the shares as collateral for a $4.5bn loan from the Western banks which was due to be paid back in full by 31 October.

The Kremlin has announced a $50 billion bail out package but is said to be demanding in return that part of the assets are handed over to the state.

The new bourgeoisie is now being squeezed, much to the delight of the Russian workers who hate them and the way that they tried to hand over Russia to the US on a plate.

The Russian bourgeoisie is now split into two factions.

There are the emigres led by Boris Berezovskiy who are based in London and constitute a Foreign Office supported government in exile, which openly calls for the overthrow of Putin.

Then there are the ‘loyalists’.

These are prepared, for the moment, to get on with exploiting the working class, and are willing to leave politics to the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Kremlin.

Its leader of the bureaucracy is Putin. He was at one time, as was Berezovskiy, part of Boris Yeltsin’s retinue, but was quick to grasp that unless the shock therapy drive to restore capitalism was halted, there would be a political revolution in Russia, and the entire bureaucracy would be destroyed.

He has publicly regretted the way that Yeltsin and the CIS chiefs voted to defy a national referendum and decree the end of the USSR.

He recognised that the open rule of the capitalists would see Russia broken up, and instead opted for a state controlled capitalism with the state in charge and owning major oil and mineral assets.

He remains an unrepentant Stalinist, who opposes Lenin who was not Russian enough for him, because he put the interests of the international working class first.

He now seeks to rule Russia as a Bonaparte with a strong state, owning the basic industries, while he balances with one foot on the new bourgeoisie and the other on the working class.

Now that the bourgeoisie had been weakened, that balance is being upset, and Putin will be frightened that the working class will press forward to demand the restoration of the rule of workers soviets and soviet power.

Putin will seek to rebuild the bourgeois wing that helps to support him.

For the working class the world capitalist crisis has confirmed the bankruptcy of capitalism and deepened its hatred of capitalists.

It understands that the Soviet Union was in essence the semblance of the higher form of society that must replace the worldwide capitalist order.

In the days ahead the Soviet workers will reassert themselves and strike out to restore the USSR, expropriate the new bourgeoisie, and bring down the Stalinist bureaucracy, as part of the advance of the world socialist revolution.