THE Putin regime has been hit hard by the world capitalist crisis, especially by the fall in oil prices, and the effect that the world slump has had on the export of other raw materials, and minerals that the Russian Federation is especially rich in.
Putin has seen the Oligarchs, the new bourgeoisie that emerged out of the Communist Party in the 1990s when Yeltsin and his ministers vowed to restore capitalism in a few hundred days of ‘shock therapy’, bankrupted by the world banking crisis and the slump.
The Oligarchs, who ‘bought’ chunks of the nationalised economy for a pittance, have been ruined and cannot even pay wages.
The city of Togliatti, on the Volga, is in revolt with tens of thousands of AvtoVAZ workers marching in the streets and threatening to march on the regional capital Samara, to force through their demand that the giant plant be renationalised.
A month ago Putin publicly dressed down the Oligarch Derepaska (infamous for his bankrupting of the LDV van company and his role in the Magna bid for GM Europe) and instructed him to pay workers their wages, otherwise he would be expropriated.
The Putin regime is now beginning to rock as its perspective for turning Russia into a part of the capitalist world economy explodes around its ears.
He took over from Yeltsin at the point where the masses were on the point of political revolution to restore Soviet power, so angry were they at Yeltsin and the shock therapists.
Putin exiled to London and New York the most counter-revolutionary sections of the Oligarchs, led by Berezovskiy, and made a pact with the ‘patriotic’ section of the new bourgeoisie.
He told them that if they accepted the right of the Kremlin to rule they would be allowed to get on with enriching themselves.
He told the workers that the ‘shock therapy’ was over, they would be paid their wages and that the state would be attentive to their needs, while the strategic section of the economy would remain in state ownership. For good measure he added that Yeltsin’s decision to decree the end of the USSR was a disaster!
Putin sought to maintain a bonapartist rule, with one foot on the new bourgeoisie and the other on the working class, an uneasy balance at the best of times.
This balance has been put an end to by the stormy seas of the capitalist world crisis. The Oligarchs have gone bust, and the state finances have been depleted by the world slump.
Now, Putin has broken the pact he made with the working class. In the words of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper: ‘The Government of Russia has decided not to index wages of public sector workers and military servicemen next year, and also not to give the regions subsidies for support of veterans of labour, homefront workers, and families with many children.’ The unemployed are to get the same treatment.
Putin is freezing wages and benefits at a time of double digit inflation, ensuring a 25 per cent cut in wages and benefits over two years.
The newspaper added: ‘The unpopular decision was adopted despite the fact that Premier Vladimir Putin had promised at the end of last year that the government would not patch budget holes and solve problems at the expense of the citizens.’
These measures will not be accepted by the working class, the unemployed, the pensioners or the youth.
There will be massive strikes, occupations and regional and national revolts against this stab in the back from the Stalinist bureaucracy.
Workers have had enough of the attempts to restore capitalism, and their Bolshevism has been strengthened by the sight of the world capitalist crisis. The Trotskyist movement throughout the USSR must get ready to lead the political revolution to restore Soviet power.