THE massive Royal Shell energy giant, which purchased the Sakhalin-2 concession for a song from Boris Yeltsin, was yesterday brought down to earth with a huge thud.
The oil giant was forced by the Russian state to sell 30 per cent of its 55 per cent shareholding to the state-owned gas giant Gazprom.
Its Japanese partners Mitsubishi and Mitsu were also forced to sell 10 per cent of their 25 and 20 per cent shareholdings, also to Gazprom.
This massive takeover follows on from the expropriation of the Yukos oil company, and the imprisonment of its boss, which allowed the previously unheard of state-owned company Rosneft to emerge as an oil producing giant.
The taking over of Yukos was central to Putin’s war (which had the full support of the working class) with that section of the new bourgeoisie which put itself at the disposal of US imperialism and sought to politically challenge the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Kremlin and remove it.
Most of these elements, led by Boris Berezovskiy, who made their fortunes by seizing the assets of the USSR during the Yeltsin presidency, are now residing in London.
Here they sit, plotting and colluding with imperialism as a Russian bourgeois government in waiting, coddled and sustained by Labour’s low or no taxation of the rich, and the fact that they have been issued with British passports.
However, the expropriations are not over. Next on the Kremlin’s list for takeover by the Russian state are the massive Siberian BP concessions. In fact, all of Russia’s energy resources and industries are heading for state ownership and state control.
Experience has proven that anything less results in the emergence of a pro-imperialist bourgeois front which will not rest until it has carried through to its conclusion the bourgeois counter-revolution that Gorbachev and Yeltsin began with their Perestroika and Glasnost policies.
In fact, the preservation of the independence and sovereignty of Russia requires state ownership of the major industries. Ever since the First World War the programme of the western bourgeoisie has been to dismember and colonise it, portion by portion.
Gorbachev cut his bourgeois political teeth as an ally of Margaret Thatcher helping to organise a scabbing organisation for bringing Polish coal to Britain to help break the miners’ strike. Thatcher announced that ‘Gorbachev was a man that the West could do business with.’
However, it was when Gorbachev was overthrown by Yeltsin that the restorationist drive to restore capitalism really got going.
In the referendum organised by Gorbachev throughout the USSR on March 17 1991, 76 per cent voted to ‘preserve the USSR’ on an 80 per cent turn-out.
Yeltsin and his Belarusian and Ukrainian cronies ignored this declaration by the masses. They met in December 1991 at Belavezkskaya Pushka and decreed that the USSR was dissolved.
This was the signal for a massive sell-off of Soviet assets led by Stalinists such as Yegor Gaydar and Chubais, who became instant millionaires, and are now loyal supporters of Putin.
The huge hostility to the restorationists shown by the Soviet working class has now halted, for the moment, the main thrust to restore capitalism, and sell off the Russian economy. The Soviet masses want to see all of the oligarchs and the rich thieves brought to trial and jailed for life.
Putin wants to see a form of capitalism established which is orchestrated and regulated by the state.
The working class of the USSR wants to see the USSR restored by revolutionary means.
Putin is now essentially holding the fort until the real rulers of Russia come forward to claim their own. With the bourgeoisie and NATO now halted at the gates, the working class is feeling its strength and bringing forward its own programme.
This is for the restoration of rule through workers’ peasants’ and soldiers’ soviets, the expropriation of the new bourgeoisie and the private landlords, the full restoration of the planned economy, with all economic plans subject to review by the working class with the power of veto, and for a political revolution by the working class to restore the USSR by revolutionary means, with its republics having the right to secede. This is the programme of the Trotskyist movement in the USSR.