The government of Yeltzin has unleashed a military offensive against Chechenia. This time Russia repeats yet again the war that killed 40,000 people when in 1996 it invaded the separatist republic and which resulted in a major humiliation for Russia when it was forced to withdraw and concede greater autonomy to Chechenia.

Following the earlier disaster, when he suffered an impeachment, Yeltsin now intends to achieve a successful operation in a short time. This involves a destructive ground attack, daily aerial bombings, directed at key economic targets, petrol refinaries, airports, television stations etc. At the same time the Russian population evicted during the military intervention in 1996 will be returned will these movements and those of an estimated 100,000 refugees who have left in desperation for Inguchetia has been subject to a total media ban (Folha de Sao Paulo, 24/09/990).

oscow affirmed that the objective of the attack is to destroy the fundamentalist guerillas that are fighting for the creation of an Islamic state of Chechenia and Dagueston. The same people that are responsible for the assaults that caused the deaths of 3000 persons during August and September in Russia. However, Moscow's objective to check the separtist wave that has put the Russian Federation in a major crisis situation, like the major blow to the economies of the the states that formed the the URSS, because of the threat of the removal from its control of the rich regions of the Caucaus, important because of is production and transporation of oil.

The present war has come at the same time as the biggest crisis confronting Yeltzin since he assumed power in the counter-revolution of August 1991 when the Soviet bureaucratic workers state was destroyed. The chaos and the slow decline which has come from the restoration of capitalism has been aggravated by the financial crash of the last year. "Aided" by the IMF the BIRD and Japan, these creditors are putting pressure on Yeltsin to impose austerity measures to reduce the fiscal deficit. Besides the separatist turbulence, Yeltsin, who's health is extremely debilitated, is also confronted with accusations of corruption and money laundering involving a group of his advisors and friends. All this comes with the impending legislative elections when Yeltsin's opponents can deal him a strong defeat less than a year from the presidential elections, held under the present invalid constitution.


There is a big contest in the Caucacus for control of the region that has the biggest reserves of oil on the planet. US oil companies have heavily invested in the region surrounding the Caspian Sea. As well as this the fertile soil of the region has become a powder keg about to explode. "Since the collapse of the Soviet regime the Caspian Sea area has seen many wars, attacks on the lives of Presidents , civil wars and many assassinations." (Los Angeles Times, 29/3/98). The new oil pipeline it is hoped will give provide the cheapest oil on the world market. However, as yet the pressure towards conflict between US, Europe, Iran, China and Russia has not resulted on war. In fact, the preoccupation to maintain stability of the region is precisely to avoid a major war over the division of the spoils of the Caucacus. Meanwhile many in the US expect to get territory: now that " the oil pipeline project includes many big names in the US oil industry: Exxon, Amoco, Chevron, Unocal, Mobil, Arco and Pennzoil. James A Baker, the 3rd, (ex-secretary of State, partner in the law firm, Houston, Baker and Botts, and representative of the major consortium of international oil companies that operate in Azerbadjian), Arthur Hartman ( US ex-ambassador to Moscow, presidential adviser of a company that buys Turkestan oil and transports the oil accross the Caspian as far as the pipeline in Baku) and Richard Holbrooke (ex-advisor to the Secretary of State, employee of Credit Suisse First Boston, and a powerful player in the financing of the pipelines)." (idem). At the same time, the most prominent US political representatives in the "most recent decades now used the 'know how' acquired at the end of the cold war, their knowledge of the ex-USSR, and their relations with the actual political bosses of the Caucasus, to gain access for the big Yankee petroleum companies to exploit oil reserves in the former territories of the workers states.

In terms of total value, "Chechenia played an important role with reserves that in the 1970's provided a third of the Soviet oil consumption (22 million tonnes a year), production which has collapsed with the onset of the war" (O Estado de Sao Paulo, 28/1/97). Moreover, Russia needs the pipelines to Grozny to transport oil from Azerbadjian to the Mediterranean. Any interruption of the oilflow creates big financial losses for the big oil companies. By agreement, 200 million tonnes of oil is transported accross Chechenia from the Caspian Sea to the Russian port of Novorissick on the Black Sea, and from there to the Mediterranean. It is fundamental that the primitive accumulation of capital of the new Russian Bourgeoisie will take off only if Moscow refuses to relinquish control over the Republics of the Caucasus and does not tolerate separatist movements.

Under these conditions, Yeltsin who has a habit of forcibly violating the constitution, and has used force several times when the situation was infavourable (dissolution of the USSR in December 1991; dissolution of Parliament in September 1993; despatch of troops to Chechenia in December 1994), now turns to using the military like armed police, intensified the attacks against the separatists, declared a state of emergency and called a new election. This will serve several purposes for Yeltsin, such as defending himself from the accusations of theft, in 1993 and 1998 of 100's of billions of dollars. The new war also serves his government's campaign to stay in power and to neutralise parliament which is now controlled by nationalists and stalinists, in negotiations with foreign oil companies. A new unconstitutional measure has been announce that allows the prime minister Vladimir Putin to also administer the government of Moscow. Putin is an ex-member of the KGB with responsibility for control of the post office and the Federal Security Service.


Following the tradition of Stalinist politics which betrayed the proletariat and the non-Russian nationalities, the "communists" of CPRF fit in with the interests of the Russian bourgeoisie, of Yeltsin and imperialism, and refuse to recognise the democratic rights of the Chechen people. The main weapon used against Yeltsin by the Stalinists parliamentarians is the defeat of 1996 in Chechenia. They had begun a process of his impeachment as President of Russia. But this initiative was blocked by the disastrous war in the Causasian province, when he ordered the total withdrawal of the Russian troops from Chechenia and made an agreement with the separatist rebels in the province on condition of special autonomy following the elections of 27/1/97.

After the election of the new authorities of Chechenia, the "communist" delegate Vikton IIyukhin, chief of the Committee of Security of Congress "affirmed that the elections should not be recognised because the majority of the population did not participate in them, referring to the 300,000 refugees who could not vote because of the war" (O Estada de Sao Paulo, 27/0/97). The Russian chauvinists divided their tasks, the restorationist government expelled a good part of the population and the stalinist opposition used their bureaucratic justifications to oppose the volutary independence movement of the Chechen people, using the formality of an irregularity in the ballot.

For the Russian Stalinists, the Russian Federation offers to reach out and protect the autonomous nationalities. In this form, they hypocritically defend the interests of the capitalists, oppressors of the nationalities. In his time Lenin had this to say about the social chauvinists: "The most plausible formulation of the social chauvinist lie, one that is therefore most dangerous to the proletariat, is provided by Kautsky..."National Autonomy", if you please, is enough! The principle question, the one the imperialist bourgeoisie will not permit discussion of, the question of the boundaries of the state that is build upon the oppression of nations, is evaded by Kautsky, who to please the bourgeoisie, has thrown out of the programme what is most essential. The bourgeoisie are ready to promise all the "national equality" you please, so long as the proletariat remain within the framework of legality and "peacefully" submit to them on the question of the state boundaries! Kautsky has formulated the national programme of Social-Democracy [Communism] in a reformist, not revolutionary manner." ("The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination". CW Vol. 21 p411-412).

The Russian social chauvinists also share with the dominant mafia class a xenophiobia against the non-Russian peoples. The same Viktor IIyukhin, well-known for his anti-semitism, is now a tough in-house critic of the government, attributing the wave of terrorism (most of the public attribute the same to the Moscow mafia) on the lack of vigilance over the thousands of persons of the Caucasian nationalities who live in Moscow. For the other side, Zuganov blames the jewish minority for the economic crisis of the country. Against the impulse the solidarity of the working class with the nationalities pressing for a method of struggle against the restoration of capitalism, the CPRF is dedicated to the task of poisoning the proletariat with chauvinism and racism, helping the reaction. In this way the Russian "communists" are preparing the road for the defeat of the proletarian resistance, and creating the basis for the emergence and consolidation of a fascist regime in Russia, the explosive lead that will be necessary for the cosolidation of capitalist restoration.


In most of Russia the centrifugal tendencies to break with Yeltsin are all isolated in separatist fronts who pass to be one of the numerous enemies of Moscow. In particular, at this moment standing out among them, is the guerrilla Shamil Bassiev, the most popular in the previous war (1994-1995), and the current leader of the Oriental Front of the Autonomous Republic of Chechenia. Bassiev recently allied with the suni wahhabi militias led by the Jordanian Jatab who is fighting to make Daguestan into a Islamic Independent Republic. At the same time, the guerrilla leader Busco is close to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

In this current situation no workers act to defend the nationalist movements of Chechenia and Daguestan against the oppression of the capitalist government of Russia, revindicating the right of self-determination and the independent states of the peoples of the Caucasus as they wish. On the other hand, no revolutionaries can ignore criticising the terrorist methods used by the Islamic commanders of the separatist guerrillas like Bassiev. Under the reactionary bourgeois ideology of Islam, and its terrorist methods, the guerrilla movement has little to offer the struggle of the Chechen masses who are for national liberation, and pushes the Russian masses into the hands of the Russian racist chauvinism. Instead this impulse weakens the political struggle of the masses for the liberation of Chechenia and Dageustan. First, because it concedes to Yeltsin the justification for the attacks against Chechenia, and creates many distractions that hold back the collapse of the government under the pressure of the Russian proletariat. And secondly, because it reduces the role of the masses (that must conquer liberty on the road to the social revolution) creating feelings of impotence and the belief that there can be salvation in messianic groups. This type of method is in perfect harmony with the reactionary interests of the Islamic fundamentalist leaders that seek to eliminate any class organisations, independence and popular movements.

In this way, the fundamentalist guerrillas weaken the struggle of the national liberation of the peoples of the Caucasus and substitute the end of the negotiation table for that of the real liberation struggle, and the right to secede from the oppressor state for the concession of autonomy inside a federation. Under the Islamic movement the Caucasian masses are exposed to treachery along the same road that the KLA followed when the Albanian Kosovars subordinated their struggle for national liberation to the interests of the imperialists, and allowed an oppression much more reactionary than the Serbian army. Given the ambitions of imperialism over the Causasian region, we can expect similar treachery on the part of the fundamentalist movements that, in Afghanistan, were backed by the CIA against the USSR. In these times, under the mounting pressure coming from the military camp of imperialism, revolutionaries must not renounce the perspective of the right of the national movements to self-determination. At the same time as the struggle for these rights, the proletariat must openly declare that forming national states at this time is no longer historically progressive as a strategic objective. We are against the fragmentation of the peoples and a proliferation of micro states, but we are for the construction of a united Federation of Socialist Republics, and in this case the reconstruction of the USSR. We just strike out on this march with a vision of the unity of the workers around the world.


Is is possible to realise real autonomy and reverse the disunity of the workers of the Caucasus against the local capitalists, warlords and criminal organisations, and all the imperialist lackeys who are the major exploiteres of the labour power of the workers and natural resources of the region. Lenin had much to say on the tasks of the revolutionaries of the national moevmenters and oppressed and saw the primary task as the struggle for nationa liberation: "...the Social-Democrats of the oppressor nations must demand that the oppressed nations should have the right to secession, for otherwise recognition of equal rights for nations and of international working-class solidarity would in fact be merely empty phrase-mongering, sheer hypocrisy. On the other hand, the Social-Democrats of the oppressed nations must attach prime significance to the unity and the merging of the workers of the oppressed nations with those of the oppressor nations; otherwise these Social-Democrats will involuntarily become the allies of their own national bourgeoisie, which always betrays the interests of the people and of democracy, and is always ready, in its turn, to annex territory and oppress other nations." (idem. p 409). It is precisely by creating such organisations of the masses that proletarian can come to power and subordinate the guerrillas in the struggle for the socialist insurrection, expropriating the ruling classes of the region with the methods of the Proletarian Dictatorship. Similtaneously we are for the practical unity of the Russian workers against the capitalist restoration, for the revolutionary overthrow of Yeltsin's government, and the expropriation of the new bourgeoisie. Our first task must be no confidence in the guerrilla groups, and the construction of a international Bolshevik party of Lenin and Trotsky, capable of organising the combining of the national movements and the unification of the fight for the realisation of democratic tasks for national liberation with the struggle for a new October Revolution and the reconstruction of the USSR.

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