Q. Could you please introduce yourself?
A. Deputy of the state Duma, Avalianin Timiriay Georgievitch.
Q. You are a member of the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation)?
A. Yes. I am the secretary of the Kemerov region CPRF organization, at Kuzbas (miners' region), member of the central committee of the party.
Q. Could you please talk a little bit about yourself, a bit of your political biography, your stand towards Brezhnev, Perestroika ... in a few words.
A. In 1980 I had a situation with the Politburo that could have ended up in a pitiful way. In one of the letters addressed to the Politburo I stressed that they can not govern the country anymore, for which they almost dismissed me.
Q. Did they publish anything about you at that time?
A. Yes, there was a big article published in Pravda at the end of Perestroika, sometime in 1989, also in the Moscow Times. I wasn't very enthusiastic then, neither I am today. The decline in the rate of economic growth in Brezhnev's times was obvious to everybody, the fact that it was at this time that the underground economy appeared, corruption, everybody could see it. Not only I but many others protested against this state of affairs at that time. Unfortunately, in those conditions it was almost impossible to achieve anything. In 1985, with the appearance of Gorbachev many of us thought a new period of honesty would arise.
Q. You say that many others protested with you. What positions did you raise?
A. We had a very simple point of view: the decline in productivity of labor, in production. Sometime in 1979, according to my own calculations, the rate of growth of the economy hit zero, despite the official statistics that talked of 1.5% or even 2% growth. As a whole the economy entered a period of stagnation; some branches sort of grew, while others declined.
Q. It is well known that the State Committee of Statistics provided very different figures for the rate of economic growth. Even in the times of Perestroika the government claimed positive rates of growth. How could you explain this?
A. The point here is based on the growing gap between natural and value based indexes. Basically the economy was "growing" due to the rise of prices, since many economists did not base their calculation on natural indexes but on value indexes. These calculations are an expression of the ever- growing gap between natural and value indexes in the Soviet Union. The production of some goods was initially measured in natural terms, however the official statistics required a transformation of these natural terms into value terms. Calculations based on value terms are absolutely inexact.
Q. You were saying that together with you many others protested the state of affairs in the Soviet Union. What became of these people?
A. These people, mainly economists, I am not talking about people like Novodvorskaya [anti-communist dissident, one of the co-founders of the anti-communist "Democratic Russia" who played a major role in the politics of the government in the times of anti-communist hysteria, from late Perestroika until 1992, of pro-western orientation. Note of translator.], expressed their views verbally and in print. Some of them were sent to psychiatric hospitals. They also wanted to do the same thing with me.
Q. Why mainly economists?
A. Not only economists were sent to these hospitals. On the other hand, these economists expressed their views with concrete figures at hand.
Q. What is your opinion of Zyuganov as a political figure?
A. Rather than giving his personal characteristics I would rather give an overview of the concrete historical situation of the past few years. Take August 1991, the banning and dissolution of the CP. In September some called for holding a congress, in October a conference was held mainly by communists of social-democratic orientation, among whom you could find some of the leaders of the present CPRF, and figures like Roy Medvedev. After the speech delivered by Leningrad Professor Denisov, people's deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, I asked him a question: "In the possible upcoming elections for the president of the USSR, will this new party support the candidacy of Gorbachev?" [Gorbachev was still formally the president of the USSR.] He promptly answered: "Yes it will". After this the majority of the delegates quit the conference, very few were left. Some of the delegates afterwards participated in a different congress, hosted by the so-called Leningrad Initiative group and held in Sverdlovsk. In some way this congress expressed the views of many communists. RCWP [Russian Communist Workers Party] was founded [led at that time by Victor Anpilov and Victor Tiulkin]. However many rank-and-file communists remained faithful to the name of the CPSU. In the fall of 1992 the constitutional court gave a verdict according to which the 1991 banning of the CPSU was partially canceled. Many former CPSU members met this verdict with great enthusiasm. At this time Zyuganov was published in "Soviet Russia," "Dyen," and other opposition publications. So Zyuganov was already at that time put forward by certain forces.
By the end of 1992 a congress was held. When the question of whom to put forward as the leader of the CP arose, Kuptsov [now the "second-in-command" in the CPRF], who at that time represented the open social-democratic wing of the movement, and who in one way or another was obliged to cooperate with Yeltsin (at the time of the dissolution of the CPSU), was proposed. The congress promptly reacted against his candidacy. Then, General Makashov [who had left the RCWP. He actively participated in October 1993 events. Note of translator.] came to the tribune and cried: "I will not leave this tribune before Zyuganov is elected first secretary." The congress then elected Zyuganov.
Who is Zyuganov?. After the banning of the CPSU Zyuganov joined several different organizations. First he joined a right-wing nationalist, neo-Christian organization (Russian National Congress) and others of that kind. Before the verdict of the Constitutional court Zyuganov cooperated with everybody except communist organizations. Furthermore, in 1991, before the August events, when Polozhkov was dismissed from the leadership of the CP of Russia [CP of Russia was formed in 1990 within the CPSU, an attempt to revive the CPSU from within. It represented certain anti-Gorbachev forces within the CPSU. Note of translator.] we proposed Zyuganov as the replacement. During the break Zyuganov headed to Gorbachev's office. I have no idea if he managed to meet with Gorbachev. In any case after the break Zyuganov under some excuse rejected his candidacy. Then Kuptsov was proposed as first secretary. Then I asked Kuptsov the following question: "Did you have a meeting with the presidium of the CC of the CPSU?" He replied: "Yes, I did." "Whom did you meet?" He did not reply. "Did you meet with Gorbachev?" "Yes, with Gorbachev."
Q. But the so-called "democratic" media paints Kuptsov as a hard-liner, to the left of Zyuganov.
A. They could have some personal differences but from the point of view of producers of a certain production they produce the same thing. In this sense they represent the same political line. Judging by the last, 4th party congress one couldn't observe any major differences between their reports and theses to the party congress. The content of Zyuganov's report to the congress did not correspond to what was discussed in the CC plenum right before the congress. This report was not submitted to the plenum. He just outlined it. He was then asked concrete questions regarding the content of his report: "What will be the relation of the party towards the working class, its role?" He answered: "Yes, it will." In the party report this question was omitted. The same with the question of proletarian internationalism. This question and many other things were also omitted. But at the presidium, with Kuptsov, this report was read and subsequently accepted as the main CC report.
Q. What could you tell us about the political line that Zyuganov represents, in terms of its ideological roots (are we dealing with a continuation of Gorbachev or something else)?
A. One can say that the masses of communists and sympathizers firmly stand for the restoration the Soviet Union. As for Zyuganov, let's take the question of Byelorussia: In Byelorussia we have two main communist parties. One supports Lukashenko's regime [It is represented in the Republic Supreme Soviet. Note of translator.] led by Chikin, the other is opposed to him led by Kolyakin. Chikin's party supports the restoration of the Soviet Union and its membership embraces more than 80% of the total number of communists in the republic. Zyuganov didn't send a representative to their congress, whereas he sent a representative to Kolyakin's party congress. In the last CPRF congress both Byelorussian politicians were invited. However Kolyakin was sitting at the very front whereas Chikin was somewhere in the far rear of the hall. [Translator's comment: Here Comrade Avalianin doesn't express his stand towards Lukashenko's regime in general, something that he seems to reserve to himself. As will be reinforced below, he points to Zyuganov's practice who, with his opportunist line, doesn't even stand in practice for the resurrection of a new Soviet Union, in the sense of a commonwealth of states under the influence of a strong Russia. This is an expression of Zyuganov's pro-western line that is expressed among other things by his awkward stand in practice towards the strengthening of Russia as an imperialist power, with the former republics of the USSR as its direct area of influence.]
From the time of the formation of the CPRF Zyuganov's policy always avoided any sort of practical action for the possible restoration of the Soviet Union. The same thing regarding the attempts towards the unification of the communist movement of the former Soviet Union. Those members of the CPRF who are closer to the working class advocate the slogan "Workers of the world, unite!" i.e. they advocate a state-run economy, the social character of the means of production. On the contrary Zyuganov supports the coexistence of different forms of property, popular power, etc., but he never talks about proletarian internationalism. Everybody stands for the restoration of the Soviet Power, while Zyuganov keeps talking about parliamentary forms of power. He always omits the word Soviet wherever he goes.
Q. Zyuganov has a PhD. His works have been published in recent years. What could you tell us about Zyuganov from the ideological point of view.
A. As for his books and other publications it is physically impossible to write as much as has been published. In my opinion a substantial part of his works have been written by "Dukhovnoe Nasledie" ["Spiritual Inheritance," a right-wing, anti-communist, Christian organization, which played a major role in the past election campaign and in the formation of the so-called "left-patriotic front" after Zyuganov's defeat in the presidential elections. Note of translator.] This organization initially called itself the Soviet-American University, then it renamed itself the Russian-American University. Despite the direct and tight relations of this organization with the CIA and the US government, Zyuganov has never denied his relation with this organization. Let's take a look at their newspaper [he unfolds a newspaper that he brought especially for the occasion]: Here you can see a report on their last congress. Take the report of their leader, Podberiozkin, anti-communist from the beginning to the end. Take Zyuganov's speech at this congress [published in the same issue]: "I always participate in any activity organized by "Dukhovnoe Nasledie" because people gathered here express their grief over what is happening in the country, here are representatives of leading scientific schools of our country. Here one has the opportunity to express different views, and there is the possibility that they will be listened to." You should note that already in 1989-90 it was clearly seen that Gorbachev preferred visiting Germany and the USA, to staying home and that here he felt himself as an foreigner. The same thing happens to Zyuganov now. In this congress of "Dukhovnoe Nasledie" he feels at home whereas at the congress of communists he feels uncomfortable, sneaky, always afraid of getting exposed.
Q. What could you tell us about his contacts abroad, in Germany, USA. What about his contacts with foreign communist organizations?
A. First of all he conceives himself as the president of Russia, a president who would represent those Russians who stand for private property, who support foreign-inspired paths of development for Russia. Therefore, he doesn't present himself abroad as, for example, Peter the Great or Stalin [Here Comrade Avalianin talks from the point of view of great governors of a great country. Note of translator.] but as Gorbachev, not as the representative of a great power, but as the leader of a country that goes begging for money the way Yeltsin does today. It is natural that he does not personally meet representatives of foreign communist parties. He meets with everybody abroad except with communists. I remember when, in one of his trips to the USA, someone asked Zyuganov a question like: "You know the Russian state and political situation is very unstable; in these conditions we would like to know whom to support there." To which he replied: "You should understand that there is only one party, the CPRF, that is now capable of preventing a social explosion." Preventing a social explosion means preventing a revolution. You should understand that Zyuganov is not interested in those people abroad who once, at the time of the foreign intervention after the revolution, organized campaigns: Hands Off Russia. He is just interested in establishing contacts with those who have financial and political power abroad.
Q. It is well known that former members of the East European bloc, like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, as well as countries like the Ukraine, find themselves under the economic and political orbit of Germany. Russia, on the other hand, is under the influence of the USA. Is this fact reflected in Zyuganov's foreign policy?
A. Yes, of course. The main destination in his and his representatives' trips abroad is the USA. As far as I know, in 1996 he personally visited the USA no less than 5 times. I made inquiries at the American Embassy in Moscow about the organizations that invite him. One I found out that he had been invited by was the New York Council of Foreign Relations. This is an organization that includes several former presidents of the USA ... As far as I am informed Zyuganov never reported to the plenum of the CC about a meeting with the CPUSA. The same thing with the European CPs, including the French and Italian.
Q. At the time of the presidential election the western media at one point started to present Zyuganov as a sort of hard-liner, who stands for the state interests of Russia, the defense of its monopolies, its army, who strongly opposed the expansion of NATO. On the one hand in Russia he verbally promised to defend Russian interests in regard to the West, but on the other he keeps close contacts with the Americans. How can these two opposing positions coexist?
A. How can anybody remain the head of the Russian CP if he openly says in the presidential campaign that in the case he comes to power, NATO will come here, that he will destroy our industrial potential, that he will dissolve the army... Nobody would do that in the presidential campaign. You would be shot just like that. As for today Zyuganov has two faces. Party resolutions are party resolutions, electoral programs are electoral programs, but so far his practice is a different world. His words differ 180 degrees from his practice.
Q. Then Zyuganov's line doesn't differ much from Chubais' [second-in-command in the Russian government, a young economist, famous for large-scale privatization plans, destruction of Russian monopolies. Open pro-western element in the Russian Government. Note of translator.]
A. Take for example the draft law of the "distribution of production." [This is the literal expression in Russian. Note of translator.] This draft was proposed by the Americans to the Russian government. I even have a copy of the English version of the draft that the Americans printed for their own circulation. The Russian draft and the American one, I swear, are like twins. Fortunately we in the Duma managed to reject the draft last Friday. Zyuganov supported the draft, and the same for Rizhkov [former prime minister in Gorbachev's government. Note of translator.] When the Duma rejected the draft, we noticed they started to feel very nervous. This draft proposed by the Americans embodies a model of the Russian economy subjugated to foreign capital.
Q. You could say that Zyuganov wouldn't be in a position of defending his country against the West. He would become a second Gorbachev.
A. Yes, of course. He is not the kind of person that could become the leader of his own people in the defense of their homeland.
Q. Does Zyuganov have control over the communist fraction in the Duma?
A. No, he does not. You should also note that the Duma has proposed drafts of laws that are difficult not to adopt. Take for example the law on the raising of the minimum wage and things of that sort. In the main we are just left with the possibility of supporting the present regime for the subjugation of Russia to foreign interests.
Q. How then does he interact with the vast majority of the communist fraction that he does not control?
A. He interacts with the communist fraction in the Duma via certain individuals. For example via Lukyanov [member of the plenum of the CC of the CPSU in Gorbachev's time, one of the five members of the anti-Gorbachev exception committee that was overthrown in August 1991 by Yeltsin. Note of translator.]. Lukyanov comes to the fraction saying: this or that law is wonderful; if we adopt it we'll be much better off, etc. However it is becoming more and more complicated for Zyuganov to control the communist fraction. Please note that this Zyuganovite clique that surrounds him, something like 15 deputies, wouldn't strongly object to the dissolution of the Duma. See what they have done: now the CPRF has entered the popular-left union of Russia. According to the electoral law, a party that enters an electoral bloc doesn't have the right to put forward its own candidates, only through the given electoral bloc. It turns out now that the central committee of the CPRF will not be able to propose its own candidates in next elections. Communists will not be proposed anymore. Under the red banner obscure people will be elected. You should have heard that in the gubernatorial elections in the regions the left-patriotic front is doing well. Out of 36 governors elected from the front just 7 can be considered "red." The rest are like Rutskoi. Take the talk given by one of them at the past congress of the CPRF, the governor of Kamchatka. He said: "No matter how hard I search for red governors, I can't find any."
Q. I would like to understand. You say Zyuganov does not have control over his own parliamentary fraction, needless to say he does not have control over the rank-and-file. How is it possible that he has been reelected almost unanimously at the last congress?
A. Inertia. The same inertia that kept Gorbachev in power: "If not Gorbachev, who else then?"
Q. Was there an alternative to Zyuganov at the last congress?
A. No, absolutely not. The opposition to Zyuganov is overwhelming, but nobody was bold enough to propose any individual to replace of Zyuganov.
Q. Is there discipline in the CPRF? Does such a party really exist then? What is the position of the rank-and-file membership with respect to the results of the last congress, and to the presidential elections?
A. Take for example the last presidential elections. While Zyuganov was talking about the acceptance of different forms of property, the so-called popular power, Avalianin, and together with him most of the leaders in the regions and all the rank-and-file members of the CPRF cried: "If Zyuganov comes to power, Socialism will be restored, Soviet power will be restored, the Soviet Union will be restored." According to our calculations Zyuganov won the presidential elections with 36.5 against 33.5 million votes. Then Zyuganov the very next day after the elections admits defeat and congratulates Yeltsin.
Q. This is interesting. We all remember at the time of the electoral campaign, Zyuganov, under the pressure of the rank-and-file membership, was conscious of the possibility of cheating in the counting of the votes, as indeed obviously happened. Then he promised he would gather the results from the regions into some independent data network based in the Duma. But the very next morning he accepted the defeat. Was it physically possible to accomplish this parallel counting? Did this counting actually take place?
A. As far as I can tell this parallel counting in the Duma did not take place. Our calculations are based on the obvious contradiction between the official results for the first and second rounds of the presidential elections. There were a large number of regions in which, according to the official results, Zyuganov got more votes than Yeltsin, whereas in the second round, a matter of magic, the results were inverted in favor of Yeltsin. This was clear and flagrant cheating that Zyuganov did not protest. The cheating took place in all regions. The worst examples were in Tatarstan, the Caucasus... He knew about this, but he accepted the results. For example, we protested in our region and took the case to court. The court rejected out case for a very simple reason: The leader of the party had acknowledged the results and considered the elections fair. Parallel counting took place in the regions, independently, But the results were not compiled by the leadership. He was afraid to death of winning the elections.
I do not know if he had previously received certain "warnings" from the regime. But I would say that positions were previously distributed and he accepted his. Let's recall one of the most remarkable sentences of Zyuganov expressed to one of our party ideologists: "How come you still believe in Communism?"
Q. We have been hearing for the past couple of years about an impending split in the CPRF. Isn't this an illusion?
A. For a split the existence of at least two factions is necessary. One faction should advocate for one religion, lets say Islam, another for another religion, Christianity. Here there are no such factions, everybody is Christian here. There is no ground for a split. A split would be possible if one faction would stand in support of Zyuganov and another one against him.
Q. But this is worse than a split. You talk about the large mass of the rank-and-file, the vast majority of the parliamentary communist fraction being out of the control of the Zyuganovite leadership, but nevertheless the status quo is preserved over years.
A. I am sure that at the end an honest person who will embody the ideals of Socialism will inevitably arise and become a new leader. Zyuganov will be left with a small group of supporters and will vanish as others did before him.
Q. Right after the presidential elections Zyuganov called for the formation of the popular-left front. Some thought he would rename the party, then he couldn't and the idea was dropped. Will he ever use this structure to create a new party?
A. He is using this front for this purpose, but he will not manage to do it. Besides that, this front exists just within the boundaries of the central boulevard [a circular boulevard that divides the center of Moscow from the rest of the town. Note of translator.] Outside these boundaries the whole front is made up of communists. There is nobody else there. The only ideas with a future perspective are the ideals of communism. As for Zyuganov the time will come when he will not be reelected as the chairman of the party and another will come to replace him. This is objectively based. One should look at this from the point of view of the historical process, not based on the concrete moment.
Q. OK. Then suppose a popular revolution takes over the country, as in Albania, what do you think will happen?
A. He is a coward; he will never arise as the leader of a popular revolt. He will not call for a popular revolt. Anything that could happen will happen spontaneously, despite him. New leading organs will appear despite him, they will be anti-Zyuganov.
Q. Then let me ask you the following question. You correctly approach this question from the point of view of the historical development. Time by itself means nothing. You say that Zyuganov today is just a formal leader of the party, that in the case of a popular revolt he will become obsolete, new historical conditions will force him to give up or he would be expelled by the communists. But take the Albanian example. The Socialist party [Socialist because the word communist in Albania was forbidden under Berisha, but in essence it does not differ much from the CPRF] and its leader, Bashkim Fino, has not only saved Berisha from certain collapse under the wave of a popular revolution, but he has prepared the way for a foreign intervention. Here Zyuganov and Bashkim Fino in essence are the same political figures in two different countries. It is well known that the rank-and-file membership of the Socialist party also participates in the rebellion and it has been the Socialist party that through its more militant and honest membership has prevented a march on Tirana. Don't you think history has given another example that despite his weak position in the party and a definite historical perspective, Zyuganov and the CPRF may still play this sort of dangerous historical role?
A. Neither Zyuganov nor Gorbachev will play this role. Others will come to replace him. A popular revolt will not bring Zyuganov to power, it will bring others to power. He is too cowardly to accept this role. The revolt may be beaten. Others will come to power.
Q. Thank you very much. We'll send you a copy of the transcription.
Q. Could you please shed some light on the state of the strike movement in the country?
A. The most striking feature is the fact that the communist movement, I mean all the communist parties and organizations, stand aside from the strike movement in the country. There hasn't ever been a single strike organized by the communist in the entire country. There is just one sort of exception, the strike at the industrial tractor plant in Cheboksary, the capital of the Russian Federation Republic of Chuvashia. Even here we owe everything to a brave worker on the strike committee. Now you see that the administration is firing the members of the strike committee. It turns out that the workers movement was not ready to face repression. And why? Because even this strike committee believed that one can work with the union and that one can bring them to more progressive positions. The union as all the unions in general become the agents of the administration. The communists stand aside and the union does its work, in the service of the administration. The formation of new progressive unions is a hard process. Some unions are appearing in separate regions, but there are no attempts to form an all-Russian union.
Q. Is the strike movement growing in the country?
A. Yes, its growing very rapidly. On the other hand, one can observe the relative growth of strikes that have a more desperate character, for example, in the form of hunger strikes. Many miners in the Kuzbas, workers of power stations in the Far East and many others are or have been on hunger strike. Also many workers commit suicide. In Rostov-on-Don in a single factory already 20 workers have committed suicide. In Moscow the other day there was a tragic case where a worker jumped into the oven. There are also plenty of suicides in the army. This is an expression of a no-way-out situation. It would be good if the CPRF [Communist Party of the Russian Federation, led by Zyuganov] did anything apart from working in the State Duma [Russian Parliament]. In the gubernatorial elections, the CPRF candidates won, but life does not change. For example, we published a letter from a Tambov [a city in the vicinity of Moscow] communist where you could read: "The governor is a CPRF member, the mayor of the town is also a CPRF member, most of the town soviets are in the hands of the CPRF, but in this region unemployment grew by 40% last year, the standard of living keeps dropping, hospitals are shut down, social benefits are cut." Then people wonder, who is responsible for this? Zyuganov doesn't want to take responsibility. He is afraid of committing mistakes. Zyuganov stands up in parliament and does his best to restrain people from social protests. The communist Duma fraction deputies have one main problem on their minds: how to get reelected in the next parliamentary elections in order not to lose their privileges as deputies, like a flat in Moscow, a car with driver...
The masses are becoming more revolutionary day by day. This fact has been pointed out even by the bourgeois press. The unions are afraid of talking about the mood of the masses. The masses are now more revolutionary than their leaders. We have now to come out to the masses. Go to the red belt around Moscow. Small towns find themselves in a much worse situation, the whole thing simply collapses. That is why we are now organizing a march on Moscow, departing from the red belt of Moscow. To summarize, the masses are becoming more and more revolutionary but so far not a single party has been able to become the vanguard of these masses.
Q. What is the form that this march on Moscow will adopt?
A. The point here is that workers come according to a schedule to the town halls to protest and put forward concrete political demands. Not only demanding the payment of wage arrears, but demanding that the whole process of privatization be cancelled, the liquidation of the institution of the presidency, the restoration of Soviet power over the whole territory of the USSR, in essence political slogans to change the system. Our march will start from both Tula and Ryazhan. We will go on foot. We plan to cover 30 km [about 18 miles] per day, for six days. We will go to all towns on the way to Moscow to agitate among the people. These two columns [from the two towns] will meet in Podolsk, a place where social tension is very high. From there we will go to Moscow and there stay three days in camps at the Kremlin, the house of the Government, and the TV tower. We have the experience of 1992-93. With these actions we are planning to destabilize society.
Q. You as a leader of a mass organization must have thought about the meaning and significance of the Albanian revolt.
A. This is a very important example. One should take account of the fact that the Albanian masses instinctively organized themselves, without a political vanguard, and seized arms. This is an example on the one hand of the possibility of revolutionary creativity of the masses, but on the other hand the rebellion did not achieve the main goal, political power, which shows the necessity of a political vanguard. On the other hand, something that encourages us was the behavior of the army there which went over to the side of the people; the army refused to shoot at its own people. In Russia a similar behavior of the army will be a factor in favor of the people's rebellion. Political actions like the march on Moscow will pull up from the ranks of the people popular leaders who will be in a position to lead a popular revolt. I don't agree with those who assert that the vanguard is made of 10 people. Otherwise I would not believe in my own people. The Albanian rebellion is interesting in terms of the creativity of the masses: how the masses, having seen the possibility of seizing arms, without thinking much about it take arms. In Russia, unlike in Albania, a peaceful foreign intervention under any banner, say that of the UN, these mythical peacekeeping forces, or NATO, will be understood by the people as a military invasion. The army would promptly carry out its duty of defending the country. A foreign intervention in Russia today is not possible. In the case of a foreign intervention the revolutionary mood of the masses would rise sharply. This is why Yeltsin is so afraid of the expansion of NATO; it helps the development of the revolutionary mood of the masses.
Q. Do you think a similar scenario is possible in Russia?
A. You know, there have been cases when someone has fired a bazooka at the houses of the new rich or even burned them. However this type of action has a sporadic character. All practical people in Russia have understood that these reforms have no future. Take for example the Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov. At the last May Day demonstration he spoke the way Victor Anpilov did 5 years ago. He now talks about the anti-human character of present reforms and so on. This a direct result of the fact that particularly in the regions a very strong anti-capitalist sentiment is growing. I am not afraid of pogroms, but I don't think they are likely to happen.
Q. But why? You keep saying that the people are more and more in despair.
A. A popular revolt, a spontaneous seizure of the house of the government and things of that sort are likely to happen. But disorganized pogroms, looting, etc. do not correspond to the character of the Russian people. For this we need support in the regions. A popular rebellion will adopt harsher forms in the regions. Most probably Soviet power will first be restored somewhere in the regions and then, like a fire, it will spread throughout Russia.
Q. Do you rely more on the regions, then?
A. If we manage to organize popular mass actions focused on a concrete political program then popular leaders will appear in the regions, people from the ranks of the working class, who will lead the masses towards victory. The workers movement in the regions is far more organized and compact than in Moscow.
Q. You place the main revolutionary potential in the regions?
A. If you take a look at the statistics of strikes, very few strikes take place in Moscow. They take place mostly in the regions. In Moscow the strike movement has a more sporadic character, whereas in the regions, take for example the tractor plant in Chuvashia, the strike committee was supported by the striking teachers and the workers of the chemical plants. In this sense the situation there is easier for us. We hope that our march on Moscow will also be supported by the fleet, which is simply dying off. I am very sure that if organized mass resistance grows in the regions, there will definitely appear powerful popular leaders. And I don't rule out that some of these regional leaders may become national leaders. Then the situation in Moscow will become easier for us. Nobody can foresee the forms that the popular protest may take. Lenin once said: "Yesterday was early, tomorrow will be late." But this was a question of just three days. Today our situation is different.
Q. Lets return to the question of the last presidential elections. Serious people keep asserting that Zyuganov in fact won the elections. Perhaps the difference [in the votes] was not great. But the very next day Zyuganov congratulated Yeltsin. The rank-and-file of the CPRF could not protest the results since their leader gave up?
A. Yes, Zyuganov congratulated Yeltsin long before the official results were made public, the very next morning. I had proposed the formation of a popular committee for the counting of the ballots. The law permits this type of action. At that time Zyuganov was very afraid of this. This popular committee could call the people into the streets. We all felt that this possibility scared Gennady Andreyevich [Zyuganov]. I wish I was wrong but Zyuganov's priority is not to permit a social explosion to occur. We say: let a social explosion take place if it is politically focused. It should be conscious; the fewer victims and blood the better. But he is in principle against any kind of social unrest. He is protecting the regime.
organizer of the international conference held in Moscow in November, 1996
A. Today in Russia there exist about 40 parties and organizations of communist orientation. Most of them emerged from the ashes of the defunct CPSU, and this feature undoubtedly manifests itself in the ideological and organizational structure of these parties and organizations. Unfortunately, as a result these parties and organizations are in essence full of opportunism, both left and right opportunism. Today, as Lenin stressed, left opportunism is not a major threat; it is a sickness that can be cured. On the other hand, right opportunism, since it has taken over the majority of these parties and organizations, is at the present time a major threat to the communist movement. These parties and organizations were founded from above, in a spontaneous way, they represent by themselves a mechanical unification of people that called themselves communists. It turned out that these people do not understand the essence of Marxism-Leninism and absolutely do not know Stalinism. In the end, as a result, these parties and organizations couldn't cope with the new historical conditions, and at the present time they are undergoing a process of massive decomposition. This process is clearly seen in the example of the Russian Communist Workers Party [founded in November 1991, right after the the August events, whose leaders at that time were Victor Tiulkin and Victor Anpilov. Note of translator.] This party has split four times in the past years. In the summer of 1996, Victor Anpilov left. In the place of the original RCWP now there exist several groups that are hostile to each other.
Q. As far as Marxism-Leninism is concerned these groups do not differ from each other substantially?
A. That is true. They are basically opportunist. None of them deal with ideological questions of Marxism-Leninism, let's add, Stalinism. In themselves they are not therefore homogeneous organizations. They are more mechanical aggregations of people with different ideological backgrounds rather than ideologically defined political parties. Without ideological homogeneity there is no room for a defined organizational structure. These parties will still undergo more splits as a result. Another relevant party, founded in 1991, is the All-Union Communist Party Bolshevik (AUCPB), led by its general secretary Nina Andreeva. Her practice (or the lack of it) and theory give proof of her right opportunist essence. Needless to say from the very beginning she was never a Marxist-Leninist. She recently has openly denied the role of the working class in Russia. In the beginning Victor Anpilov did the same thing, now Nina Andreeva has followed this trend. She has repeatedly stressed in public that she doesn't see the working class in Russia.
Q. When did she begin to say this openly?
A. Last year (1996) in the last congress and conference. Her party is clearly focused on the intelligentsia. Both AUCPB and the CPRF are displaying more and more tailist positions with respect to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), led by Zyuganov, are coming closer and closer to it, are being swallowed by the CPRF. The Russian Party of Communists (RPC), led by Kryuchkov, is another party with communist orientation. This party from the very beginning advocated "market socialism." On the other hand, its membership did not have a definite homogeneous ideology. From the very beginning it was a party of intellectuals. At its foundation its membership barely reached 1500, whereas now there are no more than 300 members. It also underwent a split. De facto due to its internal heterogeneity this party doesn't function anymore. In February 1993 the CPRF was founded. At that time already Zyuganov and Kuptsov had become the leaders of the party. We warned then about their open right opportunism. The CPRF was founded on the basis of the party sections of the former CPSU. Most of the membership is made of pensioners, very conservative people. We do not expect a substantial ideological development among the membership of the CPRF.
The CPRF bases its propaganda on the ideas of patriotism, on the idea of the great nation. Now the membership of the CPRF is receiving new party cards. On the old card you could read: "Workers of the world unite!" This Marxist slogan has been removed from the new party cards. This party as a whole has openly rejected the principle of proletarian internationalism. This party is opportunist, revisionist to its roots, a party of the Menshevik type. This party is harming the communist movement.
Q. They stand on Brezhnevite positions?
A. Yes. You can't talk to them about a revolution. To talk about the revolutionary potential of this party is not possible in these conditions. Zyuganov has basically taken advantage of the composition of this party. In the beginning many thought that the problem of the CPRF was just the right opportunism of the leadership, that it would be enough to develop agitation among the more progressive rank-and-file membership and get rid of collaborationist and liquidationist policies of Zyuganov and C. Unfortunately, in my opinion, 80% of the membership, by their ideology, are not communists. So it is not only a problem of the leadership. Therefore it is natural that Zyuganov was reelected chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the CPRF almost unanimously at the past 4th Congress, held in April 1997. Inside the CPRF, as well as in other organizations, there are positive forces, but here unfortunately they are especially weak. It is possible that in the future these forces will split from the party that emerged in the beginning as an openly Menshevik, revisionist party. These are the biggest parties of communist orientation in the Russian political spectrum. There are other smaller parties as well. The Russian Communist Party - CPSU (RCP-CPSU), lead by Prigarin, is openly right opportunist; they openly advocate market socialism. They deny the revolution, and usually omit the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Their leader, Prigarin, is of the opinion, as are many others, that Stalin supported the concept of market socialism, that Stalin advocated an economy oriented towards the extraction of profit.
Q. Andreeva says the same thing?
A. Yes. From the point of view of Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, these parties do not differ from each other in s substantial way. The Union of Communist Parties - CPSU (UCP-CPSU), led by Oleg Shenin, has recently begun to use some left phraseology. It began to talk about the dictatorship of the proletariat, sometimes even about the necessity of a revolution. But the fact that the leading ideologist of the party is Egor Ligachov, former member of the Politburo of the CC of the CPSU, who just till recently talked about the necessity of private property, is an indication of the ideological status of this party. Shenin was also a member of the CC of the CPSU in Gorbachev's time, he cooperated with the Politburo and participated in the policies of that time. We never heard a word against Perestroika from Shenin. Their tactics and strategy are very clear and simple: first resurrect the CPSU and then on this basis restore the Soviet Union. Very few people will join this party that holds the name of the CPSU, a name that was discredited after Stalin's time. In our opinion any attempt of unity on this basis has no future. Because of their populism they are beginning to mention Stalin's name. In their papers and reports they sometimes quote Stalin. In fact among the rank-and-file communists, and not only among communists, but among the toiling masses, Stalin has become very popular, and his popularity is growing with time. Take Zyuganov, at the last congress of the CPRF. You read his report and you will find not only one, but even two quotations from Stalin. Zyuganov also knows that Stalin is popular among the Russian people. This is dangerous since Zyuganov and the rest tend to revive Stalin as a national-patriot, even as a Christian evangelist.
Q. You say that these parties do not go beyond the CPSU?
A. Yes, of course, since they are in essence splits from the CPSU. As a result ideologically they are not in a position to go beyond the CPSU.
Q. This is also why their understanding of Stalin is made through the mirror of the post-Stalinist period.
A. Yes, of course. They pose Stalin not as a revolutionary, not as a Marxist, not as the theorist of the socialist revolution, of the dictatorship of the proletariat, of Socialist and Communist construction, but as a leader of patriotic, Christian orientation.
Q. What could you tell us about the AUCPB? At its origin the AUCPB played a progressive role. What could you tell us about Andreeva and why the AUCPB has basically collapsed?
A. The AUCPB now is openly a right opportunist party.
Q. But this is a natural development?
A. Yes it is. Also a major role has been played by Nina Andreeva's personality. Already in the beginning of 1992 you could hear something funny: "the General Secretary of the Bolshevik Party, Nina Aleksandrovna Andreeva." There were jokes about this: "If tomorrow Socialist forces win in Russia and Socialism is restored but Nina Andreeva is not the General Secretary, then we don't need this Socialism." Of course, Andreeva's stand should be understood as a petty-bourgeois expression, as a result of a petty-bourgeoisie psychology.
Q. What about its program?
A. At the time of its formation, the AUCPB's program was the most progressive of those put forward by parties and organizations of communist orientation. The AUCPB is not a shadow of what it used to be. You should take into account who advises Andreeva. The main ideologist of the AUCPB, Klushin, was a professor of philosophy in Brezhnev's time. He used to write her party reports and papers. Now after the virtual collapse of her party has become clear, Nina Andreeva calls for the unification with other revisionist parties and is working on some all-Union conference and has even organized a committee for unification. Now after so many splits and expulsions of members, having lost the support of the progressive mass of communists, now she tries to find a common language with forces like Anpilov. This is just a petty bourgeoisie expression, to remain the head of a political organization and be called General Secretary.
Q. We can conclude that this pseudo-communist movement is rooted in Brezhnevism, and by itself it is not in a position to go beyond the society of Brezhnev's time which they call socialist?
A. Yes. Brezhnevism, Bukharinism, right opportunism in essence, has swallowed this pseudo-communist movement. However there are in the Soviet Union genuine communist forces among the rank-and-file. We can find good forces in the AUCPB, in the RCWP, some in the CPRF and eventually some in the rest.
Q. Lets move on to the Marxist-Leninist forces. What organizations and forces participate today in the process of unification and formation of the Marxist-Leninist party?
A. This is not a simple question, taking account of the present situation in the communist movement in Russia. I believe that the party will be built on the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist ideology. Today this ideology has a tremendous force because of the present conditions. This ideology cannot be destroyed. The forces will form the party based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism, and we should say also, Stalinism. These principles have been presented in the resolution of the conference last November. I will not repeat these principles here, since this resolution has been published throughout the world in several different languages. The idea of the formation of a revolutionary party, a vanguard party, not a parliamentary party like the CPRF, but one based on Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist principles, sprung up at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the collapse of the CPSU. Now this necessity has become very acute in view of the present objective and subjective conditions, especially the organizational failure of the attempts of restoring the CPSU. Many real communists, in a mass, are disappointed by the backwardness of their leadership, by the character of the political actions of their parties. These parties do not work among the working class, do not organize the working class, the ever-growing mass strike movement in Russia is developing independently and isolated from the communist movement. The working class now is receptive to communist ideas, but these organizations in fact refuse to work and organize the working class. Many communists dream of the formation of a unified mass Marxist-Leninist, Stalinist party.
Our center struggles against revisionism and its remnants in order to dust off Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, the teaching of the revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, from the influence of decades of revisionism. The essence of Marxism was dismissed by the CPSU and after its collapse by most of the present parties. Now we are gathering Marxist-Leninist forces throughout the whole former Soviet Union. We have a large faction of Marxist-Leninist forces among the rank-and-file of the AUCPB and especially among those groups that split or were expelled from the AUCPB for defending Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, and exposing the right opportunism of its leadership. This is a very important force for the formation of a mass unified revolutionary party and most of all they have recognized the necessity of the formation of a unified revolutionary party. There are also forces among the membership of the RCWP and a few in the CPRF. There also exist smaller organizations that always stood on correct ideological positions, for example, the Leninist-Stalinist Party of Bolsheviks. There are other smaller organizations that actively participate in this process of unification. In other former republics of the Soviet Union we also find parties and organizations based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism. For example, the Party of Communist Bolsheviks of the Ukraine, sections of the CP of Tadzhikistan, in Byelorussia there are also serious forces, and in other republics.
Our main task today consists in the unification of these Marxist-Leninist forces. We are not hoping to construct a big party. This would be a mistake. If one remembers 1908, an analogy with present situation in Russia can easily be made. At that time the Bolshevik Party was much smaller than the Menshevik Party. But this was a party of professional revolutionaries, which underwent many hardships, the first Russian revolution in 1905, exile, jail... This party, thanks to its will and its revolutionary character, despite a smaller membership, accomplished a lot of work, and in 1917 at the time of the revolutionary upheaval, this party grew and made the socialist revolution. We will be obliged to work in semi-legal and possibly, since repression on a revolutionary party is unavoidable, in illegal conditions.
Q. What, in your opinion, is the importance of reading and study the works of Enver Hoxha for the consolidation of Marxism-Leninism in Russia and the struggle against opportunism and revisionism?
A. Unfortunately the works of Enver Hoxha were unknown in the Soviet Union; they were forbidden. Today the vast majority of Russian communists are absolutely ignorant of Enver Hoxha. Although it might not sound very appropriate, we should be grateful to our "democrats" for making possible the collapse of the revisionist CPSU and now the material basis exists to introduce the communist movement to the works of Enver Hoxha. Our center circulates the works of Enver Hoxha. I have to say that communists who are reading his works are giving extremely good responses. Enver Hoxha's book, "The Khrushchevites," is having a great response. Many people do not know what Khrushchevism, Brezhnevism means, indeed about the tremendous struggle against them that Enver Hoxha carried out. We are very grateful to the foreign comrades that made the circulation of the Russian translation of this book possible. The works of Enver Hoxha have a major significance for the formation of modern communist concepts.
I would like to summarize. Our center is strongly convinced that the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and their follower, Enver Hoxha, will win over the heart of the common people. It is now that the common people are seeing the real significance of the historical role of Stalin, and the role of Enver Hoxha in Albania. Now wee clearly see that Enver Hoxha undertook a correct struggle against Khrushchevite and Brezhnevite revisionism.
We are sure that victory will be ours.
Workers of the world unite!
Q. Thank you very much, comrade.
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