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Yeltsin drives toward police state

By Mike Davidow, People's Weekly World, 14 January 1995

Russia cannot digest capitalism. But it has not yet gathered the strength to vomit up this monstrosity. The Yeltsin-Chernomyrdin regime is trying to force it down its throat. And the tragic result is for all to see: economic chaos, runaway sadistic crime, moral decay, rapid "progress" to a police state. The barbarous bombing and shelling of the tiny Chechen republic on Russian soil is the monstrous enactment of the tank-storming of the Russian Supreme Soviet on a massive scale.

Even the Yeltsin "democrats" are being compelled to "rebel" against the repulsive fruits of their own handiwork. The same Yegor Gaidar, Yeltsin's former prime minister, who played a leading role in Bloody October is now posing as the champion of "human rights" in Chechnya!

Yeltsin's military adventure is even proving too much for many members of the Yeltsin "intelligentsia" who had urged Yeltsin "not to spare the bullets" in the crime of the century. Isolated by their groveling embrace of Yeltsin, prominent leaders of "Russia's Choice," Yeltsin's party, are taking to the streets to demonstrate their opposition to their former standard bearer. Even "democrat" TV commentators who did so much to pave the way for the Yeltsin capitalist counterrevolution, are seeking to distance themselves from the bloodbath in Grozny.

Finally, firm opposition in both the Duma and Federation Council, rising discontent and demoralization in the armed forces, including on the top levels, overwhelming disapproval of the people (66 percent oppose and only 20 percent support the military action) - all have mired the Yeltsin-Chernomyrdin regime in the bloody ditch they have dug.

The question is: How to get out of it? How to save Yeltsin from complete discreditation? With this aim, he was hidden away from public view during the first two weeks of the Chechen "adventure." Should he be portrayed as the "victim" of deception by the "war party" in the armed forces and his cabinet? Or should he embrace more tightly the mantle of the "defender of Russia's statehood?"

The first course is being proposed by the Gaidar "rebels." The other by Yeltsin's praetorian guard. In either case, in the eyes of even those who have clung to his support, Yeltsin will never be the same. In recognition of this, the radical "democrats" are now in frantic search of a "new leader." One around whom they seem to be rallying is Deputy Sergei Kovalov, chair of the Duma Human Rights Committee who has remained in Grozny to observe and report the atrocities. Kovalov has "appealed" to Yeltsin to halt further military action and to seek a political settlement with Chechen leader Dudayev.

The Chechen crisis has also somewhat divided the ranks of the patriotic opposition. Some are taken in by nationalism and support the military action while still opposing Yeltsin on the grounds of defending the entity of the Russian state. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation fraction in the Duma has strongly opposed the military action in Grozny. Left-led demonstrations have also taken place.

The Chechen crisis broke out at the time of the third anniversary of the dissolution of the USSR. The Second Congress of People's Deputies on Dec. 13 in Moscow, at which all 15 former Soviet Republics were represented, vividly revealed the painful results. In Moldova, 80 percent of the industry is not working. Armenia has lost 1.5 million of its 3.5 million population. They have fled from the utter destitution in which 90 percent live at or below the poverty level.

Georgia is in a state of chaos with even bread priced beyond the reach of many, its factories in total paralysis, transport crippled, crime out of control. Estonia, portrayed as the IMF "miracle," is head over heels in debt, its once-prized collective farms and polyclinics destroyed, corruption rife.

Latvia's recent mass teachers' strike revealed the collapse of its once high standard of living. It is in the grips of terror -- Alfreds Rubics, first secretary of the CP, is in the fourth year of arbitrary arrest. Lithuania is now a semi-fascist state, its CP leaders tortured and in prison for long terms.

Ukraine, in Soviet times a mainstay of industry and agriculture, is in even a more chaotic condition than Russia, with millions of unemployed and the U.S. 6th fleet brazenly maneuvering in the Black Sea near its shores. All representatives noted that the bitter lessons of dissolution had exposed the real face of capitalism and stirred deep yearning for Soviet times.

The Chechen crisis opens a new stage in the struggle for the salvation of Russia from utter collapse as a first step toward a reunited, renovated USSR. It has given the people a glimpse at the bloody pit into which Russia is being led. It has considerably widened mass support for early 1995 presidential and parliamentary elections. At the same time, it is demonstrating that the force-feeding of capitalism is leading to a police state. The full effects of this new, more dangerous stage have not yet been felt. The political time clock in Russia is being accelerated!

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