Moscow turmoil as Chechens resist

THE BLOODY war in Chechyna is a result of Yeltsin attempting to defend his country’s ‘national integrity’ by imperialist methods. He will judge the success of his policy on its ability to deter others from breaking away rather than on what happens in Chechnya. The Chechens can continue their independence struggle in many ways after the fall of Grozny but, so long as they can be isolated, they will in the end be defeated.

We know from our experience of Ireland that a nation which oppresses another cannot itself be free. In the more brutal conditions of the Commonwealth of In-dependent States we can expect an even more authoritarian response.

The rebellion has shaken Russia’s rulers. They are accusing one another of incompetence, even treachery. Vice premier Shakhrai claimed, “Without the accomplices from Moscow the enormous arsenals ... would never have got into the hands of the separatists.” Defence minister Grachev and former Prime Minister Gaidar are accused. Yeltsin holds on to power only because no one can agree on a replacement. The army is under-financed and the war has exposed its inefficiency and low morale. Some generals are unhappy because their advice was ignored.

Public opinion in the CIS is strongly against the armed suppression except for the xenophobes, such as Liberal Democratic Party leader Zhirinovsky, who has called for the killing of more Chechens.

Russian bourgeois liberals fear, with good reason, that the increased military spending will derail their free market reforms and increase the power of the bureaucracy and military over parliament.

Opposition also centres round the old ‘official communists’, who are horrified by the developing economic crisis and just want to go back to the old days when things were bad - but not so bad. They too are nationalistic, but more interested in getting rid of the present misrulers so they can misrule in the old way. For want of a real Communist Party the tottering counterrevolution goes unopposed.

It has been five years since the upheavals that produced the collapse of bureaucratic socialism. The Weekly Worker was almost alone in saying that it was a counterrevolutionary movement. Tariq Ali even hailed Yeltsin as a great democrat.

Alex Callinicos in Socialist Worker (January 7) is anxious to remind readers that “it was right to cheer” the ‘revolutionary upheavals’ at the end of the 1980s. Unfortunately “they were not anything like thoroughgoing enough because they looked to western capitalism for inspiration”. Socialist Worker readers may well now wonder why they chose to cheer the ‘heroic’ Yeltsin in 1991.

Arthur Lawrence