MOSCOW — Over 20,000 people marched and rallied here Nov. 7 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Great October Revolution. The date marks the victory by the Russian working class and its peasant allies for political power, sending shockwaves around the world. Commemorative events involving thousands more were held across the country.
The demonstration was held after work hours. Since the counter-coup restoring capitalism in 1991, the national holiday on Nov. 7 has been abolished. It is part of the continuing attempt to wipe out memory of the Soviet heritage. To acknowledge the persistent strong feelings for the October Revolution but not openly embrace it, the Moscow city government organized a military parade of veterans on Nov. 4 to commemorate an event during World War II.
The temperature was frigid, but spirits were jubilant as marchers, beginning at Pushkin Square, poured down Tverskaya Street, Moscow’s main artery. The rally took place at Manezh Square, under the watchful eyes of a bust of Karl Marx.
The crowd, a cross section of all ages, included veterans who carried red flags, banners and signs blasting Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government’s policies. Also present was a contingent of representatives of 73 communist and workers parties who traveled from Minsk in the Republic of Belarus, where an international meeting was held Nov 3-5. A large delegation also traveled from Italy to participate.
The rally had a campaign atmosphere, since federal elections are fast approaching on Dec. 2. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) is fielding a slate of candidates headed by General Secretary Gennady Zyuganov, including Zhores Alferov, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya, the second woman in space. The CPRF is the main opposition party to the Putin government.
In his speech, Zyuganov said, “There was no greater event during the 20th century than the October Revolution, and it has affected all of human history.” He recounted the achievements of socialism in the USSR that took a backward country into the 20th century, defeated Hitler fascism and became the first into space while providing free health care and education and low-cost housing for all.
Zyuganov said the capitalist counter-coup has brought on untold misery to the working class, resulting in a great gap in wealth, the looting of the people’s treasury and public assets by the new domestic capitalist oligarchs and global corporations, and the loss of basic economic and social protections. Zyuganov said the only way out of the mess was a return to socialism and urged the crowd to work hard to get out a big vote Dec. 2.
The BBC quoted Arseny Svidersky, an 18-year-old participant, as saying, “Some people thought that communism went into the past. We think it is a good idea for the future.”
In addition to the speeches, including greetings from the Communist parties of Greece and Italy, there was plenty of music and singing. The event ended with a fireworks display.
As part of the celebrations organized by the CPRF, a concert was held Nov. 6 in the historic House of Unions, featuring some of Russia’s most famous artists. It opened with the People’s Orchestra playing a famous Russian composition to a film montage of the history of the Soviet Union projected on a giant screen. People openly wept.
Among those giving solidarity greetings was the Cuban ambassador to Russia, Jorge Marti, who said the Great October Revolution touched every country and part of the world. He said humanity was at a crossroads and, in order to survive, a global transformation would have to be guided by the ideals of the revolution.
Also speaking was a representative of the Communist Party of China. He said the “root of the Chinese Revolution lies in the October Revolution, which introduced Marxism into China. We are taking our own path to socialism, but we will always remain loyal to the ideals of October.”
Svetlana Savitskaya recounted the story of Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space. She said he came from a poor family in a rural town. “Look what socialism did for him, what he and the scientific community achieved,” she said. “We want that for every child today — a future with free education and health care.”
The program ended with all the performers on stage. A chorus line of Young Pioneers, who have experienced a growth in membership in the last year, joined them in a very moving display.
Earlier in the day, Zyuganov and Tatyana Golubeva, general secretary of the Communist Party of Belarus, led the international delegation in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Lenin Mausoleum. Flowers were also left at the graves of other revolutionary heroes, including Communist Party USA leaders John Reed, William Foster, Charles Ruthenberg and Bill Haywood.
John Bachtell (jbachtell @rednet.org) represented the Communist Party USA at the Minsk meeting of Communist and workers’ parties and at the anniversary events in Moscow.