Moscow Bomb Blast: Veiled Attack Against a Rising Workers Movement in Russia?


By Lisa Taylor


[The following article was posted on the Internet by on August 9, the day after a huge explosion in a Moscow subway, killing and injuring many, was being blamed on Chechen rebels.]

Last autumn's bomb attacks on apartment buildings in Russia, blamed on Chechens, provided much of the pretext for the destruction of Chechnya. Those bomb attacks in 1999 were suspected by some analysts to be the work of Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s designated successor Vladimir Putin, who was then head of the “security police,” the FSB (Russian initials for Federal Security Service, successor to the KGB of the Soviet Union).

The Yeltsin-Putin regime was anxious to divert the attention of angry masses of workers. If so, the tactic certainly worked. The war became massively popular among Russians, put Putin on the map, and even allowed the hated Yeltsin to retire with grace (while also safeguarding his family's massive wealth).

Mass workers action, such as the “rail wars” (the blocking of rail lines by protesting workers) and general strike of 1998, temporarily stopped. But this year, in May 2000, there was a mass Day of Action against a draconian new Labor Code being proposed by now-President Putin. [This labor code, according to Katrina Vanden Heuvel in the Nation magazine, July 24/31, 2000,  calls for “abolishing labor rights and permitting a twelve-hour workday.”]

With the May protest against the proposed labor code, which was organized mainly by the independent trade union Zashchita and the Movement for a Workers Party (a coalition of several Marxist groups), resistance is back on the agenda. Another Day of Action is planned for December. Is this tragedy in the Moscow subway Putin’s response to the new wave of militancy, an attempt to frame Chechens and put xenophobia, instead of class struggle, back in the driver’s seat?