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Evaluation of the days in Saint Petersburg in November 2017

ICOR, Main Coordinator, 29 March 2018

 

Background: In 2014 the Second ICOR World Conference passed a resolution on 100 years of the October Revolution and an appropriate campaign with various components. A special highlight of the ICOR activities were the successful activities in Saint Petersburg with the climax of the demonstration on the anniversary of the October Revolution (7 November) with 8,000 to 10,000 participants. And along with this a packed program, including the festive banquet of the ICOR on 8 November.

 

The days in Saint Petersburg took place in a stiff headwind: The route of the demonstration on the Nevsky Prospect, the busy main street, was banned. According to Putin's ideas the activities were supposed to take place in Moscow. The CPRF also put out invitations for Moscow. Saint Petersburg should by no means be the center of the events! The Smolny – the center of the revolution planning staff and location of Lenin's workroom – was “suddenly” closed for our groups of visitors even though they had registered to visit months in advance. The confirmed room for the festive banquet was canceled. Around the 5th of November more than 200 people were arrested in Saint Petersburg. We only learned about this from the Russian comrades. There were no reports in the newspapers.

 

The preparation: The activities in Saint Petersburg had been prepared in closest cooperation with the comrades of the MLP over a long period. But older contacts also were important factors for the success, like the ones of the MLPD and especially Stefan Engel to the Russian Communist Workers' Party (RCWP). (The RCWP published Willi Dickhut's book, The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union, in Russia, though they do not share the analysis of the development to social-imperialism.) Early in 2017 the Main Coordinator visited Saint Petersburg and the MLP again. The whole project, ranging from the accommodations, the various activities and events to the joint alliance policy, were discussed and agreed. A long and intensive talk with Victor Tyulkin convinced him of the ICOR plan so that the targeted building of an alliance October 100 could be tackled and this also internationally important party became an effective force of the demonstration.

 

Important stages: In the run-up and during the November days, the international youth brigade (from Nepal, Germany and the Netherlands) as a whole did an excellent job to support the about 200 ICOR delegates. It began with the warm welcome at the airport where for 72 hours the youth brigade was the point of contact for the revolutionaries from all over the world and made sure that everybody reached their accommodations, etc. Vadim of the MLP: “At first I was afraid that these days would not turn out too well. When the comrades of the youth brigade arrived, it warmed my heart, because it made a lot of things easier. From then on I knew: everything will be fine.” The youth brigade had worked out guidelines which were an important orientation.

 

The visiting program: The two buses for the city tour were crowded and many of the comrades explored the revolution sites on foot. With Ludmilla and Sergei we had competent tour guides. We carried out a commemoration rally at the Field of Mars, where the dead of the February Revolution are buried… And during the stop on the Neva bridge we heard the story about how in 1917 the revolutionaries took the key away from a responsible-minded old bridge guard, with which it is possible to start pulling up the bridge. Saint Petersburg is a wonderful city!

 

The concert on 6 November with 700 visitors was organized by the RCWP. There were excellent contributions of a very high standard by artists from Saint Petersburg and Russia. In a sense the performance of the music group “Gehörwäsche” (Ear Wash) from Germany embodied the revolutionary and youthful perspective of these celebrations. One highlight was the speech of Sanjay Singhvi for the ICOR. And one result was valuable new contacts to a party from South Korea, to elderly communists, “merited miners” from Saint Petersburg, and contact to further international visitors as from Greece and Turkey, to peasants…

 

The highlight of the activities in Saint Petersburg, for sure, was the demonstration on the evening of 7 November, starting at Finland Station with about 8,000 participants and finishing in front of the Aurora with 10,000 participants. The mobilization was difficult. The Russian comrades decided neither to produce leaflets nor to hang up posters. Not a single newspaper, no blog in the Internet was allowed to report. So the mobilization was by word of mouth. A powerful ICOR block with delegations from eleven countries, a sea of ICOR flags and a militant demonstration culture became the center of attraction, though its 200 to 300 participants were clearly in the minority. The demonstration had been meticulously prepared and followed a well-thought-out plan. The whole appearance, the discipline, slogans, workers' songs and especially the Internationale, and the optimism and self-confidence which it radiated were particularly attractive. Masses of people joined in singing, expressed appreciation, bought literature, and some joined the ranks of the demonstration.

Unfortunately, not the ICOR, but the MLPD was allowed to speak (reason stated by Tyulkin: “We do not yet have confidence in the ICOR, but in the MLPD, evolved for many years”). The reason was that the short-term decision of the revisionist CPRF to participate gave it the right – according to the statement of the RCWP, confirmed by the MLP – to walk at the head of the demonstration together with the second largest organization RCWP and to determine the list of speakers. There was only a brief opportunity for discussion, and all participating comrades of the ICOR – including the MLP – agreed that the MLPD would speak as ICOR organization and introduce the idea of ICOR. And so it did. At the end fireworks were launched and ICOR representatives and friends jointly positioned themselves in front of the Aurora.

 

The festive banquet with 300 participants from 20 countries was a very worthy conclusion of the days in Saint Petersburg and a heart-touching fraternization. The evening started with the entry of the sailors carrying the ICOR flags! It was a choir of genuine sailors who sang the Internationale together with everybody at the opening – and then “Amur Partisans”. The evening, with a number of short speeches, toasts and cultural contributions, was moderated by Monika/Main Coordinator of the ICOR. A great surprise was the awarding of medals by the chairman of the RCWP.

 

The Saint Petersburg events were a success also in financial terms. The costs were covered, and even the expenses of the MLP and the youth brigade could partly be reimbursed.

 

 

 

 

 

Some voices on the days in Saint Petersburg:

 

Kazi/CPB Bangladesh: “The demonstration was very good and colorful. It set a historical example, because after the collapse of socialism the communists were very weak and, above all, fragmented and downhearted. In the early 1990s I visited Russia quite often, and the mood among the communists was catastrophic. Today’s demonstration shows that the tide has turned.” He showed us pictures of the October Revolution Centennial celebration in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on the same day. The revolutionary organizations organized a demonstration march from different starting points. The demonstration of his organization comprised 22,000 people!

Tuta/PPP Peru “For the working class and the revolutionaries, defeat has been succeeded by the beginning of a new revolutionary passion in the entire world. I am happy that I can be here as representative of the ICOR. Much work awaits us.”

Adismar/Plataforma Golpe de Timon, Venezuela: I congratulate the comrades on this magnificent demonstration! I see the great desire and determination, and that everything was done with a great voluntariness. 100 years after the October Revolution, communism is more important than ever.… Today was a wonderful day that will remain unforgettable to all those involved.”

Pride and joy shone in the faces of the Russian comrades of the MLP. They fought for the demonstration against thousands of obstacles. The MLP as a small organization achieved great things. The responsibility weighed heavily on it – and the pressure was increased by those in power, by the revisionists, and also temporarily by their own faint-heartedness. Their balance: “But we went our own way and, with the clarity of the ICOR behind us, even as a small organization were able to achieve a great deal. It is no exaggeration to say that without the ICOR the event would not have taken place on this scale.”

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