Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 5 February 2005

Russia's 'cotton revolution' shakes Putin

FOLLOWING THE 'orange revolution' in the Ukraine, Russia has been hit by what has been termed the 'cotton revolution' ('cotton' refers to the poor quality clothing worn by many pensioners). A huge wave of protests, mainly by pensioners, has swept the country in protest at the 'reform' of social security benefits.

Rob Jones, Moscow

What has made these protests significant is the speed with which the Putin regime has been forced to make significant concessions. The militant tactics of the demonstrators were encouraged by the pensioners from the town of Khimki - a Moscow suburb.

They blockaded the main Moscow-St Petersburg highway - the road to the country's main international airport. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of elderly in other cities have followed suit, blocking roads, laying siege to government buildings and, in the case of the Siberian pensioners, threatening to block the trans-Siberian railway.

The anger of the pensioners was directed at the so-called 'monetarisation of benefits'. Free transport and 50% reductions in housing costs for pensioners and other categories of the population, including soldiers and police, were abolished on 1 January to be replaced by a monetary compensation.

Typically, pensioners found that they were paid an extra 200 roubles a month (about five euros) but their transport costs alone quickly ate up this extra payment (a typical ticket on a bus now costs about 20 eurocents and frequently pensioners have to change buses or trams).

The new bills for housing are due which could lead to another wave of protests.

Perhaps the worst element of this reform has yet to hit - the change in healthcare subsidies. These are to be removed and each pensioner paid a standard sum - the government's argument is that this gives pensioners the right to chose. But there is no such thing as 'standard healthcare'.


PUTIN AND in particular the 'neo-liberal' ministers who have pushed through this reform were forced into a corner. They tried to blame the regional authorities for incompetence and stinginess in handing out the new payments but many are aware that the government has been running huge budget surpluses whilst continuing to cut back on benefits for ordinary people.

To avoid protests developing in their areas many regional authorities announced that several of the benefits, such as free transport would be financed from local budgets. But this was not enough to take the pressure off the federal government.

The pension increase due for April has been brought forward and the government has announced it will release up to $3 billion of the 'stabilisation fund' - money earned from the high oil price they were putting away for a rainy day.

The reaction of Putin's regime to the first protests were typical for what is in reality little more than a police state - a witch-hunt was launched to find the guilty.

In particular, an order appears to have been given to the police to pick out anyone under 45 on the demonstrations as likely trouble makers. Activists of Socialisticheskoye Soprotivleniye (CWI, Russia) have obviously fallen victim of this ruling!

At the same time one of the remarkable features of the protests has been that they have been largely spontaneous, with little involvement by any political parties in their organization. Only as the protests spread did the Communist Party, which is of course mainly now a party of pensioners, make any attempt to mobilise their supporters.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that the demonstrators are not political. Increasingly anti-Putin demands are being raised and there is a thirst for political ideas even despite the high age of the demonstrators. Over 250 copies of the CWI paper were sold on the Khimki protests.

Renewed struggle

SIGNIFICANTLY, ALSO, there was a high awareness that 22 January is the anniversary of the first Russian revolution (1905). There was even an attempt to take a petition to Putin in the same way as 100 years ago the demonstrators tried to petition the Tsar for justice, before he turned the troops on them.

Not only has monetarisation led to an undermining of Putin's popularity (down 20% in the last year), they have also forced concessions.

The Minister of Defence has been forced to announce that the reform of conscription which he announced in December (which would have meant that students lose the "postponement" of their conscription whilst they study), will not be implemented in the near future.

The government are aware that a merging of the pensioners' movement with that of the students will be too much to handle.

After several years of a serious lull in protests movements of any sort, it now appears that once again the masses are beginning to stand up for their rights again.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 5 February 2005:

Iraq: No end to nightmare

Nothing resolved by Iraqi elections

Oppose Clarke's dictatorial plans

Teachers are fighting back

 Balloting against the occupation

The great pensions robbery

All out to defend pensions

All out to defend pensions!

Action now to stop the pay cuts!

Lib Dems declare war on voluntary sector

The Holocaust - who was to blame?

After the tsunami: Victims treated like beggars

Russia's 'cotton revolution' shakes Putin

World Social Forum: Lula's betrayal of poor sparks anger


Home   |   The Socialist 5 February 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Vladimir Putin:

triangleThem & Us

triangleDraconian sentences for Pussy Riot protest will backfire on Putin

triangleWidespread fraud alleged as Putin wins presidential poll

triangle"Putin is a thief", "Putin is a thief"


triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

triangleWest London Socialist Party: Why we need a party

triangleWest London Socialist Party: 100 years since the October revolution in Russia

triangleWell-deserved ridicule of Stalinism is impressive, funny but flawed


triangle110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Women and Revolution

triangleMass rally to commemorate 1917 Russian Revolution


trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents



Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell



Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos



Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts



Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated



Bradford campaign to save children's services launched


South London

South London health bosses' cover-up



Unite day of action against blacklisting



Brighton victory



Newham anti-academies strikes


Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting



Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout



Unite protest against blacklisting



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee


Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

triangle13 Dec Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

EU parliament, Strasbourg

triangle13 Dec Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice