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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Khabarovsk Protesters Must Follow Minsk and Encourage Strikes, Moskalenko Says


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Paul Goble

            September 28 – Dictatorships can be overthrown when their regimes are divided, with one part of the elite breaking with another and refusing to support the leader. But in the absence of such divisions, those who protest against such rulers can hope to oust them or change the system only if they act in parallel with workers prepared to street, Yury Moskalenko says.

            “Strikes against major enterprises have become a most important element of protest in Belarus, the Russian regionalist says, with the workers raising many of the same issues those in the streets are: the freeing of political prisoners, an end to arbitrary use of force, the resignation of an illegitimate president and new elections (region.expert/strike/).

            Most major enterprises in Belarus are government-owned, and consequently, strikes against them are “the strongest shock to the Lukashenka regime and even more effective than the cleverest posters carried by the demonstrators.” That is why the regime began its arrests not among the protesters but among the strikers.

            In Khabarovsk, where protests resemble those in Belarusian cities in many ways (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/08/khabarovsk-and-belarus-have-more-in.html), activists like Navalny staff coordinator Aleksey Vorsin has called for organizing work stoppages at major enterprises in that Russian Far East center.

            This is less unthinkable than it might appear. There have been strikes there in the Amur region this summer; and those labor actions provide a real basis for hope in Khabarovsk because they were organized by the workers themselves rather than by the trade unions, thus continuing a pattern typical of Russia as a whole (avtonom.org/author_columns/neprofsoyuznaya-zabastovka-rabochih-v-amurskoy-oblasti).

            For almost three months, people in Khabarovsk have taken to the streets, but so far, they have been largely ignored by the regime. To be heard, Moskalenko says, they need to be supported by strikes at government enterprises, especially high-tech ones like aviation and shipbuilding factors in Komsomolsk-na-Amure.

            Teachers and government officials could strike as well. Neither places much hope in their official unions, and so they would be forced to begin from zero.  The regime could not ignore that, and it particularly could not ignore strikes if they were to break out at plans involved with petroleum processing or military industry.

            The union of economic and political protests will raise the demonstrations to an entirely new level once again, just as they did in Vorkuta in 1989 when such coming together of local activists and workers did more to destroy communism and the Soviet system than any protests by Moscow intellectuals.

Window on Eurasia — New Series