May 1 in the Russian capital was marked with the traditional May Day demonstrations by trade unions and parties of the leftist “opposition.” Some 30,000 people participated. The largest of the demonstrations, involving an estimated 15,000-20,000 people, was organized by Russia’s trade unions, whose members marched under banners demanding wage increases. They were joined by members of Fatherland, the movement led by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, and of the much small Social Democratic Party, led Mikhail Gorbachev. The former Soviet leader noted that the programs of his party and Fatherland were very close, and said it was possible the two groups would merge. This, of course, would mean a de facto merger with the pro-Kremlin Unity party, given that Fatherland and Unity recently announced plans to merge (see the Monitor, April 20, 24).
Meanwhile, some 10,000 people attended a separate demonstration organized by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF). KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov gave what some observers called one of his more moderate speeches in recent memory, and the Interfax news agency quoted unnamed members of some of the more radical leftist groups as criticizing Zyuganov for “indecisiveness in the struggle against the anti-people’s regime.” Members of the more radical leftist opposition, such as Viktor Anpilov’s Working Russia, were also on hand, as was another traditional participant–the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). Demonstrations were also held yesterday in other Russian cities (NTV, Russian agencies, May 1).
A poll taken by the All Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) just prior to May Day asked respondents what was important about the day now and what it meant to them twenty to thirty years ago–in other words, during the Brezhnev period of Soviet rule. Fifty-nine percent of those polled said the day was significant then because of the official May Day demonstration, while only 11 percent said that the political demonstrations on May Day were significant nowadays. Likewise, only 18 percent of those polled said they celebrated May Day as “the Day of International Solidarity,” while 37 percent said they saw it above all as “an opportunity to meet with friends and intimates” (Polit.ru, May 1).
BOTH SIDES CLAIM VICTORIES IN CHECHEN FIGHTING.