Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 182

Gennady Zyuganov told NTV’s “Itogi” that Wednesday’s planned national protest will pass in an organized way. The Communist Party leader said that the protesters will themselves maintain order and prevent violence. “We have agreed with the police, the Federal Security Service and the Justice Ministry that we will push out all provocateurs,” he said. Zyuganov called on law enforcement agencies and journalists “to show respect” for the protesters (NTV, October 4).

During a demonstration on Sunday marking the fifth anniversary of the violence which took place between the military and anti-Yeltsin rebels, Zyuganov called on participants in the October 7 demonstrations to demand Yeltsin’s resignation. Zyuganov said that if the October 7 action brings no results, the opposition will carry out “an all-Russian action of civil disobedience.”

Zyuganov predicted that forty million Russians will take part in the October 7 protests. He and other opposition leaders made similar predictions for the 1997 event, but the turnout was much lower. Observers are split on what will happen this year. Some believe Yeltsin effectively took the wind out of his opponents’ sails by appointing a left-leaning government and giving it carte blanche to devise an anticrisis program. Others, however, say that the crisis sparked by the ruble devaluation may mean a large turnout. These observers note that the protesters, who will include representatives of Russian trade unions, plan this year not only to hit the streets, but to cut off the country’s rail links as well.

Last week, Mikhail Shmakov, head of the Federation of Independent Russian Trade Unions, said he could not guarantee that there would not be violence this time. This may explain why the government is taking extraordinary security measures. The weekly magazine Profil, citing confidential sources in the Defense Ministry, reports that motorized and tank units of the Moscow Military District will be used to guard highways, airports and railway stations if things get out of hand in the capital. According to the magazine, army commandos will be used to guard the Kremlin on the day of the protest.

The main responsibility for maintaining order on October 7, however, will fall on the Interior Ministry (MVD). Profil reports that MVD internal troops stationed in and around Moscow have been made combat-ready. Meanwhile, according to Profil, opposition leaders have aimed agitation efforts at military garrisons, while opposition newspapers like Pravda and Sovetskaya Rossiya have called on servicemen not to obey the government’s orders. Profil quotes a commander of the Kantemir tank division, which was used to suppress the October 1993 revolt, as saying: “We will not go against the people. A hungry, poorly clothed, homeless army, which has lost all faith in the president and the government, will not fool itself again” (Profil, October 5).