Some thirty thousand protesters, waving red flags, marched through the streets of downtown Moscow yesterday and held a rally outside the Lubyanka — best known as the headquarters of the secret police. The demonstration was held on the eve of Red Army Day (February 23), which celebrates the army’s defense of the motherland. But the organizers of yesterday’s demonstration, who included the Russian Communist party, stressed that their march was an alternative, opposition event, organized to commemorate the eightieth anniversary of the creation of the Red Army of workers and peasants. (ORT, Itar-Tass, February 22) That army was set up by Trotsky (whose name was not mentioned yesterday) to establish Bolshevik power during the Civil War that followed the October Revolution.
During Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership in the late 1980s, the first efforts were made to reexamine the civil war. It had been portrayed throughout the Soviet period as the glorious victory of the working class and their peasant allies over the forces of capitalism and imperialism. The Gorbachev leadership tried to redefine the civil war as a national tragedy that set brother against brother. Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov tried to turn the clock back when he told yesterday’s demonstration that Russia is engaged in the "third Motherland war" and that, in April or May, the opposition’s struggle against the Yeltsin regime will climax in the ouster of the government.
The government is probably not quaking in its boots. Last week’s refusal by the Communist-dominated Duma to approve the government’s austerity budget put the government back on a collision path with parliament. At the same time, however, it left the government free to press ahead with its spending cuts regardless. (See previous story)
Yesterday’s meeting was chiefly notable for the presence on the podium alongside Zyuganov of General Lev Rokhlin, leader of the Movement in Support of the Army. Last week, Zyuganov and Rokhlin signed a cooperation agreement between their two organizations. Late last year, Rokhlin created a stir by threatening to launch some kind of armed coup on February 22 and predicting that the government would be out of power no later than February 23. Yesterday, he revised his prediction to "April or May."
Yeltsin Marks Military Holiday.