CHRONICLE OF EVENTS
IN THE WORKERS' STRUGGLE IN RUSSIA
ACTIVE SELF-DEFENSE OF THE WORKING CLASS
After it was privatized, the Vyborg cellulose factory in the Leningrad region was bought by a British company registered in Cyprus under the name of «Nimonor Invest Limited» for just 2,5% of its real value.
The representatives of «Nimonor» decided to reduce the work-force to one-third. The factory was to become a major supplier to the western market of cheaply produced Russian cellulose, and to eliminate a possible competitor on the international market. The struggle erupted due to the abusive behavior of the executive committee appointed by the new owners.
From the beginning the strike affected all the sections of the factory, as the workers acted in a decisive and determined manner. All attempts by «Nimonor's» new owners to control the situation failed. The workers reelected their union leadership and registered it legally. Then the workers' collective restarted production and declared it a people's factory. The workers' collective also elected a new committee to head the factory, replacing the one set up by the new owners of «Nimonor», and the factory returned to production.
But «Nimonor» did not give up its efforts to control the factory and obtained a court decision which reaffirmed the shady purchase of the factory and declared the militant actions of the workers' collective to be illegal. The indignant workers responded by surrounding the plant and blocking the gates. This forced the judicial police and other representatives of the repressive apparatus of the bourgeois state to withdraw.
Furthermore, the workers' collective took their denunciations to court where they exposed many irregularities committed by «Nimonor» in their purchase of the factory. It was revealed that the registration of the company «Nimonor» in Cyprus was illegal. In these circumstances the representatives of «Nimonor» disappeared from the scene, leaving in their place another even shadier company called «Altsem» belonging to domestic bourgeois, the so-called «new» Russians.
Conscious of the fact that their ownership of the cellulose plant was even more dubious than that of the previous owners of «Nimonor», the new «owners» decided to act aggressively. Brandishing mysterious documents which established them as the new owners (now for less than 2% of its real value) the self-proclaimed bosses to seize the factory quickly.
On Friday, July 9, a caravan of automobiles arrived at the factory's administrative offices. Some 100 armed thugs, dressed in black and military fatigues and armed with clubs and guns, entered the factory. They were accompanied by the Vyborg attorney general, employees of the judicial system and police. Some of the thugs blocked access to the factory and tried to enter the shops. But the workers confronted them and they were forced to retreat. Another group of thugs moved to the administrative offices, occupying the director's office and disconnecting the telephone lines. The attackers identified themselves as members of the Federal Security Service [the former KGB - note of the translator]. The new owners entered the director's office and shouted: «The factory is ours now! Stop production and get out of here». All this occurred in the absence of the judicial personnel and Vyborg's attorney general, who had proclaimed the new owners to be legal. The director of the factory was alternately threatened and offered bribes. But the director, Vantonin, ordered the security forces and the workers to remove the undesired visitors from the premises.
At this point the police disappeared from scene. With the sounding of the factory's siren the workers and the townspeople arrived and the attackers were expelled from the factory.
Hundreds of people cleaned up the factory room by room. They had not been intimidated by blows or threats to use firearms. But events turned violent in the director's office as a blow with a club caused a worker in the repair shop, Aleksander Nikolaev, to lose an eye. And warehouse worker Galina Shamaeva was hit in the chest so hard that her heart stopped. Galina survived thanks to the immediate arrival of the emergency medical services. As a result, the efforts of the criminal privatizers were in vain as they were expelled by force from the cellulose factory at Vyborg. This confrontation with the repressive forces of the regime ended in victory for the workers. But the struggle continues.