THE FIRST GREAT VICTORY
OF THE WORKERS OF LENINGRAD
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.
«Proletarskaya Gazeta», № 4
On October 14, 1999, the cellulose factory in the city of Vyborg in the Leningrad region was attacked by troops of the Russian Interior Ministry. A detachment of elite troops, «Taifun», proceeded to take over the factory using firearms and chemical substances against the unarmed workers who were guarding the factory at that time.
Having neutralized the workers' small security detachment, the troops took up positions inside the factory. The workers on night shift offered strong resistance to the troops. They sounded the factory alarm, waking up the whole city. In a few minutes the factory was surrounded by almost a thousand other workers and citizens who came to assist the workers. The troops opened fire on the unarmed workers. However the workers, instead of running in despair, showed an enviable boldness.
The factory was rapidly surrounded by workers and citizens. The troops were trapped without a chance to escape. In view of the situation the elite troops were forced to entrench themselves in the administration building hoping that the Interior Ministry would send reinforcements. In their desperation, the troops took several workers as hostages, among whom were some who had been wounded and women who were subjected to disgraceful humiliations.
As a result of the clashes dozens of workers were wounded, more than ten seriously.
«Already at night wounded workers started to flow into the hospital.
A. Ogurtsov, in charge of he night shift, came with an open bullet wuound.
V. Kretov, worker came with bleeding bullet wound in his left shoulder as well as with a wound in the head. The wound in the head was due to fierce beating while he was tortured. V.Kretov was seized as a hostage by the terrorists of the ministry of interior of Russia.
A. Nikolaenko, machinist, came with wound in his head.
N. Istomin, adjuster, came with a serious trauma in the head, the encephalic mass was damaged.
S. Zhamesov, worker, the bones f his hand were smashed.
S. Kazhak , in charge of the security in the factory came with an open wound in one leg.
The character of these bullet wounds indicate that these people were shot from short distances and at will».
Nurse Shepeleva N. V.
«I was hit with a club in the region of the liver. I fell to the floor in pain. Next to me there lied a comrade bathed in blood.
It was like in a nightmare, as if I was watching a movie about the atrocities committed by the fascist in concentration camps. I could not stand it and broke to scream. Then they hit me again.
They threatened to kill us all and also our children. They destroyed anything that came close to them without an apparent reason».
Zhaikina A. Yu.
was kidnapped by the troops
«I was thrown to the floor and they viciously clubbed both legs.
One of my comrades who had been shot was beaten till they almost killed him, took off his clothes and put him into the fridge of the cantina of the factory.
Another comrade who had an injury in his head was beaten till he finally lost consciousness. Everything around him was bathed in blood.
A fellow worker was brutalized by our kidnappers. He lost most of his teeth during the beating.
Theses acts of incredible cruelty were directly supervised by Tamara Borisovna Veselova, district attorney, an official representative of the government of the bourgeoisie in Russia».
Salnikov D. B.
was kidnapped by the troops
General Petukhov and the Attorney General of the Leningrad Region, Malkov, were present during the assault on the factory. Thus the workers of Leningrad were attacked under the supervision of high officials following the orders of Russia's «law-and-order» Prime Minister, Mr. Putin. This shows that the events at the Vyborg factory were not accidental or just of a local character. The Russian bourgeoisie is desperate and terrified by the growing and threatening resistance of the working class and sees no other escape but the establishment of a direct bourgeois dictatorship!
Early in the morning thousands of people from neighboring towns rushed to the Vyborg factory. By then the cowardly elite troops had already been neutralized and disarmed by the workers of the factory.
After negotiating with the workers with representatives of the Interior Ministry the troops were set free and escorted out of the administration building.
The workers collective of the Vyborg cellulose factory has been indicted under Article 315 of the criminal code of the Russian Federation. If the present criminal proceeding fails to achieve its objective for whatever reason, the workers collective will be charged with other crimes or the bourgeoisie will simply rewrite the laws to frame the workers of the Vyborg factory. The laws of the bourgeois state will always serve the interests of the bourgeoisie and will never defend the interests of the exploited. This is the essence of bourgeois justice. There is no abstract justice. Justice always has a class character!
The workers of the Vyborg factory are defending their factory against its privatization and the subsequent elimination of their jobs, they are trying to prevent their families from starving. These workers are no longer begging the bourgeoisie and its government; on the contrary they are organizing to defend their class interests against the offensive of capital.
Therefore the present struggle of the workers collective of the Vyborg factory is very significant, is represents a step forward in the struggle of the proletariat.
The experience of the struggle of the workers of the Vyborg factory allows us to draw the following conclusions:
1) only by decisive, continual and aggressive struggle for their class interests can the workers defend themselves against the offensive of capital;
2) the struggle of the working class will be consistent and successful only when the working class clearly conceives its immediate objectives and its concrete interests;
3) the workers of the cellulose factory in Vyborg were organized not only on an industrial basis but, in addition, had organic links with the population.
Only if it is organized can the working class successfully confront the class enemy;
4) the organization of the workers on an industrial basis is an initial form of class organization.
Therefore while creating unions on an industrial basis the working class should extend this to establishing inter-industrial structures with the objective of carrying out the class struggle in an organized and unified way;
5) the working class should prepare itself thoroughly and conscientiously, it should carry out actions with methods appropriate to the forms of oppression of the ruling class. To try to convince the ruling class and its terrorist repressive structures by arguments is a fruitless enterprise.
To the president of the Russian Federation, Yeltsin
We progressive workers of the republic of Latvia have received with deep indignation the news of the assault with firearms on the cellulose factory in the city of Vyborg by the security organs of the Russian government. The workers of the factory in Vyborg are defending their legal right to receive their salaries against the arbitrariness of the self-proclaimed «owners» of the factory. Having failed to get support from your government agencies the workers collective decided to take the situation under its control and decide their destiny by themselves. In response to the legitimate stand of the workers collective you have attacked them as Nikolas II («the bloody») and Nikita Khrushchev did in the past, despite the «democratic» propaganda that your regime boasts of. Now it has become clear in the eyes of all the workers and decent people of the world that your regime is heading towards a fascist dictatorship.
Workers Organization of Latvia (Marxist-Leninist)
Independent Union of Workers of Riga and the Region of Riga