In the new Russia, most people view Revolution Day as a welcome holiday from work.
But for the country’s “implacable opposition” – a motley mixture of communists, anarchists and fascists – the day marking the start of the Bolshevik Revolution on Nov. 7, 1917, is a time for marching, speech-making and plotting for a future free of the scourge of democratic capitalism.
This year, thousands of them marched in Moscow. But they shared the headlines with a much smaller, but still significant event: an anti-fascist demonstration organized by a broad spectrum of groups, including Moscow’s Anti-Fascist Center, the reformist Russia’s Choice political party and the Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union.
“The purpose of the event was to make a public statement against fascism,” said Maureen Greenwood, a spokesperson for the Union of Council. “We knew the fascists would be marching on Revolution Day and we wanted to show the rest of the city that there is an opposition.”
The afternoon demonstration, which included about 50 people holding anti- fascist posters, gathered attention from hundreds of passers-by, Greenwood said. It also received coverage from four television channels.
As many Russians grow disgruntled with rising crime and skyrocketing prices for food, rent, education and transportation, and as government reformers attempt to create a free-market economy, increasing numbers wax nostalgic for the “good old days” of stability, safety and an all-powerful communist leadership.
This dissatisfaction is fertile ground for the political opposition, whose wide umbrella includes communists, czarist loyalists, neo-Nazis and Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s right-wing and ill-named Liberal Democratic Party.
Their increasing popularity, and the “red-brown” coalition between communists and fascists, heightens the need for a visible anti-fascist movement, Greenwood said.
“In the last year, with the rise of Zhirinovsky, it’s been very difficult to show a united opposition and alternative to fascism. This event was important because it brought together a wide coalition of groups opposed to fascism,” she said.
Although the anti-fascist event took place on Nov. 7, it also commemorated Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, when on Nov. 9, 1938, the Nazis conducted a nationwide progrom against the country’s Jews.
In Russia, the political system in Hitler’s Germany is usually described as fascism, not Nazism, Because of this, the demonstration’s organizers viewed a Kristallnacht commemoration as a natural link for an anti-fascist event.