Banda Bassotti are currently touring Novorossiya, and by coincidence I came across their music last week. I really like Москва ‘993 and I think the song really expresses some of the awkward tensions in Russian society which haven’t yet been resolved in Novorossiya. The song explicitly addresses the process of capitalist restoration and the brutal events of October 1993 in which Yeltsin turned the tanks on the Congress of People’s Deputies. By my count communists and their allies have won national elections three times in the Russian Federation since 1991, and each time they have been prevented from taking office in government. So much for democracy.
A Russian friend recently told me that the communists could have taken power in 1993 and 1996; they had the people and the army on their side, but they didn’t want to start a civil war so they stayed put. Maybe the Soviet Union could have been saved in August 1991 or resurrected in October 1993 and we could be living in a totally different world today. What matters now is that the Communist Party is still the largest party in Russia in terms of membership and it remains the largest electoral force capable of challenging United Russia and its allies. The oligarchs colluded with Yeltsin to bury the Soviet Union, but they failed kill the remenants of socialism.
I find the presence of Banda Bassotti in Novorossiya curious because they articulate precisely that communist element of the Ukrainian opposition which doesn’t quite line up with the interests of Russian oligarchs. At the moment the Ukrainian opposition looks like a mix of communists and nationalists all loosely held together by a rejection of the ‘Euromaidan’. One rebel asks rhetorically “what are we fighting for?” to which the answer is “a new country, a more just society.” A new country is fine, we know about that already. In the meantime everyone should pay close attention to the “more just society” because that’s the dangerous part. That’s why I’m happy that Banda Bassotti are singing about October 1993, because Novorossiya could certainly learn from it.