Citizen Caine is just the boyo to revive Bolshevism

Phil Reeves on a Welsh radical who is harking back to the bad old past
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The Independent Online
Moscow - British politics may have sunk into quibbling over different shades of grey.

The once revolutionary Vanessa Redgrave, as reported on page one, may now be declaring her loyalty to the Liberal Democrats. But Britain can still nurture the occasional pioneering radical.

Kevin Caine, a 31-year-old from north Wales, has embarked on a task more ambitious than anything which the suits jostling for a seat in Westminster have to offer: he's trying to convert Russia back to Bolshevism.

Most weekends Mr Caine is to be found beneath the outstretched arm of a statue of Lenin in the main square of Yekaterinburg, an industrial sprawl on the edge of the Ural mountains where the winter temperatures can drop to -30 C.

The former mechanic, a bearded figure in a leather peaked cap, hawks copies of The Bolshevik newspaper and cassettes of rousing North Korean music to passing Russians in the hope that they will eventually turn back the clock to 1917.

He has chosen some of the toughest turf in Russia: the city is Boris Yeltsin's home town.

It seems that Citizen Caine, son of an army officer, who grew up in a 16-room mansion, is not deterred.

Rarely does a Communist march take place in which he is not seen striding along beneath the sea of red banners, calling for the payment of overdue wages and pensions, and an end to the exploitation of the working classes.

Like a latter-day John Reed - the Communist author of Ten Days that Shook the World, played by Warren Beatty in the film Reds - Mr Caine has penned some patriotic songs which he sings to the accompaniment of his synthesiser, along with stirring refrains including: "Down with Fascism! I want to live".

The story of his arrival in Russia is as romantic as his mission is far- fetched.

He was travelling through Russia a few years ago when he met a Russian woman on a train.

They fell in love and married, and he decided to stay.

As free-market reforms unfolded - and, with them, crime and economic collapse - he became increasingly convinced that the red flag should be hoisted again over Russia.

He is no fan of the capitalist Western press, but his activities were reported this week by the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, whose account was confirmed in detail to the Independent by his Russian wife and political soulmate, Valentina.

Such is the curiosity about his decision to swap the comforts of the West for the wilds of Russia that two years ago a Russian documentary- maker chose him as the subject of a prize-winning film, The head of the house, or Kevin Caine in the country of Bolsheviks.

"At home in England, we only have to press a button to warm up our homes," he declared.

No longer. In his new home town outside Yekaterinburg, he spends hours chopping logs for the stove in his wooden cottage and collecting water from a well.

It is unclear if he feels that the return of Communism would spare him the daily labour.