In Feature Articles, Solidarity with Ukrainian people, Ukraine, Video presentation

Meeting on Nov. 11 hears eyewitness account of May 2 Odessa massacre

By Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine, Nov. 12, 2014

On Tuesday, November 11, a packed meeting at the Marx Memorial Library in London UK heard a number of speakers discuss the current situation in Ukraine following the Oct. 26 general election to the Rada (Parliament) and the ceasefire agreement reached on Sept 5.

Amongst the speakers was Alexey Albu, from the Marxist Ukrainian organization Borotba. He gave a moving account of the massacre perpetrated by fascist mobs  in the city of Odessa on May 2, 2014. Albu is a survivor of that day’s horrific events.

The meeting was opened by Alex Gordon of the RMT (railworkers) union and the Marx Memorial Library. He explained the history of the Library and its significance as the place where Lenin edited Iskra newspaper whilie living in exile in London. The library also houses the archives of the International Brigades that fought against fascism in Spain from 1936-39.

Gordon was followed by Andrew Murray from the Communist Party of Britain. He explained the dangerous situation we are facing at an international level, mentioning recent bellicose statements by David Cameron about a return to the “cold war”. The meeting also heard from Anatolii Sokoliuk, international secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine over a Skype linked, who talked about the character of the government and the current situation in Ukraine.

Alexey Albu spoke over a Skype link. He was a member of the Odessa City Council but has been forced into exile in Crimea. He explained briefly the origins of Borotba and of the anti-Maidan movement in Odessa. He then went on to describe the events leading to the Odessa massacre. On that day, football hooligans and far right elements were unleashed against anti-Maidan protesters at the Kulikov field. Albu explained how protesters took refuge in the Trade Union building in the city center but the building was set on fire by the far right thug. He and others of his comrades escaped by jumping through windows, only to be beaten up by waiting fascists below.

After this moving account, it was the turn of Steve Skelley from the RMT executive to highlight the role of the labour movement in the struggle against fascism. He said he was proud of the fact that his union was the first to have backed the Solidarity Against Fascism in Ukraine campaign and moved a successful motion at the Trades Union Congress in September. (Full text below.)

The rapper and journalist Marcel Cartier addressed the meeting on issues of media bias regarding the situation in Ukraine and the allegations by British media regulator OFCOM against RT. He also described his own experience as an RT journalist covering the Maidan protests in Kiev.

The last speaker was Jorge Martin, from In Defence of Marxism who dealt with the situation in Ukraine after the recent elections and the penetration of far right elements into the state apparatus. He concluded by saying that the struggle against fascism is the struggle against capitalism and has to be waged on a class basis.

This was followed by a lively session of questions and contributions from audience on a wide ranging number of issues, from media manipulation, to the question of language, the history of nazi collaboration in Ukraine.

The meeting was closed by Richard Brenner from SARU and Workers Power who outlined the tasks of the campaigning in the following weeks and months and announced our readiness to mobilise against any attempt to resume the war against the Donbass, as well as the IMF imposed austerity measures in Ukraine.

The meeting was recorded in full and broadcast live by Ruptly (Russia Today). You can watch the video on the screen below or at this YouTube link. (The broadcast begins at the 7’30” mark.)

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Below is the full text of the motion carried at the congress of the UK Trades Union Congress in September 2014:

E1   Situation in Ukraine

Congress notes the comments of the NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the day of the NATO summit on 4th September 2014, that the summit was taking place in a “dramatically changed security environment”.

Congress further notes that these comments follow the announcement on 3rd September 2014 from the Pentagon that the US was sending 200 US soldiers to Ukraine for “training exercises”, the first time that U.S. ground troops have been in the region since hostilities began.

Congress also notes the UN Refugee Agency warning on 2nd September that the fighting to date has displaced more than a million people and that

“…If the crisis is not quickly stopped, it will have not only devastating humanitarian consequences, but it also has the potential to destabilize the whole region…after the lessons of the Balkans, it is hard to believe a conflict of these proportions could unfold in the European continent.”

Congress is concerned that the crisis has also witnessed attacks on trade unionists and the empowering of fascists groups, including the Odessa Massacre which saw that City’s trade union centre burned to the ground.

In light of the dangerous and urgent situation in Ukraine, Congress calls for:

the General Council to hold an urgent meeting to consider how best to support those fighting for trade union rights and against fascism in the Ukraine an immediate, permanent ceasefire in Ukraine and a peaceful, negotiated settlement opposition to the use of British forces in the Ukrainian conflict

Mover: National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

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