In Background, Ukraine

1. Communiqué #8 of the Borotba Union and Centre of Anti-Fascist Resistance

Published on the Borotba Union website English section, March 12, 2014 (Ukrainian language link here)

Borotba Union is a revolutionary Marxist organization founded in Ukraine in 2011 through the fusion of a number of organizations; including youth from the Ukrainian Communist Party. Its founding congress was in April 2012. Here is its Ukrainian-language website.

The Centre of Anti-fascist Resistance is an initiative of the Borotba Union. Here is its first communiqué, in English, Feb 25, 2014.

Protests that took place recently in South-Eastern regions of Ukraine have revealed a rather important and symbolic trend. The protesters do not accept representatives of the parliamentary parties. Liberals and nationalists of the new government, as well as the representatives of the bankrupt Party of Regions, don’t have any influence in the mass protests of residents of Kharkov, Donbass, Odessa and other cities.
A quite important sign of the current social protest in south-eastern regions was the fact that the assault on Lugansk regional administration and a big rally in Mariupol were held under the red flags brought by individual protesters. Red flags also dominated in the people’s rallies of March 8 and 9 in Kharkov. The left alternative to nationalism gets more supporters in the South-East, and the red flag also becomes the flag of protest. Mass demonstrations were also organized in Mariupol around leftist, anti-capitalist demands, including the demand of returning to public ownership of the key city enterprises – and this happened for the first time since the beginning of the Ukrainian wave of protests on squares.

Protests must continue (despite the fact that current Kiev regime tries to consolidated the duped people and organize rallies under anti-Russian slogans) – there are great number of people now that come out on the streets willing to fight for their socio-economic rights and for fundamental change in the system imposed on our society by rich elites.

The agreement between clans of (ex)government and pro-Maidan oligarchy (directed against people of Ukraine) becomes more evident. Billioner Kolomoysky negotiates with pro-Yanukovich capitalist Kurchenko. The relative of the infamous former general prosecutor Pshonka immediately creeped into new government. The well-known as corrupted politician Bondarenko was appointed by junta as new head of the Kiev city administration – and it looks like a kind of mockery over deceitful rhetoric of Maidan.

Meanwhile the rightwing regime has intensified military preparations, drawing on international mercenaries from private military companies. The new authorities do not want peace. On the contrary, they actively use the fact of Russia’s interference for their own goals, using patriotic hysteria to distract the people from pressing problems of anti-social reforms that the government is now preparing, although these reforms threaten with poverty for millions of Ukrainians.

The new regime restricts freedom of speech – it has just closed the newspaper “2000”, and national media and TV channels completely ignore any truthful information about the protests in the South-East of the country. The new regime restricts the freedom of peaceful assembly – the oligarch Kolomojsky, newly junta-appointed governor of the Dnepropetrovsk region, banned any rallies in the city.

It’s quite clear already that the regime of Kiev fascists and oligarchs intends to suppress protests in the South-East of Ukraine. Nazis and gangsters used to attack popular protests in Kharkov with firearms. Neo-Nazis from “Right Sector” announced about transfering their activity to eastern Ukraine. Leaders of the popular resistance face charges of “separatism”, so our comrade, coordinator of Odessa “Borotba” Alexei Albu, was recently interrogated by the State Security Service of Ukraine. Coordinator of the union “Borotba” Sergei Kirichuk was put under surveillance in Kharkov.

Nevertheless, the struggle continues. The permanent committee for organization of rallies has started to work in Kharkov. Its working title: “The coalition of public organizations, citizens, and self-defense units of Kharkov – “People’s Unity”.

The next protests will be held on March 15 – the members of the self-defence units of South-eastern Ukraine expect thousands of people to come out to squares. They called for stronger coordination of the process of preparation for these mass actions.

We, left activists, now stand shoulder to shoulder with the people rising from its knees.

Our demands remain the same:

  • We demand a referendum on broad autonomy and self-government for regions of the South-eastern Ukraine. Autonomy and federation – it’s not a separatism but changing of the forms of the state structure designed in the interests of the people.
  • We demand real self-governance under the control of labor collectives, trade unions and city self-defense.
  • We demand democratic election of authorities instead of appointment of protégés by Kiev junta and its sponsors-oligarchs. Appointed oligarchic governors must resign! The elections of governors!
  • We demand to stop the persecution of all participants in popular protest.
  • We demand to ban the activity of the “Right Sector” and other neo-Nazi groups.
  • We demand to return strategic enterprises into the public ownership

 

2. Left Opposition: Ukraine will be saved from intervention by solidarity

Statement dated March 3, 2014, published on Left East March 7, 2014

The socialist union “Left Opposition” offers its assessment of the Russian aggression in Crimea and the destructive role of Ukrainian nationalists. The intervention of Russian armies was made possible as a result of a split in Ukrainian society. Its unity is impossible with the oligarchs and chauvinists in power. Only solidarity will save Ukraine.

1) We are for the self determination of Crimea only after the withdrawal of the Russian armies that are carrying out this flagrant intervention. We are for the self determination of the people, and not of the mercenary elite who “self determine” so as to protect themselves from Crimeans with the muzzles of Russian automatic weapons. The outcome of separatism in Crimea will become the rebirth of the Russian empire, which threatens a world war.

2) The justification of Putin’s aggression is the nationalist hysteria that the leaders of the Maidan have ignored. Aggressive xenophobic jokes were treated as normal, and even today on anti-war pickets we are still hearing provocative slogans like “Glory to the nation! Death to its enemies!” The Kremlin’s manipulation of these slogans has frightened the people of the East and South. However, the aggression initiated by the Russian Federation is patently imperialistic and aimed against the revolutionary republic (the genuine revolution, unfavourable for the oligarchs, only just began to unfold and it was sure to put the question of social lustration on the order of the day).

A war of liberation if led by the Ukrainian oligarchs would resolve itself in the fascisisation of society: we can expect unification around mythical national interests, an unrestrained dictatorship and the conduct of social policies aimed at concentrating wealth in the hands of the elite. Our government can claim popular legitimacy only after a social lustration has been carried out.  However, our government has been legitimised by the threat of foreign intervention – we are forced to love a regime, not our country. Government in Ukraine is progressively passing directly into the hands of the oligarchs (Kolomoisky and Taruta have become governors). The oligarchs plundered our country, and now they are demanding that hungry people stand in defense of their corrupt state!

3) The Maidan was not uniform – radical nationalists really bespoiled the protest with xenophobia, but fortunately they did not determine the Maidan’s demands. The population of Eastern and Southern Ukraine, as well as the members of ethnic minorities should know that there stood on the Maidan many representatives of those forces who uphold internationalist, left and democratic positions. To support the myth of a “fascist Maidan” is to legitimise the use of force by neo-Nazis against such citizens as those noted here who disagree with them. We are very saddened to see that antifascist ideas are being exploited to justify war. Antifascism is solidarity, not intervention!

4) The citizens of Western and Central Ukraine should press the government not to allow linguistic discrimination, destruction of monuments or the incitement of unnecessary hostility. Ukrainisation led by the oligarchs can be realised only in a chauvinist key. It is necessary to review language policy and to broaden the right to use the native language in those regions where it is needed. The national-cultural renaissance of the Ukrainian and other peoples of our country is inseparable from the resolution of social questions.

5) We are for the preservation of a united Ukraine, as a unique cultural phenomenon. The coexistence of various ethnicities only enriches universal human culture. In the event of the country splitting the rule of chauvinists will be established in both its parts. All conflicts in Ukraine are as a result of the dictatorship of the oligarchs. Ukraine can be consolidated on the basis of defeating the rule of the oligarchs – the workers of the East and South equally want social change and they should understand that inflaming conflict simply puts off the prospects for improvements to an unforeseeable future.

6) The Russian Federation government is controlled by the most conservative advocates of the interests of capital. And that is why those citizens who support a referendum on “reunification” with Russia had better prepare for a police state and for an antisocial policy. We will not allow for the precedent of a victory for Russian imperialism. Despite the claims of Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists, there are no traces of socialism at all left in Russia. The population of Ukraine will start to hate Russians even more, while among the Russian masses imperialistic and revanchist illusions will grow stronger. Hitler-style promises of a better life will culminate in a catastrophe for the aggressor nation. Let us not forget that this war is also an opportunity for Western capital to bring in its own armies and to seize part of Ukrainian territory.

7) It is necessary to appeal in the first instance to the Russian speaking population of Ukraine and to Russians who do not support war. They must sabotage the mobilisation and movement of occupying armies, while also exerting continuous pressure on the Russian government and Russian capital. Russian imperialism is using them to strengthen its domination through a referendum. It is necessary to create international brigades to maintain lawful order, to oppose mutual chauvinisms, to defend strategic facilities, to conduct propaganda among troops, as well as to oppose the disarming of Ukrainian armies. Form workers self defence detachments at enterprises for their protection from external intervention and the covetous hands of their unpropitious “owners”. Organise detachments with those you trust, or whom you are prepared to elect! The Ukrainian army should act under citizens’ control. Why die under the leadership of nationalists like Parubiy and Yarosh? They have on their conscience inept tactical mistakes on the Euromaidan and the stoking of interethnic hostilities. Why die in the interests of the Akhmetov-Kolomoiskys? The workers of all nations should learn solidarity from the Ukrainian oligarchs – they overcame all their differences and united around their common class interests.

Down with the bandit office holders who have become separatists!

Down with Russian imperialism!

Down with the Ukrainian chauvinists!

Long live the workers’ independent Ukraine!

Translation from the original (http://gaslo.info/?p=4990)

One comment on Left East, , March 10, 2014:

I think this is an excellent statement, because it combines an awareness of the need to relate to the social forces on the Maidan with trenchant criticism of the current leadership. Depending on how things pan out, it is conceivable that many of the people who supported the insurrection against Yanukovich will become quickly disillusioned with the current government – either because it starts imposing economic austerity at the behest of the IMF/EU, or because it is considered to be insufficiently assertive in the prosecution of the military defence against Russian aggression. This is the moment the right wing extremists are waiting for. That is why it is critically important to have a “Left Sector” with enough of a social base in the Maidan movement to pose a well argued for and rigorous alternative. The analysis presented here needs to be deepened theoretically and broadened historically, with the aim of a critical and complete demystification of the political economy of “really existing (i.e. nationalistic, Russifying, bureaucratic) socialism” and its oligarchic aftermath.

*****

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