Revolt and repression in Ukraine and Russia – London meeting

405328_318070348214947_1362356860_nMeeting hosted by RS21 and Socialist Resistance Tuesday 29 APRIL, 7:30pm Community Centre, 62 Marchmont Street, WC1N 1AB (Kings Cross and Russell Square tube) Maria Chehonadskih, who  is just back from Moscow, has written about the protest movement and activism in post-Soviet Russia. She has co-organised demos against casualisation of labour in Moscow and was active in the mass anti-government movement in Russia in 2011. She has also organised campaigns in support of imprisoned Russian left activists in London. She writes for Moscow Art Magazine, Radical Philosophy and other journals. Ukrainian society is in profound crisis. Responsibility for this lies with the competing imperialist powers and the oligarchy inside the country. They are also responsible for the prominence of far-right groups, both of Ukrainian and Russian nationalists. President Yanukovych was forced to leave not by a “coup d’etat”, but by the Maidan Square mass movement, which is dominated by the far right and has illusions in the EU. Russia has cynically annexed Crimea, and is now attempting the same in eastern Ukraine, allegedly to protect russian speakers from the “fascists” in Kiev. NATO is seizing this opportunity to expand up to Russia’s borders, creating an even more dangerous situation. The people of Ukraine as a whole should be able to determine their future free from all external intervention. In Britain, while denouncing Russia’s annexation, we should also oppose British and NATO attempts to intervene. Socialist should be in solidarity the small forces of the left in both countries resisting the far right, the oligarchs and the criminal Putin regime. A recent demonstration (see photo) in Moscow of 50,000 against Russian intervention in Ukraine gives hope. Reserve your place here. Further information from and


  1. The following statement from Borotba (Struggle), the revolutionary Marxist organisation is in response to the increasing repression against the left by the Ukrainian puppet government and its fascist allies. Comrades can follow the struggle to overthrow this government of imerialism and the oligarchy, and the need for the cadre of Borotba to organise clandestinely at, or in Ukrainian and Russian at

  2. The following statement regarding the repression of the comrades of Borotba is from the OKDE-Spartakus, Greek section of the Fourth International, who along with other comrades involved in Antysara, the Greek revolutionary left front have members in Ukraine.

    Lugansk and Kramatorsk, where the fascist National Guard murdered among others the twenty-year-old
    nurse Yulia Isotova and three other members of the nursing staff who provided first aid to the wounded, was
    methodically arranged by the far-right Kiev regime. The next day, the Odessa police instead of arresting the
    neo-Nazi murderers, they arrested 63 antifascist survivours (to be released later by residents of Odessa who
    stormed the police station), while Tymoshenko congratulated those who “contributed to the suppression of
    separatists” and promised to suppress any further protest. As it is correctly pointed out by “Borotba”, “The
    massacre in Odessa reveals that Kiev regime of nationalists and oligarchs is rapidly grows into the outright
    terrorist dictatorship of the fascist style”.
    But the massacres unleashed by the far-right regime with the blessings of USA-NATO-EU cannot
    provide a solution. Many military units still do not obey and arms are transferred massively to the militias. This
    clearly shows that the accusations of Kiev regime that the uprising is “triggered by Putin” is hollow
    propaganda. Similarly unfounded are the accusations, unfortunately swallowed and reproduced by various
    “leftish”, “anarchists” and other “progressive Europeanists”, that “Borotba” and all those involved in the
    movement are “subservient to Putin”. Such despicable wretchedness, as well as the deafening silence of the
    Western media and the liberal “leftish” who have not yet seen the “invisible” fascists who are now mass
    murdering people, and they have still not come to a “verdict” on who is responsible for the slaughter in
    Odessa, is nothing but an alibi for the far-right Kiev regime and its storm troops that continue the slaughter of
    the left and the antifascist movement in the southeast.
    As for Putin and Russian imperialists, they have already secured what they always had, i.e. their
    bases in Crimea, and now they have no interest in the victory of the anti-fascist insurrection of popular
    masses. On the contrary, their intervention in April was towards an agreement with Kiev regime, the USA and
    the EU for the disarmament of all armed groups and evacuation of occupied buildings, an agreement that the
    insurgents do not recognize. Putin leverages developments to consolidate his position in Russia and
    suppress internal opposition easier. Simultaneously, Russian imperialism attempts through this process to
    extend its economic and political influence in the region, coming into direct conflict with the interests of US
    and EU imperialists. The risk to ignite all-out war in the region is nightmarishly visible.
    In order to rid the movement of illusions for Putin and reflections of pro-Russian nationalism, as a
    result of the bloody repression, it is necessary to strengthen the influence of the left and help the movement
    to gain confidence in its own strength. This process is not easy, but neither wishful thinking. It is already in
    progress, because “Borotba” intervenes dynamically and its influence steadily grows, while, at the same time,
    there is a rapid progress in the formation of militias, as the rebels have understood very well that neither Putin
    nor any other “saviour” will stop the fascist hordes, but only their own forces.
    Concludng, the Organisation of Communists – Internationalists of Greece – “Spartakos”, Greek
    section of the Fourth International, stands in solidarity with the comrades of the Union “Borotba” and the anti-
    fascist movement in Ukraine and condemns the far-right Kiev government and its imperialists mentors of
    USA-NATO-EU who have unleashed the hordes of neo-Nazi murderers in Southeast Ukraine. We urge all the
    left to do the same and act directly with mass demonstrations at the Ukrainian embassies all around the
    The struggle of comrades in Ukraine is our struggle and their victory will be ours, too.
    – Down with the far-right Kiev regime!
    – Crush the storm troops of “Right Sector” and the fascist National Guard!
    – No to imperialist interventions! USA-EU-NATO out now! No illusions for or confidence in Russian
    – Solidarity with “Borotba” and Ukrainian antifascists!
    – Victory to the rebellion in Southeast! Recognition of the right of self-determination in these areas!
    – Common struggle of all workers of Ukraine against fascists, oligarchs and all imperialists!
    OKDE – SPARTAKOS, Greek section of the Fourth International

  3. On this point, the comrades are rather mistake. Boritba is a problematic organisation: see Nor can the conflict in Odessa be easily described as an attack on anti-fascists. The videos and photographs show police protecting a paramilitary attack by a pro-Russian militia on a Ukrainian nationalist demo which counter-attacks with deadly force. Socialists should not be taking sides between these two nationalist militas.

    • No Duncan, there is no problematic with Borotba. See the statements of the Greek section defending Borotba on the Facebook page, for example, or those of the Swedish section in regards to the fake posting of the AKU-Kiev which you are refering to, or the postings of Antiimperialist Action, a front of the German left in the role played by the BVD intelligence agency in creating this false posting.

      You simply don’t know what you are talking about when you speak of Borotba as a “nationalist militia’. You think the Swedish and Greek comrades, and those of Antysara who are in Ukraine can’t tell the difference between a nationalist militia and a revolutionary Marxist one?

      The “problematic” unfortunately is the fact that Socialist Resistance has already taken sides by labelling the Russians as the aggressors, and because of its mis-characterisation and/or lack of understanding of what is going on in Ukraine, are locked into a schematic discourse of “ethnic conflict” and a struggle of nationalisms.

      Borotba has played in integral role in helping to create the mass resistance movement by the workers in Donbass, the heart of the Ukrainian proletariat, to the American puppet government in Kiev in Ukraine. These are workers who in their hundreds of thousands turned out to show their wish for autonomy of Donetsk and Lugansk in Sunday’s referendum.

      They are the workers who have been stopping the fascists of Right Sektor, of UNA-UNSO, of Svoboda who are now organised in a government-sponsored National Guard, from attacking the left and the citizens from Odessa to Slavyansk.

      They are the workers, of whom only 30% are ethnic Russians, who are together defending the national rights of the Russian minority, whom have taken over and run some of the enterprises of the oligarch Rinhet Akmetov, without a shot being fired, acording to the left Ukrainian nationalist organisation “Left Opposition”, whose statements have been printed in International Viewpoint.

      Before you repeat the slander against Borotba, a slander pedalled by a few anarchists and one tiny trotskyist sect, I would really urge you to check the facts not only about this organisation, but about the actual way in which the class struggle is reproducing itself in Ukraine.

      There are, for example, three different national struggles being played out. The first is that of the Crimean Tatars, who are calling for the creation of an autonomous region within Crimea to protect their national rights, which we support despite the fact the leadership of the Tartars are to put it mildly, historically anti-communist.

      There is the struggle of the Russian minority, who represent 17% of the total population of Ukraine, to protect their national rights against the attacks of the American puppet government in Kiev, a government brought to office on the back of a middle class revolt, financed by American and European imperialism, and whose political direction was quickly assumed by the fascists of Svoboda, the Right Sektor and the ultranationalists.

      There is Ukrainian nationalism, the ideology of the fascist right, an ideology which, as the slogans used at Euromaidan say: “Ukraine above all else.” “Nothing matters, only Ukraine” “Death to its enemies”. This is the ideology which is used to deny class struggle, an ideology which the oligarchs and imperialism use against the Ukrainian working class, the most important part and the most well organised which live in the Donbass and the South.

      Now, as for your claim that we don’t support nationalist organisations, you might want to reconsider your claim given the support the Fourth International has given to the Algerian struggle, where we helped supply guns to the FLN, or to the Basques, where a part of ETA joined the Spanish section because of the support given by the them in their struggle for national rights, or to the Yes to Scotland organisation, lead by bourgeois nationalists, in their struggle for national independence.

      You might want to check out the website of, click on the ENGLISH link, and read the program of transitional demands that the comrades have put forward there. Demands like the autonomous administrations be put under control of the workers’ collectives, the trade unions and workers assemblies (soviets). The demand that the property of the oligarchs, stolen from the Ukrainian people, be placed under social ownership and workers control. The demand that all linguistic and national rights be recognized.

      Finally, as an historical foot note , at the time of the founding of what we could consider the modern Ukrainian state as a result of the Russian revolution and the defeat of the Tsarist empire, there were not one but five Ukrainian Socialist republics, including one which covered the Donetsk region, one in the Lugansk region, one in the Odessa region, and two more in the central regions. So the notion of these regions as autonomous administrations is nothing new and certainly not a product of “nationalist militias”.

    • Comrade Chapel, please take the time to read our statement regarding the slanders of the AST anarchist sect which you have posted.

      Statement of the union ‘Borotba’ over recent smear campaign against anti-fascists in Ukraine
      So, here we are again. The old and tired brawling in Ukraine continues despite the current collapse of the country. Two marginal admittedly ‘left’ sects in Ukraine amidst fascist coup and far-right terror on streets try to accuse the leftwing forces and organizations that organize anti-fascist resistance.

      It’s not for the first time, however, the dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.

      Despite the irrelevance, of the statement against ‘Borotba’, we need to clear up some facts. The statement that “Borotba” union is not a part of our movement” is true in some aspects. We are not part of the movement that tried to collaborate with far-right and Nazi forces that dominate in Euromaidan protest. We are not part of the movement that – like those small sects – that tried to hide their ‘leftism’ in Euromaidan while actually helping to bring to power open Nazis and just another clan of oligarchs that accepts IMF loans and austerity measures.

      We are not part of the movement that actually backs clerical, conservative and reactionary sentiments. The signatures of the smearing statement just pretend to be anti-conservative at the same time backing nationalist, clerical and anti-semitic protest in Euromaidan. Some of them have given in to patriotic intoxications – ready to be enlisted in the army so that to defend nazi-junta and its oligarchs. A hundred years after WWI beginning and we are at the same situation again.

      We are not part of the movement that takes sides according to orders given from NGOs. We are not part of the movement that tries to hide left symbolic and social slogans in current situation. We are not part of the movement that buys into nationalist and patriotic hysteria spreading all over the country. We are not part of the movement that tries to defend the coup on behalf of Nazis, oligarchs and IMF. We are not part of the movement that tries to diminish the role of Nazis in Euromaidan or even whitewash their image when even mainstream western media show far-right paramilitaries roaming over the streets.

      In short, we are not the part of the movement that has nothing common with left and antifascist stance. Thus, we are and have always been a leftwing and antifascist organization. We condemn ex-regime of Yanukovich and the new far-right government as well. We condemn Russian and Western interference in Ukrainian affairs as well as militarist patriotic intoxication induced by new power.

      We stay strong on our left positions, though we are targeted by boneheads, far-right nationalists from Right Sector and ‘Svoboda’ paramilitaries. Our office in Kiev was recently looted and ransacked. Our members are victims of far-right violence. Some activists of the ‘Borotba’ union had to go underground so that to continue anti-fascist struggle. And in such a situation the smearing statement seems to be a denounce addressed to far-right militants.

      As for the recent events in Kharkiv (March 1, 2014) we should highlight the following facts. There was a mass rally of different forces opposing Euromaidan. People decided to free the building of Kharkiv Regional State Administration earlier seized by Euromaidan supporters. After negotiations most Euromaidan supporters agreed to leave the building. Some militants (mostly from the Right Sector but some liberals too) rejected to obey the decision of Euromaidan majority and decided to stay in. Activists of ‘Borotba’ participated in the mass rally near the building carrying on agitation of internationalist and anti-fascist stance (and were criticized for that by some pro-Russian citizens). The mass rally rushed to storm the seized building after somebody has thrown into the crowd the flash-bang grenade. A crowd burst into building and captured some of the militants from Right Sector and a group of liberals that stayed with them (including poet Serhiy Zhadan). Then followed attempts of lynching made by excited crowd. Activists of ‘Borotba’ tried to stop by all possible means the lynching of captured Euromaidan supporters. So, the accusation of ‘Borotba’ is not only irrelevant but looks like a sheer hypocrisy from those who tried to ignore the practice of lynching dissenters regularly made by far-right Euromaidan supporters in Kiev and other cities. All the accusations of ‘Borotba’ union are sheer slander of some pro-nationalists groups or individuals.

      We firmly follow internationalist antifascist and class line as our basic stance. We are against both Russian and Ukrainian nationalisms that are being used now only for dividing working class and further plundering of the country. We do not back Russian nationalist organizations as well as Ukrainian ones. All the smear campaign of our organization led by far-right groups and caught up by some admittedly ‘left’ groups will not stop us to organize anti-fascists resistance.

      No Pasaran!

      No gods, no masters, no nations, no borders!

      Workers of all countries – unite!

  4. Borotba is now experiencing serious state repression, forcing it to go underground. Rather than slandering it, socialists in the West should offer their solidarity and try to engage the organisation in political debate.

    Unlike the anarchists and ultra-leftists who tried and failed to influence the Maidan, Borotba has managed to provide some leadership to mass demonstrations in Kharkov and Odessa.
    For instance the May Day demonstration in Odessa was led by its banners.
    Borotba is a far healthier organisation than some of the dubious Ukrainian groups that have scammed the international left in the past.

    You might be interested in this picture of a Borotba banner, displayed in Donetsk on February 23rd, to commemorate the socialist history of Ukraine. It depicts the Red Army commanders Schorsa Bojenko, Trotsky, Voroshilov, Parkhomenko and Antonov-Ovseyenko.

    Putting Trotsky and Voroshilov on the same banner is rather electic; Parkhomenko and Antonov-Ovseyenko had ambiguous histories .
    Nevertheless, it’s a reminder that there are other “Ukrainian heroes” besides Bandera and Shukhevych, who are promoted by the Orange politicians despite their well documented collaboration with the Nazis.

  5. Bob, I understand that you must be feeling very frustrated with this discussion, but it really doesn’t help when you just make things up. I didn’t call Borotba a nationalist militia. There clearly was a paramilitary group amongst the anti-Maidan forces in Odessa, but I think it’s clear that Borotba wasn’t the majority of that, as is perhaps shown by the casualties: only one of the 40 who died in that horrific fire was in Borotba. The St. George’s ribbon was much more visible, and that’s widely associated with Russian nationalist sentiment and worn by nationalist militias like the Donbass People’s Militia.

  6. Actually Duncan, the St. George’s ribbon is associated with the anti-fascist struggle in WW2, which is why you see it worn by the self-defence popular militias as a symbol of their opposition to the American puppet government in Kiev and the fascists of Svoboda and Right Sektor.

    As you can see in today’s (15 May, 2014) Guardian special story on the Ukrainian nationalist volunteer batallions, they are organised and paid for by the Kiev regime and in some cases directly by the oligarchs, particularly by Kosolomsky whose banking business has been torched by the workers.

    The story makes clear that the “Ukrainian nationalist” volunteers are fascists. It is also crystal clear that the mass workers’ movement in the Donbass and the south is a revolt against the American puppet government in Kiev and the fascist forces being mobilised by it.

    It is also crystal clear that Borotba is a major revolutionary and Marxist force leading the struggle in this fight against the fascists and the American-puppet government in Kiev.

    I am standing in soldidarity with Borotba in that fight. Where are standing? Which side are you on, Duncan?

  7. Bob, this is like trying to defend the cross of St George in England because it’s also associated with the anti-fascist struggle in World Ware Two. I am sure that the ribbon means that to some people, mostly in Russia. but the point is that it’s the ribbon of a *Russian*, Imperial and Orthodox symbol which means something different in Ukraine. There’s a useful article about it at

    The reality is that there are both anticapitalists and ultra-nationalists people on both sides in this struggle. It’s not crystal clear that the anti-Maidan movement is anti-fascist. Crimea wants to ban the Tartar Council: how can this be explained by comrades who think the opposition to Kyiv is only an anti-fascist resistance rather than also an pro-Russian nationalist movement to many others with in? If the pro-Russian mobilisations in Ukraine are anti-fascist, why are supporters of Russian fascist organisations like the Black Hundreds, the Eurasian Youth Union, The Other Russia, and the ‘Slavs’ taking part in them?

    It is quite mistaken to anti-capitalists to place themselves in this situation: the tragedy in Odessa shows how mistaken Borotba is to trust its allies in the police and how ill-prepared it is to lead an insurrection when its members joined in a well-equipped (compared to the football crew they fought) militia, and protected by the police, made such a huge misadventure in Odessa. These militamts should abandon their offensive tactics, move to a defensive position, argue for a cease fire and relate to the entire working class, rather than ruling out the pro-Maidan mass of the working class as fascist.

    Neither side can be supported in conflicts like Odessa.

    • Duncan , once again your ignorance of the history of this part of the world is showing. Even in the entry in Wikipedia which you referenced, the ribbon of St. George, the black and orange ribbon worn by some of the older participants in the working class resistance movement, is very specifically a symbol of the fight against fascism and a symbol of the victory of the Soviet Union, which Ukraine was a part of, over the Nazis worn on Victory Day.

      Moreover, the symbol of St. George had long been used by the Bolsheviks. One of the most famous posters of the Russian revolution, produced by revolutionary posterist Victor Deni, shows Trotsky as St. George slaying the dragon of the counter-revolution, a poster reproduced by the thousands by the Bolsheviks.

      This tradition was even reproduced by the ancestor otganisation of Socialist Resistance, the International Marxist Group who in 1974, at the time of the Portugese revolution, produced its own version of Trotsky as St. George, this time helping to slay the dragon of imperialism. You see,Duncan, history has meaning beyond the empirical, impressionistic recitation of facts.

      It is interesting that you would quote this entry from Wikipedia. The second half of the entry was obviously done from a Ukrainian nationalist perspective. For example, it quotes the Congress of Ukrainian Canadians regarding the disemenation of St. George ribbons in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on Victory Day.

      There are two organisations of the Ukrainian-Canadian population, numbering about 1.2 million. The CUC, which your article quotes, represents the right-wing nationalist wing, supporters of the Ukrainian Orthodox church, having its origins in those who fought in the Ukrainian Nationalist Army or the White Army against the Bolsheviks.

      The left-wing Ukrainian organisation is called the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, which is the descendant organisation of emigres from the White terror, and the oppression of Tsarist Russia.
      There, a little bit of history to put what you quote in context.

      Unfortunately, your lack of knowledge of these matters is overshawdowed by the facile use of the term “nationalist”. “Nationalist” is the term used by the Ukrainian fascist movements to describe themselves. It is also a term used by the Russian fascist movements to describe themselves.

      But the term “nationalist” is not used by the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine to describe itself. It is here that your confusion, or your deliberate conflating of the terms, is most problematic.

      To confuse the resistance of a linguistic minority, the ethnic Russians in Ukraine, a population which makes up 17% of this multi-national state, with the aggression of the fascists movements associated with Svoboda and Right Sektor, is a cause for great concern as to the ability of you and SR to to distinguish red from white, particularly when the specificites of the social and historic determinants of the revolutionary process in Ukraine is prescisely the intersection of class and nation.

      You see, Duncan, what we have here is the proletarian revolution unfolding in all its unique and historically determined forms, a process which is governed by the law of uneven and combined development.

      It would behoove you to read a little Lenin on the subject, particularly his 1916 article entitled ” Summing Up the Discussion on Self-Determination”, on the nature of proletarian revolution in what he called “the small countries” . Here is a most relevant quote which, if you study it, may put you on the path to begin your enlightment on the nature of the class struggle and national struggles in Ukraine:

      “To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without a movement of the politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses … to imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution. So one army lines up in one place and says, ‘We are for socialism,’ and another, somewhere else says, ‘We are for imperialism,’ and that will be a social revolution! … Whoever expects a ‘pure’ social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution without understanding what revolution is.”

      An understanding of this will help you in the future to not equate the struggle against fascism with the mantra of the bourgeoisie, “inter-ethnic conflict between Ukrainian nationalists and pro-Russian separatists”.

      The ruling classes of Europe and America, as well as Russia understand perfectly well the stakes involved here. They, and their counter-revolutionary military, NATO are frightened to death of the consequences of a proletarian uprising spreading throughout Ukraine. They know very well that it would trigger more Bosnias, more Greeces, uprisinging throughout the Balkans and the former nations of the “Soviet bloc”.

      This is elementary revolutionary Marxism: to put the national proletarian revolution within an international framework, to understand its internationalist dimension, and to activate what forces are available to build solidarity with it.

      NATO out of Europe. Imperialism out of Ukraine. Down with the government of the oligarchs and the fascists. Solidarity with the Ukrainian workers’ revolution. For a federation of workers republics in the Socialist United States of Europe. Those are the slogans of today.

      Contrast these marching orders with the nonsense of “The Russians are the aggressors”, or “Neither sides can be supported in conflicts like Odessa.”

      Thank you for this discussion and for showing us which side you are on.

      • There is a world of difference between tolerating the *subjective* nationalism of people fighting for socialism and allowing their political domination by nationalist organisations.
        Trotsky was absolutely clear about this point.

        In his autobiography he quotes a White Guard writer, who described:-

        ” A Cossack who came to see us [who] was hurt by someone’s taunt that he not only served under, but fought under the command of a Jew – Trotsky – and retorted with warm conviction;
        ‘ nothing of the sort. Trotsky is not a Jew. He’s ours…Russian! It is Lenin who is a communist, a Jew’
        “My Life” Penguin edition p 376.

        This is exactly the reason why the Popular Front is a flawed political method.
        Borotba need to reject it and to move beyond the politics they have inherited uncritically from the Komsomol.

        The liberals in the Kremlin are not “one wing” of a “popular front”.
        The fanaticism of the Kiev nationalists and miscalculations by the Western powers, especially the USA, could force him to intervene in Eastern Ukraine. But Putin is more interested in reaching a deal with sympathetic Ukrainian Oligarchs than risking a working class upsurge that threatens his own power base in Russia.

        It’s equally clear that simply putting forward trade union demands cannot solve this crisis, which is ultimately a question of power.

        This is why the supporters of Autonomy in the East need to link up with organised by the unions in a united front against the fascist paramilitaries now being organised by the Kiev government.
        Such a united front will minimise the influence of the Russian Nationalists in the anti-Maidan camp and open the way to a Workers Government.

      • Bob, your perspective is just so far off beam that I have to let readers judge for themselves. Even Borotba can admit that there’s a conservative reaction unfolding in the East, not a proletarian revolution.

        You seem to not register my point that it’s a _Russian_ ribbon. If it’s a socialist icon, why is the Putin government handing them out?

        • Duncan, unfortunately for you, in revolutionary situations, history has a way of quickly deciding who is wrong and who is right in analyzing what is the true nature of events.

          On 17 May, I wrote that “Solidarity with the Ukrainian workers’ revolution” was the marching order of the day.

          Your 20 May reply was:

          “Bob, your perspective is just so far off off beam that I have to let readers decide for themselves. Even Borotba can admit that there is a conservative reaction unfolding in the east, not a proletarian revolution.”

          has been immediately contradicted two days later by the poster on the front page of this SR website. What does the psoter say: Solidarity with the Ukrainian miners!

          These are not just any miners, nor is this just any struggle. These are miners who have been demanding that their workers’ militia be recognised as the legitimate policing authority in the city of Kryvivy Rih, that is, the force to, as they put it, keep the peace.

          Here are workers who have formed militias to take the place of a non-existant state authority, who have already taken over and run, for a time, the power plant in the city, who are blaming the government of the capitalists, the oligarchs, including their own boss, as being the real source of their economic and social problems, and who are calling for working class unity in the fight against the oligarchs and their fascist National Guards.

          These workers’ trade unions (there are two main miners’ unions in Ukraine) have established organs of dual power in this city. It is this phenomonum which will become generalised throughout Ukraine, as the crisis intensifies.

          Duncan, how could you possible characterise this as “conservative reaction”?

          What you confuse in your analysis, is the leftward march of the workers’ movement (occupations, massive support for federalisation, workers’ and self-defense militias, etc.) with a section of the self proclaimed leadership of “Peoples Republic of Donestk” acting on the instructions of Rinhat Akhemov.

          Bototba has been organising protests against this group (see in order to give political substance to the demand for the direct election of all officials. It is this political juncture which once again you have confused and conflated things which are opposites.
          Just as you confused the reactionary nature of Ukrainian nationalism with the fight for the linguistic rights of the ethnic Russians, you now have confused the temporary form of the class struggle with its esence.

          By the way, in response to the issue of the St. George’s ribbon, nowhere did I say it was a symbol of socialism. I said exactly what it is, a symbol of anti-fascist resistance. The fact that the Bolsheviks used the symbol of St. George slaying the dragon of reaction, or the IMG as a symbol of anti-imperialism, should be taken up with Lenin or Robin Blackburn (who gave me that poster in 1974 and which I proudly display in my office).

          • Bob, it seems for you to be too subtle to see, but the difference is between solidarity with a workers’ revolution (which does not exist in Ukraine) and solidarity with workers (who certainly do exist). I don’t agree with Borotba’s tactics, but it is they who say that there has been a conservative turn in the tide. There certainly is a workers’ struggle in Ukraine, which we’re making solidarity with, but the idea that there’s a revolution unfolding is far too optimistic. The miners had a militia during the Maidan, which cleared out forces brought in by the oligarchs. They are re-organising and I don’t think there is a dual power situation now.

            I have no idea what you mean when you write about “the reactionary nature of Ukrainian nationalism with the fight for the linguistic rights of the ethnic Russians”. There is no action being taken to restrict the linguistic rights of Russians. Yet again, you refuse to engage with my point that the St. George’s ribbon is a _Russian_ symbol.

  8. Duncan Chapel’s simon-pure approach wouldn’t have been much use during the Russian Revolution! As Isaac Babel’s “Red Cavalry” shows, Cossacks and “Nationalists” also fought under the leadership of the Red Army, led by Trotsky – Leadership being the key word.

    As Victor Shapinov of Borotba points out:-

    “the very logic of the struggle is pushing the activists of the South-East into the camp of anti-capitalism…”

    Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the People’s Mayor of Slavyansk, said :-

    “So that no one has any illusions, I want to say that the entire industry in the city will be nationalized. We cannot leave the industrial potential of the city in the hands of unscrupulous businessmen,”

    Sergei Kirichuk, a Borotba leader now in exile says: –

    “People here in the South-East raised demands for their socio-economic rights. There is a very serious anti-oligarchic, anti-capitalist component to these protests,”

    full article:-

  9. The anti-Maidan struggle can metabolise progressive sentiments just as easily as the pro-Maidan struggle, especially if the only thing people know about it is what they see on Russian-language TV. But the reality is that both these movements have been channelled into capitalist politics. Borotba is clearly waking up to that (See and eventually some of the campists with catch up with them.

  10. Hadn’t noticed you giving any support to Borotba until now – only Kiev-based sects that call for “international recognition” of the interim government. Are these the elusive Maidan “progressives”?

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