Ukraine campaign overcomes nationalist disruptions

The Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign has already started winning. RMT-sponsored MP John McDonnell chaired the meeting, which aimed to give Russian and Ukrainian socialists the chance to discuss their struggles against fascism and for peace, and to set the Ukrainian conflict in its regional context.

Chris Ford opened the meeting at Parliament on June 9th by pointing out a major victory won for the Evraz miners with the support of two protests by the campaign, outside the firm’s headquarters and its annual shareholders meeting at the Chelsea football club. The miners in Kryvyi Rih have secured a wage increase of one-fifth.

Russian trade unionist Kirill Buketov, whom McDonell explained is in the country to speak at a school for members of the RMT (and others), gave the regional context. He explained how in Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine governments have combined state power, fascist groups and ultra nationalists to block the growth of movements fighting for the environment, for LGBT rights and for civil rights. Countering the myth that these progressive movements are artificial protests purchased by the US government, Buketov pouted out the huge scale of the protests: it’s not possible to buy hundreds of thousands of people.

Buketov’s speech was disrupted by the late arrival of a large group around 25 minutes after the start of the meeting. Members of this group barracked and heckled every speaker, in a manner more like the zoo of Prime Minister’s Questions than a labour movement meeting. Eddie Dempsey spoke for this group, introducing himself as a member of the RMT and the campaign in solidarity with “anti-fascists” in Ukraine, which reflects the views of Borotba, a Stalinist group (to be polite, let’s say a Marxist-Leninist group drawing on eclectic sources) in Ukraine that supports the Russian nationalist militias. He told the platform they were wrong to support the government of Ukraine, their atrocities against the people, the Anti-Terrorist Operation and the EU. McDonnell robustly pointed out that Demspey was mistaken: the campaign opposes all those things.

Gerry Downing, another leader of the pro-Borotba group, criticised the campaign for referring to victims of the Anti-Terrorist Operation as terrorists, something which Chris Ford pointed out that the campaign does not do (See Downing pointed to a sentence on the campaign’s website that reads “while much attention has been focussed on the Anti-Terrorist Operation of the Kyiv Government and the the separatist movement in the eastern oblasts, the rapidly deteriorating socio-economic conditions of life for the vast majority of people right across the country is largely ignored in the international media”. Downing had not noticed that the sentence was part of a report on the campaign from “Ukraine Observer”, rather than a statement by the campaign, and that it did not call anyone a terrorist.

The heckling and baying against speakers reduced the meeting to a squabble, until a Skype connection was made with the final speaker, Nina Potarskaya of the Centre for Society Research in Kyiv. As a candidate of the Assembly for Social Revolution in the recent Kyiv elections, Nina observed that social tensions are only increasing. In the confrontations, she explained, things have escalated into patriotic hysteria in both sides. This benefits only the oligarchs and the far right forces who have unprecedented support in society. She explained how the revolutionaries oppose the drawing of neo-nazis into the Ukrainian government forces and also call on the citizens of Luhansk to bring down the Russian ultra-nationalists.

One of hecklers was given the floor to disagree. She explained that she is from Luhansk and had seen what people are fighting against. The Russian language has been banned. People are being forbidden to give their children Russian names (At least one person, connected to neither campaign, scoffed at these outlandish suggestions). Referring to the ‘former’ neo-nazi governor of the Donetsk People’s Republic, she explained that Pavel Gubarov’s past doesn’t matter to her: he is fighter, and so he is an antifascist. This won resounding applause from the group, as did another Ukrainian in their entourage who called on NATO to stop what is happening in Ukraine.

Despite the disruption, the meeting was a success for the campaign: the meeting was able to happen, and independent people at the meeting now view the campaign more favourably.

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51 Comments on Ukraine campaign overcomes nationalist disruptions

  1. Bridget Dunne // 13th July 2014 at 12:12 pm // Reply

    On behalf of the Solidarity with Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine campaign, I have just sent this letter to John McDonnell MP

    13 July 2014

    Dear John

    Campaigns in the UK on the Ukraine question

    I understand that on the evening of 9 July some supporters of the campaign Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine attended a public meeting, hosted by you at the House of Commons, on behalf of the Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign (USSC).

    Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine was founded on 2 June at a public meeting in central London attended by 160 people and is backed by a range of labour movement, socialist and progressive organisations; this includes the RMT union which has nationally affiliated to our campaign. We set up the campaign because we saw the need to oppose the Kiev regime, which includes far right and fascist ministers, in its persecution of communists and socialists, its sponsorship of mass murder by neo-Nazi gangs as at Odessa on 2 May when Right Sector paramilitaries killed 48 people at the House of Trade Unions, and its murderous campaign of repression against those seeking self-determination in the south and east of Ukraine.

    I have been told that at your meeting on 9 July, some individual supporters of our campaign accused the Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign of supporting the Kiev government, and that you strongly denied that this is the case. We are very pleased that you have clarified this. Some people may not have previously understood that, because the USSC has not undertaken any campaign activities against the Ukrainian government, has not condemned its attacks on the south and east, and has instead limited its actions to a picket of the pro-Russian oligarch-owned EVRAS corporation, and has suggested that its next action will be a picket of the Russian embassy.

    As you have affirmed the USSC’s opposition to the Kiev government, we would now ask that you undertake some action in pursuit of these goals, namely that that you publicly denounce, without qualification, the Ukrainian army and National Guard’s offensive in Donestk and Lugansk, demand that the Right Sector paramilitary officers responsible for the Odessa murders be brought to justice, oppose the NATO manoeuvres in Ukraine this summer, and call on the British government and the EU to end its support for the Kiev regime.

    Yours fraternally

    Richard Brenner, Secretary, Solidarity with Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine

  2. Richard’s request to John is rather odd: It exposes the weaknesses in the positions of his campaign, rather than in those of the Ukraine Socialist Solidarity campaign.

    Of course John McDonnell and the campaign are already opposed to the military conflict in Ukraine, and we’re for the justice for the victims of the conflict. I don’t understand why we should condemn only the offensive of national guard, and not also that of the foreign fighters in Donestk. Why should we call for justice only for the victims of the Right Sector, and not for the victims of the Russian-nationalist militias? Why should we repeat the mistake of the Stop the War Coalition which opposes only the NATO manoeuvres with Ukraine, and not also oppose their manoeuvres with Russia? Why should we call only on Britain and the EU to end its support for the government in Kyiv, and not call for the Russian government to end its support for the foreign fighters in Ukraine?

    Furthermore, why not campaign together for the demands we can agree on, the demands outlined at the Minsk conference: for a cease-fire; for the release of prisoners and conscripts; non-intervention in the conflict by Russia, the EU and the U.S; an end to the chauvinist campaigns; and self-determination for every region of Ukraine.

    Of course there’s one other demand we should be raising: the right of labour movement organisations to meet without systematic, collective disruption and intimidation. It was a outrage that, after Richard’s comrades arrived, I think every speaker (bar a German comrade who asked a quick question) was repeatedly barracked, heckled or shouted down by them. It’s an absolute scandal, and they should call their comrades to order.

    Speaking personally, I think there’s an opportunity for us to focus on foreign military supplies to Ukraine, which are material contributions to the conflict on both sides, rather than all aid. I don’t think the British funding of a project for old folks, or European funding of the new veterinary ad food safety service, should be cut. Ukraine needs more development aid and fewer military supplies.

  3. I will leave it to other comrades in the Anti-fascist campaign to answer your questions why we don’t equate the anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine with the aggression of the puppet regime and its imperialist backers.

    You mentioned the Minsk conference. The first peace conference was held in Belarus on 6-7 June. The statement of demands which issued from that gathering, a statement signed both by Borotba and the left nationalists of “Left Opposition”, included, as its very first demand, the withdrawal of Ukraine army and the National Guard from the Donbass. But nowhere have we ever seen that demand reprinted by Socialist Resistance, nor mentioned by yourself.

    This is directly to the point. You and the other left nationalists like so-called “Left Opposition, equate the resistance of the Ukrainian working class, a working class whose majority language is Russia and who lives in its great bulk in the Donbass, with the military and political attacks against by the puppet regime of the oligarchs and its imperialist masters. You equate the violence of the oppressed with the violence of the oppressor.

    As you have made clear many times, you and Socialist Resistance support the continued existence of the “contemporary Ukrainian state”, as your comrade Zahar Popovich, puts it. Or, even more dangerously, as the statement of the Fourth International puts it: “the fragile nation state”. A state now devoid of class content, apparently!

    In essence your political position comes down to defending the Ukrainian state against the Ukrainian working masses. You have sided with the imperialists, the nationalists sections of the Ukrainian petite bourgeois, the Ukrainian oligarchs, against the historical interests of the Ukrainian working class.

    If this is not the case why have we not seen statements calling for the overthrow of the oligarchs, the defeat of the Ukraine army (the state, in the final analysis, is a body of armed persons) and the destruction of the Ukrainian fascists. Not a word from you about this.

    Finally, I do not in any way condone attempts to disrupt any meetings on the left. It is a blight on the aim of building spaces where serious political debate, no matter how sharp, can be had in a comradely environment. I believe comrade Jorge Martin and the other organisers of this project should publically distance themselves from this type of behavior. This is much too reminiscent of the method of the Healyites, as Allan Thornett will remember, and of the Maoists. It took a few bats to the head by elected stewards to make them act in a civilised manner.

    • Bob I have called for support for the Minsk conference repeatedly on Facebook. David Mandel translated it into English and the Left Opposition and Russian Socialist Movement back it. It would be bizzare if we did not also support it, But the question is this: what do we need to do to get Richard and Bridget to work with up on its demands? At the meeting I made a point of taking the floor rooms welcome the group to the meeting and to suggest that we make a joint statement on our common opposition to the war, to fascism, to oppose the intervention of the EU and to call for justice for the victims of the conflict. Bridget ruled it out. What should be our next step?

      Thanks for your support for our right to meet without systematic disruption. I spoke with Gerry, Bridget and Toby after the event to ask them how I would be treated if I came to a meeting of their campaign and heckled every speaker. Of course they take no responsibility to the drunk Russian nationalist, in military union, who they applauded. He threatened two Ukrainians on the way out. What will they do next?

  4. Bridget or Richard might take this opportunity to dissociate themselves from people who came to the meeting with SARU supporters, expressed support for the former Russian National Unity neo-nazi Pavel Gubarev, told lies about Ukraine Socialist Solidarity and the position of John McDonnell MP, and acted in a generally reprehensible manner – particularly the person who, on leaving, threatened a Ukranian woman with physical violence?

  5. Duncan, the very first demand of the Minsk peace conference of groups from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus was the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the Donbass, as well as an immediate cease fire and an end to the so-called ATO.

    This demand was signed by Denis Denisov on behalf of “Left Opposition”, yet in later statements by Zahar Popovich he explicitly ruled out any withdrawal of Ukraine army troops from Donetsk and Luhansk. This support by Popovich for the maintenance of Ukraine troops in Donbass was pointed out to you by the comrades of OKDE-Spartakos.

    As I have repeatedly pointed out, shouted out and banged on about, the issue is support for the contemporary Ukraine state by Popovich’s group, and your defense of that position. If now you are saying that on the basis of the Minsk agreement, you and Socialist Resistance support the withdrawal of Ukraine troops, then that would indeed be a step forward.

    The reason why that demand is key rests on three primary factors:

    1. The withdrawal of Ukraine troops would immediately open a political crisis between the government and its fascist allies, thereby helping to weaken both the government, which is seen to have some legitimacy in Western and parts of central Ukraine, and the fascists of the National Guard who have already threatened to disperse the Rada. It was less than a week after the big fascist rally in Western Ukraine where they demanded the government end the cease fire, that the regime did so.

    2. Any movement towards a political settlement which would allow the Donbass to avoid becoming an integral part of the plan by the IMF to transfer its(the Donbass) assets into the hands of the imperialists, will immediately help the unraveling of the IMF conditionalities, first and foremost of which was the “pacification” of the Donbass.

    3. The policies already implemented by the puppet regime in Kiev are beginning to have social repercussions throughout Ukraine ,and combined with the increasing arrogance of the regional oligarchs are heating the social cauldron to the boiling point. A ceasefire and a halt to military actions, combined with the withdrawal of the army and National Guard, will allow the social demands of the resistance to come to the fore; including the developing of general strikes in the Kriviy Rih and Kharkiv regions.

    The cutting of the value of the currency in half, in three months; the announcement of the privatisation of another 43 mines and associated operations; and the rapid increase in the price of fuel; are now driving home the points made by the anti-Maidan-that the government issuing from the revolt of the peitite bourgeoise with their dreams of joining the ranks of the comfortable burgher or smug Little Englander, would end in catastrophe.

    Finally there is one demand which can be taken up by both campaigns, I suspect. That is the demand for the end of political repression in Ukraine, and of Ukraine government support for the actions of the fascists in denying basic democratic freedoms like the right to assembly, the right to protest and leaflet, the right not to have political and trade union offices raided and trashed by either the police or the fascists.

    Not only is it an act of elementary solidarity, it is also a way of reaching out to the hundred of thousands of members of the Ukraine Communist party who are mad as hell at the leadership of the party for its inactivity against the government, especially now that the government is moving to place an outright ban on its activities. It is this layer of these people who form the active and passive support for the popular militias, and they will be the ones who will play a role in the mass revolt against the oligarchs and against the Russian ultra-nationalists.

    By the way, I have searched the Facebook page of SR, and I cannot find one reference on it to support for the Minsk declaration. Obviously I am looking in the wrong spot. Would you be so kind as to point me in the right direction on this. What dates are we talking about here?

    • Bob I have posted the Minsk statement on my page, not on the SR. Zakhar’s position is not exactly as you present it. He points out that many troops are based in those provinces: they can demobilise into a defensive position and return to their homes. Indeed, they don’t need to be expelled from their homes and evicted into other provinces, but they can cease fire and stop. The Left Opposition does not support the Ukrainian state any more than we support the British state.

      • So, is support for the Minsk declaration just your personal support, or is it the position of Socialist Resistance?

        Zahar Popovich’s support for the ‘contemporary Ukraine state”. as he puts it, appears in a string of his pronouncements, well documents at LINKS and other places, most notably by the statements of the Greek comrades of the OKDE-Spartakos. This fact is not even open to any question of interpretation.

        Equating the position of the SR on the British state with that of Popovich’s position on the Ukrainian state might be a dangerous thing to do. I take it this is just your personal opinion.

        How about a joint campaign at the Ukrainian Embassy protesting political repression in Ukraine?

        • Socialist Resistance isn’t the sort of organisation that passes resolutions on every country in the world; I think it’s reasonable to assume that all or almost all of us will agree with the Minsk statement. I think you have misunderstood Zakhar’s opinion. He opposes the Ukrainian government and its military tactics. If you find a link to a specific comment then I can give my opinion on it. As with everyone I will agree with some things and not agree with others. He is not a leader of the Fourth International, but he seems to have a pretty nuanced view of his national situation and “supporting the Ukrainian state” is clearly not a recognisable way of describing his work.

          • Bob Lyons // 14th July 2014 at 6:45 pm //

            Duncan, this reply has got to be one of the slipperiest answers of someone trying to defend an untenable position I have ever seen. And believe me, I have seen more than a few in my life.

            First of all, Socialist Resistance did pass a resolution in its leading body on the Ukraine. It was represented in the article “Ukraine-the Russians are the aggressors”, wriiten by Liam McUaid. I am pretty sure you are familiar with it.

            Secondly, while it may be reasonable to assume we all agree with the Minsk statement as a basis for unity in action; the question is: does Socialist Resistance agree with it or not? The reason I ask that is because there is a good chance the state-caps (or some of them )won’t-in particular the less theoretically developed comrades. The call of the Minsk conference was precisely identify those groups who can work together to help build the left response and support the resistance movement in the Donbass against the puppet Ukraine regime.That was organisations signed.

            Thirdly, I am obviously more aware of Popovich’s position than you are. He has described the Minsk statement as “a rotten compromise”. Why, precisely because it called for the withdrawal of Ukraine troops from the Donbass, a position he doesn’t support. Go back and read the position as translated by Marko Bojcun. I sincerely hope you are not trying to convince people that a call for the maintenance of “the contemporary Ukraine state”, a formulation that Popovich has used time and again, can be interpreted as anything else but support for the existing bourgeois state, How else can this be read?

            The fact that he is not a leader of the FI means squat for pasties, mate. The right wing of the FI leadership has given prominence to Popovich’s group, and to other odd characters like the former Solidarity leader who has evolved a fairy tale position where the Ukrainian oligarchy is leading the struggle for national liberation, and there is no mass resistance movement in the Donbass. They have given ALMOST no space for the opposing views of the majority of world Trotskyists who opposing the “no support for two imperialisms” thesis of SR and the state caps.

            Duncan, it is OK for an organisation to be wrong, provided that they admit and learn from their mistakes as to what caused the error in the first place. I am providing a link to the updated statement of Socialist Democracy, Irish section of the Fourth International, where originally holding a position close to SR has now been corrected and the process for doing so has been laid out.


            Once again, are you and SR prepared to rally at the embassy of Ukraine, demanding the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the Donass and for an end to political repressions?

        • I think peace and self – determination, the demands of the Minsk conference are the key ones to build unity on. We don’t think the CP should be banned, but defending those crooks is something that I would find it hard to get enthusiastic about unless it was in the context of the fight for peace.

  6. Concerned Humanist // 14th July 2014 at 4:25 am // Reply

    The Minsk conference demands included, as its very first demand, the withdrawal of Ukraine army and the National Guard from the Donbass. But nowhere have we ever seen that demand reprinted by Socialist Resistance.

  7. prianikoff // 14th July 2014 at 7:37 am // Reply

    Using the term “Stalinist” to describe Borotba’s politics is simply an excuse for not seriously engaging with this organisation.

    See this Interview with Sergei Kirichuk of Borotba, by by Andrej Hunko, “Die Linke“, 09.07.2014

  8. Hi Prianikoff. I think you’re right that it’s mistake to call Borotba ‘Stalinist’. Whether or not a group is Stalinist in our opinion, it’s a term that automatically closes some people’s ears. I’ve amended my article accordingly. They clearly are a group which draws on Marxism-Leninism, as the Stalinists politely call their ideas.

  9. A couple of other self-critical notes…. Bob says that Socialist Resistance has, indeed, adopted a resolution on Ukraine and that it’s reflected in Liam’s article (at Quite honestly, I am unaware of that and I invite Bob to clarify which body has passed that. I think most SR members, maybe even all of them, agree with the general line of Liam’s article. I also think it’s possible to simultaneously agree with the Minsk statement and to think that it’s a compromise: of course it is a compromise, as unitary statements of widely different organisations tend to be.

    I also think that some discussions today on facebook mean that, in London at least, it’s not very practical to suggest a unitary mobilisation on the demands of the Minsk conference. The pro-Borotba campaign is not distancing itself from the disruption and threats of violence made by its supporters last week, and it’s simply unwise to suggest unitary actions unless they are able to make some suggestions about what they can do to assure our safety from their supporters.

    • Who approved the position of SR and the article reflecting it? I suspect it was the editorial board, of which Liam MacUaid is a member,and which is a decision making body of Socialist Resistance. Go ask Liam.

      If you are trying to imply that the statement was Liam Mac Uaid’s personal opinion, that it wasn’t the position of SR, go ahead and say it. Besides leaving Liam hanging out to dry, if that is your position, it shows organisational incoherence, as well as the by now well established theoretical incoherence around this question.

      • I’m hardly leaving Liam out to dry: I’m just pointing out the truth that his articles and mine are signed articles and not resolutions. I think most of us agree with the general line of any article we publish. The point is that you stated with confidence that it’s a resolution adopted, and it’s obviously the case that you just made that up. Please, just stop doing that. There’s so much meat in these issues, why make stuff up?

      • Wheter it was a “resolution” approved by the editorial board, or a “statement” approved by the editorial board, is just semantics. If you say there was no resolution to approve the article, well, I guess that is your position.

        And indeed you are right, there are more meaty issues to discuss. Such as SR’s refusal to campaign against the murderous actions of the Kyiv puppet regime and its fascist allies.

  10. neprimerimye // 14th July 2014 at 9:16 pm // Reply

    There are massive evasions and lacuna in the discussion above. No where is there is discussion of the class nature of Maidan without which most if not all of the above makes no sense whatsoever. There is no real discussion of the politics of Borotba or the Left Opposition let alone the so called Communist Party of Ukraine. All in all we have a discussion which has no reference points and consists simply of one group seeking to avoid the question of what actually happened at last weeks meeting while another group seeks to defend their past positions when they are questioned by the first group.

    This is complete and utter nonsense. Certainly we can and must debate all of these questions and more besides but first let us examine exactly what happened at last weeks meeting and why it was a scandal. The facts are clear and need little further rehearsing an organised group attended a meeting of the Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign and proceeded to heckle and barrack the speakers, including their own, and also applauded remarks made by an open supporter of Pavel Gabarov.

    My understanding, based on decades of involvement with the socialist and workers movement, is that our meetings are open to all and all comers have a right to speak as long as they obey the normal rules of debate. Indeed these rules are not confined to the workers movement but are the norms of all who debate with honest intent. They are forms and rules we inherited from the radical movements of the past and which have in general only ever been violated by Stalinists and the like.

    The deliberate attempt made by certain members of ‘Solidarity with Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine’ to disrupt a body whose positions they disagree with is then reprehensible. Let us note that the culprits arrived as a body and acted as an organised body. The leadership of SARU should make it clear whether or not this body acted as members of SARU or as individuals not under the discipline of that organisation. Given the tone and content of Richard Brenners remarks it seems not unlikely that they acted as an organised group of SARU supporters. One wonders how other supporters of SARU might feel if they were to become aware that their friends have set out to wreck the meeting of another organisation within the workers movement.

    Speaking of Richard Brenner I further note that his letter, which betrays a lack of concern as to what actually took place, misrepresents the intervention of Gerry downing one of the ‘leaders’ of this quasi-Stalinist outrage. Brenner wrongly claims that John McDonnell ‘clarified’ the position of SSC as being one of opposition to the current regime in Kiev when asked to do so by Downing. In fact a child with basic literacy skills would know that the SSC has always been totally clear as yo our opposition to the capitalist regime in Kiev and has never indicated anything to the contrary. In plain terms there was nothing to clarify.

    Noting this distortion in Brenners letter, accidental no doubt, does not however convey the exchange between Downing and John McDonnell. It is to be noted that Downing made a number of accusations against the SSC which were refuted by John McDonnell on both a personal level and as a spokesperson for the campaign. Furthermore Chris Ford read out the relevant section of our campaigns founding statement which put the lie to Downings unfounded allegations. Despite which Downing persisted in most of his claims thereby suggesting that the john McDonnell, Chris ford and the SSC as a body is engaged in systematic lies about its positions.

    Another incident at the meeting must be raised here. A number of times the delegation from SARU, if such it was, applauded speakers who declared themselves to be from the Donetsk region and in particular one woman who expressed support for Pavel Gabarov. Most of these interventions by this speaker in particular were in fact prolonged interruptions of the billed speakers but this is a minor point. More important is the expression of support for a man known to have been a member of an openly fascist group who still adheres to a Eurasian ideology as developed by the fascist Dugin. Whether or not Gabarov remains a fascists is a moot point, indeed an esoteric point of no importance, what is vital here is to note that he remains a Russian ultra-nationalist with an ideology that is friendly to capitalism but hostile to rationalism and an independent workers movement. It is deeply disturbing that self proclaimed ant-fascists see fit to applaud statements defending such a character.

    To close I would ask the honest supporters of SARU to dissociate themselves from the quasi-Stalinist wrecking actions of Downing and Dempsey. Should they do so then cooperation between our campaigns might be possible in the future but should SARU endorse the thuggish behaviour of their supporters then we cannot cooperate.

    • prianikoff // 16th July 2014 at 7:23 am // Reply

      “Nowhere is there is discussion of the class nature of Maidan”

      Demographic Profile:
      88% Male; average age 37; 43% with higher education

      Specialists 27%, Businessmen 17%, Workers 15.2%, Students 6%; managers 4%, law-enforcement & military 3%, clerical work 4%, agricultural workers and farmers 3%
      Pensioners 7.5%; Unemployed 8.5%; Casual work 4.5%

      Place of origin
      Western Ukraine – 55%, Central Ukraine (24%), South and the East (21%) Kiev 12%. (The proportion from small towns increased between December and Feb 2014)

      Language: Ukrainian 59%, Russian 16%, bi-lingual 24%, other 0.8%


      The alleged participation of unionised workers in the Maidan protests has to be treated with caution. For instance, many workers who took part in the so-called “All Ukrainian Strike” of Feb 13th were ordered to by their bosses. Channel 5 TV, owned by Poroshenko, played a big part in publicising this fake event, along with “The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine” (KVPU), which is heavily funded by the US AF-CIO.

      “To close I would ask the honest supporters of SARU to dissociate themselves from the quasi-Stalinist wrecking actions of Downing and Dempsey”

      Socialists certainly need to put forward an alternative programme of action to the ‘Partiya Novorossiya’, but the “quasi Banderite wrecking actions” of the AWL and various Ukrainian émigrés at the initial Saru meeting, not to mention Gerry Gable’s spoiler article in “Searchlight” were easily dealt with by answering them with facts.

      No doubt there are ill-intentioned people who are stirring up the pot, but starting a witch-hunt against trade union members you disagree with is not a way to reach political agreement. Brenner’s letter to McDonnell seems more reasonable to me.

      • Why is it a witch hunt to protest when trade unionists systematically disrupt a labour movement meeting? Surely witch hunts are hunts for things that do not exist: the comrades in question do not deny what they did, only that we should find it something to complain about.

      • neprimerimye // 16th July 2014 at 8:41 pm // Reply

        Prianikoff let me be clear I was not suggesting that this discussion should seek to analysis Maidan although your statistics are interesting. Rather I noted above that the organised disruption of the USSC meeting by Downing, Dempsey and their friends was predicated on the ignorance as to the real situation in Ukraine that these people display and that they would be better employed seeking enlightenment rather than shouting and barracking those they disagree with.

        As for the actions of the misnamed AWL and the article by Gerry Gable these are completely and totally irrelevant. Neither the AWL of Gable are supporters of the USSC and I for most heartily despise the former and have considerable reservations as to the politics of the latter. Your mention of these people is a red herring having exactly nothing to do with the hooliganism engaged in by supporters of SARU at our meeting.

        As for your claim that Brenners letter seems reasonable this is simply silly given that his description of the meeting is at variance with the facts of the matter. It is of some little importance that the gentleman in question was not present at the meeting and rather obviously relied on a distorted version of what happened as reported by Downing, Dempsey of one of their friends.

        • prianikoff // 17th July 2014 at 2:19 pm // Reply

          I’m sorry, but I disagree .

          Over the years I’ve witnessed all kinds of disruptive behaviour at Socialist Meetings, including by the current FI leader Penny Duggan, when she was an ultra-left student who didn’t like car-workers (lol!). So let’s not get precious about this.

          The main issue here is not the alleged behaviour of D&D.
          It’s whether the “socialist” Solidarity campaign is going to do anything to defend the people in Donetsk & Lugansk, or will simply ignore it.

          Judging by the articles in the co-orbiting planetismals; SR, RS21 and the IS group, it will be the latter.

          But as we’ve extensively argued, this stems from position which is incorrect from the theoretical, historical and practical point of view.

          For the latest confirmation of this, see today’s Irish Times on Euro-fascists who are joining the Azov Batallion.

          • neprimerimye // 17th July 2014 at 10:15 pm //

            Feel free to disagree but the fact of the matter is that there is a dispute between SARU and USSC. That this dispute is in the public domain is a result of the letter written by Brenner and those of us in the USSC have a right to defend ourselves from the distortions and defamations of our views in that missive. Not to mention the fact that we have a duty to refute the lies and fantasies of Downing and Dempsey.

            As for the Fourth International that organisation died as a revolutionary body when it parted company with its various ‘defeatist’ minorities back in the late 1940’s. I’ve little interest in the views of any organisation misusing that name today although I’m happy to work with the comrades where we have agreement.

            I’ve no idea what theoretical and historical views you hold but they strike me as wrong in that your resting place is behind and below Russian nationalists and supporters of Eurasianist ideology. Placing yourself beneath an arsehole is a bad idea.

          • prianikoff // 19th July 2014 at 6:29 am //

            Talking out of one is much worse.

            What you have no idea about is the distinction between a united front and a political organisation.

            As to my views:-

            As long ago as March 5th , in a response to an article by Mike Marqusee on “Red Pepper”, I wrote the following:-

            “The biggest criticism that can be levelled against Putin’s policy is that it’s based on Russian nationalism. This leads to a political dynamic in which the main objective becomes secession of areas of Ukraine with Russian speaking majorities.…Fighting for an Independent Socialist Ukraine leads away from this defensive dead-end, towards a much bigger goal- the overthrow of the Interim Ukrainian Government – a coalition of fascists, pro-EU and pro-Nato stooges which is a threat to the peace of Europe.”

            In the thread on the article “The Russians are the agressors”, on this site, I wrote:-
            “A joint Ukraine and Russia, directed against war, against the oligarchs and capitalism and for an Independent Ukraine, in a Socialist Federation with Russia, can win…Our role is to oppose Western sanctions against Russia, resist any attempt to enlarge NATO into Eastern Europe and support socialists in Ukraine and Russia.”

            “Support”- as in debate with and provide material solidarity to. I’m in favour of socialists debating with Borotba, Kagarlitsky & other influential Marxists in Ukraine and Russia, with a view to forming a common organisation.

            I’m not in favour of forming a common political organisation with the “Partiya Novorossiya”, as it doesn’t have a socialist programme, which means it doesn’t have a political strategy capable of winning this struggle.

          • neprimerimye // 19th July 2014 at 5:06 pm //

            Sadly it is the supporters of SARU who fail to understand the difference between a political organisation and a political bloc. It is because SARU is a bloc and not a party that many of us have asked that SARU as a body dissociate itself with the thug like behaviour of Dempsey and Downing.

            It will be interesting to read any declarations from Borotba, Kagarlitsky and SARU for that matter with regard to the recent downing of a civilian Malaysian plane. If, like the fantasists, you take the side of the separatists then you might as well join “Partiya Novorossiya” as you are tailing them in any case.

          • Bob Lyons // 19th July 2014 at 2:34 pm //

            It is obvious by your comments that you have had a very long personal and close experience with being in the position you ascribe to comrade prianikoff.

  11. My original article was in line with the views of most people in SR. If a member had wanted to put forward a contrary opinion, we’d have published it on this site.

    A much more detailed resolution from the Fourth International’s Bureau can be found at the link below. A different view, which echoes some of those who see the movement in Ukraine as a “fascist putsch”, has been put forward by our comrades in Ireland. The link for that is also below. I know that in some other currents this might be taken as evidence of a crisis. We see things a bit differently

    • Thank you for the reply. A question or two. If, as Duncan says, there was no resolution approving your article, how can you be sure it is in line with the views of most people in SR? Normally, an editorial board, of which you are a member, would approve the article and it would then become the position of the organisation. Since, as you say, by some process you know the views of most members of the organisation, and that they approve of the line taken by the article, and I have no reason to doubt your word, your article entitled “The Russian are the aggressor” is the position of SR.

      Which was my point with Duncan above.

      Since you are a recognised leader of SR, and have been the person putting forward the organisation position on Ukraine, you may be able to answer this question, the one I posed to Duncan.

      Why is Socialist Resistance refusing to call for the withdrawal of the Ukrainian army and the fascist National Guard from the Donbass? Why is Socialist Resistance refusing to call for an end to the political repression aimed at Marxist-Leninists, like Borotba, and the neo-social democrats of the Communist Party of Ukrainia? Why doesn’t Socialist Resistance at the very least demand that British imperialism leave Ukraine alone, and couple that with the ever-popular, Britain Out of NATO?

      The trouble that your article “The Russians are the aggressors” has gotten you into is that history has very quickly proven you wrong. Why is it that the rest of the world Trotskyists organisations, in their great majority, have no trouble seeing that the main enemy is US-EU imperialism and the oligarchies, and you don’t? And when some of the organisations have been wrong, like the comrades of Socialist Democracy, they examine the arguments against their position and when evidence convinces, they admit their mistakes and mis-analysis, and move. I would say that if comrade John McNaulty can admit he is wrong, then pretty well everybody can.

      Finally, because there are other viewpoints for the members of Socialist Resistance to consider, would you allow me to write an article putting this debate into context, to be published by Socialist Resistance? It would of course be signed, and if you prefer, with a caveat that it doesn’t necessarily represent the viewpoint of the organisation.

      I agree with your statement that at present there is no “crisis” in the International, but there are certainly sharply diverging views on a number of issues, the Ukraine being one of these.

      • Bob it would be easier if you stopped making things up. I am not a member of the editorial board. SR does not work in the way you describe; that is not how we normally work. I think only the Spartacist groups work like that: I.e. that most articles reflect a formal collective position. I don’t really know the views of all members on all things, but I am pretty sure that they would consider my report a reasonable attempt at a report with useful, if not comprehensive, observations. I am pretty sure on the basis of decades in the movement. And please don’t misunderstand me: the position of the organisation is stated in statements of the organisation. For example, we might all have the same view on the world cup but that is not the organisation’s position. So I think it’s reasonable to think that if SR passed resolutions that they would probably be generally compatible with what Liam and I have written. However, neither of our articles are statements of the organisation.

  12. Duncan, I didn’t say you were a member of the Editorial Board. You were reading my reply to Liam MacUaid, not to you. You are mistaken about this.

    Stop trying to slither out from the question of the position of Socialist Resistance. The Greek comrades, the Swedish comrades, the Irish comrades, the comrades from Socialist Action, etc, etc, etc, all interpret the article “The Russians are the aggressors” as the position of Socialist Resistance, in the same manner that the articles by Zahar Popovich are taken by the rest of the world as the position of Left Opposition.

    If what you are now telling us, is that Socialist Resistance doesn’t have a position on the events in Ukraine, that it is all just a matter of personal ideas, please just say it. Please say that it is just a personal preference that you and a few other SR comrades would rather not call for an end to the political repression in Ukraine, that it is just a matter of personal ideas that it is the Russians, and not the puppet regime in Kyiv and its imperialist allies, who are the aggressors.

    Duncan, you know very well that is not the way it is. Please don’t make yourself look foolish by trying to say that Socialist Resistance doesn’t have a position on Ukraine.

    So, if what you are saying is true, that Socialist Resistance doesn’t have a position, maybe you might be interested in taking a revolutionary Marxist approach, based on the Minsk peace conference statement. How about these slogans:

    “Stop the slaughter of civilians in Donbass.” “Withdraw all Ukrainian and fascist troops from Donbass now”. “Soldiers from the Donbass, your main enemy is the oligarchs,the puppet regime in Kiev, and their imperialist masters. Turn your guns around. Join your class brothers and sisters in the fight to overthrow the oligarchs and its puppet regime.”

    “Workers of Europe, solidarity with the working class of Ukraine in their fight to overthrow the government of the oligarchs, the imperialist, and their fascist storm troops.” “NATO out of Eastern Europe”

    “Workers of Britain, stop Cameron’s attack on the workers of Ukraine. Solidarity with the workers of Ukraine in their fight to overthrow the government of the oligarchs, the imperialists and their fascist storm troopers.” “Britain Out of NATO”.

    ” Socialists in Great Britain and Ireland. Unite to build a mass solidarity movement with the workers of Ukraine in their fight to overthrow the government of the oligarchs, the imperialists and their fascist storm troopers. Unite to stop the fascist political repression against the Left in Ukraine. ”

    “Glory to the Ukrainian working class! Death to the government of the oligarchs, the imperialists, and their fascist storm troopers. The Ukrainian workers struggle, above all else!

    And for good measure: “Away with all nationalisms! The workers of the world have no country! ” The last two were/are the slogans of the Bosnian workers’ movement from last spring.

    You might want Socialist Resistance to consider these, since they, as you claim, don’t have any position on the events of Ukraine, just your and Liam’s personal opinions.

    • Bob you said there was a resolution and I pointed out the truth. That is not trying to avoid the truth. Obviously we are against political repression. No need for me to add that into a short report about a meeting in London. We are also against bans of the BNP, and we oppose bans of the CP. Just stop making stuff up. If you did that we would be able to have a real discussion.

      • Duncan Chapel // 17th July 2014 at 11:53 am // Reply

        Hi Bob. Honestly, I am not too concerned about whether or not SR adopts a formal position on any country other than Britain given that we are part of the Fourth International. As the editorial in the current issue of SR argues, our key task is to organise solidarity with the independent workers’ movement and to bring their voices to the west. That said, I can offer a a few comments on your demands.

        “Stop the slaughter of civilians in Donbass.” – Indeed, and not only in the Donbass.

        “Withdraw all Ukrainian and fascist troops from Donbass now”. I’m for a ceasefire and demobilisation. As I have explained above, soldiers who are normally in the Donbass should not be made refugees. But also foreign fighters should be expelled from the Donbass: why not mention them?

        “Soldiers from the Donbass, your main enemy is the oligarchs,the puppet regime in Kiev, and their imperialist masters. Turn your guns around. Join your class brothers and sisters in the fight to overthrow the oligarchs and its puppet regime.” – The Kyiv government is no more a puppet than any other. The key task is a ceasefire, not the excalation of the war. The foreigners fighters in Ukraine are paid for from the wealth of the oligarchs; joining them will side with one set of oligarchs against the other. Their main enemy are the capitalists and nationalists on both sides.

        “Workers of Europe, solidarity with the working class of Ukraine in their fight to overthrow the government of the oligarchs, the imperialist, and their fascist storm troops.” “Workers of Britain, stop Cameron’s attack on the workers of Ukraine. Solidarity with the workers of Ukraine in their fight to overthrow the government of the oligarchs, the imperialists and their fascist storm troopers.” ” Socialists in Great Britain and Ireland. Unite to build a mass solidarity movement with the workers of Ukraine in their fight to overthrow the government of the oligarchs, the imperialists and their fascist storm troopers. Unite to stop the fascist political repression against the Left in Ukraine. ” “Glory to the Ukrainian working class! Death to the government of the oligarchs, the imperialists, and their fascist storm troopers. The Ukrainian workers struggle, above all else!” These mistakenly assumes the Ukrainian working class is acting as a class in itself against the oligarchs, and that political repression is coming from fascism. In the main, the working class resistance to the oligarchs is on both sides, and is reflected by the social struggles. The military struggle is primarily between the Ukrainian army (rather than a fascist groups) and troops led and trained by ultra-nationalists and foreign fighters. We can should support a ceasefire, not a victory for them.

        “Britain Out of NATO”. “NATO out of Eastern Europe” – Okay, but let’s also call for an end to NATO’s cooperation with Russian.

        And for good measure: “Away with all nationalisms! The workers of the world have no country! ” Good demands, but as with all of them they are propagandist.

        What your demands all conceal is the reactionary nature of the ultranationalist leadership of the armed struggle in Donestk, the need for a ceasefire, and the need for independence of the working class from the nationalists, Tsarists, Orthodox zealots, pogromists and fascists in the nationalist movements.

  13. I know the piece reflects the views of all but a small number of SR members because we’ve discussed the situation in Ukraine in a number of internal meeting and no one in the group has offered to write a piece disagreeing with it.

    Bob, thanks for your offer to write something for the site. We won’t take you up on it as it’s not usual practice to ask non members to write things polemicising with us. I’m sure if you do write something there are several other sites which would happily post it and you can share the links with our readers.

  14. Thanks for the reply Liam. I am in the processing of doing just that. This debate as you are well aware is taking place throughout the International and is causing positions to shift as what were once thesis have been proven of disproven by the unfolding of events.

  15. The issue of the Fourth International and its sections being able to have a plurality of opinions on major issues was settled way back in 1985 through this resolution (particularly section ‘IX In response to dogmas of Stalinist origin’):

    The fundamental issue here, however, is the disruption of discussions in a socialist meeting by deliberate intimidation and thuggery. Those wishing to put forward an alternative perspective should first of all condemn these acts and make clear that they do not condone such behaviour. Then, and only then, might they earn sufficient respect to be taken seriously.

  16. If you read my remarks above, you will see that I have condemned in no uncertain terms the disruptions of socialist meetings by whomever, or for what ever reason. Serious revolutionaries recognise that sharp debates require above all safe and respectful spaces within which they cen be enjoined.

    The issue here, if you have following it all, is not however the disruption of a meeting, however it occured. The issue is the politics being followed by SR and its state-cap allies on the question of SR’s support for the “contemorary Ukrainian state, or as the dangerous and just quite false statement produced by the International says, “fragile nation-state”.

    Just to point out how erroroneous and how so outside the traditions of the FI and the statements of SR on this question, let me point to another section of the FI statement you alluded to above. There, in the section called “What is the dictatorship of the proletariat, we read the following:

    “d) The recognition by revolutionary Marxists that the destruction of the bourgeois state apparatus, in the first place destruction of its military/police repressive apparatus, is a necessary prerequisite for the conquest of political power by the working class.”

    No contrast that plain speaking, straight-forward statement, with the twists, turns, zig-zags and double speak uttered, in particular by Duncan Chapel, trying to rationalise his and SR’s support for the military occupation of the Donbass, by refusing to call for a withdrawal of the Ukraine army and its fascist militias in the so-called National Guard. Not one mention of a call to withdraw the “repressive apparatus”, the military and the police.

    Instead, all we get are mealy-mouthed whining for peace, a cease fire, combined with a call to demobilize. But who is it that Chapel wants to demobilize? Is it the Ukrainian army and its fascists militias? No, it is the popular militias, including the miners’ militias of Donetsk and Kryivy Rih, and other forms of popular defense. That is the logic of SR’s political positions.

    Perhaps you might ensure that Liam and Duncan read AND understand precisely what the statement you have refered to actually means in developing a political line for intervention in the class struggle.

    • Bob, the Ukrainian nation – state is fragile. What is erroneous about noting that?

      Also please stop making stuff up. We do not support the military occupation of the Donbass. The troops that have entered the Donbass should leave, including foreign fighters. Please stop making this up. Start using quotation marks and references of else people will really find it impossible to respond to your playing with straw dolls. Obviously I want all combatants to demobilise and return home. Stop saying the opposite. It is not the logic of our position – is the opposite.

  17. Then why don’t you say it, if that is your position. You have spent the last few weeks arguing that troops had to stay in the Donbass because some of them might live there. The only person who is making things up is you Duncan. Trying to make up a political policy on the fly, contradicting your self one day after the rest. If you (and by you I mean Socialist Resistance) call for the withdrawal of the troops, why were you arguing otherwise.

    Comrade, if you are now calling for the Ukrainian army and the fascists brigades to withdraw, that is good. A fine step forward.

    Now please explain why it is you want the workers’ militias to disarm? Lets start with the workers’ militia of the Independent Mine Workers Union of Donetsk. Do you want them to disarm? What about the Independent Trade Union of Kryviy Rih? The union militia which kept the peace during the last strike. The Union we all supported in the struggle against Evraz (and by the way I was in Regina at the time of the rally called by my comrades in the Steelworkers-many of whom I used to represent.). Do you want them to demobilise, a rotten euphemism for disarm?

    Read what I quoted from the position of the Fourth International in the resolution and statement referred to by Harry Blackwell. It calls for the destruction of the repressive apparatus of the bourgeois state. It is the prerequisite for the establishment of workers power.

    Whom do you think is going to accomplish this in Ukraine? It is going to be the armed workers’ and popular militias, on the one hand, and the agitation and propaganda work of the Left, encouraging the families of the soldiers to stop their sons’ mobilisations, and to encourage the desertion of soldiers from the ranks of the army, on the other.

    So why do you want to demobilise them? Do you want the workers to disarm?

    As to the use of the word erroneous, it was used in reference to other portions of the statement. I have told you several times that the Ukrainian bourgeois state is weak, riven with contradictions, and ripe for overthrow, so I obviously would not argue with the term fragile.

    What is dangerous is the FI’s defense of the Ukrainian bourgeois state, based on some loney-tune theory of Zbignew K. that what we have in Ukraine is a national liberation struggle for independence. It is this theory which is erroneous, and which is a step away from the theory of permanent revolution, a very short step back to seeing the weak oligarchs as being a progressive force, striving to create a nation state around them. Read the statement closely, within the frame which I have just outlined, and you will see what I mean.

    And even if Zbignews thesis was true, for the sake of argument, and I repeat it is not, but just supposing it was, as Trotskyists we know that the bourgeois democratic tasks in the age of imperialism can only be carried through by the working class and its allies. Which gets us to the place where the need to destroy the bourgeois state is still the same. In the first place the destruction of the repressive forces.

    However, Zbignew K’s thesis is so far removed from reality that its adoption as the theoretical basis for the last FI statement is so easily refuted that you will see major backtracking on it muy pronto. Seen many feudal agricultural relations in the Ukrainian countryside lately?

    As for your little meme about “making things up”, you should be now realise that its school boy debating society status is so obvious, that anyone who knows anything about argumentation knows that it is used by those with no substantive responses. Particularly when all your earlier statements are there in black and white.

    By the by, you and the SR comrades should really pop round to the demo/picket at the Embassy of Ukraine expressing your opposition to political repression in Ukraine, and your support for a cease fire- and withdrawal of the Ukraine army and the National guard, and the disarming of the private militias of the oligarchs. Elementary solidarity, my dear Duncan. Elementary.

  18. Bob, this is absurd. You are asking me why I don’t say something, and then your criticise me for having said it several times over the previous weeks. I don’t understand what I can do except restate my position: We do not support the military occupation of the Donbass. The troops that have entered the Donbass should leave, including foreign fighters. There should be a ceasefire. Fighters on both sides should be demobilised. Of course I say “entered” because I don’t think that soldiers and their families should be exiled from their homes. Soliders should be in the places where they regularly live; Ukrainian soldiers in the Donbass should be demobilised and living as normal either in barracks or at home.

    I have not called for any “workers’ militias to disarm”. That’s a good example of you making things up: asking me to justify thinks that I have not proposed. I’m not backtracking: I’m just spending reply after reply pointing out where you are making things up. Please, try using quotation marks with references.

  19. Duncan Chapel. 17 July, 2014, at 11:53 wrote the following in response to suggested slogans for a political program for Socialist Resistance:

    ““Withdraw all Ukrainian and fascist troops from Donbass now”. I’m for a ceasefire and demobilisation. As I have explained above, soldiers who are normally in the Donbass should not be made refugees. But also foreign fighters should be expelled from the Donbass: why not mention them?”

    Very clear Duncan. As opposed to a call for withdrawal, you conterpose “a ceasefire and demobilisation”. Exactly as I have said.

    Listen Duncan, it is OK to change your position. If you and Socialist Resistance are now calling for a withdrawal of the Ukrainian army (and may I also assume that would include the fascist National Guard, and the private militias of the olgarchs, this a step in the right direction. But trying to deny what you once said isn’t.

    You see Duncan, it is not only me who is cognizant of the position of SR regarding the withdrawal of the troops of the puppet regime. Here is what another poster, “Concerned Humanist” said on 14 July, 2014, at 4:25:

    Concerned Humanist
    July 14, 2014 at 4:25 am · Reply

    “The Minsk conference demands included, as its very first demand, the withdrawal of Ukraine army and the National Guard from the Donbass. But nowhere have we ever seen that demand reprinted by Socialist Resistance.”

    So, now your call for demobilisation doesn’t include the call for disarming the workers’ militias. Another step forward in the right direction! Please forgive me for suspecting that it did, given any indication otherwise by your or SR comments.

    Maybe now, we can get comrade Mac Uaid to write another article, this time outlining in clear and unequivocal language, the position of Socialist Resistance, after an internal discussion, of course.

    So the points of agreement in a unified political position on Ukraine are:

    1. Call for a ceasefire.

    2. Call for a withdrawal of Ukrainian army from Donbass, and demobilisation/barracking of Donbass resident army members.

    3. Call for the withdrawal of all National Guard and private militas from Donbass. Disbanding the fascist armed groups throughout Ukraine.

    4. Support for the maintenance and establishment of workers’ militias, based on the workers’ organisations, to keep the peace and defend the residents of the Donbass, in the first instance, and then throughout the Ukraine state.

    5. An end to political repression against the Left in Ukraine.

    6. NATO out of Eastern Europe. UK out of NATO.

    7. Down with the puppet regime of the oligarchs and imperialists. Free and open elections, without political repression, for all regional, provincial and national posts. All elected officials to be paid the same rate as a qualified teacher. All elected officials to be subject to recall.

    These are all agitational slogans, by the way, designed to impact on the consciousness of the UK working class, and to win support from the militants in the trades unions, as well as the broader emerging vanguard.

    I await your agreement on these slogans.

  20. Duncan Chapel // 21st July 2014 at 5:58 pm // Reply

    You’re either confused, or you are trying to misrepresent things. Below I have reposted a section of your post above, which I have broken into sections [a] and [b].

    [a] “Withdraw all Ukrainian and fascist troops from Donbass now”. This is a proposition of yours which I was discussing. It’s a quote from you, not me.

    [b] “I’m for a ceasefire and demobilisation. As I have explained above, soldiers who are normally in the Donbass should not be made refugees. But also foreign fighters should be expelled from the Donbass: why not mention them?” This is my view.

    I have not changed by view on [a]. My view is [b]. There is nothing wrong with changing views. I do that sometimes, but I’ve not changed it, yet, on that specific question.

    Neither have I changed by view on the disarming of militias. You quote some comment from someone else saying that they were not sure what SR’s view was as if that if proof that I have changed by view. That’s odd.

    These are great examples of you making things up, just to troll.

    Of course, my view is not exactly the same as the Minsk conference, and neither is yours. But the Minsk statement gives a series of demands about which we are all generally agreed; in enough agreement that (other things being equal) I would be happy to campaign for those demands with others despite my nuances with it. For example the Minsk statement with for the withdrawal of all fighters and the disbandment of armed groups.

    As for the other slogans you raise, well I think you know what I will say. I don’t think that anyone from the Donbass should be removed from those oblasts against their will (even National Guard members) unless they are convicted of crimes.

    I’m a little unsure about militias based on the existing workers’ organisations when the definition of those is rather open, and when these are perhaps not under grass-roots control. Two key points for me are that these militias should not be armed, since I don’t think that’s helpful in a ceasefire, and that policing must be by consent. I think communities, rather than the frail workers’ movement, have to be the focus for policing.

    I don’t think, of course, that the Kyiv government is a puppet. The demand that all elected officials to be paid the same rate as a qualified teacher is tricky, since that is well below the average wage. I think neither teachers nor officials can survive on that in Ukraine, and that opens the road to corruption. I’d suggest at least the average wage of skilled workers.

  21. Duncan, here is what you wrote on 21 July, at 1:45 pm, on this thread:

    “I have not called for any “workers’ militias to disarm”. That’s a good example of you making things up: asking me to justify thinks that I have not proposed. I’m not backtracking: I’m just spending reply after reply pointing out where you are making things up. Please, try using quotation marks with references.”

    Complete with references and quotation marks.

    Here is what you wrote at 5:58 pm:

    ” I’m a little unsure about militias based on the existing workers’ organisations when the definition of those is rather open, and when these are perhaps not under grass-roots control. Two key points for me are that these militias should not be armed, since I don’t think that’s helpful in a ceasefire, and that policing must be by consent. I think communities, rather than the frail workers’ movement, have to be the focus for policing. ”

    On the same day you deny calling for the workers militias to be disarmed, and then four hours later, you say again: “Two key points for me are that these militias not be armed…”

    Leaving aside the nonsense of militias not being armed- the very definition of militia is an armed body of people- your muddle-headed slithering and sliding from one position to another is just the reflection of the muddled-headed empiricism which permeates the FI’s statements on this issue.

    A militia without arms is like an airplane without wings, a tram without wheels, a ship without a rudder, and a chapel without a bell.

    One minute you deny that you are opposed to calling for the withdrawal of the fascists from the Donbass, the next minute you say all the armed groups should leave, one minute you support the workers’ militias of Kryiy Rih,( the miners who were fighting with Evraz had as a demand that policing be done by the armed workers’ militias), the next you demand that only “communities”- as an unMarxist concept as we have ever heard) should keep the peace.

    You see comrade Chapel, the only one here who is making things up, is you. Trying desperately to cling to an untenable position, of trying to defend an empiricist analysis which as Boris Kagarlitsky warned some time ago, has kept you firmly on the rails of defending the bourgeois puppet regime in Kyiv, against the so-called Russian aggressors, you wander like a drunk from one statement to another, trying to say one thing while meaning another.

    We can only be thankful that the tide within the FI is turning, and that a revolutionary Marxist position will soon appear. Wait for it, and then take your cues from what a clear cut, no slithering position looks like.

    Finally, I among others noticed the absence of SR at the demo protesting the political repression in Ukraine. This on the very day that your Ukrainian nationalist friends, the ones defending the “fragile nation-state”, as the FI right-wing calls it, was outlawing the Communist Party. I guess that this is what your friend, the scoundrel Zahar Popovich, means when he calls for defending “the contemporary state.”

    British sectarianism at its finest.

    • Duncan Chapel // 25th July 2014 at 6:21 pm // Reply

      Bob. You made it up. I have never called for any militias to be disarmed. You present things as contradictions, but in fact there are no contradictions I can see in what I have argued. I don’t think that new militas should be armed; that’s not the same as calling for old ones to be disarmed.

      Also made up is the ban on the Communist Party of Ukraine. It has not been banned. Of course I not on a demonstration protesting against the ban on it, when it has not been banned.

      And you also made up a stuff about Zakhar in the past, like the outrageous claim that he supports the ATO. Here is this article where we defends “the contemporary state”? I can’t find it searching with Google in English or Russian.

  22. The Communist Party fraction in the Duma was dissolved yesterday by the Speaker of the Duma, based on a law signed yesterday. The members of the fraction were attacked physically by the deputies of Svoboda .The Attorney General is preparing the necessary paperwork to put the ban into effect .Borotba has been driven underground by the fascists in Kiev and Odessa. These are facts. Don’t try to quibble.

    The articles from Zakhar Popovich and the so-called “Left Opposition” can be found at Some are reprinted at the International Viewpoint website.

    As to the question of the workers’ militias, both militias’ I referred to specifically , the Independent Miners Union of Donetsk and the Independent Trade Union of Kryivy Rih, are based on the existing workers’ organizations, which you said are too “fragile” to be able to keep them under control. You can’t slither out from under the mass of contradictory statements you keep making, not can you justify your sectarian policy in the face of repression and fascist violence against the Left.

    Duncan, let me be absolutely clear about this. I and the great majority of Trotskyists around the world stand with the mass resistance of Ukraine working class against the attacks by the regime of the oligarchs, the imperialists and the fascists. You and your state-cap buddies in rs21 and the ISN don’t, preferring to stand aside and make up reasons why you can’t, or shouldn’t, because it doesn’t fit the schema of “pure” class struggle.

    Being unable to understand that the anti-capitalist impulses of the Donbass proletariat is hidden beneath the thin nationalist cloak of a people whose national rights are threatened not only in word by the ultranationalists of the Kiev regime and the neo-nazis strutting in the uniform of the Azhov Battallion or the National Guard, but by previous actions of the Rada which passed a motion outlawing the status of Russian as a regional language, keeps you from seeing the seething social indignation, workers indignation, not the indignation of a frenzied petite bourgeoisie which appeared on the Maidan of Kiev.

    Blinded by your position , you are unable to see the reality of the class struggle as it unfolds. And that, Duncan, is the essence of sectarianism.

    • Duncan Chapel // 26th July 2014 at 12:21 am // Reply

      I am not quibbling: the party has not been banned; those deputies are still members of parliament; similar laws have been drafted in previous years and blocked by the constitutional court; fighting in the Rada is nothing new; deputies have been assaulting each other since it was founded.

    • Duncan Chapel // 26th July 2014 at 12:22 am // Reply

      Yes, articles from Zakhar are in many places but none of them contain the words you quote. Can we agree that you made them up too?

    • Bob, I have strong support for the line you are taking here and thing the Socialist Democracy statement is absolutely spot on.
      The challenge to the meeting in the House of Commons was not of a “Healyite” – there were no supporters of Gerry Healy there and the heckling was simply a vigorous challenge to what were obviously pro-Maidan reactionary views masquerading as a sort of syndicalist workerist leftism which takes no position on a war to breaks workers resistance to the IMF austerity. It was certainly no worse than goes on in the chamber of the HoC every day, John McDonnell did not seem upset and neither did anyone else. As for the report of a threat to someone being made in the Ukrainian language by the exotic character as he was leaving we know nothing about it, who he was or what he said. Perhaps the people who identified the words as a threat could tell what was said.
      So the anti-fascist resistance to austerity and murderous fascist-led attacks was called Anti Terrorist Operation in the account of the meeting and not in the text of the resolution – no one objected to these words and they are still on the website of the USSC. And here too is the Zionist Gerry Gable Zionist disgraceful attack as well as the pathetic statement on Odessa by the Left Opposition – they still don’t know who did that and thing it might have been themselves, according to the statement. The LO woman Nina could not tell us who carried out the mass murders and neither could Simon Pirani yet the Maidan Fascists boast about it online. Of course if you blamed them they would be banning the Left Opposition as well as the Communist party and duffing you up and murdering you as they do to Borotba at every opportunity. But they see no need to do that as yet. But remember these people have long knives. There will be a full statement on the whole affair in the forthcoming issue of Socialist Fight. For now here is a short extract:

      “Eddie’s ends his account where the most disgraceful incidents of the night began. The Ukrainian woman he referred to complained about the fighters in the Southeast being called terrorists, and another woman later spoke of the actions of the Kiev junta, they had banned the Russian language (not true, the pro-Maidan hecklers shouted at her, in fact the parliament had banned it but the President vetoed the law, no doubt on US instructions; the intention was clear), they were banning the use of Russian names and they were changing all the history books in the schools to reflect their bigotry (more heckling and derision). When the hecklers shouted at her that Gubarev, People’s Governor of the Donetsk Region, was a fascist she explained that he was fighting for the people there and she had to support him. This drew more hoots of derision for the pro-Maidan mob. In particular both Brighid Ó Duinn and I were outraged at the derision that Simon Pirani was pouring on these courageous women and we let him know it – we had all been members of the WRP under Gerry Healy but he was one of the central leaders and we were rank and filers – “the working class have the shit on the outside but the middle class have it inside” Bridget remarked at his actions.
      It is well known that Gubarev was once a neo-Nazi and he has recently become involved with the LaRouchies but we would question if he or they are fascists. Fascism is not simply a far right reactionary movement, it is an organisation dedicated to smashing the organised working class to restore the rate of profit of Imperialism. He is presenting himself now as an anti-fascist and in a certain sense he is; he does not pull down statues of Lenin, nor outlaw red flags or communist parties, as the Maidan fascists do, let alone seek to smash trade unions. He is forced to fight Imperialism with almost no assistance from Russia. One interview with him in the bourgeois press says his office is plastered with posters of Guevara and Hugo Chavez. That would be highly unusual for a fascist.
      The derision of the pro-Maidan crew amounted to a demand that the population in the Southeast expel their leaders and surrender. In fact it is always the case that those whom US imperialism want to attack and murder must first be demonised by the capitalist mass media and by the chauvinist apologists for Imperialism within the workers movement, Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, Al-Maliki are just the recent examples. With no shortage of former leftists to parrot their propaganda and hail their bogus “revolutions”. “

  23. Socialist Union "Borot'ba" via Bob Lyons // 29th July 2014 at 9:03 pm // Reply

    From Borotba on the ban on the Communist Party of Ukraine:

    Ban on the Communist Party: a step towards dictatorship. By Victor Shapinov

    The dissolution of the Communist Party faction in the Verkhovna Rada [parliament] of Ukraine and the beginning of the court case against the party’s activity is another step towards strengthening right-wing dictatorship, which became a reality after the Maidan coup.

    Despite the fact that the formal basis for a ban are allegations that some party members are involved in so-called “separatism,” there is no doubt that the ban is in fact of an ideological character. The Kiev regime fights against the hated ideology of social equality and internationalism — not with a particular political group, which, in truth, is not a serious danger to the new authorities. This is not so much a prohibition on a party whose leaders sat quietly in the Verkhovna Rada after the coup and even condemned their own comrades who supported the creation of the People’s Republic of Lugansk. It’s a prohibition on communist ideology.

    To ban a political party for which hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians vote has nothing to do with political democracy in any sense of the word. This is an act of depriving political representation from a significant part of the population that professes the values of social equality and friendship among peoples and a positive attitude to the
    Soviet past. All these Ukrainians, according to the self-proclaimed Kiev “democrats,” have no right to a “voice” and no right to influence government policy.

    In fact, the party of Simonenko is far from the image of “scary separatists” the Kiev regime has tried to create. I even know of cases where people were excluded from the party for “separatism.” There is no doubt that the members of the party on the ground are involved in the struggle against the right-wing dictatorship. But it is also no
    doubt that the party leadership was trying to distance itself from the AntiMaidan mass movement. In the most critical days for the Kiev junta, parliamentarians from the KPU sat in the national parliament, providing a semblance of democracy for the coup. Strange and murky bargaining went on for a few months between the Simonenko leadership
    and the new authorities. During these months, destruction of regional and city party offices, harassment and even murder of ordinary Communists occurred.

    Ultra-right militants under the patronage of the new authorities made any left public activity impossible. Under these conditions, Communist Party faction meetings in the Verkhovna Rada looked like some mockery of common sense. Therefore, a formal ban only legalizes what de facto happened long ago: the activities of leftist forces in Ukraine today are only possible in the underground or semi-underground.

    Not surprisingly, the regime is preparing to announce in advance that any social demonstrations are inspired by the Russian special services. Actually, the left, which did not sit idly by, has long been hit by repression. The leadership of the Communist Party hoped to “sit it out.” It didn’t work.

    Of course, the KPU was far from the image of a Communist Party which would correspond to the outlook of Marx and Lenin, Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong and Antonio Gramsci. It was a party with a decomposed leadership, fully integrated into the political system of Ukrainian capitalism, which collaborated at different stages with
    Tymoshenko and Yanukovych. It was a party with a limp and passive base, which could not affect or frighten the bourgeoisified top. It was a game where left, Marxist elements were consistently scrubbed. And of course, this party has done much to discredit the ideas of the left in Ukraine.

    But it would be a mistake to think that the ban of the Communist Party “will pave the way for the true left,” as written on social networks by one representative of a small Trotskyist group. Maybe in 1930 someone thought that with the ban of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, Hitler “cleared the way for the true left.” In fact, in
    Germany of 1930 or in modern Ukraine, a ban on the “bad” left party clears the way not for the left but for open dictatorship of the right.

    Certainly the spin doctors of the Kiev regime will create the illusion of a “Ukrainian” left-wing party for elections and might even grant it posts. But this game is just a cover for the right-wing dictatorship. And for its political role, such a party will be worse and more despicable than Simonenko’s party, with all the disadvantages of the latter.

    For the left in Ukraine today, there can be no other task than the overthrow of the oligarchs and the nationalists, ending the regime’s shameful war against its own people Donbass, and providing all regions of Ukraine with the opportunity for democratic self-determination. Those who set themselves other goals and objectives can hardly claim
    to be called the left, let alone socialist or communist. The left by definition should be involved in the anti-fascist struggle against a right-wing dictatorship supported by the United States. The left by definition should support its own people who rebelled against the neoliberal-nationalist tyranny.

    Does the Communist Party fit these criteria? The leadership – definitely not. But for the ordinary members, rather, the answer is yes. Perhaps formal prohibition will have some positive effects on the party of Simonenko? For example, will the bourgeoisified leaders find themselves in some pocket left party created by the political strategists of Kiev or just go for a comfortable retirement somewhere in Austria — like the former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov?

    Prohibition of the party will make things impossible for the political elite of the KPU, whose position previously allowed them to make a fortune, buy palaces and limousines. Will the party survive underground and be cleansed of careerists and bourgeois elements? We’ll see. In the meantime, we wish the healthy forces in the party success in this work. Our friendly support staff is always on your side.

  24. Duncan Chapel // 11th August 2014 at 9:54 am // Reply

    Bob, now it’s a couple of weeks later I think we can agree that the KPU has still not been banned. Of course we still oppose a ban on political parties, but the central task for socialists has to be broader than defending those bourgeois morons.

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