A FPU conference in Kiev was violently attacked by fascist thugs on June 26.
The attackers, who burned flags, used pepper spray against their opponents, broke glass doors and windows, and set fire to one of the corridors in the building, had declared the leadership elections illegitimate and demanded that the Federation adopt measures of “lustration” against most of its former leaders, especially Party of Regions members.
Was FPU an enemy of the Kiev government? Absolutely not, they have been supportive of the new Kiev government from the beginning. As their predecessor organization was a tool for the Soviet bureaucracy to control the workers movement, FPU was a tool for their new masters to do the same after Ukrainian independence, and the consolidation of power by the oligarchs. Many workers correctly considered them more on the side of the government and the bosses than themselves.
This, among other reasons, was why the left and workers’ organizations could not gain any ground in the protests against Yanukovich last December. The FPU was silent as the events unfolded, preferring to see where the cards fell and who came into power, before pledging their loyalty to the new leaders. Their offices in Maidan were decimated by the violent clashes.
Is the FPU an extremely degenerated workers organization? Yes, but this is beside the point. The far-right groups were not at the conference advocating more workers’ democracy; they were there to assert themselves against any workers’ movement; even a relatively innocuous part of it. And when these actions are left unanswered; they lead to other ones. As Martin Niemöller wrote in the aftermath of WW2:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
When the FPU, and some “left” groups failed to condemn the Odessa massacre of 2nd May, where over 40 anti-government activists were burned alive hiding in one of their own trade union buildings; this emboldened the far-right. The same as after the attacks on trade union activists at Maidan before that. The same as when workers’ organization fail to condemn the war in the East.
And taking six days to condemn the attack on your own conference is just as reproachable. For the trade union leaders; it is no longer a time where they can get by through meekly negotiating with the oligarchs and their lackeys. They are now faced with the question of their very existence, and if they are not even capable of speaking out against far-right violence; the workers must find someone who can.
July 7, 2014