London meeting hears eyewitness account of the Odessa massacre + VIDEO

Solidarity with the Anti-fascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU) held a supporters’ meeting on the 11th of November at the Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell, London. A packed room heard a series of speakers discuss the current situation in Ukraine and the way forward for the campaign.

SARU draws support from a number of left groups and individuals, and the speaker panel consisted of:

Anatolii Sokoliuk, International Secretary, Communist Party of Ukraine.

Alexey Albu, Survivor, Odessa Massacre; Member of Odessa District Council; Union Borotba

Andrew Murray, Communist Party of Britain

Steve Skelly, Member, RMT Executive

Marcel Cartier, Socialist rapper and journalist

solidarityJorge Martin, Editorial Board, Socialist Appeal and IMT.

The meeting was chaired by Richard Brenner, Secretary of Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine.

The meeting was opened by Alex Gordon from the RMT and the Marx Memorial Library who explained the history of the Library and its significance.

The most arresting and moving contribution undoubtedly came from comrade Alexey Albu from Borotba. He explained the origins of this Marxist organisation as well as the background to the anti-Maidan protests in Odessa. He then gave a witness account of what happened in the city on May 2nd. He described in some detail the moment fascists launched their attack upon the peaceful protesters who’d been forced to flee the Kulikovo field encampment into the trade union building in Odessa. When the fire started himself and other comrades jumped from the windows only to be met by fascists thugs who beat them up. He then had to lie still, seriously injured across a pile of bodies, where the slightest movement indicating life would have resulted in his certain death. Alexey’s contribution to the meeting was rightly met with a standing ovation. Despite being a victim of these disgraceful attacks, Alexey has been forced into exile in Crimea as remaining in Odessa  would have resulted in his arrest.

Jorge Martin, from the International Marxist Tendency went on to explain the situation on the ground in Ukraine, where an organisation like Borotba has been forced underground, the Communist Party of Ukraine has faced a relentless attack by fascist gangs and the state, where fascist paramilitaries have been incorporated into the state apparatus, etc. His main conclusion was that the struggle against fascism has to be linked to the struggle against capitalism and that it can only be effectively waged on a class basis, not a national one. He identified the looming austerity measures which will be imposed, including the end of subsidies on heating gas, mass lay offs, wage and pension freezes and wholesale privatisation. Those workers in Western and Central Ukraine with illusions in the new government would soon discover the extent to which the IMF and EU are dictating terms to their government. An appeal to all workers on a class basis, including those in neighbouring lands, was the answer and the meeting was in near unanimous agreement.

Mention has to be made of the second intervention by the representative of the Ukraine Communist Party Anatolii Sokoliuk, where he seemed to be downplaying the reactionary meaning of the black and red flag of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (which collaborated with the Nazis during World War 2 and carried out atrocities against the Jewish and Polish population) and even said that the symbol of the Azov Battalion, the wolfsangel rune of the SS, was not “evil”. We have to disagree here, as the fact that such symbols are now widespread and commonly used in Ukraine, even condoned by the state, is actually very dangerous, as the persecution of the Communist Party of Ukraine itself shows.

Of course having the correct policy is all very well, but practical application and actions must follow. Comrade Steve Skelly from the RMT union reported on the progress made within the TUC on support for the campaign and this is very encouraging news. The RMT is once again showing the way for the rest of the movement, being the first to affiliate to the SARU campaign and their efforts to take the message into the wider movement via the TUC are to be applauded.

In Socialist Appeal we have of course been promoting the campaign via the Marxist Student Federation meetings, taking the message into the universities and to the youth.

In closing, the meeting resolved to step-up the ongoing picketing activities, to arrange a dignified silent protest at the Cenotaph against the presence of Ukrainian fascists commemorating their dead, and to picket the Ukrainian Investment Summit in London in December. The latter will be attended by leading figures from the Kiev regime, plus other international investors, all gathering to sell-off Ukrainian state assets to the highest private bidders.

Please follow the SARU Facebook page and the official website at http://ukraineantifascistsolidarity.wordpress.com for details of future events.