Ukraine

Yesterday, May 20 a paramilitary gang of armed fascists attempted to kidnap a number of Borotba activists in broad day light at the end of a protest against the Kiev authorities in Freedom Square, in the centre of Kharkov. The attack was repelled by the protesters and by passers by who were faced with the passivity or complicity of uniformed police present. (see Borotba statement here)

The holding of the referendums in eastern Ukraine represents a new and potentially dangerous twist in the Ukrainian crisis. The representatives of the people of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions say 89% and 96% respectively voted in favour of self-rule.

Two days from the May 11 referendum in Donetsk and Luhansk, the Kiev authorities, unable to crush the uprising in the Donbas, are stepping up the war hysteria, curtailing democratic rights and incorporating fascist paramilitaries into the state apparatus. Meanwhile there are signs of growing working class activity in the areas under the control of the rebels.

In a rare moment of candour, yesterday, Ukraine's acting President Turchynov admitted that his forces were "helpless" to quell the unrest in Eastern Ukraine, as the pro-Russian insurgency is on the rise. Furthermore he admitted that the Ukrainian security forces were not reliable and “some of these units either aid or co-operate with terrorist groups.” Now the goal would be to prevent the pro-Russian insurgency from spreading in the Kharkiv and Odessa regions. This amounts to a declaration of defeat.

On 22 April a strike began at the six mines of PJSC "Krasnodonugol" in Krasnodon, region of Lugansk. The mines are owned by SCM, the company of Rinat Akhmetov, one of the country’s wealthiest businessmen and a key regional oligarch. 2000 miners gathered at the mine office, demanding the reinstatement of 30 miners who had been dismissed for participating in a rally in Lugansk. The striking miners demanded a wage increase to bring their wages up to the average wage of workers in the Donbas coalfield and the lifting of sanctions against their fellow miners.

Ukrainian president Oleksandr Turchynov declared yesterday in a live televised address that a full-scale operation involving the army will be launched to regain control over Eastern Ukraine. Whether it is a bluff or a real threat, which the Ukrainian government has the will and means to enforce, is yet to be seen. But today, the same Turchynov has declared that the Kiev government is not against holding a referendum in Eastern Ukraine and set a date for May 25. Meanwhile, there is talk of Kiev asking for UN peacekeepers. This all shows the insoluble mess the Ukrainian authorities have got themselves into.

We publish an interview with Ukrainian left-wing activist Kolesnik Dmitry. The interview gives an excellent insight to the situation in Ukraine and the forces that are at play. We believe that this is an important contribution to the discussion about the class struggle in the country and the tasks of the Marxists.

As Ukraine slides deeper into chaos, the sound of war drums gets ever louder. On Saturday President Vladimir Putin secured his parliament's authority to send the Russian army, not just into Crimea but also into Ukraine itself.

Victor Yanukovich has fled the capital and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Many government administration buildings have been taken over by protesters in Kiev as well as the western Ukraine, and the parliament is back in session. But now with Yanukovich gone, who decides the future of the Ukraine?

The dramatic events in Ukraine have led to the fall of Yanukovych. But in reality this is not the end of the drama but only the possible end of its second act. In the moment of truth nobody was prepared to risk their lives to defend a regime that had completely rotted from the inside to the point where one energetic shove sufficed to bring it crashing to the ground. Power fell into the hands of the opposition like an overripe apple falling from a tree. The question is: what will they do with it?

Barricades, bonfires, Molotov cocktails and clashes with the special police forces (Berkut) over the past few days in Kiev have revealed a deeply divided country on the brink of civil war. What is at stake is no longer membership of the EU, but the future of the Ukraine as a whole.

In the mass media, the demonstrations in the Ukraine are presented as the desire of the Ukrainian people for the country to join the European Union. However, anyone who has followed Ukraine in the last two decades can understand that the grievances are not limited to the question of joining the EU.

The “New Trade Unions and the Democratic Left: Historical Roots and Ideological Landmarks” conference occurred November 2-3 in Kiev. The conference brought together around 200 trade unionists, activists and academics for the two day event, mostly from Ukraine and the former USSR. The organizers of the conference included the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU), the Russian Confederation of Labour (KTR), the Belorussian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP), the Confederation of Trade Unions of Georgia (KPG), the social critique magazine Spilne (Спiльне), the Global Labour Institute/the Praxis Centre, the International Memorial and the workshop “Russian Left in

...

The Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections were recently held, and with the almost complete results showing the ruling “Party of Regions” in first place at around 31% of the votes. They are followed by a bloc of opposition parties known as the “Fatherland”, formed around the jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, taking 25% of the vote.

The government of Ukraine has proposed further attacks on Ukrainian workers in the form of sweeping changes to labour laws that were set to be voted on in parliament on May 25th. The Ukrainian labour unions and activists did not waste time, responding with demonstrations against the legislation on May 21st.