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.

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 History and in Modern Times”.

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.

Students in Ukraine are beginning to mobilise against the attack waged by the government on education. The reason for the discontent of the students is the result of universities receiving the right to charge students in line with decree 796 of the cabinet of ministers, according to which "paid-for services" (i.e. fees) are to be introduced in higher education institutions.

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