Friday, April 18, 2014

On the situation in Ukraine (for the Antifascist meeting in Athens) by Andrew Manchuk of Borotba

Dear comrades,

The union ‘Borotba’ and collective of the Ukrainian web-journal greet all the participants of the anti-fascist meeting.

Our periphery East-European country witnesses one of the most dramatic moments in its modern history.

The Ukrainian lefts face challenges they have never confronted for many years. After some violent and bloody clashes in the centre of Kiev the power in our country was seized by the coalition of ultra-right and neoliberal political forces.

The newly established regime immediately started the close cooperation with the richest oligarchs – with those who (along with the representatives of the EU and US) provided the financial aid and international support to Euromaidan. Some of these oligarchs were recently appointed as governors in the key industrial regions (that are the least loyal to new rightwing government) – with the expectation that they would suppress the anger of indignant protesters there.

The rightwing ideology – a kind of synthesis of neoliberal illusions about the nature of ‘decent European capitalism’ and clerical bigotry of Ukrainian nationalism – dominated in Euromaidan from the very beginning and almost everything there was under control of rightwing politicians.

They managed to exploit the anger of many impoverished and marginalized Ukrainians dissatisfied with the corrupt bourgeois regime of Yanukovich – the regime that we also have been fighting against for many years.

After 20 years period of mass anti-communist propaganda the lefts in Ukraine were ousted into margins of politics while the rights managed to use social populism combined with pro-capitalist and nationalist slogans.

And it is not accidental that Euromaidan was greeted and backed by the most reactionary forces and politicians of the EU and US. The new Ukrainian authorities are ready to open Ukrainian markets to their patrons and to impose on society (still suffering from the crisis) the package of neoliberal reforms so that to receive the next IMF loan that should help them to stay in power.

The property and capitals of the super-richests remained untouched for new regime but new authorities are ready to overcome the crisis at the expense of imposing social cuts and the rise of prices that will affect the impoverished majority of Ukrainians.

So that to divert attention from the issues of own politics, the rightwing authorities skillfully use the issue of Russian intervention in Crimea and ignite nationalist and militarist hysteria inside the country.

Unfortunately, a part of our liberal-patriotic ‘left’ willingly buys into this rhetoric. Thus, new authorities try to channel the anger of defrauded people toward different ‘internal’ or ‘external’ enemies.

Meanwhile, the clashes and shooting spree in the centre of Kiev still happen – the rivaling paramilitary units fight with each other for the control over seized buildings or property and continue to unlawfully detain, beat or torture people.

Neo-Nazi gangs openly show off their racism, sexism or homophobia. They even do not try to hide their weapons when roaming Kiev streets.

Moreover, they have killed some people in Kharkov. The office of ‘Borotba’ in Kiev was looted as well as offices of opportunist Communist Party of Ukraine – neo-Nazis seized their offices and turned them into own ‘bases’.

Many monuments to Lenin, to WWII soldiers or October revolution participants were demolished or desecrated (including the grave of workers killed in the uprising in Kiev ‘Arsenal’ and other plants in 1918).

Meanwhile, extraordinary elections are nearing: disappointed or duped people will have to make a choice just between well-known bourgeois politicians – corrupt super-riches.

At the same time, new authorities by all possible means try to prevent democratic referendums over the issue of self-governing in South-eastern regions – where protests against new regime are glowing.

New rulers of Ukraine try to present these protests as only ‘pro-Russian’ or ‘inspired by the Kremlin’, but the union ‘Borotba’ is effectively fighting for wringing them out of the influence of pro-russian nationalism.

We are irreconcilable opponents to the Putin’s regime that our Russian comrades are fighting with.

We are against war and any interference into Ukrainian conflict as it may trigger the military confrontation of two imperialisms.

Expecting the intensification of the current crisis, we are getting ready to take part in the process of organization of mass protests against anti-social reforms and far-right terror of new authorities. And in this context any international support is rather crucial for us.

We are thankful for your attention and solidarity. And especially we would like to thank our comrades from Southern and Eastern Europe that witness the rise of ultra-right influence against the background of crisis caused by neoliberal policy of the EU.

The new government of Ukraine is the most rightwing government of all that have ever been in Europe since the end of WWII. And this is not only Ukrainian phenomena but also an alarm call for all European lefts. Taking into account that EU authorities actively helped Ukrainian rightwingers to come to power, we understand that it will be a rather difficult task for us to win a victory over them without responsive international actions of the lefts in different countries.

The recent protests in Ukraine (November-February 2013-14) have resulted in establishing of the rightwing political regime, namely the coalition of ultra-right and neoliberal forces. Paramilitary squads of the ultra-right groups now control the capital of the country using the tactics of pogroms and violence against dissenters. They openly demand to vest them with the power of police and state security service officially or give them full control over the law enforcement services.

However, the events are unfolding in Ukraine rather quickly, therefore, demanding a constant correction of the analysis. Some offices of the left organizations were looted. Activists of left organizations and trade-unions have undergone violent assaults.

The parliament of Ukraine (in fact controlled by the vice-speaker from the far-right ‘Svoboda’ party) has taken upon itself the power in the country. It appointed another member of ‘Svoboda’ party as a general prosecutor and released without court decision all the neo-Nazi militants that were convicted for crimes including murders.

Many rightwing politicians (from ‘Svoboda’ and other rightwing parties) were promoted to the positions of ministers. In particular, they will control education. Nazis started a campaign of mass destroying of Soviet monuments: to the October Revolution of 1917 and WWII fighters.

In fact we can speak that it is the most rightwing government in the history of post-WWII Europe and the most pro-Nazi in its ideology regime that was imposed in Ukraine. And this thesis is not a kind of exaggeration – the real consequences of the recent events in Ukraine we’ll be able to assess properly in the course of time because we still have not enough full information needed.

Nevertheless, the mass protests in Ukraine were the result of the deep social-economic crisis – a consequence of neoliberal economic policy that was being implemented in Ukraine under the pressure of international banks and other financial structures.

At first sight it could seem a kind of paradox, but the crisis that was triggered by the rightwing neoliberal policy has led to the uncontrolled rise of the far-right influence in result.

The thing is that the crisis developed under condition of almost total dominance of the far-right ideology that didn’t allowed building in Ukraine a somewhat strong left force. In fact, the rightwingers have occupied the same niche that the lefts couldn’t occupy.

 It was the absence of the left alternative that served as a main pre-condition of providing the sweeping rise of the far-right groups that have taken over a kind of monopoly over social protests of Ukrainians.

The lefts – ranging from social-democrats to the groups of new-left – were driven to the margins of political and social life. It became possible due to the establishing of the right-liberal consensus that dominates in social consciousness since the collapse of the USSR. The intellectuals tolerated ultra-rights backing them politically and providing the process of de-marginalisation of far-right groups for Ukrainians.

Meanwhile, mass-media demonized and stigmatized left ideology simultaneously transmitting to social consciousness a historic mythology of the far-right forces – namely those ones that collaborated with German Nazis in WWII and are responsible for ethnic cleansing of Polish population in western Ukraine.

It was this kind of propaganda that has mostly designed the views of the active part in Maidan movement including significant part of the ‘crisis victims’ – of some of the ‘lumpenized’ layers of society.

And conservative and liberal European politicians have also contributed to such a grievous result – they recognized ultra-right ‘Svoboda’ party as a legitimate member of the so-called ‘pro-democracy’ opposition to Yanukovich’s regime.

Thus, they turned a blind eye to the xenophobic, homophobic and chauvinist program of this party as well as on the pogroms and violent actions of its activists.

Moreover, a group of super-rich Ukrainians has also contributed in organizing Maidan. Those were in particular some oligarchs that were dissatisfied with the dominance of Yanukovich clan and feared the rise of his influence that could threaten their economic interests.

This group of oligarchs participated in sponsorship of the ultra-right groups and provided technical and material equipment for their actions.

Under such circumstances the Rights succeeded in exploiting and monopolizing the protest against oligarchic regime of Yanukovich. From its very beginning they controlled and organized protest actions in Kiev, therefore, attributing to them rightwing ideology and nationalist sentiments. Nazi symbols were openly shown off in Maidan while Nazi slogans were heard quite often there. ‘Pro-democracy’ part of this movement couldn’t confront such a total domination of the Rights that succeeded in taking a leading role in Maidan.

The real force was on their side. Well-trained squads of neo-Nazis that were given out military ammunition have served as the storm-troopers.

 Despite the fact that the protest started under ‘pro-European’ slogans, the ultra-rights initially didn’t hide their hostility to the ‘European’ values and publicly denied them in their speeches and articles.
The fact that many European observers preferred either to ignore the domination of far-rights in Maidan or to diminish their influence has only aggravated the whole situation. In fact such a position was being perceived as a pardon legitimizing any kind of far-right actions.

Thus, as overall results we have got the disastrous rise of street violence in Kiev, infighting of armed groups and killing of people – both supporters and opponents to Maidan. That has led to the collapse of Yanukovich’s regime. However, as we had warned, it was our ultra-rights that have essentially benefited from it. De facto they became the ruling power in most parts of the country because they established conditions when no one social-political force can really confront them there.

As a consequence we witness the change of just elites in power but the interests of the whole ruling class remained untouched. Therefore, the changes haven’t led to real democratic reforms in the interests of the majority of people. The situation is deepening now and the oncoming collapse of the Ukrainian economics is looming. We witness the fast devalue of Ukrainian currency that threatens with impoverishment of millions people in Ukraine. The new regime has no funds enough to guarantee the providing of the basic public spending.

Thus, it negotiates with IMF. EU and US so that to receive new loans that would be given under condition of total dismantling of the remnants of social benefit system and rise of the prices for public utilities, electricity and gas. Moreover, the EU demands from Ukraine to open its internal market and that may lead to the total undermining of the home production that cannot survive without some protectionist measures.

This trend when being coupled with violent confrontation in eastern Ukraine may lead to the dismantling of the state basis and complete economic and political collapse in the country that in its turn may lead then to the outburst of the ultra-Right terror. Such a prospect seems to be quite real in Ukraine and it can happen even in the nearest future. We think that new regime will use ultra-right paramilitary squads for suppressing of the social protests and individual dissenters among ordinary citizens.

Under such circumstances the only alternative is an immediate and active building of the mass left and antifascist movement, namely the creation of a subject that may become a base for opposition to the rightwing regime and possible to organize people that are angry and dissatisfied with antisocial neoliberal policy.

Moreover, the rightwing ‘revolution’ in Ukraine is also an alarm clock for all European pro-democracy anti-fascist forces. This trend actually reveals quite openly that in times of economic crisis – the uncontrolled rise of the far-right clears the way to a seizing of the political power. And such a prospect is even more dangerous when we try to underestimate it.

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