Saturday, May 24, 2014

Junta's persecution of Communist Party of Ukraine: No time for gloating from Sergei Kirichuk of Borotba

The fact that Peter Simonenko until recently refused to withdraw from the presidential elections in Ukraine caused untold confusion among many “grassroots" activists and sympathizers of the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU). Indeed, from the very first days of the February putsch in Kiev, the KPU became the object of public and brutal persecution by the ultra-right, whose pogroms were openly patronized by the new regime.

Neo-Nazis invaded and occupied the offices of the Communist Party in Kiev -- and the Central Committee building became the headquarters of one of the most notorious Nazi groups in the country, which openly carried out the raid. "Warriors of light and goodness," sneered the journalists over Communist symbols, picturesquely broken asphalt busts of Lenin, burned books and torn red flags captured in the office. Party banners of the KPU were solemnly brought to the streets where militants ripped them up in front of passers-by. Personal data of Communist Party activists captured in the Central Committee building fell into the hands of the Nazis, who posted it on social networks, calling for the massacre of these people -- among whom were pregnant women and mothers of infants.

The same fate befell the party offices of the Communist Party in Rivne, Lutsk and other cities of Western Ukraine, where a few members of the Komsomol were attacked but miraculously managed to stay alive. An attempt to hold a propaganda picket of party supporters on Gogol Street in Kiev resulted in immediate attack on its members, who were beaten by Right Sector militants who came from Maidan. When, under pressure from the European Parliament, the Nazis were gently asked to leave the Communist Party Central Committee offices, they just burned down the building -- as they had previously burnt the country house of a family member of Peter Simonenko.

Deputies of the parliamentary faction of Communists in the Verkhovna Rada were long accustomed to the well-fed, measured and calm, compromising life. On the way to the parliament building they were met by whistling and offensive shouting, accosted with stones and bottles. Something similar happened in the parliament, where KPU deputies on the sidelines and then MPs were attacked by “Svoboda” and "Fatherland" and “European” journalists. They were often deprived of speech and the rightist regime leaders talked openly about the prohibition and elimination of the Communist Party faction – as a question for the near future. And indeed, controlled by "Svoboda," the Attorney General's office and SBU godfather Yarosha soon began to prepare a legislative ban on the Communist Party, openly calling for an arranged trial of the "criminal carriers of communist ideology."

Amazingly, despite this atmosphere of brutal persecution, Peter Simonenko still stubbornly refused to withdraw from the election -- though many party activists, not without reason, demanded to know why their leader was thus helping to legitimize the May 25 "election of blood." And when the rump Parliament pushed deputies of the Communist Party from the session hall, depriving them of the right to participate in the closed session of the Verkhovna Rada, several MPs rebelled, demanding that their colleagues no longer participate in the undemocratic farce that is today cynically called "Ukrainian parliamentarism."

But Simonenko withdrew from the elections only after he was nearly lynched after a live broadcast in Kiev.

With all this, the position of the leaders of the Communist Party has aroused discontent in the South-East of the country -- where the electoral base of the party was traditionally concentrated. They asked why the party was insufficiently active in protests against the regime in Kiev, criticized it for toothless, cowardly opportunism, and never tired of asking why the party leadership was under the parliamentary dome -- and not in the struggle with the people who voted for them two years ago? And criticism from within increased. Many activists were interested to know who should be held responsible for what happened to the party and the country, and why the Communist Party – once the most popular mass party in Ukraine – declined steeply under the present leaders to its present humiliating position. Why do they continue to remain unchallenged at the helm?

To these fair criticisms from ordinary Communist Party activists, you can add more, recalling how the leaders of the party completely abandoned the declared ideology in its name, and completely lost touch with the working class, whose interests they were supposed to express. Honest, ideological activists were asking themselves awkward questions about people acquiring property, capital and government posts. And why the party exchanged the confidence of the masses for this mess of pottage.

However, in the situation in which the country now finds itself, with the rightist regime persecuting the Ukrainian left, it is not the time for petty schadenfreude towards the cornered Communist Party.

The trial of the Communist Party, organized by the Nazis and neoliberals, is guaranteed to be a trial of the entire leftist ideology that they want to ban and finally expel from Ukrainian politics.

Red flags with the hammer and sickle will be ripped and burned, regardless of whether they are displayed as symbols of the Communist Party or other left groups.

Offices of other leftist groups are also subjected to pogroms; we, too, are searched, and our activists are beaten in the streets, along with members of the Communist Party.

Vandalism of monuments of left figures -- the destroyed statues of Lenin and Marx, monuments to the fallen soldiers of the revolution and the fighters against fascism, or defiled burial sites of workers killed in the battles of the “Arsenal” plant -- are not the property of Simonenko, but a common heritage and common pain of the entire left.

It would be short-sighted not to understand that the repression of the Communist Party will echo in turn against all left-wing activists - including those who have consistently criticized Simonenko and the completely non-communist policy of his party.

Destruction of the Communist Party today will drive all leftist movements underground, already on the verge. This will set a precedent for the fierce persecution of all who share anti-fascist and socialist views. And you will not be able to justify yourself to the court and the rioters by saying that you always consistently criticized the policy of the Communist Party.

Obviously, the country has slid into a bloody dictatorship under a regime of rightist politicians who for the first time in a hundred years has unleashed a civil war against its own people. And now we need broad solidarity with those who face the repression of rights -- including honest activists of the Communist Party.

Don’t let 2014 become for all of us the new 1933.

Sergei Kirichuk


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