[Marxism] The Militant, KPVU on Ukraine situation

Matthew Russo russo.matthew9 at gmail.com
Fri May 16 13:25:36 MDT 2014

Vol. 78/No. 15      April 21, 2014
Miners in eastern Ukraine refute press in Russia, US

Vol. 78/No. 18      May 12, 2014
Workers in east Ukraine protest pro-Moscow assaults, terror
(lead article)

Demonstrations took place across eastern Ukraine April 26-28 against
provocations and assaults by Moscow-backed forces there. Thousands of
workers and youth marched in Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk and other cities.

In an effort to intimidate and demobilize defenders of Ukraine’s
territorial integrity, Russian military personnel and local thugs have
carried out a wave of murders, kidnappings and assaults on journalists,
politicians, United Nations observers and working people. The terror
methods have led to growing opposition to pro-annexationist forces and
reinforced support for Ukrainian sovereignty.

The small pro-Moscow bands are “missing one element that proved vital to
the success of the Kiev protests in toppling Ukraine’s pro-Russian
president: people,” observed the April 24 Wall Street Journal, referring to
the mass mobilizations that overthrew Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych
in February. “The trade union at one of the largest metal plants in the
region said its members supported Ukrainian unity,” the Journal noted.

Miners and the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine — the country’s
largest union — have been organizing pro-Ukrainian self-defense units and
have been at the center of protest actions.

“Ukraine will not lose Donbass,” Nikolay Volinko, leader of the Independent
Trade Union of Miners of Donbass, told Ilya Azar from the Moscow Echo April
23. “The resistance is increasing.”

The provocations and takeover of government buildings are “happening with
the help of the local authorities and local law enforcement agencies and
because of the indecisiveness of the central government,” said Volinko.

“Has anyone attacked you because you speak Russian?” Volinko asked
interviewer Azar. “Not really, I would say I have more chance to be
attacked speaking Ukrainian,” Azar answered.

Pro-Moscow forces escalate attacks
Russian government-backed forces in Donetsk took over City Hall, the
Donetsk regional administrative building and other government facilities,
proclaimed an “independent” Donetsk People’s Republic and called for
Russian military intervention.

Volodymyr Rybak, a pro-Ukrainian city council member in Horlivka, a city in
the Donetsk region, was kidnapped April 17, tortured and murdered after he
attempted to restore the Ukrainian flag to the Horlivka City Hall building.

Rybak’s body was recovered by pro-Moscow forces from a nearby river along
with the murdered corpse of Kiev student Yuriy Popravka. Initially
Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, a soap factory boss and the self-proclaimed mayor of
Slovyansk, the paramilitary headquarters of the so-called Donetsk People’s
Republic, claimed they were the bodies of two pro-Russian “activists,” with
“their bellies ripped open and signs of torture.” The lie was carried by
Russian government-controlled media, but before long the truth came out and
the story was dropped.

A growing number of journalists have been kidnapped, taken to buildings
seized in Slovyansk, and tortured, including Simon Ostrovsky from the
U.S.-based Vice News and Irma Krat, editor-in-chief of Hidden Truth TV and
the leader of a women’s self-defense unit on the Maidan in Kiev.

Vasily Sergiyenko, a journalist in Korsun-Shevchenkivskiy and active member
of Automaidan, a movement of car drivers against Yanukovych, was abducted
from his home April 4, taken to a nearby forest, stabbed and beaten, and
buried after his head had been severed.

Ponomaryov’s forces also kidnapped seven U.N. military inspectors with the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and paraded them
before the press April 27. They also grabbed three members of Ukraine’s
federal security service, known as the SBU, in Horlivka when they tried to
make an arrest in the murder of councilman Rybak.

On April 28 gunmen shot Gennady Kernes, mayor of Kharkiv, a former
supporter of Yanukovych who had been backing reconciliation with the new
government in Kiev. He is still alive in an induced coma.

After a pro-Ukraine rally of 2,000 gathered in Donetsk April 28, dozens of
thugs armed with bats, metal rods, knives and smoke bombs appeared and
attacked. More than 10 protesters were taken to the hospital. Local cops
stood aside and some handed over their riot shields to the thugs, who
returned them to police after the assault. Five supporters of the city’s
Shakhtar (Miner) Donetsk soccer team who were defending the rally were
taken hostage for a day.

Russian commandos move in
Thirty armed commandos drove in minivans from Slovyansk to Konstyantynivka
April 28 and, with no opposition from local cops, took over the police
station. The next day they seized the regional administration building in
Luhansk, a provincial capital of 465,000. Again, local cops stood aside.

The credit for a number of these operations has been taken by a Russian
military intelligence operative who goes by the name Igor Strelkov. He was
first identified by the Ukrainian SBU in mid-April as an operative
code-named “Shooter,” who was taped directing pro-Moscow provocations.

Strelkov introduced himself to the press April 27 as the commander of the
Slovyansk militia. “The platoon that came to Slovyansk with me was formed
in Crimea, I won’t pretend to conceal that,” he said. Many have previous
combat experience, he said, in Chechnya, Central Asia and a few in Syria.

The SBU reported that Strelkov flew from Russia to Crimea Feb. 26, the day
pro-Moscow paramilitary troops seized the parliament building there.

“Those who brandish weapons now think they have all the power,” one woman
told the Journal, “and they appoint their own mayor.”

What will happen to anyone who stands against you? Elizaveta Antonova, a
reporter from Gazeta.ru, asked Slovyansk “mayor” Ponomaryov April 24. “The
liquidation will occur,” he replied.

“What do you plan to do with people who consider themselves part of
Ukraine?” she asked. “Let them stay,” he said, “but let them keep a low
profile and behave themselves quietly.”

Call for workers’ self-defense
The miner-led Donbass Self Defense Battalion issued an appeal April 28 to
Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov: “We call on you to
involve Ukrainian patriots extensively to resolve this situation, help
establish volunteer formations, coordinate our activities with those of the
National Guard, and immediately give us arms.”

In the eastern cities of Krivii Rih, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk and others
local volunteer units have helped prevent pro-Moscow bands from taking over
government buildings or carrying out other provocations.

“Despite everything there is already a guerrilla struggle,” Volinko told
the Moscow Echo. “While the central government is sitting on the fence
people are resisting.”

KVPU Statement on the situation in the Eastern Ukraine

The foibles of blind workerism: Notice how a call by the Donbass Self
Defense Battalion to, among other things, "coordinate our activities with
those of the National Guard", is represented as a "Call for workers’
self-defense".  Somehow I doubt they will get much military assistance from
the Kiev government, likely what The Militant has in mind here in a expose
of the lousy bourgeois government. But there is a bit of sleight of hand
here with the rhetoric, on the question of autonomous, independent worker's


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