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Ukraine articles 2013-2014 from the pages of The Militant newspaper

Vol. 77/No. 46

December 23, 2013

Ukraine conflict grows as Moscow

vies for influence with US, Europe
(front page)
In one of a number of recent foreign policy setbacks for Washington, the Russian government,
led by President and former KGB secret police leader Vladimir Putin, pressured the Ukraine
government of President Viktor Yanukovich Nov. 21 into reversing its decision to sign a set of
U.S.-backed political and trade agreements with the European Union.
This development follows Moscows success in shoring up the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria
through a September agreement to dismantle his cache of chemical weapons. Putin has also
gained advantage from ongoing leaks about U.S. spying by Edward Snowden, a former
contractor at the U.S. National Security Agency who is now in Russia.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent breakaway of former Soviet
republics in eastern Europe and Asia, Washington and the EU have sought to turn them away
from Russia.
Out of 28 regimes in the former Soviet bloc, 10 joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, including the
Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.
Russia has threatened to cut off the flow of oil and gas through some of these former republics.
Skirmishes with Moscow have broken out in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Georgia.
Putin forces Ukraine into bloc
The biggest prize Washington and European imperialist powers are sparring with Moscow over
is Ukraine. The largest of the former Soviet republics with 46 million people, Ukraine is the
historic breadbasket for Russia and a key source of steel, coal and access to warm-water ports
on the Black Sea.
With Washingtons backing, the EU in 2009 set up what it called the Eastern Partnership
program to court the governments of Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine to integrate into
the EU market, with removal of tariffs on imports and exports.
The deal required the four governments to rewrite their laws to incorporate large chunks of EU
legislation, including increased participation of the private sector. The regimes would have to
risk economic pain until they complete reforms attacks on their working class the
Financial Times said Nov. 29.
Ukraine faces severe economic difficulties. Following the 2008 world financial crisis the
countrys industrial output fell 34 percent. Ukraine needs $18 billion by March 2014 to roll over
government debt and pay Russia for outstanding gas and oil bills.
In 1995, figures in the former government bureaucracy in Ukraine launched a Mass
Privatization Program, seizing big hunks of it for themselves.
Conflicts between different factions exploded around the 2004 presidential election. Yanukovich,

who emerged from the government-run eastern coal industry that had strong ties to Russia,
claimed victory. Those around Viktor Yushchenko, who came out of the state banking apparatus
and oriented toward Washington, protested.
Hundreds of thousands of people mainly from the western part of the country took to the
streets, backing Yushchenko and a break with Russia, the so-called orange revolution.
The rule of the oligarchs around Yushchenko lasted six years. Growing disgust with their
thievery and corruption lay the basis for Yanukovich and his gang to take the election in 2010.
Yanukovich tried to play Moscow and Washington against each other. Last year he announced
he would sign the Eastern Partnership, hoping to parlay it into desperately needed aid and
leverage. But Putins threats to shut off Russian gas and promises of cheaper gas prices and
aid scuttled the deal.
Protests against the sudden shift mushroomed after police attacks on a small group of student
demonstrators. Hundreds of thousands marched against the Yanukovich government in Kiev
Dec. 1.

Vol. 77/No. 47

December 30, 2013

Ukraine crisis grows as Putin, imperialists vie for influence

Moscow tightens grip with carrot and stick
Sustained demonstrations in the Ukraine against Kievs pro-Russia foreign policy are
manifestations of a growing political crisis, marked by factional struggles between rival
privileged social layers based in the eastern and western halves of the country. The catalyst is
the contest for influence between the imperialist rulers of the U.S. and Europe on one hand and
the secret-police regime representing the interests of a layer of rising capitalists in Russia.
Moscow won the last round when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich signed a deal with
Russia Dec. 17 lowering prices for gas imports from $400 to $268.50 per 1,000 cubic meters
and a $15-billion bailout to stave off a government default. Tens of thousands gathered in Kiev,
accusing Yanukovich of selling Ukraine out to the highest bidder.
Protests in Kievs Independence Square began in response to Yanukovichs Nov. 21
announcement that he would not sign agreements to move toward integration into the European
Union trade bloc and instead maintain its close economic and political relationship with Russia.
After a police attack on a small group of students Dec. 1, the anti-government rallies swelled to
tens of thousands and over the weekends to hundreds of thousands. Participants are mainly
young and come from the western part of the country.
Over the past few weeks, thousands have camped in the square, fortifying their positions with
barricades and roadblocks. On Dec. 14, the government organized a one-time counterrally to
support Yanukovich, numbering in the tens of thousands.
The unfolding events in Ukraine have historical roots in the anti-working-class course of the
Soviet Union and Eastern bloc governments following the usurpation of political power by
privileged bureaucratic social layers in the 1920s a course which led to their collapse in the
early 1990s. Since then, the remnants of the ruling bureaucracies in Ukraine and the rest of the
Soviet bloc have moved to reimpose capitalist exploitation on the working class. The social
crisis resulting from this course is today exacerbated by the deepening crisis of capitalism on a
world scale..
With roots in different industries and other sources of capital, some emerging capitalists have
gravitated toward traditional ties with Moscow, while others look to new opportunities in closer
economic integration with western Europe.
Conflicts between different factions of the new capitalist layers exploded around the 2004
presidential election. Yanukovich, who emerged from the government-run eastern coal industry
and had strong ties to Russia, claimed victory. His opponent, Viktor Yushchenko, came out of
the state banking apparatus and oriented towards Washington and capitalist governments in
Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets, backing Yushchenko and a break
with Russia. But his rule ended six years later amid growing disdain for the thievery and
corruption of his government, laying the basis for Yanukovich and his clique to take the

The forces leading the opposition are capitalist parties with seats in Ukraines parliament. One
of the main groups organizing the protests is the Fatherland party of jailed opposition leader
Yulia Tymoshenko, prime minister in Yushchenkos cabinet, representing oligarchs on the outs.
UDAR punch in Ukrainian is led by Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight world boxing
champion who gained his wealth outside of any ties to Ukrainian politics and presents himself
as a savior, a fighter against corruption.
The third party in Independence Square is Svoboda. The party was founded in the early 1990s,
but traces its roots to the Ukrainian partisan army in World War II, which was loosely allied with
Nazi Germany. Party leader Oleg Tyagnibok says Nationalism is love of the land and has
come out against a supposed Jewish-Russian mafia running Ukraine. Members of Svoboda
make up a large part of the muscle defending the square against the cops.
The oligarchs competing allegiances with either side are based on pragmatic interests, not
ideological views on democracy, as is often presented in the big-business press of Europe and
the U.S.
The Eastern Partnership, which Yanukovich said no to Nov. 21, was set up in 2007, aiming to
integrate Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine into the EU with removal of tariffs on imports
and exports.
Yanukovich said he couldnt sign the deal because of steep cuts to government expenditures
and state enterprises demanded by the International Monetary Fund to grant a loan on one
hand and threats of trade sanctions from Moscow on the other. On Dec. 15, the European
Union suspended talks with Ukraine, saying that Yanukovichs words and deeds were
increasingly diverging.
Ukraine, like many other countries in the region, is going through an acute economic and
financial crisis. The government needs $18 billion by March 2014 to roll over debt and pay
Russia for outstanding bills of oil and gas. In addition to the bailout and lower gas prices,
Moscow has also pledged to resume oil supplies to a refinery after a three-year break.
Ukraine relies on Russia for about 60 percent of its gas consumption and the Russian
government has turned the gas off twice in the last seven years. Since July Moscow had
imposed trade restrictions that cost Ukraine $2 billion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the deal is not tied to any conditions and the issue of
Ukraine joining the 2010 customs and trade agreement between Russia, Belarus and
Kazakhstan was not discussed.
Ukraine is Russias traditional breadbasket and a key source of steel, coal and access to warmwater ports on the Black Sea.
The entire eastern industrialized part of the country Yanukovichs traditional support base
has seen very little participation in the demonstrations. The eastern Donbass region accounts
for one-fifth of Ukraines industrial production and export revenues. Russia imports machinery
and manufactured goods. EU imports metals and light industrial products.
The cultural ties are also stronger. Speakers of the Russian language make up 17 percent of

Ukraines population, in Donbass its nearly 40 percent.

Local industries are hugely dependent on Russian supplies and markets. The prospect of
joining the EU is not very popular here. Before joining any international organizations, Ukraine
should first develop our own economy, a housewife in Donetsk told BBC Dec. 3. Look at our
poor pensioners surviving on the breadline. I am against joining the EU.

Vol. 78/No. 4

February 3, 2014

Ukrainians defy new law attacking right to protest

Fight against Russian boot fuels ongoing actions
Some 100,000 people demonstrated in Kiev, Ukraines capital, Jan. 19 to demand repeal of new
laws that curtail the right to protest. Underlying months of anti-government protests are national
aspirations of the Ukrainian people, who with the exception of the early years of the Russian
Revolution have lived for centuries under Russian domination.
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich pushed through the law in an attempt to undercut protests
that began in November when he backed out of a deal to sign a trade and association
agreement with the European Union and instead moved to maintain close economic and
political ties with the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At the time hundreds of thousands took to the streets, demanding that Yanukovich resign. A
central slogan at opposition demonstrations has been, Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the nation!
Ukraine above all!
The leadership of the protests comprises a heterogeneous coalition of bourgeois parties
pressing for integration into the EU. Three of these parties have seats in Parliament: Fatherland,
led by jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoschenko; UDAR punch in Ukrainian led by
Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion who campaigns on an anti-corruption
platform; and ultrarightist Svoboda (Freedom), which scapegoats Jews and has introduced bills
to ban abortions and communist ideology.
The new law passed by Parliament last week bans the unauthorized public installation of tents
or stages and the use of loudspeakers in public and imposes jail terms for participating in mass
disorder and wearing balaclavas or helmets.
Some protesters who fought with police defiantly wore saucepans and colanders on their heads.
Some 1,500 protesters needed medical attention after the clashes.
Centuries under Russian boot
The suppression of national rights in Ukraine goes back centuries. Eastern Ukraine became a
possession of the Romanov Dynasty in 1654 and from that time on the feudal monarchy carried
out a policy of Russification there. While rule over the western part changed hands between
Austria, Poland and Russia over centuries, the tsars banned the Ukrainian language,
suppressed the Ukrainian church and promoted Russian colonization, in the areas under its
By the early 1900s Ukraine made up 20 percent of the population of the Russian empire, which
at the time was comprised in its majority of non-Russian peoples who faced varying degrees of
subjugation. It was a prison house of nations, in the words of V.I. Lenin, central leader of the
Bolshevik Party and 1917 Russian Revolution.
The Ukrainian bourgeoisie remained small and weak. The ruling class and urban middle classes
were drawn from Russia and other nationalities. In the Ukraine and White Russia, wrote
Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky in 1932, the landlord, capitalist, lawyer, journalist,
was a Great Russian, a Pole, a Jew, a foreigner; the rural population was wholly Ukrainian and

White Russian.
At the same time, Ukraine was a key conquest of the empire, serving as a breadbasket for
Russia and major source of its coal and iron production.
Among the central tasks of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution under Lenins leadership was the
emancipation of tens of millions of oppressed peoples from the culturally more advanced
people of the Baltic region to the Muslims of the Caucasus to nomadic tribes of the Far East.
The Bolshevik Partys championing of the right of oppressed nations to self-determination
leading up to the revolution was decisive in uniting, educating and organizing the working class
to take political power, which included forging an alliance with the peasant majority from all
The Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party stated in November 1919 that
Bolsheviks in Ukraine must put into practice the right of the working people to study in the
Ukrainian language and to speak their native language in all Soviet institutions; they must in
every way counteract attempts at Russification that push the Ukrainian language into the
The new policy of Ukrainization helped the Bolsheviks win over the Ukrainian Borotba (struggle)
Party, which merged with the Ukrainian Communist Party in 1920.
Stalin murder machine
But by the early 1920s the degeneration of the Bolshevik Party had begun, personified by the
rise to power of Josef Stalin after the death of Lenin in 1924. Stalin headed a counterrevolution
representing the interests of a growing privileged social layer centered in the increasingly
bureaucratic state apparatus. This reactionary caste reversed the Bolsheviks course and
resurrected the Great Russian chauvinism of the empire, including the re-subjection of
oppressed people, this time under the false banner of communism.
Nowhere did the purges and repression assume such a savage character as they did in the
Ukraine, Trotsky wrote in 1939.
Russification of Ukraine was revived. From 1959 to 1989 the number of Russians rose from
16.9 percent of Ukraines population to 22.1 percent.
When the Stalinist regime in Russia and Eastern Europe finally collapsed under pressure of
growing social contradictions in the early 1990s, the new regime continued to dominate Ukraine,
whose industry remained closely linked to that of Russia. Moscow supplies 60 percent of gas
used in Ukraine and has turned off the spigot twice to force compliance with the Putin
governments demands.
Competing factions of emerging and aspiring capitalists arose following the collapse of the
Soviet Union, drawn largely from remnants of the Soviet bureaucracy. In Ukraine, the factional
contest was partially based on divisions of east and west, Russian and Ukrainian, orientation
toward Moscow and the West. Meanwhile, the national aspirations among Ukrainian working
people against the Russian boot remain strong.
At the end of 2004, in what became known as the Orange Revolution, hundreds of thousands of
people, mostly from the western part of the country took to the streets to oppose the continuing

Russian domination of the country and what they saw as a rigged election that gave the
presidency to Yanukovich, who was then prime minister.
As a result, a new election was called and bourgeois opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko
was elected president, taking office in 2005, but a series of corruption scandals left him with little
support by the end of his term.
Today about four out of every six people in Ukraine are ethnic Ukrainians and speak the
Ukrainian language. One in six are ethnic Russians who speak Russian and roughly one in six
are ethnic Ukrainians who speak Russian. Russian is the main language in much of the eastern
and southern part of the country, areas which are more economically developed.
Yanukovich returned to the presidency after winning elections in 2010. In July 2012 his Party of
Regions successfully passed a language law that encourages making Russian an official
language in some regions.
The Ukrainian Week reported in March last year that the top eight Ukrainian TV stations
broadcast less than a quarter of their prime-time content in Ukrainian. Less than 5 percent of the
songs on the top six radio stations were in Ukrainian.

Vol. 78/No. 5

February 10, 2014

Ukraine protests spread, demand govt step down

Moscow makes threats, seeks continued domination
Protests in Ukraine demanding the government of President Viktor Yanukovich resign and call
immediate elections have spread across the country including into the east and south near
the Russian border, Yanukovichs strongest base of support. The government has started to
offer concessions in an attempt to stem the rising tide.
The motor force behind the protests is the national aspirations of the Ukrainian people, who
with the exception of the early years of the Russian Revolution under the Bolshevik leadership
of V.I. Lenin have lived under Russian domination for centuries.
In the east and south, thousands have joined actions in Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk and Luhansk.
In Zaporizhya, 5,000 laid siege to the regional government administration building.
President Yanukovich has begun offering government posts and political concessions to leaders
of the opposition, who themselves appear to have less and less control over the spreading
protests. Justice Minister Olena Lukash hinted Jan. 26 at declaring a state of emergency, but
there has been no attempt to impose one.
Protests began in November when Yanukovich, faced with threats and substantial economic
incentives from Russian President Vladimir Putin, backed off from signing an association
agreement with the European Union. The biggest actions have been in Kiev, the capital, several
numbering more than 100,000.
On Jan. 16 the government responded to mounting protests by passing new repressive laws
and deploying cops and security forces. At least three people were killed and hundreds injured
in the ensuing clashes in the capital.
Government repression has only strengthened protesters determination to bring down the
regime. For weeks Kievs Independence Square has been occupied, protected by barricades of
burnt-out police buses, tires and other debris.
As of Jan. 26, government buildings have been occupied in 10 of Ukraines 25 regions.
Repressive legislation restricting protests was repealed in a Jan. 28 emergency Parliament
meeting. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his ministers resigned.
The Putin government responded with threats Jan. 28 to renege on promises of $15 billion in
financial aid and gas at preferential prices.
Standard & Poors cut Ukraines credit ratings, calling the regime a distressed civil society with
weakened political institutions.
The eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, where protests have spread over the past week,
represent the industrial heartland of the country. The Donbass region in the southeast, for
example, accounts for one-fifth of Ukraines industrial production and export revenues,
concentrated in mining and steel. These regions near the Russian border have the closest


economic and cultural ties to Russia. Speakers of the Russian language make up 24 percent of
Ukraines population, in some areas in the east its as much as 40 percent.
Serhiy Nihoyan, 21, was one of the protesters killed in the clashes in Kiev. Some 1,000 people
attended his funeral in a village outside the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk Jan. 26. My son died
for Ukraine, his father, an Armenian immigrant, was quoted as saying in the local media.
The national protest movement has drawn other oppressed nationalities into the streets with
their own demands, including the Crimean Tatars of Ukraines southeastern peninsula, among
Among the heterogeneous anti-government demonstrators are several ultrarightist currents
some fielding paramilitary groups that seek to claim the mantle of the national struggle,
including Svoboda, which has members in Parliament; Common Cause; and the Ukrainian
National Assembly.
Russian Revolution advance for oppressed nations
Among the central tasks of the 1917 Russian Revolution under the leadership of Lenin was the
emancipation of oppressed peoples. In November 1919 the Central Committee of the Russian
Communist Party stated that Bolsheviks in Ukraine must put into practice the right of the
working people to study in the Ukrainian language in all Soviet institutions; they must in every
way counteract attempts at Russification that push the Ukrainian language into the background.
This policy was decisive in winning Ukrainian working people to the proletarian revolution and
voluntary association of Soviet socialist republics.
This course was reversed when a growing privileged layer centered in the state bureaucracy
headed by Josef Stalin rose to power after Lenins death in 1924. They resurrected the Great
Russian chauvinism of the tsarist empire and through bloody counterrevolution trampled over
rights and aspirations of oppressed peoples. Russification a policy begun under the empire to
resettle Russians in Ukraine was resurrected.
Events today are a continuation of a deeply rooted struggle against the Russian boot.


Vol. 78/No. 6

February 17, 2014

Moscow, Kiev fail to stem mobilizations in Ukraine

Protesters determined to throw off Russian boot
More than 50,000 people demonstrated in Kiev Feb. 2 in the 10th week of protests demanding
that Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich resign and call new elections. At the heart of the
protests are the national aspirations of the Ukrainian people to throw off the boot of Russian
domination and widespread opposition to government thuggery by Moscow and Kiev.
The protests began in November when Yanukovich, in face of threats by Moscow, backed out of
a deal for Ukraine to join a trade bloc with the European Union. The Russian government of
President Vladimir Putin tried to help Yanukovich defuse the demonstrations by offering $15
billion in loans and lower prices on Russian gas.
Ukraine came under Russian control in the 17th century. In the 1917 Russian Revolution, the
Bolsheviks led by V.I. Lenin led the workers and farmers to power. They backed the right of selfdetermination of peoples subjugated by the czarist empire.
After Lenins death, this revolutionary course was reversed when a growing privileged layer
centered in the state bureaucracy led by Josef Stalin carried out a bloody counterrevolution,
including trampling on the national rights of the people of Ukraine. They brought back with a
vengeance the policies of subjugation and Russification begun by the czars.
Putin maintains Russian boot
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine declared its formal independence, but
still remained a political and economic vassal of Russia. While Ukrainian is the principal
language for two-thirds of the country, Russian predominates in large parts of the eastern and
southern parts, which are also the more industrially developed regions.
Former Soviet bureaucrats used their positions to assemble fortunes for themselves and their
cronies as chunks of the Russian economy were privatized. Former KGB political police
lieutenant-colonel Putin took the presidency on behalf of these new capitalist layers. His regime
is the true heir of the Stalinist police apparatus and murder machine.
Moscow still has close ties to Ukraines police apparatus and the armies of both countries have
held joint exercises since Yanukovich took office.
Yanukovich attempted to quell the demonstrations with police violence and pushed through a
law restricting the right to protest. The move backfired. The protests widened, including to the
southern and eastern parts of the country, which have been Yanukovichs main base of support.
As the protests spread, Yanukovich offered concessions, while his police forces continued to
selectively go after leading activists in the opposition. His prime minister and cabinet resigned
Jan. 28, and Yanukovich invited opposition leaders to join the government. He signed a repeal
of the anti-protest law Jan. 31 and approved an amnesty for jailed protesters, on condition they
evacuate government buildings they have occupied in Kiev and other cities.
The main opposition parties rejected the concessions. They demanded the immediate release
of more than 100 people arrested in recent weeks. At least six people have been killed by cops


and pro-government thugs and many others kidnapped and beaten since the protests began.
The protests in Ukraine have begun to win support from other opponents of Putins autocratic
rule, including in Russia itself. At a Feb. 1 protest of several thousand in Moscow calling for
freeing 20 people arrested at an anti-Putin demonstration in May 2012, some participants
carried Ukrainian flags in solidarity with the protests there.
In addition to suffering under Russian tyranny, Ukraine has been especially hard hit by the
worldwide capitalist economic crisis. Its economy contracted by nearly 15 percent in 2009,
among the biggest declines in the world.
The Ukraine government owes $5.5 billion in loans due in 2014, $3 billion of it to the
International Monetary Fund, but its foreign currency reserves have dropped by about one-third
over the past year. Another $10 billion is due next year.
The IMF, prior to the latest crisis, has been urging Kiev to cut fuel subsidies and other
government spending as a condition for more loans, steps that would fall heavily on working
President Putin has sought to take advantage of Ukraines precarious economic crisis to
strengthen Moscows hand and to press Yanukovich to take a harder line on the protests.
Russian government freezes loans
While $3 billion of the promised loan was previously released, Putin put a hold on the rest Jan.
29. And Moscow has begun implementing stepped-up border checks on rail and truck traffic
from Ukraine and demanded increased duties on food and machinery cargos. According to
Time magazine, Customs agents forced the Ukrainian trucks to stop, unload their cargo and
wait in the freezing cold while the cargo was inspected piece by piece.
This is not the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that Moscow has tightened the
screws to keep Ukraine in line. Numerous times Moscow has threatened to halt supplies of
natural gas and followed through to press Ukraine to pay outstanding bills and kowtow to
Moscows demands.


Vol. 78/No. 6

February 17, 2014

Crimean Tatars join anti-Putin actions in Ukraine

With the exception of the early years of the Russian Revolution, the Crimean Tatars have been
subjected to more than two centuries of Russian domination.
The Bolshevik Party, which brought workers and farmers to power in 1917, backed the national
rights and self-determination of the Crimean Tatars and other oppressed people. Crimea joined
the voluntary Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as an autonomous region in 1921.
But in 1927 as part of a bloody counterrevolution led by Josef Stalin the leaders of the
Crimean Tatar republic were branded bourgeois nationalists and executed. Thousands of the
largely peasant population were deported over the next decade and the land repopulated with
Russians. The Tatars were placed in settlement camps and faced systematic discrimination by
Moscow, which, for example, unilaterally changed their alphabet twice in 1928 from Arabic
script to Latin, and in 1938 to Russian Cyrillic.
During World War II, Stalin had the entire Tatar population rounded up and exiled to Uzbekistan,
the Urals and Siberia, slandering an entire people as German agents. More than 46 percent of
the population perished as a result.
In the 1960s Tatars began returning to the Crimea, where they found themselves landless and
oppressed in their own homeland.
They returned in greater numbers following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But the
Russian regime of President Vladimir Putin which grew out of the old secret-police apparatus
put together under the Stalinist regime before it has continued the same Great Russian
domination over the Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and many other nationalities.


Vol. 78/No. 7

February 24, 2014

Ukraine protests continue, hit censorship in Russia

The protest movement exploded on the scene in November after Yanukovich, under pressure
from Moscow, backed out of a trade deal with the European Union. As part of the arrangement,
Russian President Vladimir Putin promised $15 billion in loans to Ukraine and cheaper natural
gas prices. Now angered by Yanukovichs concessions to protesters in hopes of defusing their
mobilizations, Moscow has frozen further loan payments and insisted that Kiev pay a $2.7 billion
gas debt.
Workers from across the country continue to come to Kiev for daily protests. The actions are
fueled by opposition to Russian domination of the country, the trampling of democratic and
political rights in the Stalinist political police tradition by the government in Kiev, and the impact
of the worsening economic crisis.
We dont want our country to be run by criminals. We dont want our children to be without
work, Valentina, 64, a retired worker told Reuters.
Scores of demonstrators (above) held up umbrellas Feb. 9 as a symbol of solidarity with dozens
of Putin opponents who were arrested in Moscow the day before after they opened up
umbrellas while protesting government censorship of Russias TV Rain.


Vol. 78/No. 8

March 3, 2014

Workers should back fight against Russian domination

Militant Labor Forum discusses protests in Ukraine
NEW YORK Working people in the U.S. and around the world should support the mass
struggle for self-determination that is unfolding in Ukraine today, Tom Fiske, a leader of the
Socialist Workers Party in Minnesota, said at a Feb. 1 Militant Labor Forum here on the recent
anti-government protests in Ukraine.
The demonstrations began in November after Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich, under
pressure from Moscow, declined to sign a trade agreement with the European Union. Russian
President Vladimir Putin put heavy pressure on the Ukraine government a combination of
threats along with the carrot of a $15 billion loan and lower natural gas prices in its quest to
maintain economic and political control over the country, said Fiske.
The protests that erupted were not about disagreements over whether the European Union or
Moscow is offering Ukraine a better trade deal, Fiske said, but the fight of the masses in
Ukraine against Russian domination. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been taking to
the streets against the Yanukovich government and its policies.
Russian domination of most of what today is Ukraine goes back to the 17th century, Fiske said.
The czars banned the Ukrainian language, tried to replace it with Russian, and brought
hundreds of thousands of Russians to live there as a counterweight to Ukrainian national
aspirations. Ukraine was typical of Czarist Russia, he said. As Vladimir Lenin, central leader
of the 1917 Russian Revolution, pointed out, the Russian empire was a prison house of
The socialist revolution that brought working people to power in Russia in 1917 and a few years
later in the Ukraine began to throw open those prison doors. It marked a huge change in
development in the Ukraine. Soviets, revolutionary councils, spread throughout the country,
Fiske said.
The Bolshevik Party and revolutionary government under Lenins leadership carried out a
policy of Ukrainization to undo the Russification of the Czars, encouraging the teaching of the
Ukrainian language and the flowering of Ukrainian national culture, Fiske said. The Bolshevik
policy was for the right of self-determination, for complete freedom for oppressed nations to be
The rise of a privileged caste tied to the government bureaucracy, whose leading
representative became Josef Stalin, reversed these gains, Fiske noted.
While stamping out the national rights of oppressed peoples throughout the former Russian
empire, the Soviet Union government under Stalin reimposed the Russification of the Ukraine.
Communist leaders in Ukraine were assassinated on the orders of Stalin.
The counterrevolutionary course of the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union over decades led to
its collapse in 1991, Fiske said. This opened up political space for working people to organize


and enter politics with their own struggles and demands. At the same time, an aspiring capitalist
class drawn mostly from those with ties to the old government bureaucracy began to
accumulate wealth, largely through theft of state property. New governments adopted a course
of reimposing social relations of capitalist exploitation.
The current authoritarian regime of President Putin is run by the remnants of the Stalinist secret
police apparatus and represents a major obstacle. Putin himself was a long-time KGB operative
who rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and later headed the Federal Security Service, the
KGBs successor.
While Ukraine won its formal independence in the early 90s, its government functions much like
Moscows, using police repression to stifle opposition to its anti-working-class course.
The imperialist governments in the E.U. and the U.S. are no friends of working people in
Ukraine, Fiske said. They want the Ukraine government to stop subsidizing gas and to cut what
they see as too high a social wage, to ensure repayment of loans and maximize profits.
The struggles for independence from Russian domination in Ukraine is part of the fight to open
up political space and prepare the working class for battles to come, Fiske said. It will inspire
other oppressed nationalities to stand up for their rights against Russian domination in countries
of the former Soviet Union, including within Ukraine itself as with the Tatars in the Crimea.


Vol. 78/No. 8

March 3, 2014

Ukraine govt cracks down on

opposition protests
Ukrainian Interior Ministry cops and riot police amass during crackdown on anti-government
protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, Feb. 18. At least 26 were killed and hundreds injured in the most
violent clashes since thousands took to the streets nearly three months ago to protest economic
and political domination of the country by Moscow, backed by Ukrainian President Viktor
Yanukovich. Protesters burned down their encampment in Independence Square and the Trade
Union building they had occupied, creating barricades of fire as they were forced back. The
clashes erupted hours after the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin pledged
another $2 billion in bailout loans and pushed for a crackdown on protesters, while Yanukovich
put off the oppositions demand to restore the 2004 constitution, which would increase the
powers of parliament at the expense of the executive. Yanukovich and Putin announced that the
crackdown was launched to thwart a coup by rightist opposition groups. According to news
reports, some opposition forces had taken over government buildings in several cities, burning
some down and seizing weapons from police and military facilities.
Doug Nelson


Vol. 78/No. 9

March 10, 2014

Popular mobilizations topple Ukrainian govt

Seek political rights, break from Moscows grip
The regime of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has been overthrown following three
months of mass mobilizations and clashes with government forces. The tyrant fled Feb. 22 as
hundreds of thousands took to the streets, made more determined by a bloody crackdown days
People really changed their mind-set because of these events, Roman Dakus, who had
participated in protests against the regime for three months, told the New York Times. Before,
people thought, Nothing really depends on me. But after this situation, they think differently.
They believe in their struggle when they are all together.
At the heart of the struggle against Yanukovych by workers, youth and others are the
aspirations of the Ukrainian people to break free from Russian domination that has lasted for
centuries, with the exception of the early years of the 1917 Russian Revolution under the
leadership of V. I. Lenin. Yanukovych, hated for his corruption and repression of political rights,
bowed at every turn to pressure from Russian President Vladimir Putin to maintain Moscows
economic and political stranglehold on Ukraine.
On advice from Putin, Yanukovych mobilized Berkut riot police Feb. 18 to push thousands of
protesters out of Independence Square, known as the Maidan, as demonstrators took over
some government buildings in Lviv.
The riot squad detachments were able to make it deep into the square before they were halted
by giant barricades set on fire by the retreating demonstrators. Around 28 people were killed in
clashes, including 10 cops.
Riot cops then opened fire on demonstrators Feb. 20, killing more than 60.
The bloodshed emboldened opposition protesters and sapped the will of the regimes forces.
Berkut troops began to break ranks and leave the square.
As events unfolded, many Ukrainian capitalists broke with Yanukovych and urged him to
On Feb. 21 Yanukovych agreed to meet with representatives from Russia, France, Germany
and Poland, along with leaders of the three main bourgeois opposition parties Fatherland, the
ruling party before Yanukovych was elected in 2010; Punch, led by former heavyweight boxing
champion Vitali Klitschko; and Svoboda, a rightist party. Yanukovych agreed to give up some
powers and set a new election for December.
Parliament began passing a series of measures stripping the regime of its power.
When opposition leaders took the agreement to the square, they faced boos and rebellion.
Volodymyr Parasiuk, a captain of one of the defense units that held the square, took the mike
and denounced the opposition for shaking hands with this killer.


We ordinary people are saying this to the politicians who stand behind us: No Yanukovych is
going to be a president for a whole year, Parasiuk, who told the press he is not a member of
any party, said to a roaring crowd. Tomorrow, by 10 oclock, he has to be gone.
Opposition politicians scurried off the stage. Klitschko later returned and tried to apologize.
Asked by a Reuters reporter when the protesters would take their barricades down, Parasiuk
said, If the Maidan disperses, politicians will stop being afraid. We are not going away.
Yanukovych fled under cover of darkness that night. Organized forces from the Maidan
deployed outside the square. They set up guards at the parliament building and other
government offices. They entered and secured the presidential palace.
In Yanukovych compound opposition forces found a private petting zoo, a collection of vintage
automobiles and other treasures, along with files that the ex-president clumsily attempted to
destroy by submerging them in the Dnieper River.
The heads of the countrys paratroop unit, the Berkut, Alfa special operations forces and military
intelligence went before parliament to declare their adherence to the opposition. On Feb. 26
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced the Berkut were disbanded.
Parliament voted to charge Yanukovych with mass murder and bar him from leaving the
country. As of Feb. 26 he is at large.
While Putin has made no public comment, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he
wouldnt recognize any government that comes to power through revolutionary action by
Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks. He also announced previously promised financial
aid was now on hold. Putin put Russian combat troops on high alert Feb. 26 near the Ukraine
Crowds of ethnic Russians mobilized in Crimea, calling for breaking from Ukraine. They scuffled
with Crimean Tatars supporting the overthrow of Yanukovych. Like the Ukrainians, the Tatars,
who are native to Crimea, have faced national oppression under the Russian czarist empire and
later the reactionary government of Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union.
Parliament appointed Oleksandr Turchinov, a deputy from the Fatherland party, as interim
president. Politicians in Kiev are now wrangling over ministries and powers behind closed doors.
Parliament voted to set new presidential elections for May 25.
Sharp economic crisis
Turchinov immediately appealed to the European Union and Washington for immediate and
substantial economic aid. He said Ukraine is sliding into the abyss.
The value of the currency, the hryvnia, has fallen sharply. Ukraines bond rating has been
downgraded so steeply that the country can no longer borrow on international markets.
The Ukraine government will soon be unable to pay public salaries or pensions, the Times
Yuriy Kolobov, the acting finance minister, said Ukraine would need some $35 billion by the end


of next year.
Though the West is claiming victory in the tug of war with Russia over Ukraine, the Feb. 25
Times wrote, neither the European Union nor the United States has done anything more than
make promises.
Lack of enthusiasm among U.S. and European capitalists betray their doubts that drawing
Ukraine from Moscow toward European integration would be worth the expense.
The International Monetary Fund has told Ukrainian officials it wont do anything without a
commitment from the country to undertake painful austerity measures, the Times reported,
tough reforms and a near-certain recession as a result.
Given the blatant corruption and graft by politicians tied to newly minted millionaires since
Ukraines independence, the Times said, aspirants for office are regarded with suspicion by
most Ukrainians, who would rather have a new face in the presidency.
We need new people who can say no to the oligarchs, not just the old faces, Irina Nikanchuk,
25, told the Times while demonstrating outside the parliament building Feb. 24, watching
legislators drive up in BMWs and Mercedes.
Calls for new political faces, the Times said, were peppered with angry demands that the
Parliament raise pensions, reopen closed hospitals and find work for the jobless.


Vol. 78/No. 9

March 10, 2014

Protests in US, Canada back Ukraine struggle

Thousands took part in demonstrations Feb. 23 in Toronto, New York, Chicago and other cities
in North America in support of the overturn of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and to
commemorate the deaths of those who fought for independence there. Chants in English and
Ukrainian included Glory to the Ukraine, Glory to the martyrs and Putin, hands off Ukraine.
I am here to support the struggle for democracy, civil rights and political freedom in my
country, Iryna Stakhyra, who works in a medical office in Hackensack, N.J., told the Militant at
the New York rally of more than 400 across from the Ukraine Consulate. We need to be free
from Russian interference. Supporters of the socialist newsweekly sold 71 copies of the paper
and three subscriptions.
Vasyl Pryshliak, a 29-year-old electrician who came to Chicago two years ago, told the Militant
he joined the action of more than 200 there for the memory of those who died for Ukraine
independence and in the fight against government oppression.
Hundreds rallied in Torontos Queens Park across from the Ontario provincial legislative


Vol. 78/No. 11

March 24, 2014

Russian troops out! Defend Ukraine sovereignty!

Working people the world over should stand with fellow workers and farmers of Ukraine in
demanding Russian troops out now! Defend the sovereignty of independent Ukraine!
The Russian government of President Vladimir Putin is raising the specter of war. This is a
threat to workers and farmers of Ukraine Ukrainian, Russian, Tatar, Jews, etc. as well as
to working people in Russia, the rest of the former Soviet republics, and beyond.
The Ukrainian toilers overthrew Moscows puppet government of Viktor Yanukovych, opening
up space to debate, discuss and organize. Supporting their victory is part of advancing labors
fight around the world against the bosses assaults on our living standards, rights and very
The Putin governments annexationist maneuvers are being carried out under false claims of
defending self-determination in Crimea and protecting ethnic Russians. Moscow is organizing
a fake plebiscite at gunpoint as its state media spews a fountain of lies, which dries up in the
face of every credible on-the-scene report. Russian speakers are not fleeing to the motherland.
There is not a significant movement in Crimea in favor of joining Russia or becoming an
independent vassal of Moscow. Russian churches and Jewish synagogues in Ukraine are not
under assault.
The propertied rulers of both Russia and Ukraine as well as in Western Europe and America
are driven by fear of the mobilization of working people. And it has found an echo in the left,
including among many who claim to stand for socialism and the interests of the working class.
As self-serving justification for turning their back on the mobilizations of hundreds of thousands
of working people in Ukraine, much of the radical left has clung to a fantastic tale of conspiracy:
Fascist forces have taken over in Ukraine, swept to power by a secret operation engineered
from Washington. The presumption is that U.S. imperialism is the one source of all problems
and the enemy of my enemy is automatically my friend.
Further confusion comes wrapped in notions that the Russian regime is a progressive force in
the world because it checks the influence of U.S. imperialism. Moscow is a rival of Washington.
But both are enemies of working people. And in Ukraine, its Russian troops that are on the
Others claim there are residual gains of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia today. There
are not. And if there were, would that not be also true of Ukraine? This is a case of a stronger
capitalist nation, Russia, attacking a weaker capitalist nation, Ukraine. It is an example of the
Great Russian chauvinism that defined the czarist empires prison house of nations and that
was revived as part of the bloody counterrevolution led by Joseph Stalin in the 1920s.
This is why the truth about the early years of the Bolshevik government under the leadership of
Vladimir Lenin following the 1917 Russian Revolution is so important. It is the only time in which
the rights and aspirations of nations and peoples oppressed under the Russian empire were


respected and championed. It is in that same Leninist tradition that the sovereignty of Ukraine
must be defended today.
Hidden behind the slanders that demonstrators in Ukraine are fascists is a contemptuous view
of workers and farmers, of their backwardness, their supposed ignorance and lack of
sophistication. This begins with disdain toward workers at home, who naturally sympathize
when they see people like them fighting against tyranny.
Working people should oppose Washingtons denial of visas to Russian officials, imperialist
threats of sanctions against Russia or any U.S. intervention in the affairs of Ukraine, military or
Workers in the U.S. and Western Europe should demand imperialist governments provide
unconditional economic aid, not more loans, and cancel all debts to Ukraine on the brink of
economic collapse.
And what if Ukraine joins the European Union trade alliance? We would join struggles by
Ukrainian toilers against inevitable mass layoffs and other hardships the capitalist rulers of
Europe would impose. And we would welcome the deeper integration of Ukrainian workers with
the rest of their class in Europe.
The working class in the former Soviet republics was not defeated with the fall of the Soviet
Union. The goal of the Russian regime in a war against Ukraine would be to deal major blows to
the morale, confidence and combativeness of the working class. This is what the Stalinist
bureaucracy was never able to accomplish, to the chagrin of the capitalist rulers in Europe and
Russian troops out! Defend Ukraine sovereignty! Oppose Moscows war moves!


Vol. 78/No. 11

March 24, 2014

Lenin led political battle for

liberation of oppressed nations
(Books of the Month column)
In Democracy and Revolution, author George Novack (1905-1992), a longtime leader of the
Socialist Workers Party, traces the evolution of democracy from ancient Greece to its decline
under modern capitalism. The chapter Socialism and Bureaucracy recounts the social
advances of workers and peasants under the leadership of V.I. Lenin and the Bolshevik Party in
the early years of the 1917 Russian Revolution, as well as the historical circumstances that
enabled a privileged bureaucratic caste led by Joseph Stalin to organize a bloody
counterrevolution and reverse that course. The excerpt reprinted here focuses on the fight
advanced by Lenin for self-determination and for national liberation of peoples oppressed under
the czarist empire. Copyright 1971 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.
It is notorious that this program for a democratic workers state, envisaged by the founders of
Marxism and attempted after 1917 by the Bolsheviks led by Lenin and Trotsky, could not be
realized under the given historical circumstances. The democratic initiatives and institutions of
the Russian Revolution of the early years of the Soviet republic were extinguished after Lenins
death and the suppression of the Communist Left Opposition. Soviet, party and trade-union
democracy, already curtailed by the imperatives of civil war and the first years of economic
reconstruction, was totally extirpated by the Stalinist machine.
The Russian people had to go through three years of imperialist bloodletting, two revolutions in
one year and three years of civil war. After having given so much, they sank back in a collective
exhaustion of their energies. The decimation of the revolutionary cadres, the weariness of the
Soviet masses, the overwhelming preponderance of the peasantry over a small, fragmented
proletariat involved in a shattered industry, led to a loss of faith in immediate relief from outside
and in the original perspectives of international revolution.
These objective conditions facilitated the bureaucratization of the Soviet state apparatus and the
gradual conservatizing of the Communist cadres at its head. The decline and destruction of
Soviet and party democracy, the crushing of the Leninist wing of the party and the replacement
of socialist internationalism by nationalist considerations and conceptions, formulated in the
theory of building socialism in a single country, further promoted the arbitrary rule of a new
aristocracy of functionaries.
Stalins tyranny was the outgrowth of special economic as well as historical conditions. Soviet
democracy was laid low by the meager productivity of Russian industry and agriculture and the
terrible poverty and misery it engendered. It has been pointed out that, even under capitalism, a
flourishing democracy has largely been the privilege of wealthy nations and that, even where
poor countries have set up democratic institutions, as in the colonial and semicolonial world,
they are not very sturdy and stable.
The attitude of the workers state toward weak, poor, oppressed and underdeveloped
nationalities has turned out to be no less important for the world socialist revolution than it was
for the bourgeois state in its democratic forms. There are two main sides to this problem. The


first concerns national minorities situated within the boundaries of the given state.
In view of the deprivations and indignities they have suffered from chauvinist governing powers
in the past and their apprehensions that the new regime may perpetuate such mistreatment,
these sections of the population are entitled to special consideration and concessions.
Discrimination or abuse against any grouping or person because of their ethnic origin, race or
color will be a serious crime in a workers state. Such acts will meet with especially severe
penalties if committed by official sources or government jobholders. One of the functions of
education and culture in the new society will be the creation of a public opinion designed to
forestall and quarantine such manifestations.
The second aspect involves the relations between independent workers states. Socialist policy
and morality demands more than formal acknowledgment of respect for the rights and integrity
of all nations and peoples. Even capitalist states profess to abide by that rule of equality,
however much they disregard it in actuality.
A big, rich and powerful workers state has special obligations. It must lean over backwards in
all dealings with small nations and weaker peoples to give them complete assurance that it is
not misusing its superiority and authority to their detriment. The Stalinized Soviet Union has had
an abominable record in both respects. Moscows maltreatment of its own national minorities,
such as the Volga Germans, the Crimean Tartars and the Jews, its vilification of the Yugoslavs
after the Stalin-Tito split, its vassalization and attempted Russification of the East European
peoples, the withdrawal of economic aid from the Peoples Republic of China, the suppression
of the Hungarians in 1956 and the invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 have
been criminal transgressions of the spirit of Leninist policy on the national question. The
haughty attitudes and infamous actions of the Soviet rulers in this domain befit oriental
potentates rather than socialists or democrats.
The right of a people to self-determination is hollow unless it can separate from its oppressor
and form its own sovereign state. Though this democratic right was guaranteed by the
Bolsheviks and is still acknowledged in the Soviet constitution, the slightest hint of it from any
abused nationality under the Kremlins jurisdiction is treated as treason. Revolutionary Marxists
support the demand of any nationality to be free and independent of both the Soviet
bureaucracy and imperialism.


Vol. 78/No. 12

March 31, 2014

Working people at center of fight for Ukraine sovereignty

Militants on-the-scene report from Kiev
KIEV, Ukraine We are among the workers who have come to Maidan recently, said Sasha
Antoliavych, a former miner from the Donetsk region bordering Russia in eastern Ukraine March
17, the day after Moscow stepped up its moves to annex the Crimea following a sham
referendum. We plan to stay here to help organize to defend our country from Russia.
Antoliavych is one of thousands from across Ukraine who remain encamped in the Maidan
Independence Square after overthrowing the pro-Moscow government of President Victor
While we watch Russia, Antoliavych said, we also watch the politicians of the new
government. Most of them are not much different from those who fled.
A team of Militant correspondents talked with dozens of workers and others at various tents set
up in the Maidan, many of which are organized by region.
Alexei, who is staying in the tent of protesters from Sevastopol, Crimea, said that some
opponents of the Russian occupation there have fled the region.
Alexei, who didnt give his last name for fear of reprisals against others in Crimea, showed a
copy of an affidavit from a Crimean resident named Igor who said he was interrogated,
threatened and forced to leave his home by self-described members of the Russian Bloc
because of his support for the Maidan protests.
The fight against Yanukovych united people from different regions it was a real national
battle for our country, said Mykola Bondar, who has been at the Maidan since November, when
they began organizing self-defense units to protect the few hundred mostly students who were
protesting moves by the Yanukovych government to keep Ukraine under Russian domination.
Over the next three months demonstrations grew and spread as more than 1 million workers,
farmers and others joined mobilizations in Kiev and across the country.
The protests reached a climax Feb. 18-20, when Yanukovych ordered the Berkut riot police to
drive protesters out of the Madian, killing more than 100. The attack failed, the riot police melted
away and Yanukovych fled to Russia Feb. 22. A veteran of the Soviet military campaign during
the 1979-89 war in Afghanistan, Bondar helped train the self-defense units. We had problems
with provocations from some groups, said Bondar. Svoboda, for example, tore down the Lenin
statue in the square to get publicity for their party.
Svoboda, a rightist party with a military wing and a reputation for strong-arm tactics, attempted
other provocations, Bondar said, including driving cars at police lines. Smashing statues of
Lenin has given a handle to Moscows media campaign to smear demonstrators as fascists
and created obstacles to uniting workers from west to east against Russian domination.
The Trade Unions House was the military headquarters, the location of our food stocks and the


hospital on the square, Bondar said. We would put the word out about what supplies we
needed and people from everywhere brought them. The Berkut set fire to the building in the
midst of the February battles.
Union members join Maidan protests
Vasyl Andreyev, chair of the Ukraine Building Workers Union, said in a Feb. 25 interview
published on the Building and Wood Workers International website that although his union did
not officially back the movement to oust Yanukovych, many members decided to go to the
The new politicians keep trying to get us to shut down the Maidan, Bondar said.
We have to keep this going, added Konstantyn Samoylenko. There are very few politicians
who are not touched by the oligarchs, the millionaires. Those who own the banks think the
economic crisis in Ukraine has to be covered by the workers and the poor people.
Ukraine has been hard hit by the worldwide capitalist economic crisis. Acting President
Oleksandr Tyrchynov says that the country is heading into the abyss, with more than $13
billion in loan payments, mostly to European banks, due this year.
Antoliavych said Black Lung disease is prevalent among miners in the Donetz region, whose
working and living conditions have gotten worse in recent decades. While the independent
miners union was part of the fight for Ukrainian independence in the 1980s and 90s, before the
fall of the Soviet Union, he said, union officials today do little to protect miners.
The only source of news in the eastern mining areas is Russian television, which is full of lies
about Maidan, Antoliavych said. Coal bosses tried to prevent miners from joining the Kiev
protests by offering overtime bonuses to stay and work.
I hope that these events and the Maidan will help change the consciousness of the workers,
get them more involved, said Anya Tchaikovska, who used to work in a bus and construction
equipment depot and has been volunteering for the last four months to help coordinate food
supplies. If workers demands are not met, there will have to be another Maidan, she said.


Vol. 78/No. 12

March 31, 2014

Moscow rally protests Russian occupation of Crimea

Tens of thousands marched through Moscow March 15 to protest the Russian military
occupation of Crimea and threats against Ukraine. Protesters held up banners that said, For
your freedom and ours.
This is to show Ukrainian citizens our solidarity, so they will see there is another Russia, Maria
Lobanova told the Washington Post.
Demonstrators waved Ukrainian and Russian flags and chanted, Putin is afraid of the Maidan
and Putin, go away.
Dont believe it when they say that we are few, that we are weak, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a
member of Pussy Riot, told the crowd. Together we will change this country.
A smaller demonstration backing the Russian invasion took place the same day, by men
wearing identical red jackets, marching military style.
Its not just that Crimea should join Russia we should restore the whole Soviet Union, and I
think this is what Putin wants, Sergei Prokopenko told the New York Times.


Vol. 78/No. 12

March 31, 2014

Moscow moves to seize Crimea after sham vote

Moscow moved rapidly to annex the Crimean Peninsula after pushing through a rigged
referendum there March 16. Russian soldiers and local thugs seized the headquarters of the
Ukrainian Navy in Sevastopol and arrested its commander March 19.
Two days after the referendum Russian soldiers in ski masks took over a car dealership that
belongs to a Ukrainian businessman who backs the government in Kiev.
Crimea has officially been part of Ukraine for six decades. Its geography, economy, and
everyday life remains intertwined with Ukraine. The only way to reach Crimea from Russia is by
ferry boat or plane the only roads are from Ukraine. The Crimean Peninsula gets 85 percent
of its water and 82 percent of its electricity from the mainland.
Russian troops invaded Crimea a little more than two weeks ago, occupying its airports,
surrounding Ukrainian military bases and imposing a new pro-Moscow prime minister on the
province. The Russian government falsely claimed ethnic Russians there were in danger after
the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych by hundreds of thousands, who it
slandered as nationalists, fascists, anti-Semites and Russophobes.
About 12 percent of the population of Crimea are Tatars, 25 percent Ukrainians and 58 percent
ethnic Russians. First the czars, then Joseph Stalin after he reversed the policy of the
Bolsheviks under the leadership of V.I. Lenin to advance the national rights of Ukrainians and
other oppressed people encouraged Russians to move there to maintain Russian domination
of the region.
During World War II, Stalin exiled the entire Tatar population of Crimea. Nearly half of them died
during the journey. After Stalins death they began returning to Crimea and in even greater
numbers after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Today many live in neighborhoods
without cooking gas, running water or paved roads.
Successive governments in Kiev have turned a deaf ear to Tatar demands for recognition of
their rights, sufficient aid to compensate them for their forced deportation and a greater voice in
the Crimean parliament.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to take advantage of anti-Tatar discrimination by
offering to give their language official status in a Russian Crimea and guarantee them 20
percent of posts in government bodies, according to the Ukrainian Week.
But Tatar organizations held roadside demonstrations urging Crimeans to boycott the fraudulent
vote, holding signs that said, Crimea is Ukraine. Tatars also organized neighborhood defense
groups to prevent provocations by pro-Moscow thugs.
Supporters of Russian domination hung posters around Sevastopol saying that joining Russia
would bring higher wages and pensions, cheaper gas and more jobs. At the same time,
armored personnel carriers and military convoys rumbled down streets across the region.


There were only two choices on the ballot: for immediate separation from Ukraine and
integration into Russia; or for greater autonomy from Ukraine and possible integration into
Russia at a later time. The ballot boxes were made of clear plastic, making it easy to see how
each person voted.
Moscows show of military force shored up its support among a layer of ethnic Russians who
long for a return to open Russian domination.
I am Russian and my husband is Tatar. We never had a single problem with anyone, Tatiana
Zhritov, whose husband is a car mechanic, told the Washington Post. Now Russia is trying to
divide us, and it is a terrible crime.
Crimean officials announced that 96.77 percent of ballots backed joining the Russian Federation
and claimed there was a 79 percent voter turnout.
Washington and its imperialist allies in the European Union responded by imposing sanctions
on a few dozen Russian officials, mostly visa restrictions and asset freezes.
Earlier in the month the EU announced it would provide $15 billion in loans to Ukraine, which is
in a deep economic crisis. Washington chimed in with $1 billion in loan guarantees. According to
Reuters, the so-called aid package is contingent on Ukraine agreeing to some harsh economic


Vol. 78/No. 12

March 31, 2014

Contribute to Militant reporting team in Ukraine

As Moscow moves with troops to rip Crimea from Ukraine and maintain Russian domination of
the country, a team of worker-correspondents from the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom
are on the scene to report on the conditions of life and range of views among workers, farmers,
youth and others and to talk with them about workers struggles and efforts to build
proletarian parties in the countries they are from. They will be traveling to different parts of the
Ukraine, speaking to people of various national backgrounds and solidarizing with the fight to
defend Ukrainian sovereignty. Their first eyewitness report appears in this issue.
Help defray the substantial costs of this unique coverage. Send a check or money order to: The
Militant, 306 W. 37th St., 13th floor, New York, NY 10018.


Vol. 78/No. 13

April 7, 2014

(lead article)
Miners in Ukraine discuss fight for sovereignty, rights
Coverage from coal region near Polish border
SOKAL, Ukraine While the trade unions themselves didnt play a central role in the Maidan,
workers and unionists certainly did, former miner Yuriy Demkiv told the Militant March 23. The
Maidan, Kievs Independence Square, was the scene of bloody street battles with riot police
leading up to the fall of the pro-Moscow government of President Viktor Yanukovych.
Militant worker-correspondents spoke with a number of miners and other working people during
a couple days spent in and around this town of roughly 20,000 on the western border with
Poland. The area is host to seven coal mines; a coal processing plant with 900 workers, the
majority women; and a garment plant with a workforce of 800 that makes socks.
What we have accomplished is an important victory for the entire nation, Demkiv said. But we
dont trust the new government, or any of the political parties. We support the people staying in
Maidan. Those in the Ministry of Energy and the Coal Industry today are the same people who
served under Yanukovych.
But we dont just need to change the faces, he said. We need to change the social and
political policies, to get rid of the regime of bribery. We say freedom or death.
As we talked in Demkivs apartment, the television was tuned to continual coverage of the
Russian governments seizure of Crimea and Moscows provocations in the east and south of
the country, sections with the largest concentration of coal and steel production.
Having understood that the people cannot be defeated even by force, Viktor Yanukovych and
his associates fled, leaving the country devastated, Mikhailo Volynets, chairman of the
Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, said in a March 11 statement on behalf of the
nationwide Confederation of Free Trade Unions. Ukraine was subjected to aggressive
interventions by the Russian Federation.
Unemployment and decreasing living standards have worsened, said Volynets, who opposes
proposals from Washington and European Union governments for policies of austerity.
This targeting of average people is unacceptable and counterproductive, he said, all the more
so in Ukraine, where wages, pensions and other social payments are the lowest in Europe. He
called on unionists worldwide to support Ukrainian workers in their struggle for peace for our
country, its independence, integrity and the inviolability of its borders and for a decent level of
life for Ukrainian workers.
The economic and social crisis workers and farmers in Ukraine face has spurred their struggle
to throw off Russian domination and open political space for discussion, debate and action.
In its coverage of a public protest by railroad workers in November, the confederation reported
that there had been more than 331 workers actions from January through October 2013. In 43
percent of them workers were demanding unpaid wages from bosses or the government.


We have not been paid since November, said Olga Shkoropad at the unions office in the
Public Stakeholder Coal Company of Lviv, the coal enrichment plant here, where some 520
women make up the majority of the workforce. The company is 37 percent state-owned with the
rest divided among individual capitalists.
The plant supplies three power plants, Shkoropad said. After these were privatized in 2012, they
began to import processed coal from eastern Ukraine, cutting back production in the west.
Workers believe Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine, who is reported to control half of
the countrys coal, steel, iron ore and thermoelectricity industries, is among the plants
controlling owners, Shkoropad said. Ukraines capitalist class is drawn from those who were
well-positioned through ties to the government bureaucracy to claim ownership of state-owned
industry and banking after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The Ukrainian Prosecutor Generals office reported March 22 that a search of an apartment
owned by Eduard Stavytsky, former Minister of Energy and Coal Mines who fled with the fall of
Yanukovych, contained $4.8 million in U.S. cash, 110 pounds of gold bars and diamond, gold
and platinum jewelry.
Workers fight for back pay
The union has been organizing actions near the coal enrichment plant and in Kiev demanding
back pay, Shkoropad said. The plant produces 11 rail coaches of processed coal a day, down
from 37 a couple years ago.
We are also demanding the government keep the coal mines and processing plants open so
that we can keep our jobs, she said.
The potholed-filled road to the plant outside the city reflected the decay of infrastructure that
runs alongside the road to capitalism here. When I first saw people driving I thought they were
drunk, said Volodia, a cab driver. Now I know what they were doing.
The mine equipment we have is decades behind modern technology, said Yura Sheremeta, a
32-year-old miner who builds tunnels at the Chervonograd No. 2 coal mine. Some 1,500 work at
the mine, 800 underground.
We have low seams of coal, with miners on their hands and knees, he said. We put
explosives into the coal face, set them off, and go in with shovels to fill up the trams and get the
coal out. Nothing has changed under either of the last two regimes. Sheremeta was referring to
the rule of Yanukovych and his rival, former President Yulia Tymoshenko, who was jailed on
charges of corruption. Representatives of Tymoshenkos Fatherland party dominate the interim
government now in power.
There is no safety protection in the mine, Sheremeta said. Workers sign off on safety forms
everyday, but it means nothing. One of my co-workers was killed in 2006, crushed to death by a
shuttle coach.
The union officials did little in response, he said. Workers rely on themselves for safety, not
on the union or mine managers.
Profit drive kills miners


One hundred sixty-one coal miners in Ukraine were killed on the job in 2011, according to
official reports, roughly two workers for every million tons produced. This is among the highest
mining fatality rates in the world.
In July 2011, 28 miners were killed in an underground explosion at the Suchodilska-Shidna
mine in the Luhansk region, southeast of Kiev. The law says that the trade union representing
miners who are killed must be involved in the official investigation. Seven of the dead miners
were members of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, but none of the unions
representatives were allowed to take part.
Seven coal miners were killed last month in an underground methane explosion at the
Pivnichna mine near Donetsk in the east, BBC reported.
There were 300 mines in Ukraine in Soviet days, Volynets said March 20 in the unions Kiev
office. Today there are 143. Forty-three of those are private, and they are the richest mines
with the biggest reserves. The others are the most dangerous with more deaths.
Our independent union was born out of big battles in 1989 and 90, breaking from the old
Soviet official union, fighting for pay they wouldnt give us and higher wages, he said. The
union led a mass march of miners from every mining area in the country.
One of the main problems we face today, Volynets said, is the spread of illegal mines in the
These mines, known as kopanki, reportedly produce some 10 percent of the countrys coal
output. Kopanki miners work under dangerous conditions and receive no government benefits.
The illegal mines were born after the fall of the Soviet Union, when many state-owned mines
and other industries closed and tens of thousands were thrown out of work. Today they are a
big business. The coal, greased by corruption, flows onto the state coal market and is counted
as production from state mines.
My soul is with the people in the Maidan, said Sheremeta. I was deeply upset when I saw
Russia take over Crimea without any fight. I was inspired by some of the soldiers who showed
spirit and resistance. And I admire the Tatars who spoke out and protested against the invasion.
We are a sovereign nation, he said. We have spirit and we will continue to fight. If we dont
succeed this time, we will have another Maidan.
And I think there will be one in Russia too.

Vol. 78/No. 13

April 7, 2014

Moscow troops grab Crimea, US sanctions target workers

(front page)


KIEV, Ukraine Russian troops took over the last of 189 Ukrainian military bases in Crimea
March 23 as part of their seizure of the peninsula and have taken up threatening positions along
Ukraines eastern border.
Meanwhile, the imperialist powers of America and Europe imposed financial sanctions, for
which working people of Russia will bear the brunt. And Washington beefed up joint military
maneuvers in the Black Sea with a number of former Soviet republics and other governments in
central and eastern Europe.
Col. Yuli Mamchur, former head of the last Ukrainian base in Crimea, had become a symbol of
resistance to the Russian annexation for his refusal to evacuate the air force barracks. He was
whisked into Russian custody after he and the troops under his command finally surrendered
the Belbek base in face of overwhelming force.
A uniform is not for sale. You cannot buy it. You cannot sell it, Ukrainian Capt. Aleksandr
Lantukh told reporters outside the base in Belbek a day after it was taken by Moscow, reported
the Washington Post. Most of the troops on the base remained loyal to Ukraine.
But Ukraines interim Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh, who resigned after Moscow snatched
Crimea, said only about one-quarter of Ukrainian troops stationed throughout Crimea are
expected to leave the peninsula and remain under Ukrainian command, with most of the rest
joining the Russian military, reported McClatchy news service.
About 12 percent of the population in Crimea is Tatar, an oppressed nationality that has lived
there for centuries. Nearly 30 percent of Crimean Tatars voted in favor of reunification with
Russia, Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev of the new pro-Moscow Crimean
government announced March 18, two days after a rigged referendum there. Temirgaliyev also
said Crimean Tatars will have to vacate part of their lands.
Considering that only 0.54 percent of Tatars actually voted; its disingenuous to say that 30
percent supported Russia, a reader commented online in response to Temirgaliyevs
statements as reported in the Moscow Times.
My family is in Crimea and I am very concerned, Lenara Smedlyaeva, who works at a Tatar
restaurant near the Maidan here, told the Militant.
I try to visit my family every three months, but I dont know if that is possible now, said
Smedlyaeva, who works with Crimea SOS, an organization of Crimeans in Kiev. Her
grandmother was deported by the Russians during World War II, she said, when the Soviet
government of Premier Joseph Stalin forcefully expelled the entire Tatar population from
Crimea; nearly half did not survive the exodus.
My grandmother was deported on May 18, 1944, to Perm in the Urals, Smedlyaeva said. She
spent the next 45 years in the south of Russia working in the forests as a laborer, a very hard
job. Our family was so glad when she returned to the Crimea in 1989.
Top NATO commander Philip Breedlove described Russian military forces conducting
maneuvers along Ukraines eastern border March 23 as very, very sizable and very, very
ready, reported Reuters. Moscow has its eyes not only on eastern Ukraine, but Transdniestria,


which declared independence from Moldova in 1990 and lies some 300 miles from Ukraines
eastern border. The speaker of parliament there has called for the province to be incorporated
into Russia.
Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called for decentralization of power in
eastern Ukraine in an effort to blunt Russian designs and provocations there.
Donetsk Mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko is among many political figures in the east who
support Yatsenyuks calls for greater regional powers while opposing any Moscow-engineered
referendums for closer ties with Russia.
Washington has imposed sanctions on 20 individuals and a major bank in Russia. Billions of
dollars were wiped off the value of companies linked to some of Russias wealthiest oligarchs
yesterday as the effect of U.S. sanctions on President Vladimir Putins inner circle shook the
countrys financial sector, reported the Financial Times.
Russian Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Belyakov told a local business conference in Moscow
March 24 that the economic situation shows clear signs of a crisis. The ruble is down 11
percent against the dollar this year.
Washington reinforced joint naval and air exercises in the Black Sea, adding at least a dozen F16 fighters jets. The March 21-April 4 maneuvers, which had been planned since 2013, involve
the militaries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia,
Ukraine, as well as Turkey, Belgium and NATO representatives.
Moscow has stepped up economic pressure on Ukraine, sealing the border to most trucks,
raising prices of natural gas pumped in from Russia and shutting down a chocolate factory in
southern Russia owned by Ukrainian capitalist Petro Poroshenko, who announced plans to run
for president of Ukraine in the May 25 elections.
The government of Ukraine has requested $15 billion in loans from the International Monetary
Fund to maintain bond payments and stave off financial collapse. IMF officials are demanding
Kiev slash 20 percent from its budget, cut energy subsidies, devalue its currency and take steps
to squeeze higher productivity from the working class as conditions for the loan package.


Vol. 78/No. 14

April 14, 2014

(lead article)
Ukraine workers resist pressure to demobilize
IMF offers more debt, Moscow hikes gas price
The Maidan Kievs Independence Square remains a center of resistance for working
people fighting for democratic and political rights in Ukraine. Above, March 30 demonstration.
KIEV, Ukraine Thousands assembled in Independence Square here March 30 to mark the
40th day since the killing of the heavenly hundred, a reference to the demonstrators murdered
by Berkut riot police under the government of President Viktor Yanukovych days before it was
overthrown in a popular rebellion.
What motivated me to come to Maidan recently was the police violence against the people. I
also came to stop the attacks from Russia and stand with Ukraine, said Sergey Nikolayevich, a
mason and former brick factory worker from Sumy in northeastern Ukraine. Ive been working,
but unemployment in my town is around 40 percent.
Our main worry is the attempt by the government to dissolve Maidan, said Oleksei Kuznitsov,
a former truck driver, who came from Donetsk last December. But the Maidan remains popular
and many continue to bring us potatoes, meat, bread, everything we need, he said. While
talking to Kuznitsov, a water tank truck was filling gallon jugs for camped protesters.
The demobilization of working people is one thing the capitalist rulers of Ukraine and Russia, as
well as the U.S. and its imperialist allies, would all like to see.
The U.S. and Russia have differences of opinion about the events that led to this crisis, U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a press conference following a March 30 meeting in Paris
with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. But the two sides agreed, Kerry said, to work
with the Ukrainian government to assure the following priorities: the rights of national
minorities; language rights; demobilization and disarmament of irregular forces and
provocateurs; an inclusive constitutional reform process; and free and fair elections monitored
by the international community.
Moscow has deployed some 40,000 military troops and has been establishing supply lines
along Ukraines eastern and southern borders, including in Transnistria, a pro-Russia
breakaway region of Moldova southwest of Ukraine. Another 25,000 Russian troops occupy
Crimea to the south.
In a March 15 speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Moscows annexation of
Crimea on the basis that up until six decades ago the peninsula had been part of Russia, a
possession of the czarist Russian empire before 1917. And he made similar claims to other
regions in Ukraine. After the [1917] revolution, the Bolsheviks may God judge them, added
large sections of the historical South of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine, Putin said.
Under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik Party brought to power in 1917 fought to
reverse centuries of Great Russian chauvinism. But the Soviet Unions policy of backing the


rights and national aspirations of the many peoples oppressed under the czarist empire was
reversed as part of a counterrevolution led by Joseph Stalin that began in the 1920s.
The Ukrainian military today reduced to some 140,000 troops, only 6,000 of whom are
considered ready for duty has been seeking money from big Ukrainian capitalists and
organizing collections from Ukrainian working people.
And the government has sought to end the Maidan protest by recruiting young demonstrators to
the National Guard. We have to disarm them, because they simply cannot have arms, said
Ukraines new defense chief and First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema.
Meanwhile, working people are organizing their own defense guards. In a recent trip to the
eastern city of Krivii Rig, union members showed a flyer calling on all who are not indifferent to
the fate of their families and our country to organize voluntary local peoples self-defense
We organized self-defense units here, starting with members of the miners union, said
Samoilov Juriy Petrovych, the local leader of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine
at the big iron ore mine in Krivii Rig, March 26. We were facing attacks from what they call
Tatushka, which are groups of thugs recruited from among unemployed, lumpen elements. Here
they were organized by the guard detachments of the mine owners.
Now were building on this to organize to meet whatever challenges to come from the cops,
the thugs or Russian forces.
Effective April 1, the Russian government raised by 80 percent the price of natural gas imports
into Ukraine. Russias union of milk producers is asking for a ban on Ukrainian dairy products,
and Russian steel companies are pressing for protectionist measures against Ukrainian ore.
Imperialist aid increases debt
The International Monetary Fund announced in Kiev March 27 an agreement to loan up to $18
billion to the Ukrainian government over two years. The deal, subject to approval by the IMF
board, is designed to prevent Kiev from defaulting on interest payments on its foreign debt. By
the end of 2003, the countrys foreign debt had climbed to more than $17 billion. By 2012 it had
soared to $135 billion.
Ukrainian Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told Ukraines parliament that gross
domestic product could drop 10 percent this year unless urgent steps were taken, reported the
New York Times. Steps include freezing the minimum wage and raising gas prices by more than
50 percent by May 1, followed by further increases under a fixed timetable through 2018.
Since the Russian occupation of Crimea, thousands of Tatars have left the peninsula.
Temporary shelters have been organized in several Ukrainian cities, including here in Kiev.
On March 20, the Ukrainian parliament, after decades of foot dragging, adopted a resolution
recognizing the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people with the right to self-determination in
Ukraine. Mustafa Dzhemilev, a central leader of the Crimean Tatars and member of the
Ukrainian parliament, said at a press conference in Kiev March 22 that the resolution was good,
but a shame that it was done so late.
Dzhemilev also criticized Moscows ban on some 200 Crimean and other Ukrainian politicians


from entering Crimea, including Dzhemilev, who voted for the dissolution of the Russianimposed parliament there.
Putin recently told Dzhemilev that he would do everything to protect Crimean Tatars from any
possible aggression, according to Monkey Cage, a blog of the Washington Post. But his
wooing of the Tatars who were brutally oppressed by the czars and Stalin has largely
fallen on deaf ears.


Vol. 78/No. 14

April 14, 2014

Ukraine workers are beginning to see they are actors in history

(front page)
DNEPROPETROVSK, Ukraine Workers are beginning to see that they are actors in history,
said Aleksei Oleksyevych, leader of the Independent Trade Union of Miners, at a March 28
meeting with Militant correspondents at the unions office here.
The meeting included four members of the miners union, a leader of the citys teachers union
and Yuriy Semenov, who has been part of organizing rallies here in solidarity with the
mobilizations in Kievs Maidan (Independence Square). While most people in this eastern city
are Ukrainian, their main language is Russian.
Today we are taking steps forward, Oleksyevych said. We brought down the [President
Viktor] Yanukovych regime and are making gains against bosses in our plants and mines
because of the power of the Maidan and Maidans across our country.
As Oleksyevych presented a slide show of recent protests here, he said the most important
demand was for freedom of speech and action. We need this above all, he said.
One photo included a banner raising demands the union is fighting for and seeking to recruit
around: For a European standard of living; 3,000 euros a month in pay; a seven-hour workday;
and improvement in working conditions.
Currently we get the equivalent of 100 euros ($138) a month, Oleksyevych said. And though
were supposed to have an eight-hour day, most workers try to get overtime because they cant
live on their regular pay.
Legally it says we have the right to strike, said Igor Vitalyvych Parhomenko, the unions
regional vice president. But in fact that right is wrapped up in so much red tape that we cant
use it. We filed to strike, but the government kept saying we missed this or that requirement. It
was only after a year and a half that they said we could strike.
We know it will be a long and difficult road to truly win our freedom, Oleksyevych said, but we
are determined to continue fighting to the end.
Dnepropetrovsk is the center of steel pipe production in Ukraine. The biggest pipe works are run
by Interpipe, owned by Victor Pinchuk, the countrys second biggest capitalist. Pinchuk is also
the son-in-law of former President Leonid Kuchma. (The Russian government of former KGB
Colonel Vladimir Putin recently imposed sharp tariffs against Interpipe products as part of its
efforts to economically squeeze Ukraine.)
Pinchuk is part of a relatively new Ukrainian capitalist class that was formed after the collapse of
the Soviet Union in 1991. State industrial property was privatized and sold off at rock-bottom
prices to those with funds and political influence, creating a layer of what are commonly called


Parhomenko and Alexander Karpen, one of the other unionists at the meeting, worked at the
Interpipe factory complex. When Parhomenko came home after work one night in January 2013
three men had broke into his apartment. They told him to stop his union activities or your
mother, your family will have problems. They beat him with a chain, knocking him unconscious.
Parhomenko was then refused treatment at a company medical facility, where doctors said he
was a drug addict. Company agents called police and sought to frame him on criminal charges.
Union defends framed-up workers
The union organized his defense. It proved the cops and hospital staff acted under company
orders. Doctors were punished, but Parhomenko was fired nonetheless.
Workers continued to fight and eventually won his job back. I credit the Maidan, Parhomenko
said. We are fighting to build unions in as many plants as possible now.
After the Yanukovych government passed a law in January gutting free speech and the right to
protest, unionists joined a protest of some 3,000 in the center of Dnepropetrovsk.
The Right Sector played an important role in holding back the regimes riot police in Maidan,
Oleksyevych said. The political party is one of the rightist, ultranationalist groups active in
Ukraine. But Ukraine is multinational, with Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and Russians. Trying to
divide the Ukrainian people is an obstacle to our struggle. Its like giving a present to Putin.
Recently, members of the Svoboda party, another rightist group, stormed into a television studio
that featured pro-Russian news, beating the station manager until he signed a letter of
The unionists responded by carrying a banner at the local Maidan reading, You cannot shut up
the journalists, Ukraine needs freedom without regulation.
Didnt get paid for a year
We didnt get paid for a year at our plant, said Evgenii Derkach, who works at a plant of 7,000
that makes military rockets. Under the Soviet Union, it produced many of the large
intercontinental ballistic missiles designed primarily to carry nuclear warheads. For years,
Derkach said, Soviet officials officially denied that the city of Dnepropetrovsk existed. But it was
hard to hide a city of 1 million people.
People were fired illegally for organizing protests against the lack of payment, he said. I
survived by living with my parents. Other workers got second jobs.
One week ago we won all our back pay, Derkach said. We believe the protests all over the
country made this possible.
The oligarchs who have taken over the plants say were private, so the laws dont apply here,
said Oleksyevych. But were waking up and fighting back.
The school administrators try to fire union activists, said Lariss Kolesnik, a leader of the
Teachers Union. They pay special attention to their work, looking for excuses to get rid of
Our union was born six years ago, when the local government wanted to turn our school into a
shopping center, Kolesnik said. No one thought we could stop them, but we talked to the


leaders of the miners union and they helped us. And we won.
Our union is still small. Many teachers are afraid, she said. But we have been able to win a
number of fights for back wages, including for teachers who are not members of the union.
The new temporary government in Kiev is pushing to dissolve the Maidan, Oleksyevych said.
But this is not the answer. We need to transfer the power to the people. We will organize as
many Maidans as we need to get there.


Vol. 78/No. 15

April 21, 2014

(lead article)
Ukrainians answer Moscow provocations in east, south
Ukraine rulers, IMF foist debt burden on workers
Small armed bands backed by Moscow stormed government buildings in the Ukrainian cities of
Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv April 6 and Mykolayiv the following day in provocations designed
to lay the groundwork for possible Russian intervention.
Roughly 100 pro-Moscow agents occupied the regional government administration building in
Donetsk near Ukraines eastern border. They declared a Peoples Republic of Donetsk,
announced they would organize a referendum May 11 on separation from Ukraine and called on
Russian President Vladimir Putin to send troops, some 40,000 of which are amassed near the
A similar number seized the local Security Service of Ukraine office in Lugansk, where they
broke into an armory and seized AK-47 assault rifles.
A group of pro-Moscow agents also seized the Security Service of Ukraine office in the
northeastern city of Kharkiv, but were pushed out two days later by elite Ukrainian units, who
arrested 70.
Police were doing nothing at all, they were just walking amid the thugs, Zinoviy Flionts, an
eyewitness in Kharkiv, told the Kyiv Post. The guys who took over the administration were
either some Russians or simply criminals brought from somewhere.
On the night of April 7, similar forces attempted to take over the administration building in the
southern city of Mykolayiv, but were repulsed by local volunteer self-defense units.
The operations echo the provocations that prepared Moscows invasion of Crimea, which was
followed by a rigged referendum at gunpoint March 16 and seizure of the peninsula. Since then,
thousands of Crimean residents Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians and others have left the
peninsula. More than 1,000 families in Ukraine have opened their homes to receive the
There is a script being written in the Russian Federation, for which there is only one purpose:
the dismemberment and destruction of Ukraine and the transformation of Ukraine into the
territory of slavery under the dictates of Russia, Ukrainian Interim Prime Minister Arseniy
Yatsenyuk said April 7.
These moves do not represent any sharp rise in tension in the majority Russian-speaking east
of Ukraine, the Kharkiv Human Rights Group said April 7. This is reflected in the relatively small
numbers involved, the group said, and flies in the face of recent polls and demonstrations in the
region showing majority sentiment for Ukraine unity.
The Donbass News published an open letter from people in the city urging the interim Ukrainian
government to deal with the indecisive actions by local authorities to counter threats to


Ukrainian sovereignty, territorial integrity and Constitutional order.

Some 10,000 marched in Odessa against pro-Moscow provocations March 30, carrying a halfmile-long Ukrainian flag. A march in support of the Russian government the same day there
drew 3,000.
Meanwhile, the interim Ukrainian government is pressing ahead with plans to slash state
expenses and make Ukrainian capital more competitive on the back of working people as part
of a deal for usurious loans from the International Monetary Fund. Yatsenyuk told Reuters they
intend to double gas prices and freeze state salaries and pensions. We will regain trust and
credibility from foreign investors, he said. This is the roadmap for Ukraine.
The rulers of Ukraine, Russia and the U.S. have but one point of agreement: the desire to bring
an end to the mobilization of working people in Ukraine. The Ukrainian parliament voted
unanimously April 1 to disarm paramilitary groups targeting the thousands who remain in
Kievs Independence Square, the center of mobilizations across the nation that overthrew the
pro-Russian regime of Viktor Yanukovych in February.
Secretary of State John Kerry said March 30 that he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey
Lavrov agreed on the need to work with the Ukrainian government to assure demobilization
and disarmament of irregular forces and provocateurs.
At the same time, several new bills were introduced in the Russian Duma to prevent the kind of
street demonstrations that gripped Ukraines Kiev, USA Today reported April 6. One proposal
would authorize the cops to use lethal force against civilian protesters.


Vol. 78/No. 15

April 21, 2014

Cubas aid to victims of Ukraine nuclear disaster is unparalleled

On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear plant near Pripyat, Ukraine, exploded and burned for
10 days. Because the plant lacked a secure containment vessel, massive amounts of
radioactive material were released into the atmosphere. Twenty-eight firemen and emergency
workers were killed from acute radiation syndrome. At least 1,800 children later contracted
thyroid cancer because Moscow didnt immediately evacuate the area and did nothing to ensure
residents didnt eat vegetables or give milk produced in the area to children.
In contrast to the callous indifference from Moscow, the government of revolutionary Cuba
brought thousands of children to the island for treatment. Reprinted below is a recent article
from Prensa Latina about the Cuban program, which continues to treat Chernobyl victims today.
KIEV, April 7 The Ukrainian Womens Association for Energy Resources delivered a letter of
appreciation today to the Cuban embassy in Ukraine for the assistance provided by Cuba to
more than 20,000 children from areas affected by the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
During the meeting held at the Cuban embassy, speaking on behalf of the organization, Lilia
Piltiay highlighted the gesture from a small country, unprecedented in its international scope
and human significance.
Piltiay presented the letter of appreciation to Cuban Ambassador Ernesto Senti and other
Cuban diplomats in the presence of former members of the Komsomol (communist youth
league of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union), who organized the first trips in March 1990,
along with parents and young people who had received treatment in Cuba.
Some of those in attendance recalled with emotion the pleasant surprise they had felt when the
first group of 139 children arrived on March 29, 1990 and were received at Jose Marti
International Airport by the leader of Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.
They said that currently there are thousands of young people living normal lives, fully integrated
in society thanks to solidarity from Cuba, which provided medical assistance to some 25,000
For his part, Ambassador Senti highlighted the willingness of the Cuban government and people
to continue this project in conditions that correspond to current events, for the sake of the
youngest generations in Ukraine.


Vol. 78/No. 15

April 21, 2014

Miners in eastern Ukraine refute press in Russia, US

KRIVII RIG, Ukraine While eastern Ukraine has strong cultural ties to Russia, most workers
in the region oppose Moscows annexationist provocations, miners here told the Militant,
refuting the impression given by much of the bourgeois press coverage, from Russia to the U.S.
The miners said they are prepared to defend Ukrainian sovereignty, which they see as a
necessary extension of defending their interests as workers against bosses in Ukraine.
There are differences between east and west Ukraine, Samoilov Juriy Petrovych, the leader of
the Independent Trade Union of Miners in Krivii Rig, an iron-ore mining center some 85 miles
southwest of Dnepropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine, told the Militant in the unions office here
March 26. For example, there are some 200 newspapers in this region, but only 10 or 15 are in
Ukrainian. The others are all filled with Russian government propaganda calling the Maidan
protesters in Kiev fascist, claiming they are a threat to Russian-speaking people in the east.
Here in the east we have closer ties to Russia, he said. Many of us have relatives in Russia
and have long considered Russians as our brothers. But today the Russian government is
threatening an invasion of Ukraine, and the majority of workers here agree that we will do our
best to defend our country.
We are organizing workers into self-defense units to prepare as best we can, said Bondar
Vitalievych, another union leader. We began a couple months ago so workers could defend
themselves against gangs of thugs organized by the mine bosses.
We put out a statement saying we needed to organize to stop separatist manifestations in
Ukraine, Vitalievych said. Pro-Moscow thugs came out, including some armed snipers, to
confront our Maidan demonstration here Feb. 24, but hundreds of workers organized in our selfdefense units prevented them from killing anyone.
We put out a flyer calling on workers to come to the city council meeting the next day to
demand the local government act on the will of the people or resign, continued Vitalievych,
pointing to a photo on the wall of hundreds of miners and others voting at the meeting. Members
of the city council, he said, were supporters of former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych,
who had fled the country two days earlier.
The unionists are determined to step up efforts to organize workers and others prepared to
defend Ukraines national sovereignty, come what may.
The miners organized a tour for Militant correspondents of the EVRAZ iron-ore mine. The mine
is run by Russian capitalists who own ore and coal mines, processing plants and steel mills in
Ukraine, Russia, Canada, South Africa and the U.S.
This mine is extremely dangerous, Vitalievych said. Two years ago we had 23 accidents,
and the government was pressured to come and carry out some inspections.
Our union fights for safer working conditions, as well as to ensure the company and
government provide health care and pensions when you leave the job, he said.


Three hundred fifty women work underground in the mine, said Elena Maslova, a 15-year
veteran in the mine and the locals director for gender equality. There are some 40 positions
that women are barred from. Most work in pump stations, on conveyors and in the explosives
warehouse. Among underground miners, 10 percent are women.
When we demanded improvements in pay and working conditions for women, the company
told us if we kept complaining they would just replace us with men, she said. So they hired a
man and put him in a position usually filled by women, at the pay women get. But he refused to
stay on the job.
The existence of our independent union is important, she said. The old unions, dating back to
before the Soviet Union collapsed, just parrot what the government and the bosses say.
The official unions, and the educational system in the country, are only good at preparing future
slaves for industry, Vitalievych said. Weve got to involve the younger workers, the younger
The Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NGPU) was born out of strikes, protests
and massive marches in 1989-91, which were at the center of political ferment that helped
prepare the way for an independent Ukraine. Miners coupled demands for higher pay, better
working conditions and the right to strike with political demands, including the end to Russian
In October 1990 members of union strike committees across the country met in Donetsk and
established the new, independent miners union. The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of
Ukraine, which the NGPU is part of, was created literally in the tent camps of the working-class
people, the federation explains on its website.
Coal production crisis hits workers
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the coal industry in Ukraine has taken big blows. The number
of mines has tumbled from over 300 to 143. Forty-three of the more productive mines have
been privatized. One company, DTEK, owned by a syndicate run by Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraines
richest capitalist, accounts for almost half of the countrys coal production.
Thousands of miners were thrown out of work in the transition, leading to widespread
unemployment in coal regions in the east and west of the country.
Explosions, roof falls and silicosis lung disease take a heavy toll on miners. Mines in Ukraine,
along with those in China, are the most dangerous in the world.
Since the 2008 worldwide financial crisis, sagging demand and falling prices for coal have hit
the industry hard in Ukraine. The government closed nearly 20 percent of state-owned mines
and cut production in the others. Akhmetov said DTEK plans to both raise production and
seriously decrease the number of employees, industry journal Coal Age reported in December.
Miners in the U.S. are facing similar assaults, Militant correspondent Frank Forrestal, a former
coal miner in western Pennsylvania, told the Ukrainian miners. Coal bosses have closed less
profitable mines in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, where the union has had a base, and


opened nonunion ones in the West. At the same time working conditions have gotten worse as
bosses cut corners to defend their profits.
Forty years ago there was a big social movement in the coal fields to enforce safer conditions
to lower the prevalence of black lung that strengthened the union, Forrestal said. But today
black lung is coming back.
The more we talk, said Elena Maslova, the more Im reminded of something we used to think
about the need for all proletarians of the world to unite.


Vol. 78/No. 16

April 28, 2014

(lead article)
Moscow intervention spurs protests in Ukraine, Russia
Small pro-Moscow paramilitary units have seized government and police buildings in a number
of cities across eastern Ukraine, including Donetsk, Horlivka, Kramatorsk and Mariupol. These
provocations are part of an operation by the capitalist government in Russia to destabilize
Ukraine, create a pretext for possible further intervention and deal blows to the popular
movement that drew hundreds of thousands into action speakers of Ukrainian and Russian
alike and toppled the government of President Viktor Yanukovych.
Similar provocations in Crimea served as a prelude to Moscows annexation of the peninsula
last month and the mobilization of some 40,000 Russian troops near Ukraines eastern border
where they remain today.
On April 15, Ukrainian army special forces troops finally began to move against forces
organized by Moscow, liberating the airport in Kramatorsk.
Meanwhile, workers and others have been organizing local self-defense units in response to
ongoing provocations. What happened in Zaporizhia was instructive, Euromaidan PR reported
April 16. The pro-Russian protesters turned out to be mostly members of a local criminal gang,
paid to stir up trouble. People came out by the thousands to surround them. Its no secret that
people are organizing and arming themselves in the East in pro-Ukrainian partisan groups.
In Sverodonetsk and Lysychansk, law enforcement and miners worked closely together to shut
down any outbursts of separatism, Voices of Ukraine reported April 15.
The Ukraine government April 15 released recordings of phone calls between four Russian
military operatives in eastern Ukraine and their handlers in Russia. A handler applauds the
agents reports of killing Ukrainians and instructs one, code-named Shooter, to do an interview
with Russian TV and demand federalization, governors elections and emphasize that the
Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine parliament] should not be allowed to accept external financial support
without support of two-thirds of oblasts [provinces].
For the most part, police forces in the east unchanged since the overthrow of Yanukovych
either permitted or helped to organize provocations. A big majority of cops in Donetsk defected
to the Moscow-backed forces, taking the regional administration building and appealing for
Russian President Vladimir Putin to send troops.
But the provocations have received very little support among working people. Sergei
Baryshnikov, a 53-year-old former history professor who was recently proclaimed a deputy in
the pro-Moscow Donetsk Peoples Republic, told the Wall Street Journal April 9 that miners
and steelworkers havent joined the pro-Russia movement.
In Luhansk, 35 miles from the Russian border, more than 1,000 took to the streets to protest the
provocations April 13. Sizable rallies also took place in Odessa and Zaporizhia. More than 1,000
rallied in Kharkiv April 12. And hundreds of miners and others rallied in the city square of the


eastern mining city of Krivii Rig.

Weve been in contact with miners in Luhansk, Donetsk and other cities, Yuriy Petrovych,
president of the city-wide Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine in Krivii Rig, told the
Militant April 9. Miners know that if Russia seizes some of our cities, there will be no work in the
mines within a month. We know whats at stake and we are determined to fight to keep a united
Ukraine. Thats what our comrades in all the eastern cities are organizing to do.
We are organized to prevent Russian forces or their supporters from taking any government
buildings here, Petrovych said. Earlier today we heard there was a possible attack at the city
square and we mobilized our self-defense groups to go down. No one showed up. People know
we are prepared here.
These actions and preparations reflect the overwhelming sentiment of working people across
Ukraine. A recent poll by the Kiev-based Democratic Initiatives Foundation suggests only 8
percent of Ukrainians are in favor of secession. In Donetsk, the main city in the east, it is 18
In Moscow, more than 10,000 joined an April 13 march for truth, to protest Russian
intervention in Ukraine and the barrage of lies by government-backed media. Russias Union of
Journalists was among the protest organizers. Similar actions took place in St. Petersburg and
other cities in Russia.
Russian government-dominated media claim Ukraine is now dominated by a junta of fascists
and anti-Semites under Washingtons control and posing a threat to Russian-speaking people in
the country.
I was in Kiev. To anyone who hasnt yet been there, I advise you to go, Nadezhda
Tolokonnikova, one of the members of Pussy Riot, said April 1. Its peaceful in Kiev. I didnt get
attacked even once by bands of neo-Nazis.
Tolokonnikova traveled to Kiev with fellow Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina. The two spent
21 months in Russian prisons on charges of hooliganism motivated by religions hatred for a
demonstration inside Moscows Orthodox Christian cathedral in 2012 against government
repression and the growing political power of the church hierarchy.
I spoke Russian and did not get slapped in the face, said Tolokonnikova. I got smiles and
words of thanks that there are Russians who do not support the aggressor Putin. Maidan is a
place of unbelievable power.
The Russian government of President Putin is acting from a position of weakness and
vulnerability. Russias economic crisis is likely to get much worse given its dependence on
exports of oil and gas, whose prices on the world market are posed to continue falling.
Among working people and others, the government faces widespread anti-war sentiments
based on the experiences of recent decades in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Georgia. And the
capitalist class, in whose interest the Putin government acts, is in its majority more interested in
further stabilizing capitalist social relations and long-term profitability than unpredictable military


Meanwhile, the Ukraine economy continues to deteriorate. The hryvnia, the countrys currency,
has lost more than 35 percent of its value against the dollar since the beginning of 2014. The
countrys debts continue to grow. And Moscow has imposed higher prices for Russian gas
The International Monetary Fund said it will provide $18 billion in loans on the condition that
Kiev takes steps to boost profitability and attract foreign investment. Ukraines interim
government has agreed to slash the subsidy for energy costs to workers and to put a cap on
wage raises and pensions.
Unemployment continues to grow as orders for plants and mines connected to Russia are being
cut. Wages at the mine have been lowered, Yuriy Petrovych said from Krivii Rig, where ironore miners work for EVRAZ, a Russian group. Promised big project investments to develop the
mine have all come to a stop.


Vol. 78/No. 16

April 28, 2014

Cuba has treated over 25,000 since 1986 Ukraine nuclear disaster
(front page)
Twenty-eight years ago, on April 26, 1986, one of four reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power
plant near Pripyat, Ukraine, exploded, spewing clouds of radiation for 10 days and
contaminating the surrounding area.
Within a few years, hundreds of children began suffering from thyroid cancer. The most striking
fact is not the scope of the disaster, but the selfless response of revolutionary Cuba, which
continues to this day. For anyone familiar with Cubas internationalist foreign policy since the
1959 revolution, this is no surprise.
According to the World Health Organization, by 2005 more than 6,000 children in Ukraine and
Belarus were diagnosed with thyroid cancer as a result of Chernobyl. Early treatment has
achieved a survival rate of close to 99 percent.
The meltdown itself was completely avoidable, as was the massive release of radiation resulting
from the lack of a secure containment vessel.
But perhaps the most egregious example of Moscows callous indifference was the refusal to
rapidly evacuate affected areas and failure to prevent hundreds of thousands of children from
drinking milk contaminated with radioactive iodine-131 in the immediate aftermath.
Thirty people firemen, emergency and power plant workers died within a few weeks,
mostly from acute radiation poisoning.
As cases of thyroid cancer began to grow, the first group of 139 Chernobyl children arrived for
treatment in Cuba on March 29, 1990. Since then Cuba has treated more than 25,000 people
affected by the disaster, including at least 21,340 children. Cuban doctors have also been
working in Ukraine.
The Pioneers, which organizes children between five and 15 years old in Cuba, turned over
their recreation, learning and health complex at Tarar beach on the outskirts of Havana to the
project. Once patients are on the island, the Cuban government pays for everything from
medicine to food, clothes, paper and pen.
There were countries like Italy, Spain and Israel which brought small groups of children to their
countries for vacation maybe 40 or 50 children at a time, all together, Dr. Julio Medina,
director of the Tarar hospital, told MEDICC review in 2004. But no other country offered a
program, a medical assistance program completely free of charge at this kind of massive level.
Cuba provides those in the program with attention for any medical need, regardless of whether
it is related to Chernobyl or not, from dental work and immunizations to treatment of Hepatitis B
or other diseases.
Classes conducted in Ukrainian are taught by teachers from Ukraine, whose salaries are paid
by Cuba.


The year after the program began, the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba lost 85 percent of its
foreign trade almost overnight, leading to a severe economic crisis marked by shortages of food
and other basic necessities that Cubans refer to as the special period.
These were difficult days for the Cubans, Oleksandr Savchenko, one of a group of Ukrainians
who came to Tarar in mid-1990 told Granma. We were witnesses to how much they sacrificed
so that we didnt lack food or medicine.
Cuba has a great heart
Even the New York Times couldnt ignore Cubas contribution. He needs many medicines
antibiotics, hormones that are very expensive, Larisa Ukrainskaya told the paper in 1995,
referring to her 17-year old son who was being treated in Cuba at the time. Cuba needs
everything bread, milk, coffee, detergent, all kinds of clothes, pencils, paper. They help, and
they dont ask for money. This little country has a great heart.
It would have been easy to make excuses and say dont send one more child, then Cuban
president Fidel Castro said in a Nov. 27, 1992, speech in Havana. The USSR and the socialist
camp disappeared a while ago and we kept taking care of the Chernobyl children, in spite of the
[U.S.] blockade, in spite of the special period we are going through, because its an ethical and
moral question. Cuba treated everyone sent from Ukraine, Castro noted, even if their illness
was unrelated to the Chernobyl disaster.
Cuba has maintained the program without pause and without regard to changing governments
in Kiev. After the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year Ernesto Senti, Cubas
ambassador to Ukraine, made clear that Cubas aid would continue.
Many people who are unaware of our ideals still wonder what Cuba might be after, Dr. Medina
told Granma in 2009. Its simple: we do not give what we have in excess; we share all that we


Vol. 78/No. 16

April 28, 2014

Trotsky-led Opposition fought Stalinism, Russian chauvinism

(Books of the Month column)
Below is an excerpt from The Challenge of the Left Opposition (1926-27) by Leon Trotsky, one
of Pathfinders Books of the Month for April. Trotsky documents the struggle by the Opposition
to defend V.I. Lenins revolutionary course in response to the bureaucratic degeneration of the
Russian Communist Party and Soviet government under Joseph Stalin. The Opposition fought
to advance the proletarian and revolutionary internationalist course of Lenin, including
strengthening the worker-peasant alliance and combating national oppression. This section
titled The National Question is from Platform of the Opposition: The Party Crisis. Copyright
1980 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.
In the sphere of our national policy, just as in other spheres, it is necessary to return to Leninist
1. To carry out an incomparably more systematic, more consistent, more vigorous, effort to
overcome national divisions among workers of different nationalities especially by an attitude
of consideration toward newly recruited national workers, training them in skilled trades and
improving their living and cultural conditions; to firmly remember that the real lever for bringing
the backward national countryside into the work of Soviet construction is the creation and
development of proletarian cadres in the local population.
2. To reconsider the five-year economic plan with a view to increasing the rate of
industrialization in the backward periphery, and to work out a fifteen-year plan which shall take
into consideration the interests of the national republics and regions; to adapt our state
purchasing policy to the development of special crops among the poor and middle peasants
(cotton in Central Asia, tobacco in the Crimea, Abkhazia, etc.). The cooperative credit policy and
also the policy of land improvement (in Central Asia, Transcaucasia, etc.) ought to be carried
out strictly on class lines, in keeping with the fundamental tasks of socialist construction; to give
greater attention to the development of cattle-raising cooperatives, to carry out industrialization
in the processing of agricultural raw materials in a manner adapted to local conditions. To revise
our policy of settling new inhabitants in more backward regions to conform to the aim of a
correct policy on the national question.
3. To carry out conscientiously the policy of nationalization of the soviet apparatus, as well as
the party, trade union, and cooperative apparatuses, with genuine consideration for the relations
between classes and between nationalities; to wage a real struggle against colonialist
deviations in the activities of government, cooperative, and other agencies; to reduce
bureaucratic mediation between the center and the periphery; to study the experience of the
Transcaucasian Federation from the standpoint of its promoting or failing to promote the
industrial and cultural development of the nationalities concerned.
4. Systematically to remove every obstacle to the fullest possible union and cooperation of the
working people of different nationalities in the Soviet Union, on the basis of socialist construction
and international revolution; to wage a determined struggle against the mechanical imposition
upon the workers and peasants of other nationalities of the predominant national language. In
this matter the laboring masses should have full freedom of choice. The real rights of every


national minority within the boundaries of every national republic and region must be
guaranteed. In all this work special attention must be given to those exceptional conditions
arising between formerly oppressed nationalities and nationalities who were formerly their
5. A consistent implementation of inner-party democracy in all the national republics and
regions; an absolute repudiation of the attitude of command toward non-Russians, of
appointment and transfer from above; a repudiation of the policy of arbitrary division of nonRussian Communists into rights and lefts; a most attentive promotion and training of local
proletarian, semiproletarian, agricultural proletarian and (anti-kulak) peasant activists.
6. A repudiation of the Ustryalov* tendency, and of all kinds of great-power tendencies
especially in the central commissariats and in the state apparatus in general. An educational
struggle against local nationalism upon the basis of a clear and consistent class policy on the
national question.
7. Transformation of the Soviet of Nationalities into a really functioning institution bound up with
the life of the national republics and regions, and really capable of defending their interests.
8. Adequate attention to the national problem in the work of the trade unions and to the task of
forming national proletarian cadres. Business in these unions to be transacted in the local
language; the interests of all nationalities and national minorities to be protected.
9. No franchise under any circumstances for exploiting elements.
10. A fifth conference on nationality questions to be called on a basis of real representation of
the rank and file.
11. Publication in the press of Lenins letter on the national question, which contains a criticism
of Stalins line on this question.
N. Ustryalov was a member of the Cadet Party who fought in the White Army, a loose
confederation of monarchist and other pro-imperialist forces, in the civil war following the 1917
Russian Revolution. After the victory of the Bolsheviks, he went to work for the Soviet
government believing that capitalism could be restored gradually. He supported Stalin as a step
toward this goal.


Vol. 78/No. 17

May 5, 2014

(front page)
Ukraine opposition spreads to provocations by Moscow
Miners build protests, organize self-defense
More than 5,000 miners, students and other workers rallied April 17 in Donetsk, Ukraine, in a
show of growing opposition in eastern Ukraine to provocations by Moscow-backed forces.
Similar actions took place in Luhansk, Kramatorsk and other eastern cities.
Starting April 6, small bands led by armed troops in uniforms without insignia began seizing
government administrative buildings and police stations, proclaiming themselves partisans of an
independent Donetsk Peoples Republic and calling for Russian military intervention. Some
40,000 Russian troops have been deployed along the Ukrainian border since March.
Among the Russian government-organized forces are local titushkis hired lumpen thugs
and small groups of backers of the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin. Theyve
been building barricades, stealing arms from government offices, intimidating residents and
assaulting supporters of a united Ukraine.
Some workers, particularly members of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, the
countrys largest union, have organized self-defense units to counter the assaults on Ukraines
sovereignty. In Dnepropetrovsk, for example, some 15 units comprising about 100 volunteer
combatants control nine checkpoints at entrances to the city, reported Dmitry Tymchuk, who
established the Center of Military and Political Research in Kiev in February to counter Russian
government propaganda about Moscows invasion of Crimea. He previously served in the
Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
The people here are saying Enough, Mykola Volynko, president of the 12,000-member
Independent Miners Union in the eastern Donbass region, told Russias opposition TV Rain
April 9. We will build a new Ukraine. We are defending ourselves, our families, and we want
to live in a normal state.
Thuggish actions by Moscow-backed bands have brought more and more people into
opposition to Russian government intervention, despite being inundated with Russian television
propaganda slandering demonstrators who overthrew President Viktor Yanukovych as fascists
and anti-Semites.
Here are a lot of people, 22-year-old Grigory Burchik told SETimes at the April 17
demonstration in Donetsk. But I know even more people support Ukraines independence.
Many are scared by pro-Kremlin forces.
The silent majority of neutral citizens that are well accustomed to adapting to all circumstances
is now experiencing a colossal revolution in their minds, Sasha Popov wrote in a Facebook
post from Kramatorsk April 17 that was put up on the Euromaidan PR website. And the fact that
the backbone of the Russian separatists is made up from the local well-known dirty criminals
dissolves all remaining illusions.
In Slovyansk bands raided neighborhoods that are predominantly Roma, an oppressed


nationality throughout Europe. Claiming to operate under the authority of Vyacheslav

Ponomarev, the self-appointed new mayor, the thugs beat women and children and drove off
with their belongings, said an April 19 blog statement by Yevhen Bystrytsky, executive director
of the International Renaissance Foundation, and Olga Zhmurko, the foundations director of the
Roma of Ukraine Program Initiative.
Vice President Joseph Biden flew to Kiev April 21 in a show of tepid support for the Ukrainian
interim government, bringing a paltry offer of $50 million in aid earmarked economic and
political reform.
Kiev has agreed to a series of measures aimed at making workers pay for Ukraines crushing
debt in exchange for a promised $18 billion in International Monetary Fund loan guarantees.
This includes an increase in gas and heating prices that would amount to a 50 percent rise by
May 1 and 120 percent by the end of four years. The minimum wage has been frozen, a 10
percent reduction in government workers pensions enacted and social expenditures cut. The
initiation of a free-floating currency exchange rate is expected to cause inflation to rise to 12 to
16 percent this year.
Moscows organized provocations in the east are similar to those orchestrated by the Russian
government that laid the groundwork for its seizure of Crimea last month.
Social crisis in Crimea
On April 22, Mustafa Dzhemilev, former chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (council) and
member of the Ukrainian parliament, was stopped at the border as he left Crimea and handed a
statement saying he was banned from re-entering any part of the Russian Federation, including
Crimea, for at least five years.
The Tatars, the original inhabitants of Crimea, were deported en masse in 1944 by then Soviet
Premier Joseph Stalin, who branded all Tatars as Nazi collaborators. Half of the Tatar people
died in the forced deportation to Uzbekistan and other parts of the Soviet Union.
For fighting for the right of Tatars to return to Crimea, Dzhemilev spent a total of 15 years in
Soviet prisons from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s. Tatars began to return to Crimea in
large numbers in the 1990s.
Officials of the new pro-Moscow government told the editorial staff of the Crimean State
Television and Radio Company not to broadcast any coverage that includes Dzhemilev or other
members of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, an official of the media company told Ukrainska Pravda.
Russian rule in Crimea has brought social dissociation and new hardships. Most banks are now
closed, as well as land-registration offices and many food companies. Workers are wrapped in
endless red tape with requirements for new license plates, drivers licenses, insurance,
prescriptions, passports and school curriculum. Food brands from Ukraine are no longer
available. Air flights except those to Russia have been severed. Inflation is rampant, and
promised wage and pension raises have failed to materialize.
Some 5,000 orphans and 3,000 prisoners have no legal status. Needy families that received
financial aid from Ukraine have been cut off.
Meanwhile, unidentified armed groups have cropped up in train stations and other locations,
inspecting luggage and arresting people. When confronted, the green men, so-called for their


green camouflage garb, claim they are activists from the people who are preserving order.


Vol. 78/No. 17

May 5, 2014

Ukraine nation flourished in 20s after revolution

Lenins fight for Ukrainian sovereignty, voluntary union destroyed by
Stalin murder machine
As working people in Ukraine defend their country from provocations by the capitalist
government in Moscow as well as moves by Washington and other imperialist powers to sink
the country deeper in debt they will find valuable lessons in a history that has been hidden or
distorted: the 1920s when Ukrainian toilers took power out of the hands of the landlords and
capitalists, threw off the Russian boot, and became masters of their own destiny.
Today many in Ukraine and around the world know little about this unparalleled period of nationbuilding and cultural expression. Even among those who know, many are not aware of the
indispensable role played by V.I. Lenin, the central leader of the Russian Revolution, in
advancing the fight for sovereignty of Ukraine together with the self-confidence and national
pride of toilers there. Nor do many see that the murderous course later implemented under
Joseph Stalin was part of a conscious campaign to reverse those gains.
Long before the opening of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Lenin led a political battle to educate
workers and peasants that their struggle to throw off czarist rule was inseparable from the
national struggles of peoples oppressed under the empire, what he called a prison house of
nations. Because of this, Lenin explained, the fight against the monarchy, the landlords and the
capitalist exploiters could only be successful if it was led by a workers party that championed
the right of oppressed nations to self-determination. Only on that basis could working people
throughout the empire gain self-confidence and come together to accomplish the monumental
task. The largest and most weighty of the imprisoned nations was Ukraine.
Can a nation be free if it oppresses other nations? Lenin wrote in 1914. It cannot. The
interests of the freedom of the Great-Russian population require a struggle against such
In August 1919 Lenin wrote a letter to the workers and peasants of Ukraine drawing some of the
lessons of the fight against the army of landlords and capitalists who were seeking to overturn
Soviet rule.
In Great Russia the system of landed estates has been completely abolished. The same must
be done in the Ukraine, Lenin noted. Capital is an international force. To vanquish it, an
international workers alliance, an international workers brotherhood, is needed.
Speaking to Russian communists, Lenin said even the slightest manifestation in our midst of
Great-Russian nationalism cannot be tolerated, because it would prevent working people from
fighting together to uphold the dictatorship of the proletariat and Soviet power in the fight
against the landowners and capitalists of all countries and against their attempts to restore their
Basil Dmytryshyn, in his book Moscow and the Ukraine, 1918-1953, documents the fight by
Lenin and Leon Trotsky to lead the Bolshevik Party along this course. But he concludes that the


theory and practice proved in actual test to be incompatible. A close look at the facts, however
including in Dmytryshyns own book shows that Lenins words were put into practice. The
national rights and aspirations of Ukrainians and other oppressed people were later crushed not
as the inevitable result of the Russian Revolution, as Dmytryshyn and others claim, but by a
bloody counterrevolution led by Stalin and falsely carried out under the banner of 1917.
Ukrainian nation forged in battle
The Ukrainian nation was forged in battle against Russian, Polish, Hungarian and Austrian
occupation over centuries. Serfdom was first introduced in Ukraine by Polish landlords in the
western part of the country during the late 1400s and 1500s.
In 1783 Czarina Catherine II imposed the particularly onerous Russian serf system on the areas
under czarist domination and organized to Russify Ukraine, encouraging thousands of ethnic
Russians to displace other inhabitants of the region.
In the mid-1800s cultural and political stirrings in Ukraine began to concern the ruling classes of
the empire. Among these was the creation of the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood, a secret
society that existed from 1845-47. It advocated a program of social equality, the end of serfdom,
an end to national oppression and a federation of Slavic states. The czar suppressed the
Brotherhood, arresting and exiling its leaders, including former serf Taras Shevchenko, today
considered Ukraines national poet.
In 1863 the czar banned virtually all publications in Ukrainian. In 1876 this was extended to the
importation of Ukrainian-language books and even public readings and theater.
Czarist regime swept away
Workers and peasants swept away the czar in February 1917 and began to organize
themselves into soviets, including in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities. Like in other parts of the
Russian empire, the first government coming out of the revolution in Ukraine was led by
Mensheviks, a split from the Bolsheviks that sought an end to the monarchy but opposed the
overthrow of capitalism or the establishment of a government of workers and peasants.
Consistent with its bourgeois-nationalist course, the Menshevik provisional government based in
the Russian city of Petrograd refused to recognize the demand for autonomy by the Rada, the
new government in Ukraine.
With force you will not keep but only anger the Ukrainians, Lenin wrote. If you yield to the
Ukrainians you will then open up the road to trust between both nations, to their brotherly union
as equals.
In October, working people led by the Bolsheviks, demanding all power to the soviets (workers
councils), overthrew the provisional government and took political power. The Bolshevik-led
government immediately recognized Ukraines Rada. But the capitalist-dominated Rada
opposed the October Revolution, fearing the support the Bolsheviks were winning among
working people in Ukraine, especially among peasants who had already seized control of almost
a third of the estates of the large landlords. The Rada allowed the German, Austrian and other
imperialist armies to operate freely in territory under its control.
The German and Austrian governments soon repaid the Rada by overthrowing it and returning
property and political power to the landlords under the rule of Gen. Pavlo Skoropadsky.
For the next several years Ukraine was embroiled in war. Control over much of the country


shifted back and forth between the Red Army and worker and peasant soviets on one side, and
on the other the imperialist-backed forces of czarist generals Anton Denikin and Pyotr Wrangel,
with help from invading armies of Poland and Germany.
The civil war devastated Ukraine. According to Social Change and National Consciousness in
Twentieth-Century Ukraine by Bohdan Krawchenko, by 1921 industrial production was onetenth the 1912 figure. A famine caused by the war that ravaged the Soviet Union killed 1 million
people in Ukraine.
Lenin fights for Ukrainization
In November 1919, as soon as the Red Army had dealt decisive blows to Denikins White Army,
the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party took measures to increase the political
action and self-confidence of peasants then comprising 80 percent of Ukraines population
and draw them into the government. The resolution ordered the transfer of the landed estates
to peasants possessing little or no land.
At Lenins urging the Central Committee passed a resolution instructing party members in
Ukraine to remove all barriers in the way of the free development of the Ukrainian language
and culture. [Party] members on Ukrainian territory must put into practice the right of the
working people to study in the Ukrainian language and to speak their native language in all
Soviet institutions; they must in every way counteract attempts at Russification that push the
Ukrainian language into the background and must convert that language into an instrument for
the communist education of the working people.
Despite resistance within the Bolshevik Party in Ukraine and Russia, including from Joseph
Stalin and Nikolai Bukharin, Lenin won the political battle. As a result the Bolsheviks won over
the Borotbists, a faction of the Social Revolutionaries who were fighting for Ukrainian
independence. The Borotbists fused with the Ukrainian Communist Party in March 1920,
helping to transform the party there from majority Russian to majority Ukrainian. Ukrainian
communists held key posts in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the party, replacing
communists from Russia. Mykola Skrypnyk, a key fighter for Ukrainization, held numerous
positions in the party and government. Oleksander Shumsky, a leader of the Borotbists, became
peoples commissar of education. Mykola Khvylovy edited a weekly supplement to the
Ukrainian-language daily Visti VUTsVK.
While revolutionaries led by Lenin had the upper hand, the fight was not over. Between late
September 1922 and early March 1923, the final months of his active political life, Lenin waged
a battle within the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to combat Stalin and
the growing privileged government bureaucracy he spoke for and which threatened to
undermine the alliance of workers and peasants.
A central part of Lenins final fight was against the resurgence of opposition to selfdetermination for oppressed nations led by Stalin. I declare war to the death on Great Russian
chauvinism, Lenin wrote in October 1922. I shall eat it with all my healthy teeth as soon as I
get rid of this accursed bad tooth.
Even after Lenins death in January 1924, the course he set in motion in Ukraine continued
almost through the end of the decade.
Flowering of culture
Dmytryshyn reports that the number of publications written in Ukrainian mushroomed from


747 books in 1917 to 2,920 in 1927-28. Circulation of Ukrainian language periodicals rose in
1924 alone from 72,000 copies to 205,000.
In 1922 less than 20 percent of students in Ukraine were Ukrainian. By 1928 they were more
than 50 percent.
Among other examples was the rapid growth of cinema. According to the Encyclopedia of
Ukraine, just four films were produced in Ukraine in 1923. This grew to 16 in 1924, 20 in 1927
and 36 in 1928. The number of movie theaters went from 265 in 1914 to 5,394 in 1928. Many
films dealt with Ukrainian national themes, including a 1926 film on Shevchenko.
That all came to an end as Stalin consolidated control over the Soviet government apparatus
and the Communist Party. At first he began reversing the Leninist course silently, quietly,
without public justification, Ivan Dzyuba, a Ukrainian communist, wrote in 1965 in
Internationalism or Russification? which called for a return to the Leninist road of Ukrainization.
The resolutions Lenin fought for were simply put aside and replaced by quite opposite
decisions. By 1926 Stalin was pushing out of the party or trying to silence some of the most
prominent proponents of Ukrainization.
In 1932 Stalin launched a reign of terror against Ukraines peasants, workers and
revolutionaries. In order to impose a truly crushing and demoralizing defeat, Stalin consciously
organized to starve millions to death.
Several million peasants were wiped out in the artificial famine of 1933, Dzyuba wrote. They
died during the forced collectivization of Ukraines peasantry and confiscation of food that was
then exported to capitalist countries.
Stalin liquidated virtually the entire leadership of the Bolsheviks in Russia. From 1936 to 1938,
99 of the 102 members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine were
Nowhere did restrictions, purges, repressions and in general all forms of bureaucratic
hooliganism assume such murderous sweep as they did in the Ukraine in the struggle against
the powerful, deeply-rooted longings of the Ukrainian masses for greater freedom and
independence, Trotsky wrote in April 1939.
Anyone who defended Ukraines sovereignty against the extreme Russian nationalism was
slandered as a Ukrainian bourgeois nationalist and an opponent of internationalism, Dzyuba
The bloody repression unleashed on Ukraine by the Stalinist murder machine under the false
banner of defending the revolution was not an inevitable extension of the Bolshevik
The truth is the opposite. It was the truly internationalist Leninist policy which safeguarded the
interests and the full development of the socialist Ukrainian nation, Dzyuba wrote.



Vol. 78/No. 17

May 5, 2014

Whoever the oppressor, Ukrainians continued to struggle

(Books of the Month column)
Samizdat, Voices of the Soviet Opposition, is one of Pathfinders Books of the Month for May. It
contains clandestine writings circulated in the Soviet Union in opposition to Stalinist repression,
from the late 1920s through the 1970s. The excerpt below by Brigitte Gerland describes
Ukraines history between 1939 and 1953. Gerland joined the Communist Party in East
Germany and quickly became disillusioned with Stalinism. She was arrested by Moscows
secret political police, framed up on being a British spy, and spent some eight years in Stalins
prison camps. Her account was serialized in the Militant in 1955. Copyright 1974 by
Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.
In 1939, at a time when Stalin and Hitler agreed to divide Eastern Europe between them, the
Soviet army entered Volhynia, Galicia, Bukovina, and Bessarabia. Beginning thus with the two
Polish provinces, Volhynia and Galicia, and the two Rumanian provinces, the Soviet Republic of
West Ukraine came into being; and the curtain rose on a new act of the Ukrainian drama, the
most tragic and bloody in history.
It would go far beyond the scope of a newspaper article to enter into details about the many
wars, uprisings, and desperate conspiracies which comprise West Ukraines past. Suffice it to
recall here that fifteen million Ukrainians of Poland, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia were always
an exploited minority, without any social and economic rights within these capitalist states.
Whenever they fought for the most elementary rights, they invariably suffered every sort of
This is why the poor Ukrainian peasants, who had never submitted without gritting their teeth to
their enemies and oppressors, the Polish and Rumanian nobles and landlords (Pans and
Domnuls respectively), greeted the Soviet soldiers as liberators, showering them with garlands
of flowers and treating them with food and vodka. But the first flush of enthusiasm was soon
The [Soviet] bureaucracy resorted to ever harsher methods to extend its power over the newly
conquered lands. Finally they resorted to deportations to the Siberian taiga on a big scale.
Entire villages were uprooted, insofar, that is, as it was possible to round up the inhabitants. In
most cases only the grandparents, the sick, and the newly born could be found; every ablebodied individual had already left to join the partisans.
Into this atmosphere, amid the blood-red glare of burning huts, the Germans launched their
invasion, after Hitler had torn up the friendship pact with Stalin like a scrap of paper. The
Ukrainian peasants left their forest hideouts to greet the new liberators, omitting this time the
flowers, not to mention the food and vodka. But once again, full of hope, they expected, no
longer the division of big estates, but the dismemberment of the hastily formed collectives that
lacked machines, cattle, and above all workers.
But they awaited with an even greater impatience the formation of an independent Ukrainian
state, which the Germans had promised in return for economic assistance. To their
disappointment this state was never created; on the contrary, the comrades and allies found


themselves suddenly branded as sub-human Orientals, fit only to eke out a miserable slave
existence in the factories of the Master Nation conducting a victorious war. An era opened up of
arrests, concentration camps, and forced labor on the territories of the German state.
All those who were able once again took to the forests, taking along some of the youth who had
no desire to choose between the Ukrainian SS (storm troopers) and the German labor camps.
The struggle continued; all that changed was the face of the enemy, while the Polish and
Rumanian oppressors had now become allies. Nevertheless the collapse of Germany once
more rekindled hopes for an independent West Ukrainian state. The peasants were convinced
that the Western powers would keep the promises they made over the radio and through their
secret emissaries; and that, at long last, the eternal minority would become a nation.
But nothing came of it. The victorious Soviet army made its second entry.
Year after year this whole people was engaged in desperate combat; even the children
participated, serving as scouts and messengers. They were likewise arrested, clapped in prison,
and later sent to a camp. Bridges were blown up, warehouses pillaged, munition depots raided
by surprise, small groups of soldiers killed in ambush. The enemy took revenge by burning halfabandoned and half-ruined villages, and by deporting the inhabitantsat any rate, those unable
to hide. New punitive expeditions were sent without cease, only to get lost in most cases in the
merciless countryside before attaining their goal. From time to time a nest of bandits is
uncoveredthose who do not fall in battle are shipped to Siberia for life.
So the insoluble tragedy goes on and on, simply because several million Ukrainians refuse at
any price to become collective farm workers and prefer to remain independent peasants. Are
they backward, incorrigible petty bourgeois? Perhaps so. But the punitive expeditions, arrests of
hostages, burning of villagesare these the just and correct methods for converting them? It
is hard to answer such a question in the affirmative. The right of nations to self-determination
was ever a part of the Bolshevik program. The bureaucratic epigones try to get around this by
claiming that West Ukraine is merely an appendage to East Ukraine. But one might with equal
justification claim that Holland, or the Flemish sector of Belgium are a part of Germany, or that
Normandy and Brittany are part of England.
As late as summer 1953 the Soviet government had still not succeeded in establishing
tranquility and order in the Ukraine, not even the peace of the cemetery. Each month new
victims of endless waves of arrest and of unending punitive expeditions keep arriving in the
camps. Despite this, despite huge losses, not from battles alone but also from cold, hunger and
disease, the partisan movement has not been wiped out.


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 Ukraines 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 Ukraines 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 countrys largest union
have been organizing pro-Ukrainian self-defense units and have been at the center of protest
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
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
Peoples 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.
Rybaks 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 Peoples 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 governmentcontrolled 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, editorin-chief of Hidden Truth TV and the leader of a womens self-defense unit on the Maidan in
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.
Ponomaryovs 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 Ukraines 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 citys 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
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 wont 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, asked Slovyansk mayor Ponomaryov April 24. The liquidation will occur, he


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
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.


Vol. 78/No. 19

May 19, 2014

(lead article)
Ukraine workers fight to defend sovereignty
Tatars resist Moscow occupation of Crimea
Agents of the Russian military and local recruits, which include criminal gangs, have stepped up
provocations across Ukraines eastern and southern regions, laying the ground for direct
intervention by Moscow.
Workers, youth and others have joined demonstrations in support of Ukrainian sovereignty.
Some 3,000 people marched May 4 in Dnepropetrovsk, many of whom gathered for a soccer
match there featuring the Ukrainian Premier League teams from the home city and Lviv in the
west. Among the chants by fans from both sides were East and West together and Glory to
Soccer fans from all across the country, including from the Donetsk Shakhtar (Miner) team,
Kharkiv Metalist (Metalworkers), and other cities in the east, have taken part in pro-Ukrainian
demonstrations and volunteer self-defense units.
More than 1,000 marched in Odessa May 2, including fans of both the local Chernomorets
(Sailors) team and the visiting Metalists from Kharkiv, who were playing later that day. The
supporters of Ukrainian unity were set upon by a couple hundred armed supporters of Russian
The soccer fans were unarmed they were marching with Ukrainian flags, while the opposite
side appeared fully geared as if they came for war, journalist Zoya Kazandzhy told the Kiev
Post. Citizens quickly organized themselves and thats the only thing that helped us yesterday.
As outnumbered attackers began retreating, they opening fire with Kalashnikovs and pistols. A
young football fan was fatally shot.
After a more than one-hour battle, the vigilantes fled into the nearby Trade Union building. The
two sides continued to hurl Molotov cocktails and other projectiles at each other and the building
caught on fire. Led by self-defense units, supporters of Ukrainian sovereignty rescued several
dozen attackers by bringing a scaffold up to the wall so they could escape safely from windows
on the second and third floor. Self-defense forces also protected escaping provocateurs from
angry demonstrators seeking retribution for the attack on their action.
Ukrainian government authorities report 46 dead, eight from the street violence and the rest
from the burning building. Hundreds were injured. Of the bodies recovered from the building, 15
were Russian citizens and five from the Russian-occupied breakaway region of Transnitsia in
nearby Moldova, according to the Kiev Post.
Ukrainian cops, who stood aside during the melee, arrested more than 100 pro-Moscow
attackers who were still on the roof after the fire department arrived more than an hour after the
fire started.


On May 4, anti-Ukraine gangs attacked the police station, and the cops released those in
Russian government-controlled media twisted the events of May 2 to smear supporters of
Ukrainian sovereignty and fuel further provocations.
Moscows line is that the mass mobilizations that in February overthrew Ukrainian President
Viktor Yanukovych were comprised of fascist anti-Semites operating under orders from
Washington with the goal of provoking war between Ukraine and Russia.
RT, an English-language pro-Russian news media, ran an interview with Serbian historian
Nebojsa Malic May 5 promoting a fantastic conspiracy claiming that those who attacked the proUkrainian rally were not pro-Moscow forces, but Right Sector people deployed to Odessa in
order to both create a powerful atrocity to draw Russia into open conflict and intimidate any sort
of population that is against the coup government [the interim Ukrainian government that
replaced the Yanukovych regime] by saying, Look, if you continue opposing us, well murder
you in the most gruesome manner possible.
At the same time, pro-Moscow annexationist forces continue to occupy government buildings in
Donetsk, Luhansk, Slovyansk and other eastern cities. Ukrainian army units are attempting to
isolate them in preparation for retaking the buildings.
In an anti-working-class slant typical of the U.S. big-business media, the Wall Street Journal
described the May 2 events in Odessa as rioting between pro- and anti-government mobs, and
called the Russian military operatives and thugs under their direction assorted activists
opposed to Kiev.
Tatars mobilize for Ukraine
The Russian governments operation in east and south Ukraine echoes Moscows seizure of
Crimea in March, where paramilitary thugs took over government buildings to create a pretext
for an invasion by thousands of Russian troops, followed by a fraudulent referendum for
independence at gunpoint to justify incorporation of the peninsula into Russia.
The Crimean Tatars, among Crimeas earliest inhabitants who today comprise some 12 percent
of the peninsulas population, refused in their great majority to participate in the referendum.
Moscow responded by barring the central leader of the Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev, from his
Crimean homeland.
Dzhemilev drove to Crimea May 3, but was stopped at the border by Russian troops. Some
5,000 Tatars met him by the border, where they rallied in his support and against Russian
May 18 will be the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the entire Crimean Tatar population on
orders of then Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, who slandered them en masse as agents of Adolf
Hitler. Almost half the population died in the forced journey to Uzbekistan and other parts of the
Soviet Union. Tatars began to return in large numbers in the 1990s.
I plan to go to Crimea and try to get there on May 18, Dzhemilev told a press conference in
Kiev May 5. It would be most prudent of the Crimean authorities to let me in.
Discriminatory laws have never stopped Crimean Tatars in the past, he said. Crimean Tatars


are the fulcrum of resistance against the regime of occupation. We will not condone the


Vol. 78/No. 19

May 19, 2014

International reporting trips spur contributions to Militant fund

The Militant Fighting Fund has received $41,989 in the April 5-May 27 campaign to raise
$115,000. The third week was the best yet with $18,849 contributed. The annual drive goes
hand-in-hand with the five-week spring Militant subscription campaign to win 1,800 readers.
The fighting fund finances operating expenses of the paper and international reporting trips.
With no paid advertising, the socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
depends on contributions from readers.
Supporters in France have adopted a goal of raising $400 to help finance the Militants
activities, including sending teams to Mali, Burkina Faso, Egypt and Ukraine, wrote Nat London
from Paris, where supporters of the paper organized to help finance the Militants recent trips to
Mali and Burkina Faso. The reporting trips help get the truth out to the workers of the world.
To make a contribution, contact distributors listed on page 8 or send a check or money order to
the Militant, 306 W. 37th St, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10018-2482.


Vol. 78/No. 20

May 26, 2014

(lead article)
Workers defend Ukraine in face of fraudulent vote
Respond to thug attacks by secessionist minority
Miners and other workers across eastern Ukraine continue to mobilize in defense of the
countrys sovereignty in face of ongoing interference by the Russian government, highlighted
May 11 by a fraudulent peoples referendum calling for secession from Ukraine.
The May 11 vote was organized by small groups of heavily armed paramilitary units. These
forces have seized Ukrainian government, military and police facilities in roughly a dozen cities
in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces and employed kidnappings, beatings and murder to
intimidate working people.
The activities of trade union organizations have become considerably hampered because of
intimidation and physical violence against trade union activists, Mikhailo Volynets, president of
the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine, said May 8.
Even in areas under pro-secessionist groups control, there were very few voting stations.
Armed groups were stationed near ballot boxes where one could vote on the question: Do you
support the act of self-rule of the Donetsk Peoples Republic? In Krasnoarmeisk New York
Times reporter Andrew Kramer said a poster calling for rejection of the European Jewish
choice was hung near the ballot box.
Ukrainian government officials and reporters like Kramer say that some 25 to 30 percent of
people voted and that supporters of secession showed up with piles of photocopies of yes
ballots. The commandos, who claimed to have counted the entire vote by nightfall, said the
turnout was almost 100 percent for secession.
Meanwhile, demonstrations of thousands in favor of Ukrainian sovereignty have taken place in
Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Odessa and other eastern and southern cities in past weeks. A
recent Pew opinion poll reported that 70 percent in eastern Ukraine favor keeping the country
united while 18 percent favor secession.
To maintain an atmosphere of terror, armed thugs have assaulted and threatened unionists and
other supporters of Ukrainian sovereignty. An armed squad appeared at the entrance to a coal
mine in Makiivka and demanded workers take down their Ukrainian flag, threatening to throw
explosives down the mine shaft. The miners sent out their self-defense unit and drove them off.
Olexander Vovk, a leader of the Independent Trade Union of Miners at the Russia mine in
Novogrodivka, was kidnapped and tortured May 4. He was taken to a detention and torture
section at the Donetsk Administration Building, where he met miners and others being held and
beaten. Some have disappeared.
The Russian government propaganda machine has pumped out fantastic slanders against proUkraine demonstrators as fascist. What is happening at the moment is not simply marches
praising Nazi criminals, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said May 7 about Ukraine,
this is the manifestation of fascism alive. The last time Moscows efforts to smear working-


class fighters as fascists hit this level was during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, when
toilers there rose up and overthrew the Soviet-backed government of Matyas Rakosi widely
known as the Stalin of Hungary fighting for a political revolution, workers councils and a
return to the revolutionary policies of Lenin.
Miners demand double our wages
The miners union at the EVRAZ iron ore mine in the eastern city of Krivyi Rih has launched a
fight to double the miners wages. The union joined protests in support of the overthrow of
Moscow-backed former President Viktor Yanukovych and formed self-defense units to protect
workers and government buildings.
A union leaflet points to the effect on workers wages of skyrocketing inflation while the profits of
the company bosses in Russia have doubled over the year before. We marched through the
streets of Krivyi Rih and to mine owners offices shouting our wage demands, Alexandr Bondar,
a union leader at the mine, told the Militant by email May 12.
Self-proclaimed leaders of the Peoples Republics in Donetsk and Luhansk announced they
were calling for the Russian government to send troops to help them. But Russian President
Vladimir Putin has responded cautiously. In an announcement the week before, he urged
secessionist forces to put off their referendum and seek negotiations with Kiev. After they went
ahead with the vote anyway and announced they had won, the Russian government said it
respects the referendum and welcomes all possible efforts to start negotiations between Kiev
and separatist regions, the Wall Street Journal reported May 12.
Putins government faces opposition to military intervention in Ukraine among Russian
capitalists, concerned about capitalist stability and profits, and working people, who face their
own struggles against attacks on their living standards and rights and are adverse to war.
Russias international sales last year were smaller than the Netherlands and heavily dependent
on exports of oil and gas, whose prices on the world market are falling.


Vol. 78/No. 20

May 26, 2014

Socialist candidate in Minn. backs Ukraine sovereignty

MINNEAPOLIS Working people the world over should stand shoulder to shoulder with
Ukraines fight for sovereignty, Frank Forrestal, Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor
of Minnesota, told 75 people here at a May 9 protest against the Russian governments
interference in Ukraine. Ukrainian toilers overthrew Moscows puppet government of Viktor
Yanukovych, opening up space to debate, discuss, organize and gain self-confidence.
Moscow is worried that Russias working people will follow the example of the mass uprising in
Ukraine, said Forrestal, who took part in a March Militant reporting trip there. The propertied
rulers of Russia and Ukraine as well as in Western Europe and America fear the
mobilization of working people.
Workers in the U.S. and Western Europe should demand their governments provide
unconditional economic aid, not more loans, and cancel Ukraines debts, Forrestal said. The
Socialist Workers Party is opposed to imposing sanctions against Russia, as this will come
down hardest on working people in Russia and play into Moscows game of dividing Russian
workers from workers of other nationalities and ethnic groups.
The demonstration was organized by Maidan Minnesota, and included a range of speakers,
several of whom were recently in Ukraine and Crimea.
Participants picked up six subscriptions and 36 copies of the Militant along with Forrestals
campaign statement.


Vol. 78/No. 21

June 2, 2014

Separatists takeover in east Ukraine unravels

(front page)
Miners, rail workers and other working people in Ukraine are organizing to push back armed
separatists engaged in provocations, kidnappings, building seizures and attempts to close
mines and other workplaces in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Simultaneous to these working-class actions, Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraines wealthiest industrialist
with an empire built on coal mines, steel mills and other factories, organized to defend his
property and attempts to stabilize capitalist rule in Ukraine. He has been deploying hundreds of
workers employed by his two steel mills in Mariupol to join police in routing secessionists from
city buildings and patrolling city streets.
This morning gunmen of the so-called Donetsk Peoples Republic captured the Donetsk railway
administration building, said a May 19 statement by six union leaders, including Mikhailo
Volynets of the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners, Vladymyr Kozelsky of the Free Trade
Union of Railway Workers, and Peter Tuley of the Transport Workers Amalgamation.
The separatists declared that they forbid transport of freight except goods to the Russian
Federation, the unionists said. Such actions will definitely lead to the worsening of living
conditions in the eastern parts of Ukraine and to economic collapse of the entire country. We
call upon railway workers, miners, energy company workers, metallurgy workers and employees
of other branches of the economy, as well as teachers and doctors, to bring together their
efforts in order to rebuff the separatists activities aimed at destabilizing the region, leading to
the loss of work and wages.
At the same time, Moscow shows no interest in provoking a war or replicating in other parts of
Ukraine its seizure of Crimea in March. Such a course would run counter to the interests of
Russias capitalist rulers, who the Russian government serves, and would fuel unrest among the
toiling masses they fear.
Since armed secessionists ignored a call by Russian President Vladimir Putin to put off their
May 11 rump referendum to separate from Ukraine in some eastern towns, Russian government
officials have declined to voice any support for the fraudulent yes votes or claim any mandate
for further intervention.
Instead, Putin said May 19 he would begin withdrawing many of the 40,000 Russian troops
deployed near Ukraines border. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow views
billionaire Petro Poroshenko, a candy manufacturing magnate and leading presidential
candidate in the May 25 Ukrainian elections, as someone it can do business with.
The capitalist rulers of Russia and their government in Moscow want nothing to do with a selfproclaimed Donetsk Peoples Republic or other so-called peoples republics declared by
separatists in Ukraine that hark back to the Stalinist rule of the former Soviet Union. The
propertied classes of Russia seek to build a stable capitalist regime and have no need to drape
themselves in communist and revolutionary phrases as did the privileged bureaucratic
social caste that held power in the Soviet Union following the bloody counterrevolution led by


Joseph Stalin against the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The Russian bosses and their
government have no need for a red glow to mask their anti-working-class character. They are
embarrassed by it.
When Putin conjures images of the past its always to promote Great Russian domination, using
references to Peter the Great and lamenting the fall of the Soviet Union for the loss of Russian
power over other peoples. He explicitly attacks the revolutionary policies of the early Soviet
Union under the leadership of V.I. Lenin, who led the fight for self-determination of Ukraine and
other oppressed nationalities. After the revolution, the Bolsheviks may God judge them,
added large sections of the historical South of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine, Putin said
March 18 following the annexation of Crimea.
Likewise, the Stalinist phrases of the separatist paramilitaries repulse most workers and
farmers, whose only living memory of the Soviet Union is the Stalinist murder machine that,
under the false banner of communism, brutalized them, kept them out of politics and blocked
them off from fellow workers around the world. The armed separatist bands in the east and
south never got a foothold or were quickly driven out of the largest cities, including Kharkiv and
Dnepropetrovsk, as well as Odessa.
A May 18 YouTube posting by Igor Strelkov, a Russian commando proclaimed Commander-inChief of the Donetsk Peoples Republic, provides striking confirmation of the separatists
isolation. I do not expect that even a thousand men from the region can be found, he
Most of his troops, he said, consist of men older than 40, and many of those who came to his
forces for arms left, using them to protect their homes from crime and criminals.
At the same time, Russian capitalists face substantial economic and political challenges at
home. The Russian economy is heavily dependent on exports of gas and oil, whose prices are
falling. Life expectancy for a 15-year-old male, according to the World Health Organization, is
lower in Russia than in Haiti, Mali or Afghanistan. For women, life expectancy is lower than
The main thing that [President Putin] is worried about is that what happened in Ukraine will
happen in Russia, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova told the Washington Post May 11. Tolokonnikova
was one of two members of the group Pussy Riot who spent nearly two years in prison for
demonstrations of political dissent against the Putin government.
Steel, mine boss defends empire
Meanwhile, Rinat Akhmetov deployed workers from his two steel plants in Mariupol May 14 to
join city cops to patrol the city and oust separatist forces from local public buildings and
organize street patrols. Thousands of workers signed up.
Akhmetov, whose net worth is estimated at $12.2 billion, appropriated the most modern and
profitable mines and mills in the gang wars over seizure of state property that followed the
collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. He is the largest private employer in Donbass and was a
central backer of former President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February as a result
of popular mobilizations against his regime.
Akhmetov, who commands a private company army of more than 3,000, including former elite
Ukrainian commandos, was making a business decision to keep Donbas in Ukraine, as the


Kiev Post put it. He launched the patrols in a meeting he called that brought together cops,
representatives of the union at his mills and representatives of separatist forces holding city hall.
The union leadership signed off on the deal, but has no responsibility for the operation.
By making it look like political confrontations, some people are pushing our city to chaos but in
reality it is pure banditry and crime, Igor Kurganov, a worker in the mechanical testing shop at
Azovstal plant, said, explaining why he joined the patrol in comments posted by the company on
its website. I would not want to live in a city ruled by wolves or by a wolf pack!
The corporatist-style patrols of cops and workers, dressed in company jackets, began to clear
separatists out. Pro-Russian-government forces melted away, along with signs of the selfdeclared peoples republic. Workers driving company backhoes dismantled their barricades.


Vol. 78/No. 21

June 2, 2014

(front page)
Tatars in Crimea take to streets, defy Moscows ban on protests

Despite big police presence and protest ban by Moscow-installed Crimean government,
thousands of Tatars join May 18 commemoration of their mass deportation by Stalin in 1944.
Defying a ban by Russian authorities, more than 20,000 Crimean Tatars rallied in Simferopol
May 18 to commemorate the day 70 years ago when the Tatar community some 200,000
people was deported en masse to Uzbekistan, Siberia and the Urals by the government of
Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. In the arduous journey some 40 percent died from starvation,
disease, cold and other causes.
People, homeland, Crimea, the crowd chanted. We will only be respected if we are united,
said Refat Chubarov, head of the Tatars Mejlis assembly.
They are watching us, they are afraid of us, said chief Mufti Emirali Ablaev, pointing to Russian
military helicopters circling overhead. The Crimean peninsula was seized by the Russian
Federation from Ukraine in March.
Thousands more protested in other Crimean cities, as well as in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and
in Turkey, home to many Tatars who came in waves fleeing czarist and Stalinist persecution.
On May 16, Moscow-appointed Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov announced a ban on
all public meetings through June 6. The next day riot police began mass training exercises in
the square where the Tatar rally was set to take place.
The Crimean capital of Simferopol looked like a city prepared for mass riots on May 18, the
Kiev Post reported. Tatars and others from across Ukraine gathered outside a mosque in
Akmechet, a suburb of Simferopol, that was built on wasteland by Tatars who returned to
Crimea in the early 1990s. Thousands carrying the Crimean Tatar flag marched past parked
buses full of armed police, the Post said.
How could we not gather? Elina Asanova, who runs a nursery school in Simferopol, told the
paper. We held this meeting every year for 23 years and nothing ever happened: no
provocations, no clashes, nothing.
More than 32,000 Russian intelligence forces descended on Crimea in 1944, giving Tatars 30
minutes to gather their belongings and then loading some 194,000 into cattle cars for summary
deportation. Tatars in the Red Army fighting German troops were demobilized and sent to
forced labor camps in Siberia and the Urals.
Tatars were barred from returning to Crimea until the late 1980s and those who went back
found that their homes and farms had been seized.
The May 18 rally also protested the Russian governments annexation of Crimea. Tatars, who
now make up some 12 percent of the peninsulas population, backed the massive mobilizations


across Ukraine that overthrew the pro-Moscow regime of President Viktor Yanukovych.
Another chant at the rally was Mustafa! Mustafa Dzhemilev is the long-standing leader of the
Crimean Tatar national struggle. He was jailed repeatedly in Russia in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Dzhemilev, who was banned from Crimea by Russian authorities May 3, participated in the
protest in Kiev.


Vol. 78/No. 22

June 9, 2014

Workers across Ukraine back national unity, sovereignty

Miners in Krivyi Rih and other eastern cities have been organizing to defend Ukraines national
sovereignty against pro-Russian-government separatist gangs as they also fight to advance
their own class interests against bosses attacks on their living standards, working conditions
and rights.
Meanwhile, on May 25 the countrys first presidential election took place since the popular
overthrow of the pro-Moscow regime of President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Petro
Poroshenko, billionaire owner of Roshen Chocolate, won a clear majority. He portrayed himself
as a champion of Ukrainian sovereignty.
Following Moscows seizure of Crimea in March, the Russian government sent operatives into
eastern Ukraine to lead occupations of government buildings and other provocations. But in the
last few weeks leading up to the elections, the Russian government backed off threats to split
the region off from Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin announced he would respect the results of
the May 25 vote and began pulling Russian troops back from the Ukrainian border.
Among his first acts as president, Poroshenko on May 26 ordered attack helicopters and other
military forces to repel separatist paramilitaries who were attempting to take over the Donetsk
airport. Some 50 pro-Moscow separatists were killed; no deaths were reported among Ukrainian
While many working people were inundated with a daily propaganda barrage from Russian
media claiming the new government in Kiev was run by a fascist junta, they remained in their
overwhelming majority committed to the unity of Ukraine. And they became increasingly
repulsed by separatist armed thugs who, draping themselves with phrases and symbols from
the Stalinist era, set up fiefdoms marked by kidnappings, beatings and torture.
While separatists took over a handful of buildings and amassed weapons, the actual business of
running the region including dispersing pension payments, managing water and fuel supplies
and other services continued to be administered by local Ukrainian government structures,
which simply moved and functioned out of other facilities.
The Maidan protests from the massive crowds in Kiev to similar actions from Donetsk to Lviv
energized working people all across the country, spurring political interest and activity.
One stark example of the power of the mobilizations is the impact on soccer fans. Odessa was
trailing Dynamo Kiev 4-0 in the semifinal of the Ukrainian Cup, the May 24 Wall Street Journal
reported, but the usually partisan fans of the teams were coalescing around an issue entirely
different from soccer: politics.
Fans have put aside their team rivalries and postgame skirmishes and coalesced into a
national movement around a bigger idea: the unity of Ukraine, the Journal said.
From Donetsk to Odessa, Kiev to Kharkiv, soccer fan clubs came together to join and organize
defense squads for pro-Maidan rallies. At game halftime they joined in common chants for


Ukrainian sovereignty.
Isolation, frictions roil separatists
As they become more and more isolated and demoralized, conflicts are cropping up among the
hundreds of armed separatists who have seized some government offices and proclaimed in
a surreal caricature of the Stalinist Soviet Union peoples republics in a dozen cities in
eastern Ukraine.
Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the self-declared mayor of Slovyansk, a military center for separatist
forces set in motion by Moscow, announced May 21 he no longer recognized the Donetsk
Peoples Republic. He threatened to send in his paramilitary forces to restore order there.
Poroshenkos election, along with that of former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko
as mayor of Kiev, has also led to increased pressure to close down the tent city that houses
more than 1,000 remaining Maidan veterans in the central square in Kiev.
But many camped there intend to stay. The revolution is not finished, Ivan Stratyenko, one of
the defense commanders on Maidan, told Reuters. We dont want a state dominated by
leaders, he said. Maidan shows that people are starting to wake up.
Miners fight for wages, sovereignty
Faced with soaring inflation and wage cuts by a Russian-based EVRAZ iron-ore mining
company, miners in Krivyi Rih have been pressing demands for wages to be doubled, Yuriy
Petrovych, leader of the city-wide Independent Trade Union of Miners there, told the Militant
May 27.
Weve faced threats from company security forces, who told us our protests were a threat to
the region, Petrovych said. But we have a strong self-defense organization, and we pushed
them aside. Were asking workers everywhere to get out the word about our fight.
At the same time, a few hundred miners in the east, organized by the old, discredited miners
union were bused into Donetsk May 27 to protest the Kiev government. The union dates back to
before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has kept aloof from the class struggle that has
unfolded since.
In 1989 and throughout the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian miners mobilized strikes
and marches across the country for higher pay, better safety protection and political
independence from Moscow.
In 1990, they broke from the old union and set up the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners
of Ukraine. This union, along with a sister organization, the Independent Trade Union of Coal
Miners of Donbass, has continued to mobilize miners to defend their wages and working
They have organized miners across eastern Ukraine to form self-defense units, like the one in
Krivyi Rih, and to battle to defend workers from separatist gangs that have attacked union
militants, attempted to shut mines down and sought to close down political space.
Vol. 78/No. 22

June 9, 2014


Socialist candidate in Wash.: Support Ukraine workers

The Militant newspaper and the Socialist Workers Party campaign champion the fight by
Ukrainian workers and farmers to defend their national sovereignty, push back Russian
government-sponsored separatist paramilitaries in the east, and broaden openings for working
people to defend their class interests, Mary Martin, the partys candidate in the 9th C. D. in
Washington state, said when she campaigned door to door in Renton May 24. Among those she
met were working people from Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.
One woman from Moldova, which borders Ukraine on the west and where separatists have set
up a rump regime called Transnistria maintained by Russian troops, signed up for a subscription
when she saw an article on the Tatars in Crimea protesting Moscows occupation and ban on
protests. We are worried that Russia will try to do the same thing to us in Moldova, she said.
Two Ukrainian women sitting on a porch asked for copies of the paper. They said they could not
read enough English to get a subscription, but made a small donation and said they would get a
family member to translate it for them.
Shut down the Tacoma Detention Center, where immigrant workers have been engaged in
hunger strikes since March to protest deportations and prison conditions, Martin told campaign
supporters at a picnic May 25.
My opponent Adam Smith visited the detention center at the request of area immigrant rights
organizations, she said. He says he has drafted legislation for better government oversight of
the center, for a raise above the $1 a day detainees are paid and for alternatives to detention
like home imprisonment with ankle bracelet monitors. My campaign backs the fight for equal
status before the law for foreign-born workers. Organize the unorganized!
I announced my campaign to co-workers at the popcorn factory where I work when Smith came
to shake hands with workers on a prison work-release program. This is a wonderful program
he told them, Martin said. Under work release bosses get tax rebates for hiring workers out of
prison. The bosses can dump them for any reason and theyre sent straight back to jail.
Its a wonderful program for who? said Jim, one of my co-workers. He wants the support of
wardens and business owners. Id rather vote for you.
I find real interest in the fight to free the Cuban Five among co-workers and knocking on doors,
Martin said. The Cuban Five are five Cuban revolutionaries imprisoned in the U.S. since 1998
for defending the Cuban Revolution. When I show workers the prison paintings of Antonio
Guerrero, which depict the conditions the Cuban Five faced in solitary after their frame-up, it
strikes a chord, especially among those who have been in jail or have a family member or friend
behind bars.
Vol. 78/No. 23

June 16, 2014

Workers back united, independent Ukraine


Face separatist provocations, capitalist offensive

Hundreds of demonstrators carrying block-long ribbons in the colors of the Ukrainian flag
marched June 1 through Kharkiv, Ukraine, against attacks and provocations by pro-Russiangovernment separatists in parts of the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. At the same
time, Ukrainian miners and other workers are fighting bosses Russian and Ukrainian alike
for higher wages and better working conditions as they face impending layoffs and government
cuts to pensions and other social expenditures.
While a new wave of separatist disruptions has been reinforced by new forces entering from
Russia, infighting and divisions have grown among the various anti-Ukraine groups.
On May 29 the Vostok Battalion seized the Donetsk regional administration building from other
separatist forces led by Denis Pushilin. The battalion identified themselves as Russian citizens,
with many saying they were from the Autonomous Republic of Chechnya, reported the Kyiv
The next day the building was under the control of Alexander Borodai, a former Russian
consultant for an investment fund, who proclaimed himself prime minister of the Donetsk
Peoples Republic. Borodai is allied with Igor Strelkov, a former Russian military intelligence
operative, who styles himself as the separatists military commander in the region around
Before the recent shifts, the authority of the alleged nation barely extend[ed] beyond their tenstory office tower and a few heavily armed checkpoints on roads leading into Donetsk, the
Associated Press reported May 21.
Since they moved in, the Vostok Battalion have sent squads into the city, setting up barricades
and posts in heavily populated residential areas to deter assaults by Ukrainian military forces.
They have carried out selected operations against Ukrainian military positions, launching an
attack June 2 against a border patrol station outside Luhansk, seeking to open the border to a
heavier flow of armed recruits and heavy weapons. The same day a paramilitary detachment
broke into the editorial offices of two Donetsk newspapers, Donbas and Vecherniy Donetsk,
dragging away the editors.
More than 10,000 people have fled the region, the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees reported May 30. Some 45 percent have gone to central Ukraine, another 26 percent
to western Ukraine, and some to the south, Crimea or Russia.
For united, independent Ukraine
The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine is deeply concerned over the situation in
the eastern part of Ukraine, Mikhailo Volynets, chairman of the union federation, said in a May
19 statement, listing the capture of administration buildings, terrorist activities followed by
dozens of deaths of peaceful citizens, proclamation of their own rule, intimidation of local
inhabitants, kidnappings, torture of pro-Ukrainian journalists, politicians, international observers,
and simply workers.
Donbas is the coal mining region, said Volynets. Continued disruptions or annexation by
Moscow will lead to closure of the mines, labor migration, devastation of coal mining towns and
impoverishment of the population.


Therefore the miners of Ukraine stand up for the united and independent Ukraine, he said. The
miners and the confederation call for solidarity with workers of Southern and Eastern regions of
While most workers in the east favor a united Ukraine, polarization is growing.
Ukraine is one country, and should stay as one country, Lyudmila, a retired high school
teacher, told AP, adding that she was afraid to give her full name for fear of separatist
Though she still strongly backs national sovereignty, she also says she has no sympathy or
confidence in the new government in Kiev.
Many workers agree. And some, influenced by the never-ending media barrage from Moscow
the only news broadcasts permitted by separatist commandos who seized control of towers
in Donetsk and Luhansk are drawn to support the separatists, looking for a way out of the
chaos, uncertainty and hardship.
The new Ukrainian president elected May 25, Petro Poroshenko, is a multi-millionaire chocolate
tycoon who capitalized on the looting of state property following the downfall of the Soviet Union
and independence of Ukraine in 1991. The Poroshenko government plans to slash government
expenditures to comply with conditions for International Monetary Fund loans and increase
profitability on the backs of working people.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the press last month that Greece where
official unemployment has topped 26 percent for the last year would be a good model for
what is coming in Ukraine.
The IMF itself expects the loan conditions it demands from the Ukrainian government will throw
the country into deep recession, contracting by 5 percent over the rest of the year. Central to the
plan is elimination of government social subsidies, especially for heating, and suspension of
unaffordable wage and pension increases.
On May 29, the State Property Fund announced it will auction off 38 state-owned coal mines as
part of the deal. These mines had received a nearly $1.8 billion state subsidy to stay open and
working. This is more than 30 percent of the 120 functioning coal mines in the country. The
most profitable mines were grabbed and privatized years earlier.
Miners and other workers have been resisting. Iron-ore miners in Krivyi Rih have organized
marches and rallies fighting for doubling their wages, drawing support from area steelworkers
and others.
On May 23 we organized a solidarity rally for the Krivyi Rih miners, Aleksei Oleksyevych,
leader of the independent miners union in Dnepropetrovsk, told the Militant. We organized a
picket outside the EVRAZ offices here, saying high salaries, the foundation of the unity of
Members of the miners union from four state-owned peat production companies
Cherkasytorf, Rozhnytorf, Rivnetorf and Volinjtorf rallied outside the Ministry of Energy and


Coal Industry in Kiev May 30, protesting lack of work.

The boss appointed new managers, Ludmyla Akymenko, a union activist at Chekasytorf, told
the crowd, reported the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine website. We started
getting minimum wages. There were no payments into our pension fund. They told us we would
be working one hour a day.
An important industry like the peat industry must be developed, not destroyed, said Volynets,
addressing the rally. The workers for the peat companies must have decent work conditions.


Vol. 78/No. 24

June 23, 2014

Challenge to Ukraine has brought us together

Bosses target workers, separatists sow chaos in east
SLAVUTYCH, Ukraine The parade and festival are much bigger this year, and more spirited.
More workers from the Chernobyl nuclear plant, like me, are wearing traditional Ukrainian shirts
or carrying Ukrainian flags, said Sergey Akamovych, a member of the central committee of the
ATOM Trade Union. On June 8, residents here were celebrating the 26th anniversary of the
town, founded for plant workers and their families forced out of areas evacuated after the 1986
Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.
The reason for the raised spirits is the big events in the Maidan, Akamovych said, referring to
mobilizations that ousted the unpopular regime of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in
February. Ukrainians are more conscious, more self-confident.
They need to be, he said, pointing to the attacks and provocations in the eastern provinces of
Donetsk and Luhansk by paramilitary gangs entering from Russia to undermine Ukrainian
sovereignty and destabilize the country.
The town where we lived before, Pripyat, was uninhabitable because of the radiation, said
Viktoria Babek, vice chair of the union. After Chernobyl, people came from all over the former
Soviet Union. They built Slavutych and joined in efforts to clean up the area after the disaster.
There are people from 49 different nationalities here, from Russia, Donetsk, Lviv, all over
Ukraine, Akamovych said. By challenging our country, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has
brought us together in defense of Ukraine. Things wont ever be the same.
When Militant correspondents returned to Kiev that evening, Mikhailo Volynets, president of
both the Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners
of Ukraine, described the impact of the separatist provocations.
Miners and other workers are losing their workplaces, he said. Miners have been kidnapped
and tortured.
Yesterday, Moscow-backed armed mercenaries invaded the Skochinsky mine in Donetsk,
Volynets said. They tied up the mine director and beat him in front of the miners, threatening
them with worse unless they closed the mine. Miners in the east overwhelmingly oppose these
attacks, but even though they far outnumber the thugs, they cannot match their heavy
I oppose the austerity measures the International Monetary Fund is pushing on Ukraine, he
said. The government wants to slash social benefits and says it will try and sell 38 of the 100
state-owned mines.
The IMF, the European Union, Ukrainian capitalists and new Ukrainian President Petro
Poroshenko are pushing to slash government benefits, reduce gas and electricity subsidies and
make business more profitable on the backs of working people.


Russia is still Ukraines single biggest trading partner and supplies much of the countrys
energy. In March, Russian state-owned Gazprom raised the price of gas to Ukraine by 80
percent and is demanding Ukraine pay more than $4 billion in supposed debts for fuel.
Moscow has its own problems, including an economy dependent on energy exports at a time
when prices are declining. The vast majority of Russian capitalists, concerned foremost with
political stability and foreign relations that maximize profits, dont want war. And neither do most
workers, tired of more than a decade of combat in Chechnya, Afghanistan and Georgia.
Moscow pulls back from threat to intervene
The Russian government has backed off from its threats of direct military intervention and
withdrawn troops from the Ukrainian border. Putin has recognized the election of Poroshenko
and as part of recent negotiations has offered to reduce the price of gas.
Meanwhile, the heterogeneous separatist forces in eastern Ukraine are dividing. Separatist
strongholds are increasingly being taken over by units calling themselves the Vostok Battalion,
apparently made up of mercenaries tacitly backed by Moscow from Chechnya, Ossetia and
other areas.
Near midnight June 8, camouflaged gunmen broke into the house of Vasyl Serdyukov, editor of
Serditaya Gazeta, a newspaper that supports Ukrainian sovereignty, took him and his son for
several hours and ransacked his home and office.
Residents in Donetsk reported June 10 that Oleg Zhelnakov, who is active in pro-Ukrainian
demonstrations, was detained by separatist thugs and beaten.
Some 20,000 people have fled the region since April, according to the London Financial Times,
most heading west to Dnepropetrovsk, Kiev and other cities, and some to the south or to
relatives in Russia. Thousands of Crimean Tatars have also fled increasingly repressive
conditions in their native homeland since its annexation by Moscow in March.
Many arrive in Kiev almost every day now, Sergey Shevchuk, a participant in the protests in
the capital that brought down the Yanukovych regime, told the Militant June 9. These are
workers, bringing children and carrying almost no money. He is one of a number of volunteers
working to find them housing and financial aid.
Shevchuk says he has been transformed by the struggles of the past few months and remains
committed to defend Ukraines sovereignty.


Vol. 78/No. 24

June 23, 2014

Chernobyl: Tale of two opposite class responses

CHERNOBYL EXCLUSION ZONE, Ukraine Few live within the 1,000 square-mile area
surrounding the worlds worst nuclear disaster that occurred here nearly three decades ago.
Passing through what used to be cattle ranches, wheat and potato fields and small villages now
abandoned and overrun with vines and weeds, two contrasting images come to mind.
On one hand, the brutality and contempt for working people by the Soviet government in
Moscow. The carelessly flawed design of the nuclear reactor that led to the meltdown. The
decision to skip construction of a containment vessel that would have impeded the release of
radiation. The refusal to immediately evacuate the area or take any measures to prevent
residents from consuming contaminated milk and vegetables. The callous and bureaucratic
displacement of hundreds of thousands, treating working people like cattle. The paltry resources
to treat victims of radiation and assist those whose lives were turned upside-down. And the
indifference for the lives and livelihoods of Ukrainian and Russian workers who risked their lives
to contain the disaster and clean up the mess which continues to this day.
In contrast is the image of unparalleled and selfless medical aid and humane care given to more
than 25,000 victims of the disaster by the revolutionary government on the small island of Cuba
which continues to this day.
The April 26, 1986, disaster unfolded during a test of the control system as reactor No. 4 was
being shut down for routine maintenance. A sudden power surge led to a meltdown of the
reactor core and an intense 10-day fire that released large amounts of radiation, which were
carried far by winds. More than 130 workers at the plant were sickened by high doses of
radiation, according to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic
Radiation. Twenty-eight were dead within three months. Another 19 died over the next two
decades. And more than 6,000 children and adolescents contracted thyroid cancer from iodine131, which was inhaled or ingested, mostly through contaminated milk and vegetables.
The town of Pripyat, built one mile from Chernobyls reactors to house the facilities 50,000
workers and their families, was not evacuated until 36 hours after the explosion. Residents were
told they only needed clothing for three days and then they could return. They never went back.
About 115,000 were evacuated from the surrounding area and 220,000 total from Ukraine,
Belarus and Russia.
Visitors approaching the crippled Chernobyl plant are stopped at checkpoints marking two
exclusion zones, the first at 30 kilometers (18.6 miles), the second at 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).
To enter the zones requires government-issued passes and accompaniment by an approved
25,000 treated in Cuba
As cases of thyroid cancer started growing, which takes several years to develop, the Cuban
government responded in a manner consistent with its unbroken record of internationalist


working-class solidarity. The first group of 139 children arrived for treatment in Cuba on March
29, 1990. When the Ukrainian government didnt have planes to transport them, Cuba sent two
planes, one just finishing repairs in Uzbekistan that had not yet been painted. The children were
greeted by Cuban President Fidel Castro when they landed.
Over the past 24 years Cuba has treated more than 25,000 people affected by the disaster,
including at least 21,340 children, at a special clinic established at Tarar, near Havana. Cuban
doctors have also been working in Ukraine.
Even at the height of what Cubans call the special period of economic hardship when the
Soviet Union collapsed, there was no letup in the program providing free medical treatment to
all who needed it.
I knew about the Cuban program for the children, said Mikhail Remezenko, a union official of
the Nuclear Power Workers union and former worker at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant who
accompanied Militant correspondents. Children with serious radiation illnesses came back with
greatly improved health. So many were cured. We are very satisfied with what the Cubans did.
Olga Svyntytska, who lives in Prybirsk and works resettling former residents from the exclusion
zone who want to move back to the region, said her cousin went to Cuba as part of the
program. Viktoria Babek, who lives in Slavutych, and is vice chair of the Chernobyl Nuclear
Power Workers union, said many knew about the program from watching TV. We were glad to
see how the Cuban government took the really sick kids and how their stay there improved their
health, she said.
At the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev, the solidarity from Cuba is featured in a large display panel,
with photos, letters from family members, and a copy of the Cuban daily Granma from March
31, 1990, showing a gathering of Ukrainian mothers with their children. Irina Ivasenko, president
of the Ukrainian Association of Children of Chernobyl, tells Granma she is struck by how such a
small country has such a huge heart.
Workers fight pay, pension cuts
The authors of this article hooked up with Remezenko at Chernobyl Park in the exclusion zone,
which was opened on the 25th anniversary of the explosion. A long row of signs carry the
names of the 187 towns in Ukraine and Belarus that were evacuated. Another monument marks
the murderous effects of Washingtons nuclear assault on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Twenty-eight firefighters from the plant and from two fire departments in Chernobyl and Pripyat
were killed fighting the fires after the explosion, Remezenko told us. In their honor, firemen
donated money to build a life-size monument in front of their fire station. The government
refused to pay for it.
Like many of the nuclear workers, Remezenko lives in Slavutych, a town of 25,000 built to
house workers forced to abandon Pripyat.
We are among the lowest paid and worst-treated nuclear workers, Sergey Akamovych, an
executive committee member of the union, told us. We dont produce any energy to sell so we
dont make them any profit.
But there is still room for corruption, he said. Only 60 percent of the governments allocation for
Chernobyl makes it to the plant each year. The rest, he said, disappears.


Some 2,700 workers from Slavutych work at Chernobyl, dismantling the remaining reactors,
processing leftover nuclear fuel and preventing new radioactive leaks. It is a slow and
dangerous process. All four reactors are closed; the last shut down in 2000. Two reactors
No. 5 and No. 6 were under construction at the time of the explosion and still stand, partially
built and surrounded by a gaggle of cranes.
Approximately 200 tons of fuel, plutonium and other highly radioactive fission by-products
remain in the bowels of the destroyed reactor No. 4.
Somewhere between 600,000 to 800,000 workers known as liquidators were involved in
the cleanup effort. Thousands of coal miners were drafted from across Ukraine to dig a tunnel
under the wreckage and install a coil to cool the concrete floor and reinforce cracks.
At first they were granted special government benefits because of the danger of the work,
including two years of pensions for each year they worked. But nuclear workers more and more
had to fight successive Ukrainian governments over wages and pensions. In February 1999,
workers set up tent camps outside government offices in Kiev and the countrys five nuclear
plants demanding they be paid more than $15 million in outstanding wages.
The fighting example of workers who have been involved in the cleanup and maintenance of the
Chernobyl nuclear site is part of the political struggle taking shape in Ukraine today. Protests by
liquidators took place from 2011 through 2013 from Kiev to Kharkiv to Luhansk, opposing the
pension cuts ordered by President Viktor Yanukovych, who was overthrown in popular antigovernment demonstrations in February.


Vol. 78/No. 24

June 23, 2014

Calif. socialist: We should back workers in Ukraine

SAN FRANCISCO Eleanor Garca, Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor of
California, attended a rally of several dozen supporters of Ukrainian sovereignty here June 8.
Workers in Ukraine are fighting on two fronts, she told the protesters. They are defending
their country against anti-Ukraine separatist gangs as they resist assaults by bosses on their
living standards and working conditions. Workers in the U.S. have an interest in supporting their
Earlier in the day, Garca visited a bus barn to show solidarity with Municipal Transportation
Agency bus and trolley drivers in a fight against union busting.
You are fighting for all working people when you stand up to the attacks, Garca told bus
drivers as they waited to begin their shift at the 22nd Street barn. Ive seen how the company
and media say your fight hurts the public. But the public is divided into classes. What you are
doing is in the interest of the working class.
A similar thing is happening where I work in aerospace, Garca said. They are paying the
newer workers less and trying to get the older workers to retire. Its important to stand up to


Vol. 78/No. 25

July 14, 2014

Workers protest separatist attacks, aid refugees from east in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reinitiated military operations against separatists in the
country who have been carrying out kidnappings, beatings and intimidation of working people in
parts of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Separatist gangs, reinforced by unknown
numbers of heavily armed combatants from Russia, have shut down several mines to disperse
miners, the majority of whom support the Ukrainian fight for sovereignty.
On June 21, a truckload of armed thugs from the Donetsk Peoples Republic seized the office
of the DTEK Komsomolets Donbassa mine, reported news. They trapped 700
miners underground and fired on hundreds of second-shift miners to keep them away;
kidnapped two mine directors; and stole 22 vehicles and ATM machines loaded with the pay
miners were to get the next day.
More than 1,000 miners the following day marched from the mine to the center of Kirovsky,
where they were joined by hundreds of area residents. They demanded separatists lay down
their arms and start peace talks with the government.
You want people to support you, Sergei Podgirniak, a worker in section two of the mine, told
the crowd, speaking about the attackers, reported DTEK media center. But your actions drive
people away. What happened yesterday was a crime.
Such terrorist activities at the mines in Donbass have become a habit for the paramilitaries,
Mikhailo Volynets, president of the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine, said
after the attack. The Sverdlovsk Antratsyt and Rovenki Antratsyt mines were seized by
separatists in May. They shut down Metinvest company mines in Sukhodolsk and
Molodogvardeisk. The separatists seek to destabilize the region, deprive miners of their work
and destroy the economy.
On June 11, members of the miners union at the Lviv Coal Company processing plant in
western Ukraine picketed the Kiev offices of the Cabinet of Ministers, reported the
Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine. They have not been paid for February, March
and April. We have been in constant struggle for scanty wages since 2012, Olga Shkoropad,
president of the union local at the plant, told demonstrators, demanding action from the
Poroshenko government.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of workers have fled Slovyansk, Donetsk and other areas in the
east where separatists are operating, seeking refuge largely in central and western Ukraine.
The number grew by 16,400 over the last week alone, the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees reported June 27, to a total of 54,400. Refugees cite worsening law and order,
fear of abductions, human rights violations and the disruption of state services as the reasons
for their flight, the U.N. said.
The overwhelming majority of assistance to refugees is being organized by volunteer groups
like Euromaidan SOS in Kiev, which was set up to aid families of those killed in the battles that
overthrew the regime of President Viktor Yanukovych in February.


The press publishes reports of people taking advantage of our help, of people in refugee
shelters asking for vodka and cigarettes instead of food, said Alesey Ryabchyn, a student who
moved from Donetsk two weeks ago with his wife and daughter and is now volunteering with
Euromaidan SOS. Dont believe such stories. This conflict has brought out the best in the
Ukrainian people. Our priority is helping those in need, no matter what side theyre on.
A woman and her husband decided to take in some refugees, she posted on her website
francevna1. Two women, Anna and Valya, from Kramatorsk came.
A real information war is underway where they came from, the woman said. They thought that
people in central Ukraine hated the Donetsk people, that horrific Banderites are standing on the
roads to Kiev those from Maidan with rifles, to shoot at people from Donbass.
You know, when I tell my guys how we were greeted here, nobody will believe me, she said
Anna told her.


Vol. 78/No. 26

July 21, 2014

Only Cuba acted with such human solidarity

KIEV, Ukraine Cuba played a really big role in helping those stricken by the nuclear disaster
in Chernobyl, especially for such a small country, said Liliya Piltyay, who helped organize to get
children and others in need of medical attention to the island where they could receive topquality treatment free of charge. As part of a special medical program, Cuba to date has treated
more than 25,000 victims of the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl, Ukraine, from Ukraine, Belarus
and Russia.
This is the first time we have met with a delegation from the United States interested in what
we did, she told Militant correspondents with the help of translator Oksana Demyanovych.
Present at the meeting along with Piltyay were eight young women who had gone to Cuba for
medical treatment and two of their mothers, as well as Tatiana Burka, a woman associated with
the program who worked for years as a liquidator, helping to evacuate people from the
Chernobyl area.
Piltyay was assigned by the Ukraine Komsomol the Communist Party youth organization
to organize participation in the Cuban program when it began in 1990. Today, Piltyay works in a
cardiac program for the Ukraine Ministry of Health.
When the explosion at Chernobyl took place on April 26, 1986, it was a social tragedy, she
said. The authorities didnt tell anyone the extent of what was taking place. To this day, I dont
know why they did not cancel the big May Day demonstrations in Kiev and other cities in zones
where radiation was high.
Until the early 1990s spreading information about the true extent of the radiation and the
number of those affected was prohibited, Piltyay said. But some of our young scientists got the
facts together and at the end of 1989 this material was published, focusing attention on the
extent of the radiation danger to the population.
Much of this material was published in articles and later a small book by Alla Yaroshinskaya
entitled Chernobyl: The Forbidden Truth, which exposed the cover-up by Soviet authorities, who
even curtailed aid to downplay the disaster.
As a result the government was forced to extend the official affected area and the number of
people eligible for compensation, Piltyay said. This was the first time residents of Kiev, the
countrys largest city, were included. The government was worried about how much they would
have to pay. Kiev is about 80 miles from Chernobyl.
Cuba offers free medical care
We younger leaders of the Communist Party responded by calling for international aid, she
said. People at the Cuban consulate read some of the material on the true extent of the
disaster and heard our call. Sergio Lpez, then Cuban ambassador, came to the young CP
members and offered to help. He said Cuba would be pleased to offer free medical treatment to
those in need.
Two weeks later, three of Cubas foremost doctors came to Ukraine. They visited hospitals and


towns, selecting the sickest children to go to Cuba, she said.

Once the first group had been selected 139 children and some of their parents we asked
the Ukrainian government for plane tickets, Piltyay said. But they said there was no money in
the budget. The medical authorities were critical of us, accusing us of having doubts about the
Soviet health system.
On March 29, 1990, two Cuban planes took the first group to the island, said Piltyay, who was
on the first plane. Cuban President Fidel Castro met us when we landed in Havana. He was
surprised and shocked by the condition of the children.
He went into a huddle with other government representatives right there, and by the time the
second plane landed three hours later, he announced that Cuba would take 10,000 children
from Ukraine, Belorussia and Russia, Piltyay said.
I couldnt believe it, she said. I asked the translator whether he had made a mistake. But he
hadnt. And the Cubans did it, and more.
Castro gave a speech July 1, 1990, at the dedication of the medical programs facilities at the
former center for the Pioneers childrens organization in Tarar, outside Havana. Construction
was completed in less than three months by more than 7,000 volunteer workers Castro said,
who responded to the challenge with a great spirit of internationalism.
The Pioneers seaside location was chosen not only because it had medical facilities. For a
child, it is depressing to be imprisoned in a hospital, Castro said, We planned recreation and
vacation programs, trips to the sea.
Because Ukraine officials wouldnt take any responsibility for transporting the kids to Cuba,
from 1991 to 1998 we got together with some of the parents of the children and organized our
own fund, Piltyay said. I was able to make an appeal on television that got us some publicity
and a big response.
After that, we raised the money ourselves, she said. We got donations here, from Canada
where there are a lot of Ukrainians, and elsewhere. It took a huge collective effort, but we were
able to organize a charter flight every two months.
The Cubans organized all the housing, medical care and other help, she said. Cuba was the
only country in the world to organize a program like this. We got some help from other countries,
Germany, Israel, France, even the U.S., but Cuba was the only one with a far-reaching, longterm program.
And they did this when they confronted serious challenges of their own, what they called the
Special Period, she said.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba lost 85 percent of its foreign trade, creating an
acute economic and social crisis marked by shortages of food and other basic necessities.
For 24 years, Cuba has provided care for more than 25,000 people, more than 21,000 of them
children, Piltyay said. Forty percent of them were seriously ill, with thyroid cancers, other
cancers or physical defects, including blood and skin diseases.


Cuba had such a high level of medical care, she said. Ukraine couldnt match it. And the love
the Cuban people gave, the doctors and everyone, was something else again.
In 2012, Ukrainian bureaucrats in the health care system convinced then-president Viktor
Yanukovych they should take over all treatment of Chernobyl victims, and the government
ended relations with the program, Piltyay said. We continued to fight, and in 2013 Yanukovych
said he would allocate funds in the next budget to send 100 more children.
Yanukovych was ousted in February at the height of popular anti-government mobilizations. As
of now, the future of the program to get Ukrainians to Cuba for treatment is unclear.
Some people still get care in Cuba, but they have to raise the funds to cover transportation
themselves, she said. Cuba is willing to continue the program and we hope we can find a way
to get the funding. There are hundreds of young Ukrainians still on the waiting list, she said.
Cuba says they do what they do for moral and ethical reasons, so they never kept count of
what it cost, Piltyay said. But we estimate they spent more than $2 billion. We will never forget
what Cuba has done.
Second Homeland
The group gave two gifts to the Militant, one a book in Russian entitled Second Homeland
which is how all the young women described Cuba. The book describes the Cuban medical
program in Tarar. Piltyay and some of the other women are pictured in the book.
The second was a painting by Inna Molodchenko, a young woman who came to the interview
with her mother Tatiana. Molodchenko is the first on the waiting list.
For the first eight years of her life Inna couldnt chew, Tatiana Molodchenko said. She had the
benefit of six surgeries in Cuba over a number of visits, which make it possible for her to
swallow. She also had skin disease and difficulty moving her hands.
I first went to Cuba in 2008 and just came back from spending a month there in January 2014,
said Tatiana Bernadska. It really did feel like a second homeland. The doctors were special,
and the Cuban people are special people. They helped us as if we were their own kids.
My grandfather was an engineer in Chernobyl, Yulia Palamarchuk said. I didnt have any
confidence in myself when I went to Cuba. The Cuban people helped me with love and
understanding, helped me learn to love myself.
The whole program educational programs, concerts, dancing, cultural exchanges, a library
with books in Russian, teachers from Ukraine to help us, all paid for by the Cubans the whole
environment was great, she said.
My head was injured at school and when they sent me to the doctor, he said I had brain
cancer, said Yulia Panasiuk. They performed surgery on me in Kiev, but when I woke up they
told me there was nothing they could do and I had six months to live. My family found out about
the Cuban program by chance.
The other young women have similar stories. Because the Ukrainian government took no
organized responsibility for the program, it was not widely publicized.


I saw the Cuban doctors and they moved fast, in three days I was on my way to Tarar,
Panasiuk said. I thought I would be there for 45 days, but ended up staying for treatment for
five years with my mom.
When I got back to Ukraine, my health deteriorated again, she said. I came back to Cuba for
more surgery. You can still see I have some paralysis on my left side. They gave me physical
therapy to rebuild my mobility.
The Cuban doctors were fighting to help me. I am really glad destiny gave me the chance to go
to Cuba, she said. The experience taught us a different attitude toward people.
Many of the young women said that while they were in Cuba they learned about the fight to free
the Cuban Five and they have helped to get out information about it in Ukraine.
Solidarity with Cuba important
I worked as a liquidator, one of those who helped to evacuate people, Burka told us. Hundreds
of thousands served as liquidators. Some were volunteers; others were conscripted for military
The area I was assigned to was supposedly empty, already evacuated, with very high levels of
radioactivity, said Burka. But people continued to live in the village as late as May 17, more
than three weeks after the meltdown, she said. At first they only evacuated people who were
In 1989 the contamination zone was extended, which prompted the evacuation of 50,000 more
people, she said. It was after this that the Cuban program began. We were very grateful to the
Cuban people, they were the only country to show this kind of human solidarity, all at their own
The Cuban program didnt get enough publicity, she added. Many people didnt know about it,
this was the only limit on those who could take advantage of it. We need to get that information
out now and get the program strong again. We will never forget the Cuban people.
This was an irreplaceable program, Piltyay said. It showed that the Cuban Revolution is alive
and that solidarity with Cuba is very important.


Vol. 78/No. 26

July 21, 2014

Separatists lose support and ground in east Ukraine

As infighting and desertions spread among armed separatist groups in eastern Ukraine,
government troops have been retaking cities, including Kramatorsk, Druzhkivka, Artemivsk and
Slovyansk the headquarters of the separatists so-called Donetsk Peoples Republic.
On July 2, supporters of Ukrainian sovereignty demonstrated in the southeastern city of
Mariupol, where workers drove out separatists in May and again in June.
Anti-Ukraine forces are increasingly unpopular and losing their base of support in the east.
Noting that cases of kidnappings, thefts and armed attacks targeting working people and
industry have grown, Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine chair Mikhailo Volynets
called June 21 for workers to undertake the creation of a labor guard, whose militants could
protect not only their enterprises and workplaces, but also their lives and those of their families.
Alexei, a local driver, told Associated Press by phone that he left his house in Slovyansk July 5
and saw that the armed gunmen had fled. There was some damage to previously occupied
buildings, but most of the rest of the city was left untouched.
Everything is different now. Tonight is the first night with no shelling, Mikhail Martynenko, 58, a
security guard at a market near Slovyansk, told Reuters July 7. People are in a better mood
and there are more people on the streets.
As separatists vacated Slovyansk, Igor Strelkov, Russian military agent and commander of the
Donetsk Peoples Republic, posted a video online saying his men had lost the will to fight.
They want to live in Russia, he said. But when they tried to assert this right, Russia doesnt
want to help.
I do not claim that Russia does not help, he quickly added. But that which we desperately
need, does not, at this time, arrive.
Some believe that I am panicking, that Im not ok, he concluded. Yes, I am not ok.
Some separatists are regrouping in the city of Donetsk, capital of the eastern Donetsk province,
where they still control government buildings but have otherwise done little to interfere with the
day-to-day administration of the city government. Donetsk Mayor Alexander Lukyanchenko has
maintained municipal services; city workers just finished installing bike lanes downtown.
But Lukyanchenko estimates that some 100,000 people have fled Donetsk in recent weeks as
the city is beset with fighting among competing gangs of armed separatists and their thuggery
against the population.
A separatist faction from nearby Horlivka led by Igor Bezler, another Russian intelligence officer
who goes by the name Demon, was routed by rival separatists after he attempted to seize the
Donetsk city police station for himself.


There is an exchange of fire among the separatists, Iryna Verigina, from the eastern city of
Luhansk, told a Ukrainian television station July 8. They are shooting at each other.
Since hundreds of rebels flooded into the city [Donetsk] at the weekend, Reuters reported July
8, armed men have been out on the streets, setting up new barricades and checkpoints and
stopping pedestrians and motorists.
Russia stands back
The capitalist government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has not acknowledged the
paramilitaries calls for Russian military intervention. On the Fourth of July Putin sent a message
to U.S. President Barack Obama calling for improvement in relations between the two
A state-funded poll released July 7 showed two-thirds of Russians oppose the country sending
troops into Ukraine. Most workers are weary of war following decades of Russian military
interventions from Afghanistan to Chechnya and Georgia. They face falling wages, 7 percent
inflation and seek greater political rights and space to organize. Russian bosses are foremost
concerned about maximizing profits and political stability in Russia and the surrounding region.
Moscow also faces growing discontent among workers and farmers in Crimea, annexed and
occupied by Russian troops since March. Prices have soared 20 to 50 percent. As Russia cut
off trade with Ukraine, store shelves went bare. Tourism, the main industry, plummeted, cutting
jobs and pay. Medication prices have soared beyond the reach of working people. Few Russian
banks opened up to replace Ukrainian banks closed by the new regime.
Farmers report they expect a good harvest, but everything else from irrigation to credits to
export possibilities has been disrupted. On a scale of one to five, we are at negative three,
Sergei Tur, head of the Association of Farmers and Landowners of Crimea told the New York
Times July 7.
Oppressive measures against the 300,000-strong Crimean Tatar population, who
overwhelmingly oppose Russian rule, have grown. On July 7 Moscow banned Refat Chubarov,
the leader of the Tatar ruling Mejlis assembly, from entering Crimea for five years. Mustafa
Dzhemilev, the long-standing leader of the Tatars and leader of the Mejlis until last year, was
slapped with a similar ban in April.
Support for the Crimean occupation among Russian working people is low. The governments
appeal to give up a days pay to help fund costs of the annexation got little traction. In our
department, not one of us made the donation, hospital worker Tatyana told Reuters July 6.


Vol. 67/No. 29

August 25, 2003

Soviet power and bourgeois democracy

(Books of the Month column)
The following are excerpts from the The German Revolution and the Debate on Soviet Power
published by Pathfinder Press. Part of the publishers series The Communist International in
Lenins Time, this is one of Pathfinders books of the month in August. The selection is taken
from a Jan. 21, 1919 article by V.I. Lenin titled, Letter to the Workers of Europe and America,
which is printed as a prologue to the book. Lenin was the central leader of the Bolsheviks and
the October 1917 Russian Revolution. Copyright 1986 by Pathfinder Press, reprinted by
Comrades, at the end of my letter to American workers dated Aug. 20, 1918, I wrote that we are
in a besieged fortress so long as the other armies of the world socialist revolution do not come
to our aid.
Less than five months have passed since those words were written, and it must be said that
during this time, in view of the fact that workers of various countries have turned to communism
and Bolshevism, the maturing of the world proletarian revolution has proceeded very rapidly.
Now, on Jan. 12, 1919, we already see quite a number of communist proletarian parties, not
only within the boundaries of the former tsarist empirein Latvia, Finland and Poland, for
examplebut also in Western EuropeAustria, Hungary, Holland and, lastly, Germany. The
foundation of a genuinely proletarian, genuinely internationalist, genuinely revolutionary Third
International, the Communist International, became a fact when the German Spartacus League,
with such world-known and world-famous leaders, with such staunch working-class champions
as [Karl] Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin and Franz Mehring, made a clean break
with socialists like Scheidemann and Sdekum, social-chauvinists (socialists in words, but
chauvinists in deeds) who have earned eternal shame by their alliance with the predatory,
imperialist German bourgeoisie and Wilhelm II1. It became a fact when the Spartacus League2
changed its name to the Communist Party of Germany. Though it has not yet been officially
inaugurated, the Third International actually exists.
No class-conscious worker, no sincere socialist can now fail to see how dastardly was the
betrayal of socialism by those who supported their bourgeoisie in the 1914-18 war. That war
fully exposed itself as an imperialist, reactionary, predatory war both on the part of Germany
and on the part of the capitalists of Britain, France, Italy and America. The latter are now
beginning to quarrel over the spoils, over the division of Turkey, Russia, the African and
Polynesian colonies, the Balkans, and so on.
Then, on Aug. 20, 1918, the proletarian revolution was confined to Russia, and Soviet
government, i.e., the system under which all state power is vested in Soviets of Workers,
Soldiers and Peasants Deputies, still seemed to be (and actually was) only a Russian
Now, on Jan. 12, 1919, we see a mighty Soviet movement not only in parts of the former


tsarist empire, for example, in Latvia, Poland and the Ukraine, but also in West-European
countries, in neutral countries (Switzerland, Holland and Norway) and in countries which have
suffered from the war (Austria and Germany). The revolution in Germanyclearly shows how
history has formulated the question in relation to Germany: Soviet power or the bourgeois
parliament, no matter under what signboard (such as National or Constituent Assembly) it
may appear.
Soviet power is the second historical step, or stage, in the development of the proletarian
dictatorship. The first step was the Paris Commune. The brilliant analysis of its nature and
significance given by Marx in his The Civil War in France showed that the Commune had
created a new type of state, a proletarian state. Every state, including the most democratic
republic, is nothing but a machine for the suppression of one class by another. The proletarian
state is a machine for the suppression of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat. Such suppression is
necessary because of the furious, desperate resistance put up by the landowners and
capitalists, by the entire bourgeoisie and all their hangers-on, by all the exploiters, who stop at
nothing when their overthrow, when the expropriation of the expropriators, begins.
The bourgeois parliament, even the most democratic in the most democratic republic, in which
the property and rule of the capitalists are preserved, is a machine for the suppression of the
working millions by small groups of exploiters. The socialists, the fighters for the emancipation
of the working people from exploitation, had to utilise the bourgeois parliaments as a platform,
as a base, for propaganda, agitation, and organisation as long as our struggle was confined to
the framework of the bourgeois system: Now that world history has brought up the question of
destroying the whole of that system, of overthrowing and suppressing the exploiters, of passing
from capitalism to socialism, it would be a shameful betrayal of the proletariat, deserting to its
class enemy, the bourgeoisie, and being a traitor and a renegade to confine oneself to
bourgeois parliamentarism, to bourgeois democracy, to present it as democracy in general, to
obscure its bourgeois character, to forget that as long as capitalist property exists universal
suffrage is an instrument of the bourgeois state.
1In the first days of November 1918, while war still raged across Europe, German workers and
soldiers rose in revolt, forming revolutionary councils across the country. Their uprising toppled
the German Empire on November 9 and brought Germanys participation in the war to an abrupt
end two days later, thereby halting the first world interimperialist slaughter. The overthrow of the
regime of Wilhelm II, German kaiser and king of Prussia, coming a little more than a year after
that of the Russian tsar, opened the second front in the struggle against the international
imperialist system. It helped lessen the imperialistss attempts to isolate the Russian workers
and peasants republic established under Bolshevik leadership in November 1917. Together
with the Russian example, the German experience convinced millions of workers of the need for
a new, Communist International.
2The Spartacus League had originated as a revolutionary current in the Social Democratic Party
of Germany (SPD), initiating and spearheading opposition to the SPD majority leaderships
open support in August 1914 to German imperialist war policy. When the workers overthrew the
kaiser on Nov. 9, 1918, the main social-democratic currents formed a provisional government.
The Spartacists advocated replacing this government with one resting on the mass-based
councils of workers and soldiers formed during the uprising.