MORE THAN 150 people packed a lecture room in central London last Monday for the launch of a broad based campaign, Solidarity with Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine.
The speakers were Richard Brenner from the campaign, Lindsey German from Counterfire, Boris Kagarlitsky from the Institute for Globalization Studies and Social Movements (IGSO), in Moscow who joined via Skype as he had been unable to get a visa, Andrew Murray from the Communist Party of Britain, Alan Woods from Socialist Appeal and the International Marxist Tendency and Sergei Kirichuk from the socialist movement Borotba (Struggle) in Ukraine who also spoke over a Skype link.
Richard Brenner opened with the announcement of the most recent air strike by the Kiev junta on Lugansk, resulting in heavy casualties, including many civilians. Air strikes like this have been made on an orphanage and a children’s hospital among other targets.
“But,” Brenner said, “the western media from the BBC to Fox News are promoting the Nato lie that the cause of the problem is a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.”
He pointed out that most of the population of eastern Ukraine are and always have been Russian speakers.
Many speakers made the point that the recent “elections” run by the junta to give it some legitimacy barred all left parties from standing; the communists have been outlawed, their headquarters seized and burned and one leading member murdered. Other left and moderate parties have come under similar attack.
Nevertheless in those elections the Nazi Svoboda party won only two per cent of the vote. This seemed to appease western commentators that the new regime had now distanced itself from the Nazis. But Nazis do not operate according to democratic principles. They are still there in force and occupy around a third of government seats and they are not shifting.
“The fascist threat is not overstated,” said Brenner. “The fascists are there to enforce the will of the IMF as it imposes its savage austerity programme, through violence and terror on the streets.”
Lindsey German began saying: “We are not supporting Putin; we are supporting real self-determination for the people of the Ukraine. We have to look at what is really happening here.
“Firstly there is Nato trying to get bases in Ukraine and secondly there is the rise of open fascism there.”
She spoke about the double standards that the Kiev junta and the western media are applying. They supported the Maidan Square demonstrators as heroic freedom fighters, even though some of them were using sniper rifles and Molotov Cocktails.
Yet when the anti-fascist resistance in the south and east do the same things against the junta – occupying city centres and public buildings but peacefully – they are denounced as terrorists and Russian invaders and are bombed and burned.
Boris Kagarlitsky, via Skype, spoke of the economic imbalances between west and east Ukraine and the parasitical oligarchs who exploit this and who want to be part of the European Union.
“It is not yet a class rebellion,” he said, “but it is a rebellion of the exploited against the exploiters. It is not just about ideology but against economic liberalism and privatisation.”
Andrew Murray spoke of “Basil Fawlty” section of the left in Britain that does not want to talk about the war and the rise of fascism in Ukraine. “That’s not a left position,” he said, “That’s an ostrich position.”
He said that our enemy is here at home in the form of Nato and our government’s support for the Kiev junta.
Sergei Kirichuk from Borotba spoke, also via Skype, of the background to the coup in Kiev earlier this year. Ukrainian communists had proposed a referendum on joining the EU but that was dismissed.
The right-wing Maidan Square protesters demanded entry into the EU. They told people that anyone can become rich in the EU if only they are intelligent and work hard. The Greeks, they said, had got in a mess because they were “lazy and stupid”.
During the brief question-and-answer session at the end Eddie Dempsey from the RMT Paddington Number One branch who, on behalf of his branch, called for a broad based, democratic campaign, rooted in the labour movement that his branch could affiliate to, and move an emergency resolution to RMT national conference.
This would seek national affiliation in support of the anti-fascist movement in Ukraine and opposed to the EU/US/British backed fascist Kiev junta. It would focus on the neutralisation of British involvement in Nato military operations in Ukraine, British political and financial support of the Kiev junta and seek to publicise accurate information on the situation to counter the western media whitewash of events and the rise of fascism in Ukraine.
At the end of the meeting, the aims of the campaign were approved with an overwhelming vote:
• We are against the UK and western governments’ backing for the far-right regime in Kiev.
• We oppose the planned Nato exercises in Ukraine.
• We demand that the killers of 42 people at the House of Trade Unions in Odessa on 2nd May be brought to justice.
• We are against attacks on democratic rights and the repression of left-wing organisations.
• We support the anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine.