by New Worker correspondent
SCORES of anti-fascists gathered in a basement lecture hall at University College London on Saturday 13th June for the annual general meeting of Solidarity with Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU), and to hear from anti-fascists of Donetsk and Lugansk by computer link.
Among those present were comrades from Bristol, Newcastle and Southampton where other protest groups had sprung up spontaneously as SARU had done after the horrendous massacre when fascists set fire to the trade union building in Odessa where anti-fascists were sheltering.
The official death toll from that fire was 48 though local witnesses say the real death toll was more than 150. The Kiev regime put the figure at 48. Had the official number been over 50 it would have automatically sparked a United Nations inquiry and investigation.
The first speaker was Andrew Murray from the Communist Party of Britain and Stop the War. He spoke of the bitter and bloody war in East Ukraine and said that is was a country of diverse cultures that could only have been held together but recognition and mutual respect of all those cultures.
Now the current Kiev regime that came to power to try to drag the whole country into the European Union is a degraded regime where all languages are banned except Ukrainian and it is now forbidden to criticise Nazi collaborators and forbidden to display and communist symbols – in a country that for over 70 years was part of the communist Soviet Union.
Jorge Martin told the meeting that the United States House of Representatives has voted to ban the US government sending arms and assistance to the notorious openly pro-Nazi Azov Brigade. This has given Washington a headache because the Azov Brigade is totally integrated into the Ukrainian government army and is regarded as its spearhead.
Oleg Iourin, a Russian-born citizen, spoke of the corruption of the Kiev government, which calls for “European values” – and from their actions meaning by that acquiring Nazi values.
The meeting then heard by computer link from comrades in Donetsk and Lugansk and others who are currently in exile in Minsk.
Alexei Smetalkin, an MP in the Donetsk parliament representing trade unionists spoke via a mobile phone to tell the meeting that over the last 10 years the fascists have made a religion of nationalism. Now the Kiev government is set on trying to exterminate the people in the Donetsk and Lugansk republic.
He said they had to fight to create a road to Russia – a road of life from which they receive humanitarian aid from Russia – but it is not enough for the 7.5 million in the two republics.
The trade unions there are now trying to restart industrial and agricultural production – in spite of regular shelling and bombing from Kiev.
Victor Shapinov of the socialist movement Borotba, which is now working underground throughout Ukraine, said the two Minsk agreements were made between Russia and Kiev with no input at all from the people of Donetsk and Lugansk.
He also spoke of the appalling living conditions in west Ukraine: pensions cut to one third of their previous level while rents have doubled or tripled and there is no money for food. People are facing eviction for being unable to pay their rents. But the Kiev regime blames all the suffering on Russia and Putin.
Alex Markhov of the left-wing Ghost Battalion, which fights under the Red Flag and communist symbols, spoke of the current build-up of Kiev forces which is expected to end in a new attack.
He explained they were the only battalion in the Donetsk and Lugansk army that was also doing political work, raising working class consciousness and promoting Marxism Leninism. Alexei Musgovoy, the former leader of the Ghost battalion, was assassinated just a few weeks ago, after welcoming the Banda Bassotti multi-national caravan of anti-fascists bringing food and support via Moscow.
He warned that in Donetsk there were also powerful oligarchs. They and their colleagues in Moscow did not want to see these two republics return to socialism so that battalion was short of supplies except when it could capture them from fleeing or surrendering Kiev conscripts.
The last speaker in London was Dave Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, who had links with the Donbas miners going back to the big strike of 1984/5.
He brought the support of the Durham NUM and invited SARU to the Durham Miners’ Gala on 11th July.