Kolchenko and Sentsov condemned to 30 years

Source: Ukraine solidarity campaign-солідарність України кампанія


The decision on 25th August by a military court in Russia to sentence the Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov to 20 years in prison and socialist and anti-fascist activist Oleksandr Kolchenko to 10 years has sparked an international outcry. They are to be held in a high-security penal colony, Sentsov has been denied the right to even see his children.

Both were arrested by the Federal Security Service (successor to KGB) on 11th May 2014 following the Russian annexation of Crimea, held on trumped up charges of ‘terrorism’. Despite being Ukrainian citizens both were taken from Crimea and the trial held in Russia’s city of Rostov-on-Don under Russian law.

Kolchenko a well-known anti-fascist activist has been absurdly accused of being part of a plot with ‘Right Sector’ the ultra-right nationalist organisation. The whole trial has been denounced by human rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Amnesty International describing the trials as being “redolent of a Stalinist-era show trials of dissidents.” Stating that that it was “was fatally flawed and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment have been ignored by the court. Both Oleg Sentsov and one of the main witnesses for the prosecution have alleged that they were tortured.” See: Crimean activists sentenced after a fatally flawed military trial.

Human Rights Watch in their dispatches pointed to the political motive of this trial:

“Since the Russian occupation of Crimea, Russian authorities have been quick to silence those who oppose their actions there – be they Crimean Tatars, pro-Ukraine activists, or Moscow-based independent advocates. But this latest case, and the terribly harsh sentences for Sentsov and Kolchenko, is the starkest warning yet to Russia’s critics in Crimea: keep quiet or else.” See: Dispatches: Crimea keep quiet or else!

As the judge read the sentencing Kolchenko and Sentsov were defiant standing arm in arm and singing Ukraine’s national anthem including the lines “We will lay down our body and our soul for our freedom”.

Ken Loach has joined European film directors calling for their release and has informed the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign of his continued support for these prisoners.

Leading left-wing Labour Party MP John McDonnell has joined him in declaring:

“When Amnesty describes a trial as fatally flawed the world needs to sit up and listen. The return of show trials in Russia has to be condemned. I join with the thousands of other upholders of democracy in calling for the release of Sentsov and Kolchenko.”

Mick Antoniw a Labour member of the National Assembly for Wales has called for stepping up the campaign:

“The incarceration of Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov for 20 years is a return to the Stalinist show trials of the nineteen thirties. He has taken a stand against Russian imperialism and aggression and is now paying the price for offending Putin. Now is the time for real international solidarity with Sentsov and the stand he has taken to defend democracy, freedom of speech and Ukraine’s national integrity.”

A view echoed by Michael Calderbank, Co-Editor, Red Pepper:

“The show-trial of film-maker Oleg Sentsov and anti-fascist activist Oleksandr Kolchenko in Putin’s Russia recalls the worst aspects of “justice” as administered under Stalin. The charges are plainly preposterous, and the only “evidence” of their guilt was obtained using torture methods. Their only “crime” is that they are Ukrainians, and wish to challenge Russia’s military aggression. Please support the international campaign to demand their release. ”

The Facts of the Show Trial

1. Sentsov and Kolchenko are Ukrainians that were arrested by the Russian FSB in March 2014
Oleh Sentsov was arrested on 11 May 2014 shortly after the Russian occupation of Crimea; Oleksandr Kolchenko was arrested 5 days later on May 16. Since then, they have been tortured and imprisoned for over a year.

Both men were Crimean’s and opposed Russia’s annexation of the peninsula. Sentsov is a film director internationally recognised for his feature Gamer, he was a Euromaidan activist and later involved in taking food to conscripts blockaded in their bases in Crimea. Oleksandr Kolchenko was a student and socialist, ecologist and anti-fascist activist; he had supported Euromaidan and opposed the Russian occupation. Russian authorities initially claimed Kolchenko and Sentsov “automatically” became citizens of Russia after the annexation of Crimea. Both denied applying for Russian citizenship. Sentsov said he was “not a serf to be transferred together with land.”

2. They were accused of “plotting acts of terrorism” and being part of a “Right sector terrorist group”
The prisoners are accused of committing acts of terror and of being part of a “Right Sector terror group” supposedly led by Oleh Sentsov. These accusations are based entirely on testimonies of Henadiy Afanasiev and Oleksiy Chirniy, who were also arrested and charged with participation in the same group. After holding Sentsov without charges for three weeks a statement by Russia’s FSB accused the four Ukrainians of being “part of a terrorist community, to carry out explosions with home-made devices on 9 May 2014 near the Eternal Flame memorial and Lenin monument in Simferopol and to set on fire to the offices of the Russian Community of Crimea public organization and the United Russia party branch in Simferopol on 14 April and 18 April 2014.”

3. The accusations are based on testimonies given under torture
The accusations against Sentsov and Kolchenko are based entirely on testimonies of Afanasiev and Oleksiy, who were also arrested and charged with participation in the same “terrorist group.” Both Afanasiev and Chirniy have stated they were tortured by FSB.

On 31 July 2015 Afanasyev retracted his testimony as given under duress. After that he was beaten again in prison. Sentsov and Kolchenko have stated repeatedly that they were tortured and beaten, and there is nothing to assume that the same didn’t happen to Chirniy.

4. A return of Stalinist show trials in Russia
The “Right sector” accusations made by FSB are ridiculous. Right sector is a Ukrainian far-right movement, while Kolchenko is a Ukrainian left-wing anti-fascist activist. There’s no evidence to link the prisoners to Right Sector, which is Russian propaganda’s favourite bogeyman. This forced prosecutors to change their accusations to claiming the group just “took on the ideology.” Memorial, a Russian human rights organization, assumed “that Right Sector is being foisted on the indictment in order to create a primitive media image of a nationalist threat in Crimea.”

5. The crimes which they are accused of are never classified as “terrorism” in Russia
One thing that united Kolchenko and Sentsov was their opposition to Russia’s annexation of their homeland, of which Putin’s ruling United Russia party was an active player. Kolchenko, Chirniy, and Afanasiev admit to planning to vandalise the United Russia offices, but in all cases the acts carried no significant damage.

There are numerous cases of such acts at United Russia party offices and administration buildings across Russia. These are never charged as acts of terror, the perpetrators instead being convicted for hooliganism and getting as little as two years in prison.

6. Free these political prisoners
Sentsov and Kolchenko are political prisoners and human right groups in Russia, Ukraine and internationally also recognise them as such. The campaign to free the Ukrainian socialist Kolchenko and film-director Sentsov must be stepped up.The trial being entirely based on forced testimonies, the alleged plot and connection to Right Sector speak of a return of Stalinist show trials in Russia, according to human rights groups.

“The spectre” of communism or Mozgovoi as Che Guevara for tolkienists

Source: Nihilist.li
Translated by Yuliya Yurchenko

A few hours after Mozgovoy’s death I promised to write a column under a title ‘Mozgovoy is no Che Guevara but a never-to-be Kadyrov’. But I didn’t write it in the end. Because I doubted the premise. One cannot juxtapose Che Guevara and Kadyrov. Well, indeed, if we are to consider the real historical Che Guevara, then the only two things he and Mozgovoy have in common is that they both carried arms and they both disliked USA.

But who cares for real historical figures?

Che Guevara is first and foremost a widely advertised commercial image that has little to do with the real Commandante. And we all are obliged to love that image; except for raging anti-communists who go rabid at the sight of anything red. On 18th February 2014 when the first clashes in Kyiv began, I met a man near the already smoking Party of Regions office. The man was holding a Cuban flag with Che’s portrait on it in his hand.

Those symbols suddenly stood out in the general blue-and-yellow and occasionally red-and-black background so I asked the ‘Cuban’ why he chose them. The answer was simple yet ingenious: ‘I chose this flag because I protest. Because I am a patriot of Ukraine!’ And then some year later in one of Kyiv’s hostels the Cuban flag and Che’s portrait was peacefully side by side with symbols of the Right Sector. The latter too is thoughtlessly used by people who have no idea of the real ideology of that organisation. That hostel by the way housed displaced people from Donbas.

The first lines about Mozgovoy as a new Che were written by Boris Kagarlitsky. Boris Yuliyevitch is rather clever especially if one is to consider that for many years now for the left he managed to be the mouthpiece of Kremlin and that he still was not caught red-handed, neither were there attempts to beat him up. Thence we shall certainly lend him an ear. Leeching off the trust of the left, including the Western, Kagarlitsky knows perfectly well their psychological makeup as well as knowing prefectly what makes a good ‘Che’.

“People’s” hero

Mozgovoy was a unique phenomenon among field commanders of “Novorossiya”. That is why he and not Batman, for example, was appointed as a Che. It is unclear to which extent it was his own or his image-makers’ achievement. One thing is certain and that is that the latter were professionals. Collectively created image of a rebel did not only appeal to all supporters of separatism without exception but also even to some of its opponents.

Mozgovoy was in charge of all sorts of people. For example, there was a notorious Nazi Milchakov in the ‘Prizrak’ who was an internet dog killer celebrity in his youth and now practices his sadistic inclinations by finishing off Ukrainian soldiers. There were a lot of those who identified as ‘communists’ in the ‘Prizrak’, including ex-members of Borotba. There were Nazis, and monarchists, and ‘left’ supporters of Novorossiya project and all considered Mozgovoy as their leader and valued his ‘people-ness’.

There were people sympathetic with the late field commander on Ukraine’s territory too. His contacts with Tetyana Montyan too were widely discussed. Mozgovoy made proclamations of his intentions to hold negotiations with the Ukrainian military. His was often viewed as a compromise leader of ‘rebels’ in case of further reconciliation and re-integration of ‘people’s republics’ [into Ukraine –trans.] occurs.

The secret of his popularity is simple – Mozgovoy told each audience what they wanted to hear. He could simultaneously campaign for unity with Ukraine and for the Russian Empire. He said that there were no fascists in Ukraine and explained his actions as a ‘antifascist’ struggle. He greeted forums of European leftists drunk on rebellious romanticism while stressing his own Orthodox Christiandom, appointed Borotba members as political leaders and at the same time wore a white guard uniform…

He was not like Igor Girkin who is too obviously a monarchist and Orthodox Christian fundamentalist fixated on his own prejudices. Neither was he like the obvious thugs Givi and Motorolla who boasted in public about humiliating captives and openly engaged in looting. Mozgovoy was a commander ‘with a human face’ [Reference to Dubcek’s ‘socialism with a human face’- trans]. Much of what he said in his interviews and video addresses could easily fit a parliamentary address given by any MP from any faction. Let us take a brief look at his rhetoric.

The art of populism

1. Hatred of oligarchs – the cornerstone of Mozgovoy’s reputation as someone almost leftist. Everybody talks about opposing oligarchs these days. All of them – Leshchenko and Nayem and Yarosh, Kyiv Trotskyists who are building a new toy party and president Poroshenko. No-one likes oligarchs and thus telling them off is a winning game.
2. Criticism of a fratricidal war. It is quite bizarre to hear anti-war propaganda from someone who made all possible to incite that war since early spring of 2014. Mozgovoy however managed to do it in rather convincingly for those less in the know. Brethren are fighting brethren and everyone hears in that phrase what they wish to hear i.e. Ukrainians are fighting Ukrainians, Russians are fighting Russians, Slavs are fighting Slavs. And of course they are forced to do so by some evil external forces.
3. One more important point – conspiracy theories. There are some secret forces that ignite the war and benefit from it. Considering that Mozgovoy is no recluse spreading peaceful propaganda but a field commander who recently marched on Debaltseve the forces in question in his view are on the other side of the frontline. But of course they are not ‘the Ukrainian brethren’ but rather something immeasurably terrifying and dark. The right will instantly see here the good old Jewish masonry conspiracy but for the ‘communists’ it will be the western imperialists. The latter differs little in form or structure from the Jewish masonry conspiracy at the end of the day.
4. Social agenda. All and always talk about the social agenda. Poroshenko for example depending on the mood portrays himself as anything, even an almost social-democrat while at the same time talking of the necessity of radical market reform. But then again, when was the last time our politicians followed any logic? BYuT [Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc ] too talks about it, sold out KPU does too and so does the Right Sector and Svoboda. Ukraine’s mass electorate is poor or balancing on the verge of poverty and that means that any force willing to win must make populist promises even if those go against the grain of its politics.
5. Power to the people. Universal meaningless phrase that can be easily interpreted as the left and right alike. In ‘power to the people’ one can see ‘direct democracy’ of anarchism or ‘organic democracy’ that Mussolini was implementing as part of the fascist project. ‘Power to the people’ existed in Gaddafi’s Libya according to the Green Book apologists. Maidan too was called an example of the ‘power to the people’. Terms such as ‘people’ are usually missing from serious political discussion but it fits slogans perfectly. Mozgovoy spoke exactly in slogans and he did it with professional touch.

A never-to-be Kadyrov

He could have made a great ‘Donbas Kadyrov’ if the Kyiv government managed to find a common language with him. Home-grown leader of ‘LNR-DNR’ and not some oligarch or imposed by the ‘junta’ ‘Moskal’. Mozgovoy could have harshly and war-like brand the sly US and Russian instigators of the war. Russia too could have been pronounced a US marionette – the people’s leader knows not impossibilities. He could do the dirty job of purging the unfortunate territories for Kyiv too.

Mozgovoy could have become part of political Beaumont turning from the instigator of war into the man who brought peace to Donbas. It is important to understand that there could be no relationship of vassal fidelity between Poroshenko and Mozgovoy like there is between Putin and Kadyrov. Most likely he would have ended up in the ‘constructive opposition’ to the regime while serving as a shield for the old Party of Regions folk who are not so interested in separatism but in a Ukrainian Donbas although on their terms.

His membership could make a great ‘Party of Peace and Reconciliation’ with some serious electoral prospects. Its list could have been topped by some Ukrainian patriot from the west of Ukraine who ‘has heard Donbas’, some politician from Kyiv with a trending Facebook account, and of course Mozgovoy himself who would have embodied the autonomy of Donbas on the one hand and the fact that Donbas remains a part of Ukraine on the other.

Many of the people who seem lost for Ukrainian politics today could be among the members of this hypothetical party; those who are forced to play the game of forming ‘political emigrant committees’ in Russia and Crimea.

Mozgovoy could have become a leader of an ‘independent Novorossiya’ with the same ease. He did not look like a thug but he was no smarty pants [intelligentishka] either. Being neither Russian, nor Ukrainian he could be ‘their own’ for either. He was orthodox Christian and it was not a charade. He liked Lenin and he did not like oligarchs although he was in no rush to lead people into the last and decisive battle. That allowed the hardnosed people who financed that circus to not worry. Power did not go to his head, he did not marry schoolgirls, neither did he gift them trophy cars. This sort of a leader could really have been loved if local population were to be brainwashed accordingly – they loved worse before.

Mozgovoy potentially was handy for Russia and Ukraine alike. At the same time he presented a danger for both as neither side wanted such convenient political resource to be used by their opponent. But most danger Mozgovoy presented to the acting ‘LNR’ authorities as regardless of who he would serve at the end those authorities would get in the way in his role as a the saviour of Donbas, whatever one would mean by ‘saving’.

Che Guevara for Tolkienists

But now Mozgovoy has died. According to the official version of events he was killed by Ukrainian spies. The version suits Ukraine who can now say that they are die-hards and can eradicate enemy commanders. It suits Russia with LNR well too as it removes the necessity to ask them a whole array of uncomfortable questions.

And now Mozgovoy is doomed to become an object of a cult. Maybe the cult won’t even last a decade as most now have flash consciousness and ‘heroes’ appear and disappear in course of months. However Russian propaganda is interested in making a new Che out of him to attract those who still hesitate in the west and not only lefties.

Mozgovoy has it all to become a legend: a beard, a few phrases against oligarchs. The latter in combination with the beard looks very lefty, even Yarosh could appear lefty with that. In addition there is participation in the ‘anti-fascist forum’ which was held soon before his death. One impressionable Argentine lady wrote about the cadaver ‘if he was not a communist, he really looked like a real communist’. This is an exemplary comment. As for people who perceive politics via slogans and images it does not matter at all what those are in reality. What matters is what they look like.

If Ukrainian patriots are seriously ready to see Ukrainian nationalist symbols and UPA flags in blue-and-yellow and red-and-black flags in Chile, then some foreign Stalinist will see a reborn Che in any bearded man who curses oligarchs in an incomprehensible language. The main thing is that he looks ‘like a communist’ and the legend will follow. Below is an exemplary photograph from an Italian demo commemorating Mozgovoy.

Its participants commemorate the ‘left’ commander and at the same time demand that Vlad Voytsekhovskiy of Borotba is allegedly ‘falsely accused’ of separatism is freed from the claws of the ‘junta’. It would all be great if only the ‘falsely accused’ of Borotba was not freed last winter already as part of an exchange [of captives with LNR – trans] and went to LNR to fight in Mozgovoy’s brigade.

The picture speaks volumes. For example it tells us that foreign fans of ‘Novorossiya’ do not care in the slightest about what is happening in reality even with those who they supposedly support. They care about feeding their illusions, about imagining that they are back in the times of the Second World War and are supporting the struggle against the ‘absolute evil’.

This war has started mainly thanks to the white guard historical reenactor Strelkov. Communist reenactors are now trying to break even. Not even like the reenactors who as a rule try to re-enact the past with accuracy but as reenactors of fantasy role-play also knows in laymen’s terms as Tolkinists. A stick held in one’s hand and called a sword usually suffices. Mozgovoy is a perfect Che for that kind of Tolkienists of the left.

Ukraine’s left: between a swamp and a hard place

Source: Open Democracy, Nihilist
Author: Danys Gorbach

The events of the past two years—the mass protests that led to the deposing of President Viktor Yanukovych, the subsequent annexation of Crimea, and Russian aggression in the east—have changed much in Ukrainian society.

These events have split the global left, dividing the so-called ‘anti-imperialists’ (who support Putin’s aggression) and those who condemn it. Meanwhile, inside Ukraine, left-wing activists are currently re-grouping in response to the events of the past 15 months. Indeed, the changes taking place inside the radical left community began in 2011-2012; the events that followed served as a catalyst.

From the ground up
When Ukraine became an independent state in 1991, the left movement was in the process of being built from the ground up.

Traditions of left-wing protest had long been eradicated, and talk of a continuous tradition of an organised left, stretching back to Nestor Makhno or the Trotskyists, was preposterous.

In the late twentieth century, the language of democratic protest against Soviet power, leftist at its core, was liberal conservative.

Indeed, in the late 1980s, the Soviet press used to call conservatives, who supported a more authoritarian regime and an end to the democratic process of perestroika, ‘right wing’ (although formally speaking, they were communists), and the opposition (including conservative liberals like Boris Yeltsin)—‘left wing’.

Later, in independent Ukraine during the 1990s, the term ‘leftists’ became popular when referring to the Stalinist and post-Stalinist parties, which, having taken root in the debris of the recently dissolved Communist Party, went on to exploit people’s nostalgia for the Soviet Union.

These parties included the Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU), which drifted away from Stalinism to social democracy; the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU), self-declared successor to the old Soviet Communist Party of Ukraine; the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, which broke off from the SPU and quickly took up a nationally-oriented ‘socialist’ position, with an ‘anti-globalisation’ bent grounded in religion; and, last but not least, the Peasant Party of Ukraine, rocked by a series of scandals in the past 15 years.

Throughout the 1990s, these political forces made up the majority in the Verkhovna Rada, and acted as the opposition to President Leonid Kuchma. It was precisely these parties, emerging from the Stalinist tradition (indeed, the majority of them never left it), which came to embody left-wing principles for ordinary people in Ukraine.

Thanks to their efforts, socialism and communism are still closely tied to ideas such as Slavic nationalism, a pro-Russian geopolitical orientation, the police state, the death penalty, social conservatism, the defence of ‘canonical Orthodoxy’, and the wholehearted approval of the Soviet experience.

Gradual regression
In the past 15 years, however, these parties have lost their political influence. This slow defeat has come about not just as a result of demographic processes (the inevitable ageing and diminishing of their supporters), but also due to their own miscalculations.

During the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko, the once powerful SPU squandered its political capital, as it entered unscrupulous coalitions, made bad political deals, and was exposed in a series of corruption scandals.

The Communist Party, which was practically in a governing coalition with the Party of Regions under Viktor Yanukovych, supported the infamous dictatorship laws of 16 January 2014, and in so doing, bound its political future with that of the regime, which quickly fell apart a month later.

After Maidan, with a large portion of their electorate in annexed Crimea and the territories of the ‘People’s Republics’, the communists had little hope of returning to parliament.

‘The left swamp’
At the same time, new left-wing organisations of a different breed have emerged: genuinely anarchist initiatives, Trotskyite groups, radical offshoots from the bureaucratic structures of the CPU, left-leaning nationalists, anti-fascists, social democratic circles—the wide spectrum of left organisations and movements typical of any western country.

To distinguish these groups from the post-Stalinist parties, which monopolised the left flank of national politics, Ukrainian journalists coined the term ‘the new left’. They did this without paying much attention to the fact that this term refers to a concrete political tradition; and one, which, not every young leftist who doesn’t love the CPU belongs to.

Aware of their minimal numbers and influence, these movements kept close to one another: they organised common protests and May Day demonstrations (for Kyiv, with a population of three million, a 500-strong May Day march was considered a success), operated general mailing lists and leased spaces for collective use.

Members of one group would move to another or create their own, but would remain, nevertheless, in the same friendship groups. New people also found themselves here.

This is how a phenomenon that came to be known as the ‘left swamp’ formed: a relatively stable, close-knit social environment where many people hated one another on political and personal grounds, held different political ambitions, but nevertheless felt a sense of belonging to a common cause.

Drying out the swamp
When one group tried to use the swamp in its own interests, though, this was the beginning of the end of this community.

In 2010, the Organisation of Marxists, a group that unified Stalinist former Komsomol members with Trotskyites, invited the swamp to participate in the creation of a ‘left political subject’ (the term ‘party’ was not used to avoid scaring off the anarchists). And so a process was set in motion. Its results turned out to be contrary to its aims: instead of entering the ranks of this new party in droves, the swamp began to dry out.

The anarchists put forward an alternative proposal: unite in radical federative unions on the basis of a syndicalist strategy. In summer 2011, the Autonomous Workers’ Union (AWU), which positioned itself against this new ‘party’, was founded.

By 2011, the Organisation of Marxists had already disintegrated into Stalinist and Trotskyite wings. The former took the name Borotba (the title of a Ukrainian social democratic party active in 1918-1920), while the latter called itself the Left Opposition (a nod to the Trotskyite platform in the Soviet Communist Party of the 1920s). Both groups saw the creation of a leftist party with parliamentary ambitions as their task.

The most influential of these new organisations turned out to be Direct Action (Priama diya), a student union anarcho-syndicalist group founded in the mid-1990s.

Beyond the swamp

Wth their different political views and aims, the paths of these organisations naturally began to diverge. And though accusations of sectarianism and opportunism began to fly as the ‘swamp dried out’, this process ultimately benefited everyone.

In 2012, for instance, anarchist organisations were able to hold their own May Day demonstration, raising their own libertarian agenda; Borotba received the opportunity to found their own parliamentary party, bringing police officers into their ranks, co-operating with Russian nationalists as well as developing other initiatives, previously unthinkable in partnership with the anarchists and Trotskyites.

Meanwhile, Left Opposition (Liva opozytsiya) strived to remain in the swamp longer than everyone else, trying to maintain good relationships with everyone simultaneously. The events of 2013-2014, however, marked the end of a general left community.

The pro-Putin left

Initially taking a sceptical position (typical for most leftists) towards the Maidan in Kyiv, Borotba went on to break with Ukraine’s other left groups in January 2014.

As the protests took on an anti-police character, and the Yanukovych regime intensified its repressive tactics, one thing became clear: there was no going back. Instead, what we faced was either the victory of Maidan (and an uncertain future) or a new authoritarian regime in the Russian model.

Despite this, Borotba openly took the side of AntiMaidan, a pro-government movement, which later transformed into pro-Russian separatist movements in the south and east of the country.

Today, Borotba’s leadership resides partly in western Europe, partly in Russia, and has tied its political future to the separatist movement in the east of Ukraine.

In so doing, Borotba has lost its political appeal for the rest of Ukraine. Have they managed to achieve anything on that side of the frontline? It’s hard to say: separatist authorities have arrested Borotba members on several occasions. The CPU has also found it difficult to enter the ‘political process’ in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

Meanwhile, though it never officially supported Maidan, the position of the Autonomous Workers’ Union’ on Maidan changed after January 2014.

Many members of AWU participated in protests and infrastructure initiatives, including protecting casualties in hospitals and supporting the occupation of the Ministry of Education (organised by Direct Action).

Indeed, anarchists from AWU were the first to hold a protest after Maidan—against the new government. AWU is still yet to become a syndicate, as it has not managed to set up cells in factories. But it operates as a propagandist anarchist organisation, protesting and holding consciousness-raising events.

The local Kharkov branch of AWU managed to partner up with the liberals in winter 2013-2014, and became an influential force in the Maidan movement there after pushing out the nationalists. Indeed, Kharkov, despite several splits, is home to several anarchist initiatives, including a squat for ATO refugees.

In Kyiv, the left had no such opportunity: nationalists maintained their monopoly on public pronouncements, and pushed the leftists and feminists aside as soon as they unfurled their human rights and socio-economic banners. Nevertheless, Direct Action stubbornly tried to promote its agenda on Maidan (and on the walls of the occupied education ministry). It was in violent confrontations with left activists that the far-right group Right Sector was born.

After Maidan, Direct Action underwent personnel changes: a third generation—young students of an anarchist bent—replaced the second, who were, at last, destined to leave the lecture halls. Today, Direct Action is involved in fighting an anti-religious campaign, resisting the creeping influence of the church in educational institutions, as well as defending the interests of students against neo-liberal education reforms.

Meanwhile, Free Earth, an anarcho-ecological organisation founded in Kyiv, continues to fight against the development of shale gas in Ukraine, and building on Kyiv’s green sites. Several activists from this group are currently fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The initial post-Maidan period seems to have produced several new anarchist groups. In autumn 2014, an anarchist initiative called Black Rainbow sprung up in Kyiv, and local anarchists in Zhytomyr managed to set up Chaotic Good, despite nationalist resistance.

All these groups categorically separate themselves from the ‘People’s Republics’ in Ukraine’s east, seeing those movements as far-right puppet dictatorships, which are controlled by the neo-liberal Putin regime. At the same time, though, they are against any form of nationalism.

Refusing to lay equal blame for the breakout of conflict on the Russian and Ukrainian governments, Ukrainian anarchists come out against the neo-liberal and conservative initiatives of their ‘own’ state.

Digital democracy
The departure of Borotba from Ukrainian politics opened up a space for a young left party—one which, just like Syriza and Podemos, could unite grassroots social movements and promote a social democratic agenda.

Left Opposition decided to take this mantle. Shortly after the victory of Maidan, which they supported, they launched the Party of Social Revolution, declaring the principles of digital democracy. In order to avoid the usual bureaucratic hiccups of registering a new party, they reached an agreement to essentially buy a formal party structure created by other people.

This party has had no shortage of scandals. Under pressure from activists in Odessa, Oleg Vernik—leader of the Defence of Labour trade union—found his way into the party management. In the early 2000s, Vernik, a union leader, was suspected of conning international socialist organisations.

Vernik’s biography is a full one: during Ukraine’s parliamentary elections in 2012, he worked closely with Alexei Kochetkov, the Russian political technologist responsible for CIS-EMO, an election-monitoring organisation. Indeed, Vernik has long tried to establish partnerships with nationalist groups.

In May 2014, however, the organising committee decided to build the party from scratch under the name Social Movement. According to the organisers, they consciously decided to avoid the word ‘revolution’ in the name, given its lack of popularity among today’s electorate.

This new party hopes to repeat the successes of the Greek and Spanish parties—to become a platform for grassroots socio-economic protest, and eventually get into parliament and promote Keynesian economics and progressive politics.

As to their position on the current war in Ukraine, this party tries to please everyone at once: they are smooth in presentation, declaring that both sides are at fault. Yet a scandal over one member of this new party’s management, who had been serving in one of the pro-Ukrainian police battalions, has sharply divided the party: for some, this was fine; for others, it was impermissible.

Have Social Movement made the right choice? Only time will tell. After all, larger political projects, with better financing and administrative resources, have already appropriated socio-economic slogans against austerity, rising communal charges and the fall in citizens’ income.

These populists have very good chances at the coming local elections in October, and Social Movement will have to fight them on the same ground.

Left nationalists
The Autonomous Resistance (AR) movement stands apart in Ukraine’s left scene. Founded in 2009, this group has undergone a political evolution in the past six years.

The founders of AR used to be in charge of the Ukrainian National Labour Party – a national socialist movement, which looked up to Hitler. Gradually, though, a new group emerged with a ‘left Nazi’ ideology. They were particularly enamoured with the Strasser brothers, and their ideology shifted towards defending the rights of workers (ethnic) and resisting the oligarchs (Jews).

In reality, the rather odious Yury Mykhalchyshyn—a member of Svoboda—used to run this party, but broke off contact after becoming a people’s deputy in 2012. A conflict between Svoboda and AR took hold, manifesting itself in regular street violence in Lviv (AR’s ‘stronghold’). Svoboda, which brought the majority of classic neo-Nazis groups under its wing, sent them to fight AR, the ‘communists’. As a result of this conflict, AR swung further to the left.

Currently, this group positions itself against capitalism in its texts, and considers the key contradiction in society to be class, rather than nationality. It condemns xenophobia, though its members desire a ‘proletarian’ government after the social revolution has taken place (instead of the immediate abolition of the state), and resists progressive social agendas such as feminism, LGBT, and reproductive rights. They have, for all intents and purposes, remained nationalists.

During Maidan, AR was active in Lviv, occupying the regional administration building. After conflict broke out in the east, many AR members set off for the front to fight against ‘a more reactionary regime’ (they do not support the Ukrainian government).

The Greek crisis
The Ukrainian left is often accused of lacking unity: the bringing together of everyone with everyone else is fashionable, and those who resist it are branded ‘sectarians’.

Although all the groups mentioned above are on the left of the political spectrum, they have, at times, expressed very different views. For instance, take their views on Greece.

Of course, all Ukrainian leftists condemn the policies of the Troika, which, as they see it, continues to insist on senseless and merciless austerity, stigmatising Greeks as ‘lazy natives’. But there are serious differences.

Borotba and similar groups underline the geopolitical aspect, ‘exposing’ the role of the European Union, which is stripping the Greeks of all they have, and will soon do the same to Ukrainians.

Autonomous Resistance emphasises the destructive role of usury, and believes that Greece should liberate itself from this yoke—after all, they say, the parasite bankers have trapped Greece in a web of debt.

Social Movement proposes complete solidarity with Syriza, and hopes for a further radicalisation of its politics—the nationalisation of the banks, and reforms in the style of Lenin’s NEP.

Anarchists express solidarity with Greek workers, but do not support Syriza as a party (it heads a bourgeois government). For them, there’s no point in the proletariat relying on this government: they have to organise themselves and take the initiative. Several of them would add that the problem here resides in capitalism itself, and not the populist dichotomy ‘people/oligarchs’, and that there is a latent anti-Semitism in the stories of greedy bankers who are at fault for everything.

These are all different positions, and belie the radically different political philosophies at work here. Many on the European right, of course, also ‘support Greece’.

The next political battle
For Social Movement, clearly, the next political battle is the upcoming local elections. Given the domination of populist rhetoric heard from their more powerful opponents, they shouldn’t expect much in the way of electoral success this autumn. That said, they themselves take a more long-term view, seeing the coming elections as an opportunity for agitation.

The current patriotic hysteria that has swept Ukraine—unavoidable in times of war—is helping left-wing nationalists to gain ground.

When it comes to AR, their political programme is close to that amalgamation of left and right slogans which dominates the minds of many people in Ukraine. Aside from nationalism, AR’s demonstrative radicalism and insurrectionism also attracts attention: it draws people who wish to defend the ‘achievements of the Maidan revolution’, but who are not prepared to work with right-wing movements.

That said, surveys show that the overwhelming majority of people in Ukraine are tired of radicalism and violence: thus, ‘ultra-radical’ political forces can appeal only to a minority.

Anarchist organisations are aware of this, and opt for different tactics: without hiding their radical programme, anarchists believe their main goal is to help raise the consciousness of workers and build organisational structures.

As Maidan showed, without organisation, there’s no point thinking about more ambitious aims.

New adress for Kolchenko and Sentsov (Ukrainian activists) [en, ru, it]

The 2 ukrainian activists accused of terrorism by russian authorities, deportet in Russia from Crimea), are imprisoned in jail in Russia since May 2014. They have been in a jail in Moscow (Lefortovo) but now they are deported in another city:
(Only letters in russian are allowe).

Сделали передачу Олегу Сенцову и добавили овощей и фруктов Кольченко:

I due attivisti ucraini accusati di terrorismo e deportati dalla Crimea in Russia, sono stati imprigionati nel carcere di Mosca dal maggio 2014. Ora sono stati deportati in un’altra citta’:
(Solo le lettere scritte in russo sono permesse)

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Kolchenko
ul. Bolshaya Sadovaya 31, SIZO-4, a/ya 2710
Rostov na Don, 344082
Кольченко Александру Александровичу.
ул. Большая Садовая 31, СИЗО-4, а\я 2710
344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону

Oleg Gennadevich Sentsov
ul. Bolshaya Sadovaya 31, SIZO-1, a/ya 2710
Rostov na Don, 344082
Олегу Геннадьевичу Сенцову
ул. Большая Садовая 31, СИЗО-1, а\я 2710
344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону

Rassemblement “Liberez Alexandre Koltchenko et Oleg Sentsov!” (Paris) | Свободу Александру Кольченко и Олегу Сенцову! Демонстрация (Париж) [fr, ru]

Rassemblement “Liberez Alexandre Koltchenko et Oleg Sentsov!” devant l’ambassade de Russie à Paris.
Свободу Александру Кольченко и Олегу Сенцову! Демонстрация перед российским консульством в Париже.

Mercredi 1 Juillet | Среда 1 июля
40-50, boulevard Lannes Métro: Porte Dauphine.

Rassemblement “Liberez Alexandre Koltchenko et Oleg Sentsov!” devant l’ambassade de Russie à Paris.

Du 27 au 30 juin auront lieu en France les jours d’action pour la libération d’Alexandre Koltchenko. Des actions auront lieu à Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Orleans, Marseille et Biarritz. Nous vous demandons de rejoindre la campagne de solidarité et d’organiser des évènements de soutien pour Koltchenko. Le 11 juin l’affaire des “terroristes de Crimée” Koltchenko et Sentsov a été mise en jugement.

Au début du mois de juillet 2015 les audiences pour l’affaire d’Alexandre Koltchenko commenceront à Rostov-sur-Don. Malgré l’absurdité des accusations (l’antifasciste est accusé d’appartenir à un groupuscule d’extrême-droite), l’instruction met l’affaire au tribunal en utilisant les chefs d’accusation “terrorisme” et “appartenance à un groupe terroriste”. Alexandre Koltchenko sera jugé avec le réalisateur Oleg Sentsov, que les autorités russes appellent un instigateur et leader de “mouvement terroriste”. Deux autres “membres du groupe” accusés ont collaboré et donné les déclarations nécessaires. Le tribunal leur a donné une peine de 7 ans de réclusion.

Selon l’instruction, un “groupuscule terroriste” a été créé en Crimée en avril 2014 sur la directive du “Secteur droit”. Ledit groupuscule aurait organisé l’incendie des bureaux du parti “Russie Unie” et prévoyait aussi de dynamiter une statue de Lénine. Oleg Sentsov soutient que l’affaire est contre lui de toutes pièces. Il ne nie pas qu’il se trouvait à proximité des bureaux du parti le jour de l’incendie, mais il ne considère pas cela comme un acte terroriste. Il affirme que, étant antifasciste, il ne pouvait se conformer à des idées nationalistes, mais il était contre l’invasion de l’armée russe en Crimée et craignait une guerre à part entière entre la Russie et l’Ukraine. Sur les chefs d’accusation sus-dits, Sentsov risque une peine de 15 à 20 ans et Koltchenko de 10 à 20 ans.

Свободу Александру Кольченко и Олегу Сенцову! Демонстрация перед российским консульством в Париже.

27-30 июня во Франции пройдут дни действий с требованием освобождения Александра Кольченко. Акции состоятся в Париже, Лионе, Страсбурге, Марселе и Биарицце. Мы призываем присоединиться к кампании солидарности и провести мероприятия в поддержку Кольченко с 30 июня по 5 июля 2015 года. 11 июня дело «крымских террористов» Кольченко и Сенцова было передано в суд.

В начале июля 2015 года в Ростове-на-Дону начнутся судебные заседания по делу Александра Кольченко. Несмотря на абсурдность обвинений (антифашист обвиняется в участии в праворадикальной группировке), следствие передает дело в суд именно с обвинениями по статьям «терроризм» и «участие в террористическом сообществе». Александра Кольченко будут судить вместе с режиссером Олегом Сенцовым, которого российские власти считают создателем и лидером «террористического сообщества». Еще двое арестованных «участников сообщества» пошли на сотрудничество со следствием и дали нужные ему показания. Суд приговорил их к 7 годам лишения свободы.

По версии следствия, в апреле 2014 года по указанию украинского «Правого сектора» в Крыму было создано «террористическое сообщество», которое совершило поджоги офисов «Русской общины Крыма» и отделения партии «Единой России», а также планировало взорвать памятник Ленину. Олег Сенцов настаивает на том, что дело против него полностью сфабриковано. Кольченко не отрицает, что был у офиса «Единой России» в день поджога, однако не считает это терроризмом. Он заявляет, что, будучи антифашистом, руководствоваться националистическими взглядами он не мог, но был возмущен вторжением российских войск на территорию Крыма и опасался начала полномасштабной войны России и Украины. По предъвленным обвинениям Сенцову грозит от 15 до 20 лет лишения свободы, Кольченко — от 10 до 20 лет.

Сделали передачу Олегу Сенцову и добавили овощей и фруктов Кольченко. Адреса для писем:

344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону, а\я 2710, Сенцову Олегу Геннадьевичу;
344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону, а\я 2710, Кольченко Александру Александровичу.

Here’s the new adresses of Kolchenko and Sentsov to write to them in prison (they have the same!):

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Kolchenko
ul. Bolshaya Sadovaya 31, SIZO-4, a/ya 2710
Rostov na Don, 344082
Кольченко Александру Александровичу.
ул. Большая Садовая 31, СИЗО-4, а\я 2710
344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону

Oleg Gennadevich Sentsov
ul. Bolshaya Sadovaya 31, SIZO-1, a/ya 2710
Rostov na Don, 344082
Олегу Геннадьевичу Сенцову
ул. Большая Садовая 31, СИЗО-1, а\я 2710
344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону

Solidarität mit Alexander Kolchenko

Quelle: Indymedia DE

Infoveranstaltung: Donnerstag, 2.7., 20 Uhr, ZGK, Scharnweberstr. 38, U-Samariterstraße – Soli-Kundgebung: Freitag, 3.7., 13 Uhr Unter den Linden, vor der russischen Botschaft – ABC Moskau ruft zu Solidarität mit Kolchenko während der internationalen Aktionswoche vom 30. Juni bis 05. Juli auf. In Frankreich wird es in Paris, Lyon, Marseille und Biarritz Aktionen geben – in Berlin auch.

Im Juli soll nach über einem Jahr U-Haft der Prozess gegen Alexander Kolchenko vor dem Militärgericht in Rostow am Don beginnen. Über 1000 km entfernt von Moskau steht ihm, von der Medienöffentlichkeit und seinen Solikreisen abgetrennt, ein willkürliches Verfahren bevor, dass die Unfehlbarkeit der russischen Regierung demonstrieren soll.

Alexander Kolchenko, 24 Jahre, Anarchist und Antifaschist, nahm an studentischen und umweltpolitischen Aktionen auf der Krim teil. Mehrmals war er war wegen seines antifaschistischen Engagements den Angriffen ultrarechter Schläger ausgesetzt.

Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) Moskau schreibt dazu u.a.:

Ungeachtet der Absurdität der Anschuldigungen (ein Antifaschist wird der Mitgliedschaft in einer rechtsradikalen Gruppe beschuldigt), leitete der Ermittler das Verfahren ausgerechnet unter dem Strafparagrafen „Terrorismus“ und „Mitgliedschaft in einer terroristischen Gruppe“ ein. Alexander Kolchenko wird zusammen mit dem Filmregisseur Oleg Sentsov, den die russische Regierung für den Gründer und Anführer einer „terroristischen Gruppe“ hält, angeklagt. […] Er [Kolchenko] erklärte, dass er als Antifaschist keiner nationalistischen Idee folge, aber von der Invasion russischer Truppe auf das Territorium der Krim aufgebracht war und sich vor einem ausgewachsenen Krieg zwischen Russland und der Ukraine fürchtete. Bei den vorgelegten Anschuldigungen drohen Sentsov 15 bis 20, Kolchenko 10 bis 20 Jahre Knast.

mehr Infos zu Kolchenko in verschiedenen Sprachen auf avtonom.org

Сделали передачу Олегу Сенцову и добавили овощей и фруктов Кольченко. Адреса для писем:

344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону, а\я 2710, Сенцову Олегу Геннадьевичу;
344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону, а\я 2710, Кольченко Александру Александровичу.

Here’s the new adresses of Kolchenko and Sentsov to write to them in prison (they have the same, change the section):

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Kolchenko
ul. Bolshaya Sadovaya 31, SIZO-4, a/ya 2710
Rostov na Don, 344082
Кольченко Александру Александровичу.
ул. Большая Садовая 31, СИЗО-4, а\я 2710
344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону

Oleg Gennadevich Sentsov
ul. Bolshaya Sadovaya 31, SIZO-1, a/ya 2710
Rostov na Don, 344082
Олегу Геннадьевичу Сенцову
ул. Большая Садовая 31, СИЗО-1, а\я 2710
344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону

Syndikalister i Ukraine: Den fascistiske fare er størst i de russisk besatte områder

Source: Modkraft, Nihilist.li (original text Eng, Rus)

Selv om venstrefløjen er svag i Ukraine, er det stadig et politisk handlerum, mener syndikalister fra organisationen Autonomous Workers Union. I de russisk besatte områder er befolkningen derimod klemt mellem ukrainsk og russisk nationalisme.

Store dele af den vesteuropæiske venstrefløj overvurderer den ekstreme højrefløjs indflydelse i ukrainsk politik, mener aktivister fra organisationen Autonomous Workers Union, der på syndikalistisk grundlag arbejder for føderalisme og direkte demokrati.

Aktivisterne betegner sig som libertære marxister og fortæller at, bevægelsen har været aktiv siden 2011, primært i byerne Kiev og Kharkiv.

Organisationens laver politisk undervisning med et libertært, anti-kapitalistisk fokus og organiserer protester.

Vi talte med repræsentanter for organisationen i december 2014:

Hvor meget indflydelse har fascister i det ukrainske parlament?

– Den ekstreme højrefløj opnåede 13 ud af 450 pladser ved sidste valg. Derfor er det for tidligt at snakke om en »massiv indflydelse«. De vigtigste partier på den ekstreme højrefløj – Svoboda og Højre Sektor – nåede ikke over spærregrænsen på fem procent, og det afspejler deres tilslutning i befolkningen. Faktisk har de ikke stået for nogen protester efter valget – Ukraine har opfattet den ekstreme højrefløjs fiasko som en selvfølge.

– Den politiske virkelighed i ukrainsk politik ligger nok længere til højre end det europæiske gennemsnit, men det er nærmere et resultat af den parlamentariske venstrefløjs kollaps end af højrefløjens styrke.

– Lige nu kommer den største fare ikke fra den ekstreme højrefløj, men fra de centrum-højre politikere, som vil forsøge at presse en antidemokratisk lovgivning igennem med krigen som en undskyldning.

Heller ikke uden for parlamentet er den ekstreme højrefløj dagsorden sættende, mener Autonomous Workers Union, men har dog en vis indflydelse på militære enheder i Østukraine:

– Det eneste område, hvor højreekstremisterne har haft succes, er i forbindelse med en kampagne for Azov-bataljonen, som blev etableret med en nynazistisk agenda. Bataljonen (som nu er stor nok til at blive betragtet som et regiment) har også fraktioner med mere moderate synsvinkler, men nynazister er stadig ideologisk dominerende og kan propagandere indenfor Azov-bataljonens rækker.

Selv om der deltager flere vesteuropæiske nynazister i Azov-bataljonen, mener Autonomous Workers Union ikke, det er en entydig tendens:

– Man kan på ingen måde snakke om en generel støtte fra europæiske højreekstremister til den ukrainske side. I større grad ser man, at højreekstremister sympatiserer med Rusland i konflikten, og der er også europæiske fascister, der kæmper på separatisternes side i Donbas.

Selv om fascister har begrænset indflydelse, mener Autonomous Workers Union dog ikke de skal ignoreres:

– Den store fare stammer fra indlemmelsen af den ekstreme højrefløj i politi og militær. Indtil videre er højrefløjen primært optaget af krigen i Østukraine, og den er ikke i stand til at tage et opgør med venstrefløjen. Men den magt, som den vil besidde, når kampene er overstået, vil måske kunne gøre det muligt at forfølge politiske modstandere.

– På den anden side er den ekstreme højrefløjs stilling i Ukraine relativt svag og oftest afhængige af den aktuelle politiske situation – et enkelt fejltrin kan lede til dens kollaps.

– For eksempel mistede Svoboda mange vælgere som en konsekvens af et aggressivt forsøg på at kontrollere græsrødderne i Maidan-bevægelsen. Derudover var der adskillige tilfælde, efter Maidan-protesterne var overstået, hvor partimedlemmer agerede upassende aggressivt.

– I dag har det ekstreme højres deltagelse i de østlige kampe en tiltrækningskraft på patriotisk indstillede borgere, men de fleste har en negativ indstilling til den gadevold, højrefløjen har udøvet. De voldelige handlinger, såsom højreekstreme unges kampe med politiet den 14. oktober eller brandattentatet på Zhovten-biografen under en LGBT-filmaften, fordømmes i brede kredse.

– Når vi snakker om pro-ukrainske fascister og nationalister, har der været en interessant dynamik de seneste år: Nationalisternes popularitet er faldet i de vestlige regioner, der traditionelt set har været deres magtbase siden 1980’erne, men deres popularitet er stigende i Kiev – hvor den uddannede middelklasse og overklasse (hvoraf halvdelen er russisk talende) holder til.

Mens Autonomous Workers Union vurderer, at den ekstreme højrefløjs indflydelse er begrænset i Ukraine, er organisationen dybt bekymret for udviklingen i de russisk besatte områder.

De henviser blandt andet til at partiet Russkoe Edinstvo (Russisk Enhed), som havde meget lav procentdel af stemmerne ved sidste lokalvalg under ukrainsk administration, nu er dominerende, at den første »folkeguvenør« (dvs. leder af »folkerepublikken«) i Donetsk, Pavel Gubarev, er tidligere aktivist fra det nynazistiske parti RNE (Russisk National Enhed) og at teoretikeren fra det russiske parti, Nyt Højre, Alexander Dugin er en aktiv sympatisør af ideen om et »nyt Rusland« (Novorossia) og aktivister fra hans Eurasisk Ungdomsalliance (ESM) tog del i kuppet af Donetsk.

– Organisationer og grupperinger tæt på den højreekstremistiske fløj har været drivende i etableringen af »folkerepublikken«, og det er meget nemt at spotte de nynazistiske træk.

– Vi betragter den såkaldte folkerepublik som en højreekstremistisk junta, der er støttet af den russiske stat med militær forstærkning – både soldater og våben.

– Der er i den region ikke den mindste antydning af et socialistisk modstand, og det er ekstremt besværligt at organisere modstand.

– Nogle af de pro-ukrainske bataljoner i regionen har været anklaget for krigsforbrydelser og plyndring. Det gælder også for de pro-russiske separatistiske styrker. Selvom niveauet af overgreb kan være meget svære at sammenligne, kan man godt sige, at den lokale befolkning lider under begge sider.

I den situation, mener Autonomous Workers Union at en alliance med liberale kræfter er central:

– Den mest rationelle strategi er en offentlig kritik af den ekstreme højrefløjs handlinger og ideologi. Vi har ikke kræfter til fysisk kamp, men vi er i stand til at bygge en bred, uformel front med liberale, som ser en fare i den ekstreme højrefløj.

– Fælles handling vil ikke tvinge os til at opgive vores politiske synspunkter: vi frasiger os ikke retten til offentligt at kritisere liberale kampfæller på grund af et midlertidigt samarbejde mod en fælles fjende.

Hvordan er samarbejdet mellem den antifascistiske bevægelse i Ukraine og den russiske venstrefløj?

– Som alle andre steder i verden er venstrefløjen i Rusland splittet omkring den ukrainske situation. Vi har forbindelser til folk, der er imod Putins repressive politik – hvor de fleste er anarkister. Helt specifikt har vi gode relationer til Autonomous Action.

– Vores politiske dagsorden efter Maidan-oprøret er uforandret: Vi kæmper for politiske, sociale og faglige rettigheder. Vi argumenterer for en socialistiske dagsorden og bygning af en stærkere klassebevægelse. Men de nuværende omstændigheder kræver revurdering af vores taktik.

Hvorfor har venstrefløjen mistet indflydelse, mens fascisterne har vundet frem?

– Venstrefløjen har aldrig haft megen indflydelse i Ukraine. De partier der har været repræsenteret i parlamentet eller regeringen – hovedsageligt kommunister og socialister – har aldrig for alvor været venstreorienterede; de har blot forfulgt deres økonomiske støtters forretningsinteresser ved at bruge populistisk retorik og sovjet-nostalgi.

– Det sidste venstreorienterede parti af navn – Ukraines Kommunistiske Parti – har haft nogle pladser i parlamentet indtil oktober. Men partiets indflydelse mindskedes, efter dets ledelse begik den politiske brøler at støtte Janukovits antidemokratiske love, der blev vedtaget den 16. januar 2014 [som indebar stærke begrænsninger af mulighederne for at deltage i offentlige demonstrationer, red.].

– Det er også værd at nævne, at idéen om en genoprejsning af Sovjetunionen i kommunistpartiets retorik har undergået store forandringer i retning af konservativ og kirkelig pan-slavisk nationalisme [dvs. omfattende alle de slaviske folkeslag i Østeuropa, red.]. Det har gjort kommunistpartiet populært i de regioner, hvor de kulturelle og økonomiske bånd til Rusland er stærkest, mens dets indstilling til indbyggerne i Vestukraine er blevet mere og mere fjendtlig, grænsende til åbenlys fremmedfrygt.

– Men dødsstødet for kommunistpartiets parlamentariske ambitioner kom fra Putin med annekteringen af Krim-halvøen og krigen i Donbas-regionen i Østukraine. Det er netop de regioner, hvor kommunistpartiets pro-russiske holdninger nød den største opbakning.

Den samme udvikling mener Autonomous Workers Union gælder den erklærede antifascistiske organisation Boratba, der er en paraplybevægelse, som dele af den vesteuropæiske venstrefløj har haft kontakt til:

– Borotba er stalinister, som har forurenet dele af den ukrainske venstrefløj i længere tid – blandt andet ved at fremstå som en organisation med stor indflydelse. Inden Maidan-opstanden var der episoder, hvor Borotba »hijackede« demonstrationer og pladsbesættelser organiseret af andre bevægelser for at fremme deres eget navn.

– Efter kuppet har organisationen søgt mod de sydlige og østlige regioner og forsøgt samarbejde med russiske nationalister, hvor de har givet klart udtryk for sin støtte til den reaktionære anti-Maidan bevægelse.

– I taler har Borotba givet støtte til de bevæbnede »anti-fascister« i de selvudnævnte folkerepublikker i Donetsk og Luhansk.

Ukrainian syndicalists: about the biggest fascist threat

Source: Nihilist.li
Translations: Dansk

Ukrainian syndicalists: the biggest fascist threat is concentrated in Russia and in the occupied territories.

Interview with AWU activists, made by Danish left-wing portal Modkraft.dk in December 2014.

What kind of an organisation is Autonomous Workers Union and how are you organised?
AWU is a class union organized along the lines of federalism and direct democracy. Among our members are anarcho-syndicalists and libertarian Marxists, and our Statute, in addition, allows for the membership of non-finalists. Our organization was founded in the summer of 2011, now we have two local cells in Kiev and Kharkiv. The main vectors of our activity are political education, endorsement of libertarian anti-capitalist agenda and organization of street protests. Also, workplace conflicts are something we look for and we provide legal support for its participants.

Can you give a short explanation of why the Autonomous Workers Union are in a general opposition to Borotba?
Borotba are Stalinists who have been parasitizing on Ukrainian leftist movement for a long time — only to forge a semblance of an influential organization and embezzle some foreign money sent to them for party development. Before Maidan happened they had been busy hijacking various leftist demos and pickets and promoting their image through social conservative and pro-Russian propaganda, exploiting Soviet nostalgia and revolutionary aesthetics. After the coup they relocated to Southern and Eastern regions and took their chances in cooperation with Russian nationalists under the guise of “persecuted communists”, expressing their support for the obscurantist and reactionary Antimaidan movement. Soon, in their speeches members of Borotba were alternating outright approval of armed “antifascist” struggle in Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” with emotional appeals for immediate peace — based on the audience they were addressing to. You may find out more about them in a series of articles that we published at Nihilist.li website.

What, if any, where your role in the Maidan uprising and how would you explain the cause of it?
AWU didn’t take part in Maidan as an organization, as there were many reasons for it — the dominant position of the right conservative rhetoric, anti-communist stance of many Maidan’s leaders, political hegemony of the bourgeois opposition just to name a few. Yet we supported the incentives of the protest that were the most important for us — against strengthening of police state, opposed to curtailing of political rights and individual freedoms. We had written a number of propagandist texts urging grassroots initiatives of Maidan to direct their protest energy along the class lines but we failed to succeed in it. However, some of our activists participated in the most progressive initiatives of Maidan, such as taking turns in guarding emergency hospitals in order to prevent the police from kidnapping injured protesters.

How and why has the fascists gained so much influence in the elections? And do you know anything about the aid and volunteers they are receiving from outsiders?
According to some very broad estimates, the far-right have received at most 13 of the 450 seats at the last parliament elections, therefore so far it’s a bit too early to speak about their “massive influence”. The principal parties of the far right — Svoboda and Right Sector — had not gained the requisite 5% threshold, and that pretty accurately reflects the level of their popularity. Actually, after the elections there were no protests staged by them — Ukrainian society took the failure of the far right for granted. To compare their result with Denmark’s right populist Danish People’s Party, that received more than 12.3% at the last Folketing elections and 26.6% at the recent European Parliament elections, we are fortunate not to have Bornholm “people’s republic” proclaimed yet.

Ukrainian politics may indeed appear to be facing the right end of the political spectre more than that of a European average — but it happened only due to collapse of local parliamentary left rather than the power the rightists might wield. Right now the most pressing danger stems not from the far right, but from the right centrist politicians who may try to push some anti-democratic bills through, citing the war as an excuse.

The only area where the far rights have indeed found their success was publicity campaign of Azov volunteer battalion, which had initially been established on the basis of neo-nazi Social Nationalist Assembly. The battalion (which had already grown large enough to become a regiment) now also includes a fraction of participants of more moderate views, but neo-nazis are still ideologically dominant and are able to conduct their propaganda within the ranks.

There are at least two neo-nazi Swedes known to be serving in this regiment — Mikael Skillt who used to be a member of Swedish Resistance Movement, and a man who calls himself “Severin from Goteborg”; another man from Italy, Francesco Fontana of National Vanguard; and also some Russian neo-nazis who oppose Putin’s policy. But these people had mostly become friends with Ukrainian neo-nazis at the times of Maidan, their involvement is of personal nature and there is no way we can talk of broader support among European far-rights of Ukrainian side in this conflict. Quite the opposite, the sympathies of European far right mainstream are with Russia — and there are also many European fascists who came to Donbas and fight for DPR’s and LPR’s side.

How have the fascists gained the amount of power they have now, and how are you fighting it?
As we have already said, fascists boast a quite modest representation in the current parliament. The greater danger stems from incorporation of the far right into police and army structures, such as the aforementioned Azov regiment and also such of the former supporters of Svoboda party. So far they are mostly preoccupied with the war in the East and are unable to settle their scores with the left, but the power they would still wield after the fighting stops may allow them to persecute their political opponents.

On the other hand, the position of the far right in Ukraine is rather weak and often depends on current political situation; a single mistake can lead to their collapse. For instance, Svoboda lost much of their electorate as a consequence to their aggressive attempts in claiming the authority over many grassroot Maidan activists; additionally, there were several incidents, which happened after the Maidan was over, where the party members had shown inappropriate aggression. Today, participation of the far right in the fighting eastward makes patriotically bent citizens lenient to their nature; however, larger part of the society maintains a negative attitude towards the street violence they had shown. The acts of aggression, like the fight of the far right youth with the police on October 14, or the arson of Zhovten cinema during LGBT movie night, are widely condemned.

In this situation the most rational strategy we can show is public critique of the far right’s actions and ideology. We don’t have resources to stand up for physical struggle but we are capable of building a wide informal front with those liberals who see the danger of the far right. Surely, concerted actions will not require us to resign from our own political views: temporarily consolidating against the common enemy, we would not forfeit our right to publicly criticize our liberal associates.

To what degree does the fascists attack the left wing and is it worse in some places than others?
During Maidan there were attacks on some leftists which were trying to sway the protest agenda towards the class conflict. Leftist propaganda was often portrayed as “Soviet” or “pro-Russian”. Generally, leftists who took part in Maidan failed to affect the general disposition.

After the regime overthrow far rights orchestrated several aggressive acts, including two attacks against individual left activists in Kiev and an attack on AWU squat in Kharkiv which provides shelter to many refugees from the war-torn regions. But attacks against leftists had been happening since long before Maidan (in 2005-2009 the majority of such attacks were conducted by representatives of far right subculture, and in 2011-2013, after a certain respite, by C14 group affiliated with Svoboda), therefore so far it’s not feasible to speak about any growth in violence. For leftists in Ukraine public activity remains associated with a particular danger, but is still possible.

Is there a general connection between the antifacsist movement in Ukraine and the Russian Left Wing?
Like elsewhere all over the world, Russian left has split over Ukrainian question. We maintain connections with those Russian leftists who were opposed to Putin’s aggression — most of them are Russian anarchists. Specifically, we have good relationships with Autonomous Action.

What are your thoughts about the invasion of Krimea?
We consider the military invasion in Crimea a full-fledged annexion which has brought about plethora of negative consequences to the local population. Russian laws restricted political rights and freedoms, economic well-being, some parts of social welfare and benefits. Cultural and linguistic rights of minorities, e.g. Crimean Tatars, are endangered. There are also political repressions and show trials: leftist activist Alexander Kolchenko had been transferred from Crimea to Moscow and now finds himself under trial as an alleged Right Sector militant, along with several other people none of whom had ever had any relationship to that organization.

We don’t care about allegiance of any territory to any particular state — but we are concerned with political, legal and economic welfare of workers inhabiting it, as well as availability of unhindered and safe transit. None of it is definite in the Crimean situation.

Where in Ukraine would you say the fascist have the most influence?

In Ukraine, the overtly fascist forces enjoy the most influence and power on the territories occupied by pro-Russian forces, where Russian imperialist revanchists are triumphant. In Crimea the power now belongs to far right Russkoe Edinstvo (Russian Unity) party which had received negligibly low percentage of votes at the last local elections under Ukrainian administration. Groups and persons close to the Russian far right played significant part in creating the so called “people’s republics”. The first “people’s governor” of Donetsk Pavel Gubarev used to be an activist of the neo-nazi RNE (Russian National Unity). The theorist of the Russian “New Right” Alexander Dugin as an active supporter of the idea of “Novorossia”, and activists of his Eurasian Youth Alliance (ESM) took part in the coup in Donetsk. You can read more here. This piece was written by a foreign author but it gives a perspective close to our own.

If we talk about “pro-Ukrainian” fascists, we can see an interesting dynamics for the last several years: the nationalists’ rate of approval is growing weaker in the Western region which has traditionally been their power base since the end of 1980s, but it is growing stronger in Kiev — where educated “middle class”, petite bourgeoisie and intelligentsia (half of which is Russian-speaking) tend to concentrate. These social strata are the main source of power of Ukrainian nationalists (including the far right) in the big politics.

What is your current agenda after the Maidan uprising?
Our agenda remains unchanged: we are still committed to the struggle for preserving and widening of the political, social and labour rights, endorsing the left social and political agenda, building a wide class movement. But the the new realities demand a serious reevaluation of our tactics.

Why has the left declined in power and the fascists risen?
The left have never had much power or influence in Ukraine. The parties that had been represented in the parliament or in the government — namely Communist and Socialist — had never been left in reality, they were only achieving their own or their sponsors’ business goals, utilizing populist rhetoric and Soviet nostalgia.

The last nominally leftist party — Communist Party of Ukraine — had had some seats in the parliament until October, but their prospects declined after the political mistake by its leadership in supporting the anti-democratic draft laws of Yanukovych on January 16. It is also worth mentioning that the idea of USSR restoration in CPU’s rhetoric had undergone considerable mutations in the direction of conservative and clerical pan-Slavic nationalism. This change made CPU popular in the regions where cultural and economic ties with Russia are the strongest, and its attitude to residents of Western Ukraine was growing more and more hostile, up to overt xenophobia. But the ultimate gravedigger of CPU’s parliamentary ambitions was Putin: annexation of Crimea and war in Donbas deprived Ukraine precisely of those regions where pro-Russian position of CPU had enjoyed the most support.

The far right are on the rise, on the other hand, temporarily — due to dire social situation, which is favourable for the growth of nationalist and xenophobic mood.

Do you receive outside aid and if so where from?

We don’t receive any systematic aid but some activist groups from Europe and the US have sent us money raised from contributions and sales of magazines with our interviews. The money are now put to use for such purposes as producing visual agitation, maintaining the squat etc.

Which other organisations do you work with?
Today we cooperate with Swedish SAC and other syndicalist unions from Red and Black Coordination; also, with Russian anarchists from Autonomous Action. We have some good contacts with the British IWW, Polish ZSP, German FAU. Furthermore, we cooperate with local anarchist and unionist initiatives. We are ready to work with any grassroots movement the political agenda of which doesn’t contradict to our political principles.

What is your policies and opinions on the ongoing conflict in the Donetsk region?

We consider the proclaimed “people’s republics” to be far right military juntas overseen by Kremlin, receiving military and administrative cadres, as well as guns and soldiers from it. The rights and freedoms have come under brutal suppression on the territories under the control of those juntas, and the open proletarian politics are impossible. There is obviously not a trace of a “people’s” or “socialist” uprising.

On the other hand we are convinced that the doubtful professional qualifications of Ukrainian military leadership led to a number mistakes and abuses: like throwing in the war draftees and reservists, using voluntary battalions without military expertise and technical equipment as canon fodder, committing to overly ruinous fighting in urban areas. Some pro-Ukrainian volunteer battalions were accused of looting and of war crimes, while these things are usual for the separatist forces. So, the local population suffers from both sides, although, obviously, the scales cannot be compared.

What can we do to help your movement?

You may use your information resources to spread texts and declarations from our website, translate them into European languages, and provide solidarity support to our political campaigns in Ukraine.

Would it in anyway be useful for you if we came to Ukraine and wrote articles to the danish press about the subject of the Ukranian left, and exposion of the fascist crimes?
A trip to Ukraine, attending of public events and live communication with activists and common citizens will definitely be a useful practice and will surely help strengthen the connections between our movements.

The Fallacy of “Novorossiya’s” “Leftist” Friends

Source: Ukraine Solidarity Campaign/Солідарність України Кампанія

Author: Aleksandr Volodarsky

Labour Movement Must Oppose Restoring a Tsarist Colony in Ukraine

Imagine a campaign to support the abolition of Zimbabwe and restoration of the white colony of Rhodesia; it would be reactionary. Yet that is precisely what is happening on the European left as regards Ukraine.

A section of the left, especially from the Stalinist tradition champions as progressive a war to restore “Novorossiya” (New Russia). Novorossiya – was a state within the Russian Empire established in 1764 in areas of Southern Ukraine conquered by the Russian Tsar. Ukraine was reduced to a colony, subject to national and economic oppression, a system of slavery know as serfdom was imposed, the Ukrainian language banned. How is it possible that since the time of Marx and Engels socialists have been sworn enemies of Russian Imperialism, yet in the 21st Century Tsarist Russian chauvinism is being championed by people on the left. Republished below is a vital assessment of this problem by Aleksandr Volodarsky published originally on Chetvyortaya Vlast, and translated by Michal Pszyk.

Stalinists and Russian ultra-nationalists in Odessa behind a banner of ‘Heroes of the Tsar’

The frenzied world-wide front is expanding
Mercy to no one, no one, no one!

Stanza from 1989 Russian anarchists’ song Vintovka – eto prazdnik (The Rifle is a Holiday)
By the Russian punk bank Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Civil Defense)

The annexation of Crimea, the “Novorossiya” project, and the fight against the “Kyiv junta” are not supported in Russia alone. There are political forces around the world, both marginal and relatively respectable, which voice their support for the separatists in the Donbass. At times, activists themselves travel to the war zone as volunteers, but they mostly hold demonstrations in support of the separatist republics and pressure their governments to renounce their support for Ukraine and “stop the aggression against Russia.”

These political forces may identify as left-wing, right-wing, or deny any conventional political identity (although their “political neutrality” usually conceals one ideology or another). Novorossiya’s foreign friends who, in 99% of cases, are also friends of Russia and worshippers of Putin, may explain their views from various, sometimes incompatible positions. Novorossiya can be supported both by a white racist and a communist who talks about the fight against “Ukrainian fascism” and “Western imperialism.” But despite the apparent differences in their theoretical ideological grounding, their political practice is remarkably similar. Eventually, they arrive at the same conclusions and stand on the same side of the barricade.

Not that long ago, an “antifascist forum” took place in the Donbass, which was attended by representatives of not major, but still quite notable Stalinist organizations from Europe and the United States. Around the same time, a forum of ultra-right, nationalist, and conservative activists took place in the Donbass. The fact that these events coincided is more than revealing. We will talk about both left-wing and right-wing supporters of Novorossiya and attempt to find similarities in their modes of thinking. The first text mostly focuses on leftists, but there are certain elements which are also relevant to the right-wing camp.

Lies and Truth

European and US radicals, both left- and right-wing, do not trust the media. Leftists mistrust mainstream outlets because the latter, according to their worldview, are controlled by oligarchs or their puppets. Far-rightists do so because, in their version of reality, the media are controlled by Zionist, cultural-Marxist, and homosexual lobbies. In general, a critical approach to any kind of information is advisable, but the conspiratorial and critical approaches are seldom compatible. A conspiracy theorist judges information as follows: If the media work for oligarchs, then everything they report must be a lie serving the interests of the men behind the scenes. But they still need to get their information somewhere. While they can get news about their own country from blogs, party newsletters, and congenial news websites, learning about foreign countries is more complicated, particularly due to the language barrier. It is necessary to find an independent source, with adequate resources at its disposal, which could send its correspondents to different parts of the world; at the same time, this source must be independent from the “secret masters,” whoever these might be. And here, Russia Today (RT.com) comes to the rescue.

Russian propaganda is not limited to the spouting of [Kremlin propagandist Dmitry] Kiselyev, who is only needed for the domestic consumer. For the Western audience, there is Russia Today, an information product unique in its nature. This TV channel often shows high-quality broadcasts of protest movements and demonstrations in Western countries; on other occasions, RT talks about events which other media ignore for one reason or another. A great deal of material is broadcast in the form of raw video footage without commentary or voice-over, which creates the effect of objectivity. RT.com actively attracts Western journalists and gives them carte blanche to honestly and uncompromisingly criticize their governments. All of the above definitely affords the channel a certain credit of trust. And it actively utilizes this credit when it finds it necessary to compel a Western viewer to believe in blatant lies and propaganda. For instance, in the notion that the EuroMaidan movement consisted exclusively of fascists directly controlled by the United States. While Russian propagandists need only to present their domestic audience with pure lies without any admixture, the lies shown to a foreign consumer must be craftily alternated and combined with truth.

Soviet Ressentiment

Western leftists often perceive the USSR not at all like those who would seem to be their likeminded Ukrainian counterparts. In our country, overt Soviet sympathies are only voiced by parties which are direct successors of the Soviet nomenklatura, such as the Communist Party of Ukraine. Or those who are trying to win over the pension-age electorate, filled with Soviet nostalgia. All other leftists – anarchists, trotskyists, left-communists, social democrats – are more than critical toward the USSR; after all, it was that state which virtually eradicated these political movements in the territory under its control. In the West, particularly in the countries which never found themselves under Soviet rule, the left’s attitude toward its legacy is softer. To them, the USSR was a kind of remote abstraction which did not pose a direct threat, but frightened the rulers of their countries which in turn were forced into compromises and concessions favoring domestic worker and trade union movements. The USSR’s existence inspired a hope that a different, non-capitalist world was possible. Active attacks on the USSR during the Cold War would, indirectly, amount to support for one’s “own” government. Thus, leftists preferred not to pay any special attention to Soviet politics, instead concentrating on critique of Western imperialism. The further away from the GULAG, the easier it is to assess the edifying results of the Soviet experiment and observe its “positive aspects.” For instance, in the United States, even the anarchists considered the hammer and sickle the perfect symbol for outraging local conservatives, rather than the emblem of a totalitarian regime which completely exterminated their comrades.

Now, the USSR’s place has been taken by Russia, which continues to be regarded as the antipode to “Western capitalism,” even though the Russian Federation has long exhibited much fewer characteristics of a welfare state than the countries of Western Europe. Those leftists which fell into the trap of geopolitical thinking ended up in the same camp as the right-wingers. In this respect, the coalition which the Greek Syriza party was forced to join, having previously won a majority in the latest parliamentary election, is telling — the “socialists” were forced to cooperate with overt right-wing populists. The only things that the two have in common are sympathy toward the Russian Federation and criticism of the European Union.

This illustration clearly demonstrates how the supporters of Novorossiya present the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine is simply a virgin territory encroached upon by Western imperialists. The latter are opposed by the Russian bear. Not man, mind you, but bear. We are dealing with a kind of “positive dehumanization.” The Russian is presented as a creature belonging to another species, to whom human ethical norms need not apply; therefore, Russia is easily pardoned for the actions which, if conducted by the West, are harshly criticized.

Information “Warfare”

As a rule, left-wing organizations eagerly lend an ear to their counterparts in other countries. It is always more simple and agreeable to listen to those who say things close to one’s heart in a familiar language. During the Maidan protests and immediately thereafter, the Borotba [Struggle] organization, which initially supported the Anti-Maidan movement and subsequently the “People’s Republics,” successfully imitated before the Western audience, completely ignorant of Ukraine, a “mass left-wing party,” which waged a “relentless antifascist struggle in the underground.” Their success is easily explained: Borotba had a budget that covered the services of translators who rebroadcast their materials in different languages. Furthermore, they use the language of the left more aptly than the Communist Party of Ukraine does. However, the Communist Party has also made its contribution – the magical word “communist” in its name has won the ears of many a naive Western leftist, who sincerely believe that “communists are being persecuted and suppressed in Ukraine,” and who see in communists the continuers of the ideas of Marx and Engels, not a party bureaucracy which has sold out many times over.

What we get is a simple, convenient, and completely unambiguous picture, which perfectly matches the line of official Russian propaganda: a fascist putsch and an antifascist underground. What questions are there left to ask when one group is toppling monuments to Lenin and the other is defending them with their lives? Especially given that independent media, not controlled by “Western governments” and “transnational corporations,” such as Russia Today, are saying more or less the same thing using almost exactly the same words.

Other Ukrainian leftists produced fewer articles (because there were no staffers to write them), and these texts are more difficult to understand, because they do not always paint such a simple, unambiguous, and heroic picture. Propaganda and simple clichés will inevitably be more successful than analysis. And while Ukrainian anarchists more or less managed to align the sentiments among many of their Western counterparts, most adherents of the Bolshevik tradition remained at the level of “the people of the Donbass are waging a national liberation struggle against the junta which seized power through a fascist putsch.”

The Myth of the Odessa Khatyn

An important element in the mythology of “leftist” supporters of Novorossiya was the fire in the Odesa Trade Unions Building. It was a very powerful image: “the fascists burned people alive.” And not just anywhere, but in the Trade Unions Building! Across the world, trade unions are directly associated with left-wing movements, which means that people who died there would automatically be perceived as left-wing activists, especially given that Borotba and the Communist Party of Ukraine lost a few of their supporters there and took the trouble to paint them as heroes. And it is secondary that the backbone of the Odessa Anti-Maidan consisted of people professing right-wing, even far-right pro-Russian views, and that it included those of the Black-Hundred and imperialist persuasions. For a Western leftist, imperialism is by no means such an obvious right-wing symbol as, for instance, a Wolfsangel or the Azov Battalion’s “black sun.” All the more so because the Anti-Maidan members sported St. George’s ribbons which, not without the help of official Russian propaganda, were actively exported as an “antifascist symbol,” including to the West.

The deaths in the Trade Unions Building finally convinced many Western leftists of the “fascist” essence of the Maidan and the new Ukrainian authorities. This entire situation (from the location of the tragedy to the death by fire) fits perfectly into the existing set of clichés. It is revealing that most people who now recall the “burned martyrs of Odessa” do not know about, or prefer not to mention, the deaths in the Kyiv Trade Unions Building, where many Maidan protesters lost their lives, including the wounded. That’s because it would not fit into the general picture — the “antifascist [now defunct riot] Berkut police force” could not have possibly burned wounded people alive.

Even moderate forces, such as the German Die Linke party, which reject direct support or solidarity with the self-proclaimed republics, are inclined to sympathize with the victims of the May 2 fire, while completely ignoring the violence which the Odessa Anti-Maidan had regularly carried out from the moment of its formation up to and during the events of May 2nd.

The Prizrak Brigade and Its Communists

There is no point in enumerating all the organizations which support Novorossiya in one form or another. The reader need not decipher the multitude of names and abbreviations; it is far more important to understand the general pattern of thought which caused hundreds of people from different countries of the world to travel in March to Alchevsk in search of the phantom of communism in [now deceased separatist militant Aleksei] Mozgovoy’s Prizrak Brigade.

Most European volunteers travel to the Donbass from Spain and other South European countries. A great contribution to that was made by Banda Bassotti, a prominent Italian punk group. The mobilizing potential of musicians can sometimes be greater than that of parties and civic movements. European communists fighting in the ranks of Mozgovoy and other field commanders fell into Novorossiya’s trap largely due to the unsophisticated propaganda ventilated by these “punks” professing Stalinist views. They actively channel all aforementioned clichés while diluting them with their own stupidity. They mix “leftist” rhetoric with national-chauvinist propaganda – Lenin and Trotsky might not have executed them, but they would have definitely expelled them from the party. For instance, during interviews, members of Banda Bassotti say without a hint of doubt that Ukraine was created artificially, in defiance of Russia, citing “a book they read recently.”

It is important to understand that until 2014, most Western leftists supporting Novorossiya did not have the slightest idea of the political situation in Ukraine, let alone its history, ethnic and cultural groups populating its territory, the history of Ukraine-Russia relations, and so forth. In 2014, they quickly acquired that “knowledge,” thoughtfully offered to them by Russian propaganda. The language barrier allowed for all types of suggestions. Even the most anti-scientific source gains legitimacy if it is translated from a foreign outlet. That is precisely why the Spanish volunteers subsequently arrested in their homes explained during an interview their desire to fight on the side of the separatists with the fact that “they were helping defend Russia against Ukrainian aggression.”

Indeed, for some Spanish Stalinists who have a vague idea of Ukraine’s geographical location, the words “Ukrainian” and “fascist” have become synonymous. Last fall, a telling episode took place: a 56-year-old Ukrainian was attacked by a group of Catalan nationalists and slipped into a coma. This episode caused very strong indignation, including in left-wing circles, but was condemned mostly by anarchists; there was no reaction whatsoever on the part of major leftist parties.

The German Antiimperialistische Aktion group cooperates with ANNA News, a popular propagandist channel.

Their cooperation likely dates as far back as the Syrian war. Both the pro-Russian TV channel and the “anti-imperialists” actively supported Assad in this war. The ideology of the “anti-imps,” as they are called in Germany, can be briefly summarized as follows: radical anti-Americanism, a partiality to conspiracy theories, covert (and sometimes overt) anti-semitism, and thoroughly uncritical support for all regimes opposed to the United States and Israel. The official flag of Antiimperialistische Aktion resembles the antifascist flag, but instead of a red-and-black banner in a circle, it depicts the flag of the USSR and the “anti-imperialist” regime which they currently love most. There are variations depicting the flags of Libya, Syria, and Palestine. There has recently appeared an “anti-imperialist” flag on which the Soviet flag is accompanied by the two-headed Novorossiya eagle, and the pantheon of antifascist and anti-imperialist heroes was supplemented not only by Strelkov and Mozgovoy, but also by Ramzan Kadyrov. It sometimes feels like the anti-imps are a kind of parody of the left-wing supporters of Novorossiya (their performance at an anti-NATO meeting with dogs sporting Berkut uniforms was more amusing than any parody). Regrettably, however, they are absolutely real.

“Anti-imperialists” at the Munich Meeting

Anti-NATO meeting with supporters of ‘Novorossiya’ in Munich

Not only are they absolutely real, but they also have supporters both in different cities of Germany and beyond the country’s borders – in Sweden, for instance. They do not only actively accept the Kremlin propaganda, but also rebroadcast it to European audiences with great enthusiasm. This propaganda video, which tells the “truth about Euromaidan,” is one example of that.

Many admirers of Russia in the West like to set up accounts on the VKontakte social network (which they also consider anti-imperialist and a counterweight to the corporate Facebook). With the use of automatic translation services, they try to communicate with Russian-language audiences, and even receive occasional feedback.

A photo from Tobias Nase’s VK profile. The anti-imps still permitted themselves to use Ukrainian in April 2014. Eventually, however, they decided it is a fascist language and switched their automatic translators to Russian.

Active support for Novorossiya is also expressed by numerous Greek left-wing organizations. The ruling Syriza party has already stuck in people’s memory with its pro-Russian stance and, consequently, with its loyalty to Russia-controlled regimes. However, many of Syriza’s opponents (today we are talking about their opponents “on the left,” the ultra-rightists from the Golden Dawn party will be discussed in another article) have gloated over the puppet regimes of the LPR and DPR even more strongly.

Not only overt worshippers of Stalin and the Soviet legacy, but also many forces identifying themselves as followers of the Maoist tradition have supported the LPR and DPR. They are driven by the same anti-imperialist (read “anti-American”) logic. Everything that is opposed to the West with all its corporations and capitalist expansion is perceived as an absolute good, “anti-imperialist” regimes are easily forgiven what is considered a taboo in leftist circles: from racism to homophobia. Furthermore, Maoists are inclined to romanticize rebellion and armed struggle and, in this context, they certainly find the image of Novorossiya quite attractive.

Certain Trotskyists have also taken a liking to the myth of the left-wing Donbass. Notable in this respect are the International Marxist Tendency (an international group known for its overt and completely uncritical support of the Venezuelan model of state socialism) and the International Committee of the Fourth International. If they consider the USSR a “deformed workers’ state,” then the post-Soviet space consists of “workers’ states” which are even more deformed are still preferable to the capitalist, neo-liberal West. Therefore, the thought of reunifying the USSR is no less attractive to them than to Stalinists, except that the former seek to re-establish the USSR without the cult of the moustached leader, and believe that this can be done without forming a new party establishment and bureaucracy. It is important to note that there are a great number of Trotskyist organizations and internationals around the world, their names are often similar, and behind familiar abbreviations there often lie unappeasable enemies with diametrically opposite stances on Ukraine. Whenever you throw a stone at a Stalinist, you will almost definitely hit a supporter of Novorossiya; before throwing one at a Trotskyist, it is worthwhile asking him a few leading questions.

Living in a special, completely parallel universe are leftists from the United States, who prefer to fight the evil empire directly from within. In their view, the war in the Donbass started at the instigation of the United States and, obviously, because of oil. After all, every global conflict is waged by the United States and always because of oil. And yes, the “Odessa carnage” was also planned by the United States, in case you had any doubts on that score.

This video footage (recorded, by the way, by the aforementioned Russia Today channel) can be understood without any knowledge of English, and has already been commented on a thousand times.

Putin’s Cautious Friends

Many political forces feel they are too respectable to stoop to cheap clownery. They do not fling up wild slogans about the “junta” and “conspiracy.” However, they say essentially the same things using more civilized, diplomatic language. And, in a way, they are even more dangerous, given that such parties as Die Linke and Syriza are members of the European Parliament. And though they do not send volunteers to the Donbass, they do contribute to blocking aid to Ukraine (as do their right-wing twins).

Deputy Andrej Hunko (who on account of his surname is considered a foremost expert on Ukraine within the party), together with his colleague Wolfgang Gerke, became notorious in the Ukrainian media owing to a photo in which he is seen posing with Zakharchenko.

Earlier, however, both he and his associates made a lot of effort to indirectly support the separatists. Through their efforts, Borotba party leader Sergey Kirichuk was granted political asylum in Germany; they helped him broadcast propaganda about the “workers’ rebellion in the Donbass,” including at the level of the European Parliamentary. And despite the fact that Die Linke publicly dissociated itself from Borotba, cooperation with its leader continues.

The rhetoric of “peace” and “intolerance for inciters of war” is very popular among such politicians. Except that when saying “peace,” they mean exclusively “peace with Russia,” and they agree to only see inciters of war in the West. At the same time, they deny Ukraine any kind of subjecthood, and its population is allotted the unenviable roles of Western puppets, blood-thirsty fascists, or their victims.

And once again it turns out that the “leftists” are speaking the same “geopolitical” language as the “rightists” whom they criticize. But even the formal difference between them is getting smaller – Sara Wagenknecht of Die Linke has already publicly called for a dialogue with the ultra-right anti-immigration Pegida organization, appealing, first and foremost, given the proximity of their position on the Ukrainian and Russian question. One can assume that this rapprochement will continue; European countries have yet to see in action the “red-brown” synthesis, which is so popular in the post-Soviet space.

Aleksandr Volodarsky

Aleksandr Kolchenko, un ucraino rinchiuso a Mosca

Aleksandr Kolchenko (detto “Tundra”) è un compagno anarchico, militante per i diritti sociali, antifascista di Sinferopoli fatto prigioniero dalle autorità russe. Insieme ad altri militanti della Crimea è stato rapito dall’FSB (l’ex KGB) ed oggi si trova a Mosca, rinchiuso nel carcere speciale di Lefortovo come prigioniero politico. È accusato, secondo gli articoli del Codice Penale russo, di “attentato” e di partecipazione ad “organizzazioni terroriste”.

Kolchenko, nonostante manifesti da anni le proprie idee antifasciste, è accusato di far parte di “Pravyj Sektor”, un’organizzazione di estrema destra il cui ruolo negli accadimenti ucraini è largamente sovradimensionato dalla propaganda ufficiale russa. Oggigiorno in Russia qualunque attivista, indipendentemente dal fatto che le sue idee politiche siano di sinistra, anarchiche o liberali può essere accusato di essere membro o simpatizzante di “Pravyj Sektor” (in ucraino: Пра́вий се́ктор, Settore Destro).
Lo stesso servizio stampa della organizzazione di estrema destra, che è vietata in Russia, ha detto “Gli attivisti non erano e non sono membri del partito politico Pravyj Sektor”.
È inoltre difficile sospettare Kolchenko di essere in sintonia con i nazionalisti. Nel 2012, una trentina di estremisti lo hanno aggredito insieme a tre compagni, dopo la proiezione di un film su Baburova.
Questa situazione è paragonabile a quella dell’epoca di Stalin, quando si ricercavano dei trotskisti quasi inesistenti, oppure alla caccia ai comunisti negli Stati Uniti all’epoca della “Caccia alle streghe” condotta da McCarthy. Il regime nazionalista e autoritario di Putin utilizza tutti gli argomenti possibili e immaginabili per la sua propaganda, ad iniziare dai pregiudizi religiosi e da principi della teoria del complotto, fino al razzismo. Questo sistema sfrutta la retorica antifascista. Pertanto, ogni persona scomoda può essere accusata di essere “fascista”, anche se questa persona è di opinioni opposte al fascismo, cioè anche se è di sinistra o antiautoritaria.

La persecuzione dell’antifascista Kolchenko e del cineasta e militante Oleg Sentsov (entrambi annoverati dai giudici istruttori tra i membri della stessa organizzazione “terrorista”) è puramente politica. Serve a intimidire gli abitanti della Crimea allo scopo di prevenire ogni azione di opposizione nella penisola. Nella Crimea annessa, tutti i metodi più autoritari della repressione sono utilizzati per far tacere il malcontento. A causa di minacce alla loro vita e alla loro libertà, molte persone hanno già dovuto lasciare la Crimea, in particolare i difensori dei diritti umani, militanti studenteschi e sindacalisti, anarchici e antifascisti, così come gli attivisti della comunità tatara della Crimea. Questi ultimi, inoltre, dopo l’annessione della penisola devono far fronte alla discriminazione legata alla loro nazionalità.

Kolchenko si è unito al movimento libertario per via della musica hardcore, interessandosi mentre era ancora a scuola. Ancora studente si interessò di scavi archeologici. Marciava sotto le bandiere anarchiche rosso-nere durante le manifestazioni. Ha organizzato una campagna di protesta contro la costruzione di un terminal per il trasporto sul Mar Nero, e fu tra i fondatori del sindacato studentesco indipendente “Azione Diretta” (in ucraino: Пряма дія, Pryama Diya) che ha combattuto contro la monetizzazione dell’educazione in Ucraina. Le manifestazioni a livello nazionale contro la monetizzazione sono partite da Simferopoli. In seguito, ha condotto scioperi coi dipendenti dell’azienda Crimea Filobus.

Quando la cosiddetta Primavera Russa è iniziata, Kolchenko si oppose all’annessione.

Sasha è un antifascista impegnato. Ogni anno, avrebbe organizzato un picchetto in memoria dell’avvocato Stanislav Markelov e della giornalista Anastasia Baburova, entrambi uccisi dai servizi segreti russi. Era una ragazza del posto, dopo tutto, da Sebastopoli.
Da quando Kolchenko è stato arrestato, nessuno funzionario ucraino han cercato di contattarlo.

Il Console ucraino a Mosca non ha visitato i sospettati. La Russia ha dichiarato a loro la cittadinanza russa, ma il 4 febbraio 2015, il Procuratore Generale russo ha improvvisamente stabilito che Sentsov aveva la doppia cittadinanza. Tuttavia, il giudice ha respinto il ricorso di Kolchenko contro il Servizio Federale Russo della Migrazione dopo che un dipendente ha fornito al giudice un modulo di richiesta del passaporto contenente le informazioni di Kolchenko e la sua presunta firma. La difesa ha ora intenzione di ottenere una analisi della scrittura del documento.

È stato fatto cittadino di un altro paese con la forza. Non aveva compilato alcun modulo – dice la madre.
La polizia spiega che, poiché si rifiuta di collaborare, non vi è alcuna ragione per la sua famiglia a parlare con lui. Le visite sono consentite a coloro che cooperano.

A sua volta, il Servizio di Migrazione di Stato dell’Ucraina ha confermato la cittadinanza ucraina di Kolchenko nel mese di febbraio, e il 27 marzo 2015, l’Ufficio della Procura di Kyiv ha finalmente aperto un procedimento sul rapimento del cittadino ucraino Alexander Kolchenko. Svetlana Sidorkina (avvocato di Kolchenko) ha detto che il suo cliente ha inviato una denuncia alla Corte Europea dei Diritti dell’Uomo contro il conferimento forzato della cittadinanza russa.

Kolchenko rischia fino a 20 anni di prigione, una pena esorbitante per un “attentato” nel quale non è coinvolto. Koltchenko e altri prigionieri politici ucraini sono detenuti al solo scopo di demoralizzare l’opposizione con dei processi giudiziari intimidatori. La libertà di questi prigionieri è legata direttamente alla stabilità del regime putiniano. Se gli attivisti riuscissero a destabilizzare la sicurezza di Putin e la sua impunità, questi prigionieri sarebbero liberi. Non c’è da farsi illusioni sulla possibilità che i processi di  Koltchenko o di Sentsov vengano condotti in maniera giusta o secondo la legge. Il loro arresto è arbitrario, le accuse contro di loro sono delle pure falsificazioni. E tutto ciò non è un errore, poiché il regime agisce in piena coscienza.

Il 9 aprile, Il Distretto Lefortovskiy della Corte di Mosca prolunga la detenzione di Kolchenko per un mese, fino al 16 maggio. Il 16 maggio è l’anniversario dell’arresto di Kolchenko nel centro di Simferopol. Il 22 maggio 2014 era stato mandato a Mosca insieme ad altri imputati e si è svolta nel centro di detenzione Levortovo, d aallora in attesa di giudizio.

Fino a 16 maggio, la Corte di Mosca potrebbe prolungare la detenzione di Kolchenko, o cambiare la forma di restrizione cautelare. Ma considerando la gravità delle accuse, Kolchenko sicuramente rimarrà in detenzione preventiva. Attualmente lui e il suo avvocato devono iniziare a familiarizzare con il caso. Molto probabilmente, il caso sarà trasferito al tribunale militare di Rostov-na-Don a giugno. Ma è anche possibile, che la corte deciderà di inviare dei giudici a Simferopol, che sarebbe più semplice di chiamare 25 testimoni a Rostov-na-Don, che rimane abbastanza lontana da Simferopol ed inoltre è difficile viaggiare a causa di lunghe code col traghetto sullo Stretto di Kerch.

Solo dopo il trasferimento della causa al tribunale un impegno di non divulgazione scritta data dagli avvocati scadrà. Questo impedisce loro di raccontare ciò che hanno letto nei faldoni e hanno conosciuto durante le azioni di indagine. Per ora, pubblico conosce solo il contenuto della requisitoria in contorni nudi.

Il 21 aprile, Alexey Chirniy è stato condannato a 7 anni di carcere per lo stesso caso. E ‘stato accusato per quanto riguarda l’articolo russo Codice Penale 205 pp. 5, 3, articolo 30 p. 3, e articolo 222 p. 3 (terrorismo e illegale l’acquisto, il trasferimento, la vendita, lo stoccaggio, il trasporto o il trasporto di armi). Chirniy ha ammesso la colpa e concordato per un patteggiamento. Procura ha chiesto per lui una condanna a 12 anni nel carcere di massima sicurezza colonia, ma giudice ha deciso di condannarlo a una durata di 7 anni. La sua collaborazione con l’inchiesta indica che Chirniy, così come Afanasiev, saranno testimoni in un modo vantaggioso per le indagini e denunciare altri imputati. In particolare, un caso contro di Oleg Sentsov come “organizzatore di un gruppo terroristico” è inquadrata utilizzando tali testimoni.

Ad aprile 2015 si sono tenute azioni di solidarietà di forma diversa con Alexandr Kolchenko, che si sono svolte in 19 città di 10 paesi. Gli abitanti di Parigi, Brema, San Pietroburgo, Biarritz, Minsk, Tel Aviv, Kharkov, L’viv, Tyumen, Salonicco, Strasburgo, Marsiglia, Krivoi Rog, Varsavia, Londra, Milano, Lipsia, Breslavia e Kyiv hanno chiesto la liberazione immediata di Kolchenko.

Per contattare il gruppo di solidarietà: freekolchenko@gmail.com (in inglese o russo).

L’appello di solidarietà in italiano, presenti inoltre vari link in varie lingue sul sito del gruppo russo “Azione Autonoma“.

Come aiutare
Puoi Alexander Kolchenko scrivendogli una lettera (sono ammesse solo lettere scritte in lingua russa are accepted, quindi puoi mandare cartoline o usare Google Translate nel caso tu non parli russo):

Александр Александрович Кольченко (1989)
ул. Большая Садовая 31, СИЗО-4, а\я 2710
344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Kolchenko (1989)
ul. Bolshaya Sadovaya 31, SIZO-4, a/ya 2710
Rostov na Don, 344082

(aggiornamento Luglio 2015)

Lo stesso indirizzo e’ valido per scrivere al’altro prigioniero, cambia la sezione:
Oleg Gennadevich Sentsov
ul. Bolshaya Sadovaya 31, SIZO-1, a/ya 2710
Rostov na Don, 344082

Олегу Геннадьевичу Сенцову
ул. Большая Садовая 31, СИЗО-1, а\я 2710
344082, г. Ростов-на-Дону

Puoi fare donazioni per le spese legali alla Croce Nera Anarchica di Mosca col sistema paypal, email: abc-msk@riseup.net. Se hai trasferito soldi ti preghiamo di scrivere una mail sempre a abc-msk@riseup.net.

Anche donazioni all’account bancario sono ammesse:

Scrivi nella ragione di pagamento “it’s donation for Kolchenko”

Banca del beneficiario: Alfa-Bank Moscow, Russia
Numero account benef.: № 40817978004230006660 (euro)
Nome completo del benef.: MIRYASOVA OLGA ALEKSANDROVNA