Joining Russia no alternative for the Crimea

The former Autonomous Republic of the Crimea has held a public referendum today on its future. Crimea is still part of Ukraine, but has a Russian speaking majority. These Russians do not support the new government in Kiev, who took power after the ''Euromaiden'' government forced president Victor Yanukovych out of office. Although ethnic Ukrainians support the new government, the Russian speaking population does not. They fear the right-wing nationalists who want to enforce Ukrainian culture and have already destroyed many monuments from the Soviet period. Now the Crimea has rebelled against Kiev and with support from Russian troops declared itself independent of Ukraine. Western imperialism and the Kremlin oligarchy are facing each other in a classic Cold War game, with the Crimea as main price!

Today the people of Crimea can vote on their future. The referendum is not supported by Ukraine, the European Union and the USA. But Russia has declared it will respect the outcome of this referendum. Voters can choose on of the two options:

Choice 1: Are you in favor of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as a part of the Russian Federation?

Choice 2: Are you in favor of restoring the 1992 Constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?

Since 60% of all people who live in the Crimea are ethnic Russian, it is very likely that most will vote YES on Choice 1. It remains to be seen what the nationalist government in Kiev will do once the Republic of Crimea has joined the Russian Federation. Many Crimean Russians think that their lives would improve by joining up with Russia. But we revolutionary socialists think this is not true. Russia and Ukraine are both govern not by the people, but by a small minority ( oligarchs ) who control the media, the means of production and most wealth. After the collapse of the Soviet-Union, anticommunist forces won the first elections in Ukraine. The new independent republic enforced brutal privatization programs to turn the nation into a ''modern'' nation. In 2004 there was a popular revolt against the ruling oligarchs called the ''Orange Revolution''. But the leaders of this ''Orange Revolution'' offered no alternatives to the dictatorship of the markets. By 2010 the pro-European government was replaced by a pro-Russian government led by Victor Yanukovych!

Socialists knew that Yanukovych was no alternative, the people got angry again. This led to the formation of the ''Euromaiden'' movement led by pro-European political parties and right-wing nationalists. Because the opposition to Yanukovych was supported by the European Union, many anti-imperialists choose to support the pro-Russian government. Very counter-productive, since Yanukovych was a member of the Ukrainian oligarchy. His luxurious mansion proofs he had more money, then he should have as president. Yanukovych was supported by the pseudo ''Communist'' Party of Ukraine, who joined his capitalist government in 2010. Because the stalinists supported Yanukovych, the right-wing nationalists choose to attack many monuments of Vladimir Lenin. After the president fled to Russia, the right-wing nationalists destroyed more then 90 statues and memorials to Lenin. Because of this the Kremlin oligarchy has denounced the Kiev government as ''fascist''!

Crimea has been the center of media attention since Russian forces invaded it. Russia said it was ''protecting'' its naval base and population. The Kiev government calls it an imperialist invasion. By using nationalist propaganda and the deep mistrust between Ukrainians and Russians, already 40.000 young Ukrainians have joined the new Ukrainian National Guard. Western nations have rallied to support the government of Ukraine against Russia. The European Union and the USA, need a pro-European government in Ukraine to limit Russian influence in Eastern Europe. Revolutionary socialists reject both the Kiev government and the Kremlin. The Crimea conflict is a tool of two imperialist powers fighting over who is boss. Both Ukrainians and Russians are mislead in this conflict. Ukrainians think that Europe is the alternative, a result of massive European propaganda spread by the anti-Russian political parties. Also the European Union has donated money to strengthen the ''Euromaiden'' movement against the pro-Russian political groups in Ukraine!

Europe and Russia are not the way forward. Russia is ruled by oligarchs since 1992. After Boris Yeltsin banned the Communist Party of the Soviet-Union, he privatized the Soviet economy. This became known as ''Shock Therapy'' and it caused 59 million Russians to end up in poverty by 1999. Yeltsin's popularity reached zero and the oligarchs removed him from power. They installed his vice president as new leader of Russia. Vladimir Putin was Boris Yeltsin's right-hand man and a former KGB agent. He restored the power of the state, but never reestablished the social security of the former USSR. This is why many elderly in Russia and in former Soviet republics, are nostalgic about the days when the state took care of them. Ethnic Russians in the Crimea think that by joining Russia, their lives will improve. No doubt this is what the pro-Russian propaganda has told them. But life under Vladimir Putin is no improvement. This the people of the Crimea will have to find out the hard way. By then it will be too late, because Putin will never let go what he took!

We revolutionary socialists support the creation of a socialist republic in Crimea. But this must be linked to a socialist revolution in both Ukraine and Russia. A socialist Crimea can become a beacon, a spark that can light the fire of revolution in Eastern Europe. The European Union and the Russian Federation would then be challenged by a genuine socialist alternative to their imperialist greed. It would show the workers of the world that socialism can be build. Unfortunate ethnic nationalism is very strong. In a way it reminds us of the Yugoslavian breakup in 1991. Ethnic nationalism was also the reason why the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was destroyed!

The people of Crimea will probably vote to rejoin the Russian Federation. Crimea was always Russian until 1954, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave it to Soviet Ukraine. Since Ukraine was part of the USSR, it was purely a bureaucratic move. After 1990, the Crimea became part of the independent Republic of Ukraine and many ethnic Russians never liked this. The conservatives of the Party of Region's and the stalinists of the pseudo ''Communist'' Party of Ukraine, are very strong in the Crimea because they support the Russian population. The right-wing nationalists in Kiev hate the political parties of the Russians and have banned them in three western Ukrainian provinces. By banning the conservative party and the communist party, the nationalists have strengthen the anti-Ukrainian mood among Russian speaking people in the Crimea!

Socialism is the only alternative to this chauvinist conflict. Unfortunate the call for a socialist alternative has been poisoned by revolutionary leftists who have uncritically joined the pro-Russian side. Supporters of the Communist Party of Ukraine and most communist parties worldwide have denounced the Kiev government as ''fascist'' and gave support to the imperialist invasion of the Crimea by Russia. By doing this, Marxist socialism has been discredited and turned into a ''Russian'' ideology. Revolutionary socialists must not join the Russian side, only because we oppose western imperialism. We cannot take sides, our alternative is democratic socialism and the establishment of a Crimean Socialist Workers Republic. In opposition to Ukrainian nationalism, Russian chauvinism and western imperialism!

A Lenin statue with a Russian Czarist flag! 
The Czarist and Soviet flags are used by ethnic Russian Ukrainians
Lenin would turn in his grave, seeing how his banner
is used for Russian chauvinism!

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism