Workers between Ukraine and Russia

The working class of both Ukraine and Russia are dragged into a sectarian conflict between the two nations. After the Crimea separated itself from Ukraine, now other provinces with a large Russian speaking population are falling victim to Russian chauvinism and Ukrainian nationalism. The nation that is Ukraine is deeply dived between ethnic Ukrainians, from who many are anti-Russian and ethnic Russians who oppose the current nationalist government in Kiev. In the Crimea, the Russian speaking majority was able to join the Russian Federation thanks to Russian troops who entered the former Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Now the other east Ukrainian provinces are in turmoil. But the main reason behind the sudden rise of Russian chauvinism and Ukrainian nationalism is 24 years of capitalist exploitation and the way both ethnic groups look at Soviet history! 

Russian Ukrainians in both the Crimea and some eastern provinces of Ukraine, have never been accepted by the more nationalistic Ukrainians. After the collapse of the USSR, the new Ukrainian government started to rewrite history in favour of nationalists who fought the Soviet government in both the civil war era and the second world war. For many Ukrainians ( especially the younger generation ) the bourgeois leaders of the first Ukrainian People's Republic ( 1917-1921 ) were the true founding fathers of modern Ukraine. But the Russian speaking Ukrainians see the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic as the founding state. Then there is the Stalinist period ( 1924-1991 ), the period of Russian cultural dominance over Ukraine. During this period the Russians were the ones who controlled the nation. Those who opposed Stalin's Russian chauvinism were called ''anticommunist'' and ''counter-revolutionary''!

After Stalin's death, the Russian leadership in Moscow made some reforms, but kept all political power centralized in the Russian capital. Nikita Khrushchev was a Ukrainian by birth, but as a Stalinist he supported the chauvinist Russians. It was only after Stalin's death that he gave the Crimea to Ukraine, which was a pure bureaucratic move, because the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic was controlled by Moscow, like the other republics of the USSR!

When stalinism collapsed, Ukrainian nationalism rose again. Russians who lived in Ukraine were suddenly forced to adapt to Ukrainian cultural traditions. For many this was unacceptable. After years of being the supreme culture and ethnic group of the Stalinist USSR, most Russians refused to call themselves Ukrainian. This resulted in ethnic conflicts with Ukrainian nationalists, who are deeply anti-Russian. The nationalists point at the crimes of Russian leaders, both Czarist and Stalinist. Russians counter-react to the crimes committed by nationalist forces during the second world war. Since 1990 the two ethnic groups are involved in sectarianism. The current escalation is only the final spark in a conflict which is 25 years old!

In the absence of a genuine workers party, the proletariat of Ukraine is divided. The official Communist Party of Ukraine support Russian chauvinism and the legacy of Joseph Stalin. They are called a ''Russian'' party by the right-wing nationalists and liberals. But the stalinists are not the only pro-Russian political party. Conservative Ukrainians also reject the anti-Russian liberals for their support of western governments. The former president of Ukraine was a conservative, but also pro-Russian and against the western world. When the working class started to rebel against the authoritarian and corrupt Yanukovych government, they were dragged into the anti-Russian camp as nationalists, liberals and pro-western activists took power in Kiev. This new government totally rejects Russia and its supporters have vandalized many Soviet memorials!

Because of these vandals and right-wing nationalists hate speech against ethnic Russians, the Kremlin has now turned its propaganda machine against Ukraine. Telling its own people that the Ukrainians government is ''fascist'' and pure evil. Many Russians now believe that Kiev is fully under control of the same fascists who supported the Germans in 1941. Although far-right forces are part of the government, most members of the ''Euromaiden'' movement are not fascist, nor hard-core nationalist. They only wanted an end to the corrupt Yanukovych regime. Because there was no workers party to lead both working classes, the bourgeoisie and oligarchs took power. The Kiev government has appointed many oligarchs as governors of provinces, replacing democratic elected ( mostly pro-Russian ) officials. The Dnepropetrovsk governor is Igor Kolomoysky, Ukraine’s third-wealthiest man, with an estimated fortune of $2.4 billion. New Governor of Donetsk Region is Sergey Taruta, who is estimated to worth around $2 billion, putting him among the top-10 wealthiest people in Ukraine!

The United States of America and the European Union are fully supportive of the new Kiev nationalist government. They blame Russia for the unrest in the eastern provinces of Ukraine. The western world is playing the old Cold War game. They need a pro-western government in Ukraine to strengthen the might of western imperialism against Russian imperialism. Because this is what the USA and Europe wants, they want to limit the influence of the Kremlin in Eastern Europe. This is a classic imperialist game, were capitalist government are turning against each other. The western nations say they do it for ''democracy'' and ''freedom'', while Russia says it is ''protecting'' its civilians against vandals and hooligans. But both sides are of the same coin, the coin of world capitalism. Both Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs will profit from this conflict. Just look at the capitalist reforms in the Crimea, which the Kremlin is carrying out. Also the Kiev government has agreed to massive austerity under orders of the International Monetary Fund. Workers do not benefit from either supporting Kiev or Moscow!

In the city of Luhansk, ethnic Russians have stormed the building of the Ukrainian Secret Service. They raised the Russian Czarist banner and destroyed the symbols of Ukraine. The government in Kiev claims they are separatists, supported by Russia. As of 8 April 2014, they have still occupied the building. In other cities with a large ethnic Russian population, there have been chauvinist demonstrations. Russian Czarist flags and few Soviet banners are side by side, showing how the banners of the Soviet-Union are abused for Russian chauvinism. Indeed, the statues of Lenin have become a rally ground for ethnic Russian Ukrainians, who wave with the banner of Imperial Russia next to the statue of a man who hated chauvinism, imperialism and capitalism! 

Revolutionary socialists reject the pro-Russian demonstrators. We reject those who think that Russia is the alternative. But this does not mean we are in the camp of western imperialism. For us the Kiev government is a tool of the IMF and the oligarchy. A workers party on a socialist program must be build. Such a party would unite the Ukrainian and Russian working classes against nationalists, chauvinists, oligarchs, liberals and conservatives. Because the official communist party support Russian chauvinism, the ideology of Marxist socialism has been called a ''Russian'' ideology by nationalist politicians. But the only reason ethnic Russians rally at Lenin's statues, is because the old USSR was a Russian dominated nation. Workers in today's Ukraine have no class consciousness, this is the result of nationalist and chauvinist propaganda. 70 years of Stalinist rule are also fresh in memory. The struggle for genuine socialism will be difficult in Ukraine and Russia!

Czarist eagles and flags are used by armed Russian chauvinists,
who have occupied the Ukrainian Secret Service building in Luhansk!

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism