After signing the Association Agreement with the EU, the Kiev government announced last March 27 an “agreement” with the IMF by which it will receive an aid package worth 18 billion Euros in exchange for an extremely harsh unpopular austerity plan: a hike of 50% on the price of natural gas and electricity sold to domestics consumers, dismissal of 20% of public workers and tax increases.
This is the other side of the double aggression inflicted on the country and on most of its working population: on one side, Russia and its secular oppression over Ukraine, culminating in the reincorporation of Crimea after a mockery of a Referendum under military occupation. On the other side, imperialism, the U.S. and the EU which, with the current government, have begun plundering the country in accordance with a handful of Ukrainian oligarchs, exporters to the imperialist countries markets.
In that context, it opens up a controversy: in face of the reactionary government of Kiev, with the majority of the rightist party ‘Homeland’, of Yulia Timoshenko, ministers of the far-right party Svoboda (Freedom) and participation of the fascist organization Pravy Sektor (Sector of the Rightist) wouldn’t it be correct to defend the separation of Crimea? That is what is said by several Stalinist organizations and Castro-Chavism (unconditional allies of Putin), plus some inattentive ones who took up the defense of the “right to self-determination” of the Russians in Crimea. Their statements that the annexation of Crimea is a measure against the fascists are belied by the explicit support the far right of the Front Nationale of Le Pen and the Italian League North have given to Putin.
The problemis that it is not possible to defend the Ukrainian people interests being part of any of the sectors in dispute: neither of imperialism and its representatives in the current Ukrainian government nor of Putin, guardian of the Russian bourgeoisie interests and one of the greatest oppressors of oppressed nationalities in the world (Chechenia…).
Ukraine, a downtrodden country
Those who defend Russian aggression in Ukraine see only the Kiev government character: as itis a bourgeois, reactionary and pro-imperialist government one must uphold the “self-determination” of the Russians in Crimea. Thus, an act of aggression against a country perpetrated by Putin becomes an act of resistance against imperialism, according to such reasoning! However they leave out the most important fact: that there is an oppressor country and an oppressed one. Submitted to Czarist oppression, then to the Stalinist barbarism, and then to the Nazi oppression, during its occupation in World War II, Ukraine did not become an independent country after the USSR dissolution.
The objective basis which explains the growth of nationalism in Ukraine (in the parliamentary 2012 elections Svoboda got 12% of the votes) is the result of centuries of Russian oppression, as Trotsky explained in 1939: “The bureaucracy strangled and plundered the people within Great Russia, too. But in Ukraine matters were further complicated by the massacre of national hopes. Nowhere did restrictions, purges, repressions and in general all forms of bureaucratic hooliganism assume such murderous sweep as they did in Ukraine in the struggle against the powerful, deeply-rooted longings of the Ukrainian masses for greater freedom and independence. To the totalitarian bureaucracy, Soviet Ukraine became an administrative division of an economic unit and a military base of the USSR“.(Trotsky, Problem of the Ukraine. April 22, 1939, www.marxists.org).
The national oppression and the killing of millions in the Stalin “forced collectivization”, among other atrocities, are added up to the destruction of the yearnings forfreedom and independence rooted in the masses. Following the end of the USSR, a new bourgeoisie (the so-called oligarchs) was formed through the transfer of state property, in association with the Russian oligarchs, further enhancing the feeling of domination of the country. The cultural and linguistic diversity of the country in its different regions was used as a battering ram of the “nationalist” and pro-Russian trends. However the proletariat must forge its own way. The independence of Ukraine will not come through the hands of any bourgeois sector.
The voice of the working class has not yet made itself heard
What is the relationship between the Ukrainian proletariat needs and the struggle for independence? In a context completely different of the current one, this problem has already been placed historically. And, with the method that Trotsky used to address it in 1939, one can draw some conclusions for the present moment: “When the Ukrainian problem became aggravated early this year, communist voices were not heard at all; but the voices of the Ukrainian clericals and National-Socialists were loud enough. This means that the proletarian vanguard has let the Ukrainian national movement slip out of its hands…” (Leon Trotsky, Independenceof the Ukraine and Sectarian Muddleheads, 7/30/1939, www.marxists.org). While the country defense is in the hands of the oligarchs, nationalism will be a weapon in the hands of the bourgeoisie and the fascists to crush the proletariat.
Putin’s aggression againstUkraine strengthened all parties who claim that Russia is the problem, resulting in the increase of the proletariat division and in the strengthening of the far-right and the fascists, when the central task is to fight against the coalition government that will apply all the plunder measures to the country, demanded by the imperialism.
Russia has not been attacked by imperialism. When seizing Crimea, Putin seeks to control that peninsula and maintain at any cost its influence over Ukraine. This was only a first step, which matches the negotiations with imperialism.
Those who, in such circumstances, give their support to the incorporation of Crimea by Putin, strengthen the policy of imperialism to turn Ukraine into a semi-colony of the U.S. and Germany. The imperialist campaign in defense of Ukraine territorial rights is pure smokescreen. Imperialism will not take any real measure to reverse this situation. Instead, they will take advantage of the situation to impose, through the IMF, the “aid” package against the workers. Imperialism will only defend its self-interests; the Ukrainian working class, divided and harassed, presents itself today as an easy prey for the chauvinistic propaganda.
No to the agreement with the IMF! No to the increase in the gas price!
The masses went into dispute when the division among Ukrainian oligarchs started, some in favor of the association with imperialism, others for maintaining the unity with Russia. The oligarchs’ dilemma was embedded in the very bosom of the Yanukovich government for months before his refusing to sign the agreement with the EU; he made a strong campaign in his favor as if he was the country’s savior. His final turn towards Russia was the spark for the demonstrations because most of the population understood that their lives would not be improved.
But the workers had no leadership nor could they improvise it and so the bourgeoisie usurped the mobilization outcome and reached an agreement with the government. These are the facts and not the exotic theories swarming in the Castro-Chavist websites.
The movement went beyond the intentions of the parties that sought the erosion of the government to replace it through elections, as evidenced by the fact that the pact sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the EU, between Putin and Yanukovych, to move forward the elections, lasted for only a few hours. Now, the murder of Alexandr Muzichko, leader of the Nazi party Pravy Sektor (the Rightist Sector) indicates that imperialism wants to get rid of troublesome allies, as it hurries to launch a thorough attack on workers. The fight against the government’s measures demands the unity of workers throughout Ukraine in face of imperialism and Putin’s claws.