The IWL-FI is developing a robust international campaign in support of the Ukrainian resistance against Putin’s invasion. We have promoted various united solidarity activities, a fundraising campaign and, together with the workers’ organizations of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle (ILNSS, http://laboursolidarity.org), we were part of the Convoy of Workers’ Aid to the Ukrainian Resistance, with which we participated in the internationalist May Day meeting in the city of Lviv.

As part of this campaign, we want to spread the voices of those who are on the front line of the resistance, publishing two letters. The first one is by Svetlana Vladimirovna, a Ukrainian refugee. Svetlana is a primary school and kindergarten teacher. For years, she has been fighting for trade-union and social rights in the Kriviy Rih mining region, organising a teachers’ branch together with the independent mining and metallurgical trade union NPG, headed by Yuri Petrovich Samoilov. Svetlana was born in the Urals, Russia, and has been a Ukrainian citizen since the age of 14. She has four children. Today, due to the Russian aggression and the war, she has moved as a refugee with her two youngest children. But she continues to struggle intensively in solidarity with her people who are resisting the aggression. She represented the NPG at the 4th Meeting of the ILNSS.

The second letter was written by Oksana, who lives in Kherson in southern Ukraine. It is the only regional capital occupied by Putin’s invading army, where the Russians commit all kinds of criminal acts.

We invite our readers to read the testimonies and to redouble together the international solidarity campaign.

Russia’s invasion and the war have been going on for 85 days now

By Svetlana Vladimirovna

My sister lives with her family in the Kherson region. Today that territory is occupied by Putin’s troops. My sister, three days ago (for the umpteenth time), tried to leave the city, where these Russian looters not only patrol and control its streets but also seize the houses of the owners who managed to flee.

The Russian invaders sold the stolen wheat in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories. Some countries, whose governments are interested in such proposals of the Russian government, are known. Syria, for example.

They also take vegetables and what is left to the people, who sell it for pennies. After all, they can’t leave the city. In early spring, people planted whole fields with cucumber, tomato, cabbage and radish. People were left without a livelihood because they invested all their money in the sowing season.

This is a tremendous blow to our food economy. It is known that the Kherson region has always fed many regions of Ukraine. Now, cucumber in nearby regions costs 90 hryvnias, but in Kherson, they can only sell it for less than 10 hryvnias. Naturally, with such a situation, wheat flour went up in price, which was reflected in all flour products.

Shops and pharmacies are closed. There is only one kiosk with almost empty shelves. From the Crimea, they bring meagre food rations for the people. But almost everyone rejects them.

At first, there was no strong repression of anti-invasion rallies. Now, smoke bombs, gas, and shots are thrown at them from the flanks, in the air and in front of their feet on the asphalt. Many men are simply missing. The occupiers sustain themselves on the basis of terror because they understand perfectly well the mood of the people of Kherson. The locals have repeatedly demonstrated in repudiation of the invasion, in support of Ukraine and massively stated that Kherson is Ukraine!

A 15-year-old boy in a car with his sister had a tattoo on his arm. Then, at the checkpoint, they pull him out of the car and strip him down to his underwear looking for Ukrainian symbols on his body. I asked what they, these bastards, would do with the boy if they found any symbols on him. The sister said she knew one thing: they would have taken him, like many others, to an unknown destination. And they were never released.

The city inhabitants understand that they are taken as hostages, as a human shield for these occupiers, looters and murderers. None of the locals knows what will happen to them at any moment.

Kherson is a regional capital, handed over in 2 days by the local administration to the invaders. The new occupying government decided, without a referendum, to announce a new name for the city: Taurida, and to ask to become part of the Russian Federation.

Having exchanged power in the city for an occupying government, these armed marauders take everything in the houses, flats and shops. They force people to “sell” their plots of land and houses for pennies. Their passports are taken away. When a child is born, the parents receive birth certificates signed by the newly created usurper “government.”

Russian soldiers seized the premises of Status, the Kherson’s internet provider, and shut down all communication equipment. Instead, they demand to be connected to the Crimean network. Otherwise, they threaten to take away all personal equipment.

There are other war crimes

The invaders, the occupying troops, commit atrocities, which are clearly considered internationally war crimes. However, there are other crimes in this war that are no less reprehensible and that we must punish severely.

Clever Ukrainian businessmen are now doing business in this war. For them, the main thing is to make money at the expense of the people who defend our Ukraine. We are receiving humanitarian aid from many countries. We hear it on all radios and see it on TV. But the aid does not reach the recipient. That is, this aid, which is so badly needed now by soldiers, internally displaced persons and civilians, is not being received.

Goods labelled “Not for Sale” sit on the shelves of shops in our cities. Clothes, bedding, berets, etc. are sold in the city markets.

Words cannot describe what is happening with humanitarian aid. Families sell everything of value in their homes to buy essentials for their husbands, sons, relatives and friends who are fighting on the front line.

The men, many with large shoe sizes, are now wearing winter boots, 95% of which are worn out, but they cannot afford to buy new ones.

This story is a “cry from the soul.” The people are resisting on the front line until victory, while our so-called compatriots, these capitalists, sell humanitarian aid. Judgement and punishment of these vultures!

An investigation is being carried out in the company Dnipro, owned by the Russian Defence Corporation and a producer of special equipment for defence. In the midst of a Russian invasion and a war of liberation against it… How can this happen?

We will win

Right now it is very difficult for us. Since the beginning of the war, more than 6 million people have left Ukraine. More than 8 million are internally displaced. As a result of the shelling by Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine, 1721 schools and educational institutions were damaged, 139 of them completely destroyed.

Of the 5.23 million Ukrainian refugees, some 2.75 million are in the labour force. Of these, 1.2 million people were previously working but quit or lost their jobs due to the war.

The ILO predicts the deterioration of the employment situation, not only in Ukraine but also in neighbouring countries: Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic.

I sincerely hope and rely only on the help and support of the workers of all countries. We have a hard job ahead of us! We must settle accounts with these traitors, with these pseudo-Ukrainians, who, in these difficult times of war, do juicy business at the expense of the pain, tears and deaths of our Ukrainian workers.

But I still believe in our, and only in our victory. I believe in our people! I believe in my country, Ukraine! Because we are strong in spirit, we will overcome this critical situation. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes! We will win.

85th day of war… 85th day of occupation

Letter by Oksana from Kherson, Ukraine

85 days of life among people with machine guns… or, rather, not life, only existence… 85 days of fear that someone will enter your house… They just kidnap our people in the street… and then our relatives are sold… for 20 thousand Hryvnias. If you have money, you can buy them back. In the middle of the 21st century, in the middle of Europe, invaders are selling our relatives…

Sleepless nights… I pray, pray, pray… For the children, for my nephews, for my friends… All the prayers merge into one endless prayer… Lord, give me the strength to bear all this… And the strength is dwindling. We were stripped of everything we had. Our beloved green city on the banks of the Dnieper River has become a semi-deserted city. People are leaving their homes in droves. Every time we say goodbye to our neighbours, a part of our soul dies… At some point, we couldn’t bear it either and decided to flee the occupation. It was a week ago. Farewell to the neighbours, tears… At that moment I felt like a traitor. In our 10-apartment building, there are two families left. Two old families… My heart has just broken into pieces…

We packed quickly… the whole life fits in a bag… A bag, and a cat, who didn’t leave the bag even for a minute… as if she understood that we were leaving in the morning.

We set off… countless checkpoints, people with machine guns rummaging through our things, checking documents… Why are strange people in charge of our land!

Ahead of the column, which stretched for more than 5 km. Outside the car window, there is a yellow field and an infinite blue sky… Our flag! And again tears… I look at my cat, and she cries… For the second time in her life, my cat cries… For the first time, she cried when they started bombing us.

We were standing on the road in the scorching sun for 6 hours… surrounded by invaders… A man is dying in a nearby car, he needed an urgent heart operation… A little further on in another car a woman was giving birth… A baby’s cry is heard… Beyond us, huge grain wagons were speeding by… with our grain. They plunder the grain from the farmers and export it to the territory of Russia… History repeats itself…

They wouldn’t let us pass… The column we were in has been stopped on the road for six days… Someone couldn’t stand it and returned home… Others are still waiting. In two of those columns, the occupiers simply shot them in the head, killing civilians who wanted to leave the occupation…

I ask, why, why my homeland attacked my son’s homeland! Why are the Russians killing us? How can a person kill someone in the 21st century… just like that… Barbarism!