ALEX GORDON writes on the critical need for solidarity with the people of Ukraine from the labour movement as they fight against a corrupt regime
THIS coming Friday November 18, Liberation (formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom) will host a public meeting at London’s Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell, with Ukrainian legislators, lawyers and academics talking about the continued descent of their country into authoritarianism and chaos.
Amnesty International and the Organisation for Security in Europe (OSE) have both protested at the gross violations of civil liberties in post-coup Ukraine.
The banning of the Communist Party of Ukraine (previously, the country’s third largest political party in terms of electoral support), the arrests of its members and the ban on “communist symbols and ideology” makes distributing Marxist texts — or any books which show the Soviet Union in a favourable light — a criminal offence.
The ridiculous denial of Ukraine’s own history reached bizarre proportions last week as Kiev upheld a ban on a new action movie distributed by US media giant Warner Bros because it depicts a security service agent of the Russian FSB in a positive light.
“In his latest film, Off Duty, [...] the main protagonist, played by German actor Til Schweiger, searches for his kidnapped daughter in Moscow and ‘a gallant FSB major’ saves the situation,” Sergey Neretin, the deputy head of Ukraine’s state Agency for Cinema, explained recently in a radio interview.
“We discussed the film and the law clearly says that we should ban it, despite who owns the distribution rights if it depicts a positive image of an employee of the law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation,” Neretin said.
Ukrainian authorities have so far banned from the country over 140 figures of Russian culture and art.
A leader of the parliamentary opposition, Vadim Novinsky, has faced threats of criminal prosecution after he tried to stop attempts by the authorities to restrict the Orthodox Church (another symbol of Russian culture).
While the ban on symbolic and cultural expressions that conflict with the Kiev regime’s anti-communist ideology are bad enough, worse is their failure to honour the Minsk II Agreement on civil rights and elections in the eastern territories of Donetsk and Lugansk, where shelling of civilian areas by the Ukrainian Army and its ultra-nationalist auxiliary forces has escalated in recent weeks.
Indeed Kiev’s tenuous grip on large parts of the country is only possible through a widespread assault on public and civil rights of Ukraine’s citizens.
On September 4 2016, right-wing radicals attacked TV channel Inter and burnt down its offices. Only a miracle prevented mass casualties and loss of life.
Threats of physical violence against journalists and editors of the channel News One are commonplace. In fact, all of Ukraine’s independent media face direct violence or the threat of violence from nationalist organisations.
These attacks on independent media have been synchronised with pressure on opposition leaders by the Kiev authorities.
Ukraine’s right-wing radicals are controlled and directed by high-ranking state officials and are embedded in leadership positions of law enforcement authorities.
Alla Alexandrovska, a 68-year old former Communist Party MP, remains in indefinite detention without trial in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv despite serious health problems. The Kharkiv court has twice prolonged her detention.
The official excuse — common to many cases concerning members of Ukraine’s political opposition where court hearings are delayed for years and political opponents are held in detention without trial — is that a prosecution witness has gone missing.
In reality, the Kiev regime’s authoritarian, illegal and brutal methods are a clear indication of their weakness and reliance on outside support from the US State Department.
In an act of futile damage limitation following last week’s US presidential elections, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov scrambled to delete Facebook posts he had posted attacking US president-elect Donald Trump.
On July 31 2016, Avakov called Trump a “dangerous misfit” because of Trump’s attitude over the Russian peninsula of Crimea. Avakov also deleted a large number of posts written between July 27 and August 17 this year.
Avakov’s original post read: “Trump’s statement about a possibility to consider recognition of Russia’s Crimea is a diagnosis of a dangerous misfit.”
As Kiev’s Western-installed coup leaders find their paymasters in Washington difficult to get hold of over the coming weeks, there is a real risk of the repression against Ukrainian citizens and political opposition further intensifying.
The need for solidarity from the trade union and labour movement in Britain for Ukraine’s citizens and political opposition leaders who are resisting an authoritarian and corrupt regime is now critical.
- Alex Gordon is chairman of the Marx Memorial Library & Workers’ School and member of Solidarity against Racism and Fascism’s steering committe. The public meeting, chaired by Liberation’s general secretary Maggie Bowden, will include speakers John Foster, the international secretary of the Communist Party of Britain; journalist and professor Dr Viktoriia Georgiievska and barrister and law professor Dr. Yevgenii Gerasymenko. It will be held on Friday November 18 at 7pm at the Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU.