Nazi threat in Ukraine

by our European Affairs correspondent

An uneasy calm hangs over Kiev following the collapse of the Yanukovych administration and its replacement by a provisional government drawn from the ranks of the nationalist and fascist parties in the Ukrainian parliament. Viktor Yanukovych, the elected president, fled the capital last weekend after submitting to a European Union brokered deal for fresh elections to end the violent clashes in the central Kiev.

The new interim government has issued a warrant for Yanukovych’s arrest and restored the 2004 constitution, which limits the power of the presidency, and promised new presidential and parliamentary elections in a few months time.

The new regime has been embraced by Anglo-American and Franco-German imperialism, the forces that were behind the move to oust Viktor Yanukovych in the first place. But the Kremlin has refused to recognise what they regard as a coup and the Russian ambassador has been withdrawn amid reports that the Russian base in Crimea has been reinforced and that Russian troops have been mobilised along the border with Ukraine.

The new Ukrainian regime has cancelled a law which guaranteed the Russian language equal status with Ukrainian and some Russian politicians are calling for a new law to allow Ukrainians of Russian origin, which possibly make up half the population, to fast-track Russian citizenship, which would significantly give them Russian protection in any future civil conflict.

The head of the fascist Freedom Party (Svoboda) , Oleg Tyagnibok, recently told his followers in Kiev that the use of the Russian language should be criminalised and all ethnic Russians should be stripped of citizenship and live under non-citizen status.

The Americans have warned Russia not to intervene after the country’s parliament ousted president Yanukovych and named an interim leader saying it would be a “grave mistake” and it wasn’t in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, Europe or the United States to see the country split or return to violence.

But the threat of further turmoil remains with fascist gangs openly parading in the capital and across the west of the country and local defence militias being raised amongst the Russian-speaking community in eastern and southern Ukraine. And huge demonstrations demanding independence or union with Russia are taking place in the Crimean autonomous republic which is the home of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol.

The headquarters of the Communist Party of Ukraine in Kiev was stormed and trashed by fascist thugs this week and a prominent Jewish rabbi has warned his community to avoid the city centre or leave Kiev if necessary following several anti-semitic attacks last month and some verbal threats in recent days. Edward Dolinsky, head of the umbrella organisation of Ukraine’s Jews describes the situation in Kiev as dire and the Israeli embassy has told members of the Jewish community to avoid leaving their homes for now.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign affairs chief Baroness Ashton has been in Kiev to prop up pro-EU politicians with promises of financial and political support to help them win the next elections and put the country back on the road to imperialist integration. What she can offer is debatable.

Ukraine is virtually bankrupt and the Russian bail-out agreement that the old government signed has now, naturally, been frozen. Franco-German imperialism, which is busy turning the screw on its weaker EU partners, will have a hard job justifying pumping billions into Ukraine while European workers are plunging into poverty.

That’s why they are trying to get the Americans to take some of the financial burden. But this will mean agreeing a common slate amongst the rag-bag of opposition leaders who now claim to lead the country that could credibly defeat the pro-Russian parties at the next elections. At the same time they need to freeze out the fascist parties, whose thugs were needed to bring down the government, but are now no longer of any further use to imperialism.

On 8th February over 1,000 people joined an anti- fascist march in Kiev led by Ukrainian communists, their Komsomol youth wing and a number of other democratic movements.

At the rally they burned an effigy of Stepan Bandera, the Nazi collaborator who raised a militia to fight for Hitler when Germany invaded the USSR who is now an icon of the nationalists and fascists.

Ukrainian Communist MP Alexander Zubchevsky told the rally that exactly 71 years ago the Nazis executed members of the Komsomol underground Young Guard movement.

“Even in the nightmare of our grandparents, who defended the country from invaders arms in hand, they could not imagine that in 2014 a rematch of the fascist threat in Ukraine would become a reality, in a country that suffered the most from the Nazis during World War II.”