Ukraine: crack down on the left

by our European Affairs correspondent

The shaky truce in Ukraine is holding despite sporadic skirmishes along the ceasefire lines and around Donetsk airport while prisoner-of-war exchanges continue and more humanitarian aid from Russia pours into the liberated areas of the self-proclaimed people’s republics in the east.

But while the Kiev regime has accepted limited autonomy for the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, many believe that this is just a ruse to provide a breathing space for the Ukrainian army and the fascist militias to re-arm for another offensive with the support of imperialism. Nato is beefing up its forces along the Russian border and the Kremlin says that “the deployment of complete and self-sufficient group of forces in the Crimean direction” has become one of Russia’s priorities.

The last lorry from Russia’s second aid convoy to Lugansk has returned to Russia without incident after delivering more than 2,000 tonnes of relief supplies to the residents of the war-torn city, including food, power generators, medicines, and blankets. The convoy of 245 trucks was greeted by cheering people, waving hands and Russian flags as it entered the resistance city last weekend.

Widespread destruction from heavy shelling has left hundreds of thousands of residents of eastern Ukraine without electricity and drinking water. More than 830,000 Ukrainians fled to Russia to escape the fighting. Now some are going home. Over 5,000 refugees have returned to their homes in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics since the ceasefire came into effect on 5th September.

baying mob

Back in Kiev the sham parliament has ratified the “Association Agreement” that will tie what’s left of the Ukrainian economy to the shackles of the European Union and passed a new law to ban the closest allies of Ukraine’s deposed President Yanukovych from politics. A baying mob of fascists urged the deputies to pass the law that will also sanction the vetting of a million government employees to purge the civil service of anyone accused of left or pro-Russian sympathies.

To make their point, the fascists, many of them hooded, burned tyres outside parliament and grabbed an MP who had been a minister in the Yanukovych government, who was dumped into a wheelie bin and pelted with rubbish.

While Ukrainian Nazis strengthen their hold on the street in western Ukraine the clique of oligarchs and reactionary politicians in the pay of imperialism in Kiev have ordered a new crack-down against the opposition.

Last week heavily armed masked members of the secret police raided the editorial offices of the Russian-language Vesti newspaper in Kiev under the pretext that the paper had “attacked the territorial integrity of the country”. The police seized the server which hosted the paper’s website as well as hard drives and journalists’ note books.

This has been followed by the arrest of three communist cadres. Three left wing activists, members of socialist Borotba (Struggle) movement, the Ukrainian Communist Party and the Communist Youth, were arrested in Odessa on Friday on trumped-up charges of “terrorism”.

Vladislav Wojciechowski, a member of Borotba and survivor of the Odessa massacre in May was beaten up and explosives planted in his apartment by the secret police, who were backed up by Nazi paramilitaries. He has now been charged with being a member of the “Ukrainian Red Army” and planning to blow up a hospital.

Communist and Borotba activists work underground after their offices were seized and torched by fascist gangs during the first wave of repression that followed the overthrow of the Yanukovych government in February.

But Borotba has called for international protests to obtain the release of the three jailed communists pointing out that: “The arrest of Comrade Wojciechowski shows that the Poroshenko regime is not interested in civil peace, but continues to arrest activists for political reasons.”