Lead story

Election farce in Ukraine

by our European Affairs correspondent

LAST WEEKEND’S snap elections in Ukraine produced no surprises, least of all to the Anglo- American and Franco-German imperialists whose willing tools run the pro-Nato and Nazi parties that were predictably returned to the Kiev parliament on Sunday. But millions boycotted the poll denounced as fraudulent by the communists and the anti-fascist movements that control the breakaway republics of Novorossiya in the east of the country.

Nearly half the electorate stayed at home. Turnout was particularly low in Russian speaking regions. Fifteen Donbas regional districts opted out. And though around half a million ex-pats were eligible to vote in 72 countries most didn’t bother even to register.

The Ukrainian president’s personal “Petro Poroshenko Bloc” bagged 132 seats in the new parliament followed by Premier Arseny Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front which took 82. The rest went largely to smaller reactionary and nationalist platforms or neo-Nazi fronts. The beleaguered Communist Party of Ukraine lost all its seats though the Opposition Bloc, the main successor to the ousted Party of the Regions, managed to win 29 seats.

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Shop workers challenge Asda on equal pay

THE SUPERMARKET giant Asda is facing a mass action by its female workers over equal pay in a case that could set a precedent for millions of retail workers.

The case is being brought on behalf of 414 women by a no-win-no-fee legal firm on the basis that in-store work — shelf filling and on the checkout tills, which is done mainly by women — is of equal value to warehouse and delivery work, which is done mainly by men.

Leigh Day, the law firm managing the case, say they received over 19,000 enquiries from current and former Asda employees regarding the pay gap in the business, with some saying they were paid around £4.00 per hour, far below the minimum wage.

If the case is successful in court, female workers could be compensated by the supermarket for up to six years’ worth of back pay. “In the supermarkets, the check-out staff and shelf-stackers are mostly women,” said Leigh Day employment law specialist Michael Newman.

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Farewell to Kabul

BRITISH and American troops made a final withdrawal from Afghanistan last Monday — only not quite a total withdrawal. Around 500 British “advisors” will remain and no doubt some United States “advisors” as well. And there will be the private security personnel contracted to various corporate enterprises and/or war lords with serious investments in the opium industry.

It was more dignified and less bloody than the British retreat from Jalalabad in 1842 but nevertheless it was a resounding defeat for western imperialism with its aims to secure Afghanistan as a safe western military base in a globally strategic area, while pretending they were fighting a war on terror. And globally, outside Britain and the US, the withdrawal is seen quite plainly as a defeat and retreat.

When the Nato allies invaded Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001 they claimed they were intent on defeating Al Qaeda and the source of the terrorists who committed the 11th September attacks on New York and Washington. Bin Laden was demonised as a super villain who threatened world peace.

The reality was that Al Qaeda had its roots in Saudi Arabia — the great ally of the West — not in Afghanistan. Bin Laden was a financial facilitator for Al Qaeda. In global terms it was never a large organisation. It was a group of extreme right-wing Muslim fundamentalists who were angry at the continuing existence of US military bases — with all the “unholy” decadence that goes with them — on the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia a decade after the end of the first Iraq War.

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