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Russia

Ukraine: Positions of the European left

See also "France: Parti de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon on Ukraine". For more on Ukraine, click HERE.

March 21, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A number of European left parties have released statements on the developments in Ukraine, Crimea and the region. Unless otherwise stated, they have been translated by Dick Nichols, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal and Green Left Weekly correspondent in Europe. There are statements from Déi Lénk (The Left), Luxemburg; Sortu, the radical left Basque Country party; the Communist Party of France; the Communist Party of Spain; and Gregor Gysi, chair of Germany's Die Linke (The Left). More will be added as they come to hand.

Discussion: What stand for socialists on events in Crimea and Ukraine?

Crimeans vote in the referendum on the region's political future.

Click HERE for more on Ukraine.

By Roger Annis

March 18, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Two distinct views on the left have emerged to describe the political upheaval that has shaken Ukraine and Crimea in recent months. On February 21, the government of President Victor Yanukovych was overthrown and replaced by a pro-western government in which extreme rightists have a prominent place.

One view describes the political intervention of the US and other NATO countries in favour of regime change as playing a decisive role. So much so that the mass protests against the Yanukovych government are denied any popular and social legitimacy. Russia’s role in events is viewed uncritically.

France: Parti de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon on Ukraine

 Jean-Luc Mélenchon (centre).

Click HERE for more on Ukraine.

By Jean-Luc Mélenchon, translated by Dick Nichols

March 11, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I think it is useful to specify [my position on developments in Ukraine] in black and white. I’m doing it in broad brushstrokes so that the advanced minds in the newsrooms can understand. I’m doing it in their language, saying what "I support" and what "I condemn”. Please understand me: my comments here are an express warning sign for the Mickey Mouse minds of the media world.

Let's go: I do not support Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Neither do I support the de facto actual authorities of the Ukraine, nor the kleptocrats of the previous constitutional government. However, contrary to [Green member of the European Parliament] Daniel Cohn-Bendit, I am not in favour of war with Russia! While I think that the Russians have nothing to do outside their bases in the Crimea, I also condemn the attempted encirclement of Russia by NATO which is the cause of their action. I condemn the neo-Nazi anti-semitism of the de facto ministers in power in the Ukraine and support their rapid expulsion from the government.

Boris Kagarlitsky: ‘Polite intervention’ and the Ukrainian uprising

Unarmed Ukrainian troops march on the Belbek airfield in Crimea to retake it from soldiers under Russian command. After a shouting match, the Ukrainians withdrew and some members of both sides played soccer together.

By Boris Kagarlitsky, Moscow; translated by Renfrey Clarke

March 4, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Why, do you suppose, war has not yet broken out between Russia and Ukraine? The answer is very simple: no one plans to go to war, and no one can. Kiev for practical purposes does not have an army, while the government that has appeared in Kiev has no control over half of Ukraine, and cannot even exercise particular control over its own supporters. If the Ukrainian authorities make any serious attempt to mobilise their forces, this will merely provoke new protests. Even rumours of such a possibility have been enough to provoke anti-government demonstrations in Odessa.

Against infantile realpolitik: Richard Seymour on some left reactions to Ukraine

Click HERE for more on Ukraine.

By Richard Seymour

March 5, 2014 -- Lenin's Tomb, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The enemy of your enemy might still be your enemy. Because, complexity. Because, nuance. Because, concrete analysis of concrete situations. How much do I really need to underline this?

I raise the point because the tendency to try to distil the situation in Ukraine into one or at most two relatively simple contradictions is apparent in abundance. Lindsey German's article for Stop the War Coalition (UK) is a classic instance of this. It attempts a "clarification" of the political stakes, largely by way of clearing away complicating clutter and allowing people to see the interests of US imperialism and its allies at work. But in so doing, German's article resorts to utter nonsense and embarrassingly crude reductions.

Ukraine: 'If the left movements don’t unite, only the far right will benefit from social anger'

Volodymyr Ishchenko.

Click HERE for more on Ukraine.

Volodymyr Ishchenko, deputy director of the Center for Society Research in Kiev, interviewed by Maxime Benatouil

March 4, 2014 -- Transform! Network

Maxime Benatouil: What root causes explain such large parts of the population joining the protests, on Maidan Square and elsewhere?

Volodymyr Ishchenko: First, let me tell you that the protests weren’t exclusively initiated by the students. It is a quite widespread misperception. The first protests were launched by various groups: journalists, civic activists, and students. All these groups share a common European dream, a very deep-rooted idea that Europe has the solution to Ukraine’s problems. To them, it means: more democracy, more justice, less corruption and a better welfare. This is a very old idea, well-anchored in Eastern European societies. Ever since the 19th century, there has been a will to catch up with Western Europe. Many Ukrainians still think that way.

Ukraine: (Updated March 3) Anti-war statements from the Russian left

Russian soldier in Crimea.

March 1, 2014 ---- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal ---- The OpenLeft.ru site in Russia has published the following statement on the military moves towards Ukraine by Russia in the Crimea region. Translation thanks to Op Thoughts Blogger.

Crimea: Not 'ours', and not 'yours'

Crimea has found itself unlucky to be at the intersection of Russia's imperialist ambitions, and the rough nationalist politics of the "new" Ukraine. The "Open Left" declares: the movement for self-determination in Crimea is more important in its significance than both, imperialist games and nationalist fervour.

Ukraine: The left and the movement to overthrow Yanukovich: two interviews

Mass protest in Maidan Square.

March 2, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing excerpts from two recent interviews (published mid-February) with members of the revolutionary left in Ukraine that shed light on the nature of the movement that overthrew the Viktor Yanukovich regime, and the attitude of the small Ukrainian left towards it.

The first is with Denis from a Kiev branch of a revolutionary syndicalist group, the Autonomous Workers Union; it is reposted from Pratele Komunizace. The second is with Ilya Budraitskis, a Moscow-based socialist in Kiev; it first appeared in Marx21.de (translated by RS21). Click on the links for the full interviews.

Boris Kagarlitsky on Ukraine: ‘A quadrille of monsters’ and ‘Smashing the feed trough’

Protesters occupy Independence Square, December 2013.

March 2, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- These two commentaries were written in January and February 2014 – before the fall of the Viktor Yanukovich regime and subsequent events -- and have only just been translated into English. They are published at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal as they offer insights into the thinking of an important part of the revolutionary left in Russia.

For more on Ukraine, click HERE.

A quadrille of monsters

Ukraine: Behind the political earthquake and the far-right threat

A dense crowd of protesters fill the streets beyond a barricade in Kiev. Photo by Christiaan Triebert.

By Sean Larson and Alan Maass

February 24, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovich, has been driven from power after the mass protest movement that has occupied Kiev's Maidan (Independence Square) since November survived a deadly crackdown the previous week. In a matter of days, the country's corrupt and autocratic regime was overwhelmed.

The parliamentary opposition to Yanukovich--dominated by centre-right and even far-right parties, backed by the European Union (EU) and US government--is moving quickly to establish its authority, ahead of new elections planned for May. Its goal is to head off any further action from below that might undermine their claim to speak for the uprising--and that might target the country's elite beyond Yanukovich and his ruling party.

Political uprising shakes Ukraine to its foundation (updated March 2)

"In the coming days and weeks there will be a wave of political analysis on the left that will frame the overthrow of the regime of Yanukovych as a pro-imperialist scheme being swallowed by a gullible population. The strong presence of extreme right-wing forces among those protesting the regime will be presented as proof positive. This will resemble the many simplistic analyses describing the course of the 'Arab Spring', particularly in Syria."

By Roger Annis

February 24, 2014 -- A Socialist in Canada, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- It is the aftermath in the Ukraine of the remarkable popular uprising Ukraine uprising that has torn down the authoritarian regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. The parliament that supported him has voted to remove him from power and has appointed a temporary replacement. Now it has issued a warrant for his arrest.

Ukraine: Regime fall followed by fresh chaos

Police clash with Maidan protesters, January 19, 2014.

By Tony Iltis

March 1, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- After failing to violently crush mass protests in Kiev’s Independence Square, which have been raging since November 21, the regime of Viktor Yanukovich collapsed on February 22.

The protests began in opposition to Yanukovich’s decision to back out of a Free Trade Agreement and Association Agreement with the European Union. But in the face of police brutality, the protests evolved into a general expression of anti-regime discontent. The movement was initially known as Euromaidan (“Eurosquare”) but later just Maidan, reflecting this evolution.

The movement also has an anti-Russian character, fuelled by the likelihood that in place of the proposed agreements with EU, Yanukovich was planning to take Ukraine into a Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

On February 27, parliament elected a new government of opposition politicians and defectors from Yanukovich’s party. Before the parliamentary vote, acting-president Oleksandr Turchynov presented the new government, headed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in the square on February 26. They received a hostile reception.

Ukraine: Russia or the European Union? Reject a choice between ‘lesser evils’

By Aleksandr Buzgalin

December 24, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As this article is being written the outcome of the resistance remains undecided, but the author is certain that, one way or another, the present Ukrainian authorities will draw closer to the European Union. Meanwhile, one thing is clear: the profound problems of Ukraine, and of Russia’s relations with it, will not be solved as a result.

A tragedy turning into farce? Or farce as tragedy?

Ukraine is shot through with contradictions. For the second time in 10 years Kiev has become the scene of mass protest actions and of clashes with the authorities. But the events of late autumn 2013 are only superficially similar to those of 2004. The situation has grown far more complex.

United States, Iran, Russia, Syria and the geopolitical shift: Anything for the region’s oppressed?

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov (right) and US Secretary of State John Kerry during a May 2013 joint press conference in Moscow on "finding ... common ground" on the conflict in Syria.

Click HERE for more on Syria.

By Michael Karadjis

December 19, 2013 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- In recent weeks and months, a pronounced geopolitical shift in US policy related to the Middle East has been widely discussed. This shift consists mainly of the US-Russia deal with Syria’s Assad regime to get rid of its chemical arsenal, in exchange for the US dropping its brief threat of air strikes over Assad’s chemical attack on August 21; and the high-level US-Iran negotiations over its nuclear arsenal, which led to a new agreement, involving a slight reduction on imperialist sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iranian concessions on its civilian nuclear program.

Syria: War threat, the US-Russia deal and some left delusions

Click HERE for more on Syria.

By Michael Karadjis

September 25, 2013 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- For two and a half years, the Bashar Assad regime has waged a barbaric war against the Syrian populace, using long-range missiles, fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships, tanks, artillery, cluster bombs and almost certainly chemical weapons, not to forget everyday machine gunning and torture, in a bid to crush the heroic uprising of Syria’s “wretched of the earth”, the peasants and urban poor, against his gangster-capitalist regime.

(Updated Sept. 24) Syria: West's hypocritical war drive slowed

By Barry Sheppard

September 15, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- The proposal by Russia, accepted by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, for Syria’s chemical weapons to be turned over to an international authority (presumably the United Nations) for destruction, has temporarily put off Washington’s plans for war against Syria.

US President Barack Obama has postponed asking US Congress to approve of his plans to attack Syria. This represents a political defeat for the war drive.

Even if Washington scuttles the proposed agreement and goes ahead with war, it will do so with even less support at home and abroad than it had before the Russian proposal.

The main force blocking the proposed attack has been the opposition of the world's people especially in the United States.

In spite of huge pressure, in the face of mass opposition of their own citizens, few countries have backed bombing Syria. Only one country has fully said it would take part militarily ― Saudi Arabia, a well-known bastion of liberal democracy and human rights.

John Riddell: Five precedents for understanding Egypt’s July coup

General L.G. Kornilov, Moscow, August 1917.

By John Riddell

September 15, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Two months after Egypt’s generals ousted its elected Muslim Brotherhood government, there is still a wide spectrum of views among socialists regarding the meaning of this event (see “Socialists need to rethink the military takeover”).

This discussion can be deepened by considering a few precedents from socialist history – some well known, others obscure.

1. 1917: The Kornilov coup

Michael Lebowitz: Some explanations of the fall of ‘real socialism’

By Michael Lebowitz

September 13, 2013 -- The Bullet, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. This essay is from a talk given to the Centre for Political Emancipation in Belgrade, Serbia, on May 6, 2013. It can also be seen above and on YouTube. -- Why did "real socialism" and, in particular the Soviet Union, fall? Let me note a few explanations that have been offered. With respect to the Soviet Union, one very interesting explanation that has been suggested is that it's all the fault of Mikhail Gorbachev. And not simply the errors of Gorbachev but the treachery. Those who offer this explanation rely in particular upon a document which is sometimes described as his confession. This document begins as follows:

Russia: Moscow workers confront bosses over Metro safety

By activists of the Zashchita union, Moscow, translated by Renfrey Clarke

July 21, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Metrovagonmash factory has begun producing large numbers of railway wagons with defective braking systems. In June, after three serious incidents on the Moscow Metro, the factory was fined 6 million rubles. The trade union Zashchita (“Defence”) has brought a suit in the prosecutor’s office, anticipates the laying of criminal charges against the factory directors, and is beginning a protest campaign.

The factory management and the workshop chiefs are forcing workers to fit defective components despite breaches of technical standards and serious faults in the parts involved. Plant employees are concerned for the reputation of its products and for the safety of Metro passengers. But workers who refuse to install the parts, demanding that quality standards for the factory’s products be adhered to and normal working conditions observed, are being subjected to reprisals and threatened with the sack by Metrovagonmash chiefs.

El estado de la izquierda y los movimientos sociales en Rusia

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3280.]

Por Boris Kagarlitsky

21/04/2013 -- Sinpermiso -- En Rusia, las dos primeras semanas de enero suelen ser una época en la que nada ocurre. Los integrantes de los estratos más adinerados, los burócratas, los políticos y la burguesía abandonan el país con el fin de pasar sus vacaciones en el extranjero, distribuyéndose por los diversos lugares vacacionales según sus medios, gustos y vanidad. Sus destinos abarcan desde hoteles relativamente baratos en Egipto hasta estaciones de esquí en Francia, Austria o Suiza.

Aquellos que no pueden permitirse tales lujos simplemente beben y liberan su estrés ante el televisor, en sus dachas en el campo o en la sauna.

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