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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.
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.
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.
From L’Humanité (French Communist Party daily newspaper).
By Vadim Kamenka, translated (March 4) by Gene Zbikowski
Fenruary 24, 2014 -- Kiev (Ukraine), from our special correspondent. While a majority of Ukrainians back the movement that led on February 22 to the deposition of president Yanukovich, social distress was at the centre of political discontent. This is what bore the aspiration for change which is on everyone’s lips.
Barricades by the dozen, the ground black with soot, the pavement torn up, buildings burnt to the ground – the stigmata of the clashes are still visible on Maidan square, the epicentre for the past three months of the uprising against President Viktor Yanukovych. People came by the tens of thousands on February 23 to place red flowers and to remember the dead (60 since February 18). “We will see it through to the end”, Vassili, 42 years old, promises.
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.
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
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.
"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.
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.
Mass protest in Tuzla, February 7, 2014.
By Michael Karadjis
February 13, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Beginning on February 5, mass protests led by workers and retrenched former workers in the privatised factories, along with students and other citizens, have rocked most major industrial cities in Bosnia, notably Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica, Bihac and Mostar.
Parties elected -- Red: Communist; Orange: ČSSD; Blue: ANO 2011; Purple: TOP 09.
By Jirí Málek
October 29, 2013 -- Transform! -- After a government crisis in summer, early elections were called in the Czech Republic. October 25-26 were the D days. The campaign was relatively short and the program documents were of little interest to the majority.
The campaign was more about persons and political marketing. Polls were showing positive results for the left, but the last two weeks revealed that the situation would be much more complicated and without a clear majority of the left.
Parties elected to parliament:
CSSD (Social democrats): 20.5%, 50 seats (down six)
ANO 2011 (a new political formation): 18.7%, 47 seats
KSCM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia): 14.9%, 33 seats (up seven)
TOP 09 (until now the ruling right-wing party): 12.0%, 26 seats (down 15)
ODS (until now a dominant right-wing, ruling party): 7.7%, 16 seats (down 37)
USVIT (a new political formation): 6.9%, 14 seats
KDU-CSL (Christian democrats): 6.8%, 14 seats
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:
June 9, 2013 -- Webguerrillero [es] -- The Saskaņas Centrs, a coalition of left-wing parties, has won 59% of popular vote in the municipal elections held in this Eastern European country. The coalition, whose name means "Harmony Center" is formed by the social-democratic party "Harmony" and the Socialist Party of Latvia (heir of the Communist Party, which was declared illegal in 1994).
The coalition belongs to the all-European Union (EU) political bloc European United Left-Nordic Green Left, which includes the major communist-leaning coalitions and parties, such as Greek SYRIZA, Cypriot AKEL, German Die Linke, French Left Front, Spanish United Left and Irish Sinn Féin, among others.
While the EU and the International Monetary Fund insist that Latvia is an example of the "success" of the draconian policies of "austerity for the poor, huge profits for the rich" that they sponsor and dictate all around, the reality is that Latvia has been ravaged by such policies (see the funny video above).
Jock Palfreeman interviewed by Tony Iltis, Sofia
May 17, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- “I’m in Villawood!”, Jock Palfreeman exclaimed, with the cheerful exuberance he displayed throughout an interview conducted through glass and wire-mesh partitions in the gloomy surroundings of the visiting room of Sofia central prison.
He told Green Left Weekly that it was the plight of refugees illegally detained in Sydney's Villawood detention centre by the Australian government that first radicalised him. His first protest, as a high school student in Sydney, was a blockade of the offices of Villawood’s then operator Australasian Correctional Management on May Day in 2002.
A year later he organised students at his school to attend the “Books Not Bombs” student walkouts to protest against the war on Iraq.
It was because of his seeming inability to ignore injustice that he is now serving a 20-year sentence in Bulgaria.
[The following document is the program of Slovenia's Initiative for Democratic Socialism. It is posted for the information of readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Thanks to Michael Lebowitz for making it available. It is also posted at http://www.demokraticni-socializem.si/.]
The ideological dominance of capitalism as the only feasible mode of production is coming to an end. In the second half of the 1970s, when rapid and stable economic growth came to a halt in the "developed" world, the forces of capital intensified their attack on workers’ rights that has not ceased to this day. The foundation on which the ideological domination of capitalism was based had started to wither away, and the advocates of capitalism increasingly justified its existence by turning to the mere fact of its existence.
By Gyula Thurmer
March 27, 2013 -- Morning Star -- Hungary is in crisis. Almost 500,000 people are officially registered as unemployed -- just over 11 per cent of the workforce. About the same number of young people are working in other EU countries, notably Britain, Austria and Germany, because they could not find a job at home. Even so, the rate of youth unemployment (under the age of 25) in Hungary stands at more than 28 per cent.
The Fidesz (Civic Union) government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban is well aware of these facts, while proclaiming the "Hungarian miracle". The reality is that many ordinary people are worse off than they have ever been.
The real winners under this capitalist government are those who earn more than 900,000 forints (£2500) net a month. The rest are on or below the average net salary of 157,000 forints (£434), which is absolutely nothing considering that prices in Budapest are similar to those in Vienna.
The pro-capitalist forces in Hungary know very well that only the Hungarian Communist Workers Party (HCWP) proposes a real alternative to mass unemployment, poverty and the colonial occupation of Hungary by multinational companies.
Mass protest in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, February 17, 2013.
March 15, 2013 -- Left Unity, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In the last week of February 2013, after days of protests across the country, the Bulgarian government headed by Boyko Borisov resigned. Mariya Ivancheva looks at how it happened and what comes next.
From the beginning of February, Bulgarians in most big cities have been out in the streets, protesting against increased electricity and heating bills. While the increase has happened gradually throughout 2012, in January 2013 the bills were considerably bigger than they would normally get. The price formation was transparently written down on the bill, but what angered many is that a significant amount of money was charged not for energy per se but for various taxes and tariffs.
By Jiri Málek
October 27, 2012 -- Transform-network.net via The Bullet -- On October 12-13 , 2012, elections took place in the Czech Republic. The elections were for regional assemblies and one-third of the Senate. Their political impact could have far-reaching results for the whole of society. They signalled a resounding “no” to cost cutting and complete submission to the demands of the world financial sector for a quick restart of neoliberal capitalism.
The regional elections can be characterised as follows:
Post-socialism, the European Union and a new left in the Balkans: Welcome to the desert of transition!
Protesters rally during anti-government protest in Zagreb, Croatia, March 2011. Photograph: Darko Bandic/AP.
[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared.]
By Srećko Horvat and Igor Štiks
Protesters shout as a background banner reads "Freedom, Early Elections" during an anti-government rally in Bucharest, January 24, 2012.
By Rupen Savoulian
February 15, 2012 -- Antipodean Athiest, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Back in 1989, Romania was gripped by mass protests, led by miners, against the corrupt and authoritarian regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. The protests in Romania were part of the generalised "Velvet Revolution" against the dictatorial, bureaucratised, deformed workers’ states in Eastern Europe.