According to the New York Times, “thousands of steelworkers fanned out on Thursday [15 May] through the city of Mariupol [in eastern Ukraine], establishing control over the streets and banishing the pro-Kremlin militants...”
Other reports, however, indicate that the worker patrols were instigated by oligarch Rina Akhmetov, owner of the local steelworks, and are led by the works boss.
Opinion polls show another oligarch, Petro Poroshenko, who professes mild social-democratic views, way ahead for the presidential election due on 25 May. (The far-right party Svoboda, named by some as the presiding genius in ousting pro-Russian president Yanukovych in February, is on 1.5%).
The question on 25 May will be not so much who wins, as how widely voting takes place at all. Pro-Russian groups which have organised coups in some east Ukrainian cities, ran a referendum on “support for self-rule” on 11 May, and have appealed to Russia to annex their districts, are likely to block voting in large areas.
The Russian government of Vladimir Putin can then dismiss the 25 May election as not representative and, using the implied threat to annex eastern areas of Ukraine as a lever, demand negotiations for a new government in Ukraine more congenial to Moscow.
Socialists back self-determination for Ukraine, a nation with a long history of being oppressed, together with due rights for the Russian minorities in Ukraine.
We demand that the Western governments give real help to Ukraine by cancelling its foreign debts.
We want to help Ukraine’s frail left-wing groups to establish a third force in politics, uniting workers against both the pro-EU oligarchs and Russian imperialism.