The “Manifesto of the Popular Front for the National Liberation of Ukraine, Novorossiya and Transcarpathian Rus’.” (1)
This is the title of the manifesto adopted at a conference – attended by people who regard themselves as being of the left, and by representatives of various brands of Russian nationalism, including the most virulent – held in Yalta (Crimea) in early July. (2)
But trying to rally support among, say, European or US trade unionists for a popular front for the national liberation of Transcarpathian Rus’, in alliance with Russian fascists, is likely to be an uphill struggle.
The conference therefore produced a second document, drafted to be more ‘sellable’ to a labour movement mileu: “The Yalta Declaration”. (3)
Like its literary output, the conference was an exercise in political charlatanism. Entitled “The World Crisis and the Confrontation in Ukraine”, it was yet another occasion in which bogus ‘anti-imperialism’ trumped not just basic socialist principles but also plain common sense.
Attending such a conference in the Crimea was itself a political statement of support for Putin’s annexation of the peninsula. As one article backing the conference put it:
“The mere fact of the arrival in Crimea of an entire delegation of western intellectuals in and of itself is already a form of support for the changes which have taken place (i.e. the annexation of Crimea) and a blow to the various initiatives for a boycott of Russia.” (4)
To talk of “an entire delegation of western intellectuals” is something of an exaggeration, both in terms of quantity and quality. Attendance at the conference numbered “between 50 and 70”, of whom “about a dozen came from the USA, Canada, Sweden, England, Austria, Germany and Russia.” (5)
Alan Freeman (a “Socialist Action” member who – like the rest of his comrades – was once a bagcarrier for Ken Livingstone and then moved into academia after his paymaster’s defeat by Boris Johnstone) was one attendee from England.
The other English attendee was Richard Brenner, a leading member of “Workers Power” and member of the grossly misnamed “Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine”.
Tord Björk, an environmental activist since the early 1970s and organizer of the European Social Forum, came from Sweden. Kai Ehlers, a “self-employed researcher, author, and press and radio publicist”, came from Germany.
The Austrian contingent at the conference consisted of Hermann Dworczak, the 1970s leader of the Trotskyist Group of Revolutionary Marxists who now spends his retirement trying to build a broad party of the left.
Jeff Sommers and Radikha Desai came from the USA and Canada, both of them academics and writers on contemporary economics. The approach of the latter in particular can be summed up as: “backing whoever contests US hegemony – a wretched apology for some of the worst regimes on the planet.” (6)
Another Canadian attendee was Roger Annis. His website shows him to live in a political universe where Russian imperialism does not exist, Russia’s “response” to events in Ukraine has been “measured”, “fearmongering” about Russian military intervention is “misleading and deceptive”, and Russia, like Iran, should be defended in the name of ‘anti-imperialism’. (7)
And that, apart from one other Canadian attendee, not named in any of the conference reports, constituted the entirety of the “delegation of western intellectuals” and “delegates from networks of international solidarity with the resistance to war in Ukraine” who attended the conference.
Only three Russians are mentioned by name in the conference reports: Boris Kagarlitsky and Vasily Koltashov (Director and Deputy Director of the Institute for Global Research and Social Movements) and Alla Glinchikova (Moscow State Humanitarian University).
Koltashov and Glinchikova are academics. Kargarlitsky, on the other hand, can point to a long record of socialist political activism stretching back to the days of the Soviet Union. That merely serves to underline the distance he has travelled politically to where he is now.
Kagarlitsky has attacked Ukrainian socialists for intervening in the Maidan protests (dominated, he says, by fascist slogans), and for failing to support what he calls “the perfect embodiment of the anarchist concept of the revolutionary order” which he has discovered in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. (8)
And now he writes articles praising Strelkov-Girkin, a Russian nationalist who wants to reduce Ukraine to the borders of historical Galicia, and who fought for the Russian separatists in Transnistria, for Milosevic in Bosnia, and for Putin in the two Chechen wars:
“Strelkov promises to maintain order in Donetsk, and there is no reason not to take him at his word. War will be declared on the criminality, looting and anarchy of the field commanders. Military discipline, which was successfully maintained in besieged Slaviansk, will be established in Donetsk as well.” (9)
(What one wonders, happened to “the perfect embodiment of the anarchist concept of the revolutionary order”? Was Strelkov-Girkin’s subsequent imposition of martial law on Donetsk really an example of how “the revolutionary order … formulates its agenda from below”?)
Kagarlitsky is equally concerned about unfair criticism of the self-proclaimed People’s Governor of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Pavel Gubarev.
People circulate “stories that in his youth he was briefly involved in the radical-right-wing Russian Popular Unity (RPU) party”, complains Kagarlitsky, but Gubarev “split from the RPU a long time ago and characterizes his current views as ‘left-of-centre’.” (9)
This is very careless writing by Kagarlitsky. The full quote in question from Gubarev reads:
“I call myself a Russian nationalist, but with the qualification that genuine Russian nationalism is not ethnic but spiritual and humanitarian. Today it would be more correct to describe my views as national-patriotism, with left-of-centre leanings. Russians and Ukrainians are one people, but some people have simply forgotten this.” (10)
Kagarlitsy is equally careless in not mentioning that shortly before he wrote his article dismissing Gubarev’s sins of his youth the same Pavel Gubarev became chair of the Donetsk branch of the Izborsky Club. (11)
The Izborsky Club is a ‘think tank’ initiated by Alexander Prokhanov, Russia’s best-known exponent of an ideological cocktail which mixes elements of anti-semitism, fascism, Stalinism, mysticism, state-authoritarianism, Russian ultra-nationalism and Russian imperialism.
Overall, and more succinctly, his politics can simply be defined as a form of fascism. But his fascism does not prevent him from being an admirer of ‘communism’: Russian television recently broadcast a programme made by Prokhanov singing the praises of North Korea.
Prokhanov himself met with attendees at the Yalta conference. An article on the website of Prokhanov’s newspaper “Zavtra”, full of praise for the conference and its Manifesto (the text of which is currently carried on the front page of the paper’s website), reported:
“In the course of the conference a meeting took place with members of the Izborsky Club, which was holding its most recent session in Yalta. [What a coincidence!]
“The well-known Russian writer, activist and ideologue Alexander Prokhanov addressed the activists of the (anti-fascist) resistance and representatives of Novorossiya, providing an exposition of his view of the situation and the perspectives of its development.” (12)
Needless to say, none of the reports by the members of the “delegation of Western intellectuals”, nor nothing written by Kagralitsky and his academic colleagues, mentions this meeting with Russia’s best-known fascist by at least some of the conference’s participants.
As for the non-Western and non-Russian conference attendees, Ehlers writes in his report of the event that “four fifths (of the total attendance) came from the autonomous republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and from other parts of Ukraine striving for autonomy.”
Not many of those Ukrainian attendees are mentioned by name in the conference reports. But those who are named make surprising company for socialists, and strange co-signatories to a Declaration backed so enthusiastically by “an entire delegation of Western intellectuals”.
Aleksei Anpilogov is modestly listed amongst the signatories to the Declaration as “Aleksei Anpilogov (Ukraine).” For reasons soon to become apparent, it is worth spending some time on Anpilogov’s politics and political activities.
In an interview earlier this year with Prokhanov’s “Zavtra” newspaper – the politics of which are as fascist as those of its editor – Anpilogov explained his view of the current conflict in Ukraine:
“The attempt by the Ukrainian oligarchs to create a ‘cheap’ state of the fascist variety, which was ‘built into’ the attempt by the West to create a field laboratory for the destruction of the Russian Federation, has essentially failed.
Washington needs to turn Ukraine into a wasteland. What the Americans need is a zone of chaos and total civil war on the borders with Russia, from where Banderite suicide-bombers, in a race with Caucasian Islamist extremists, will head off to blow up the Moscow metro and atomic power stations.” (13)
Apart from being interviewed by “Zavtra”, Anpilogov has written for the newspaper both before (14) and after (15) the Yalta conference. In recent months he has written a total of 22 articles for the paper, either individual articles in his own name or shorter articles included as part of a “forum” of “expert opinion” on a particular issue. (16)
The date of publication of one of those articles even coincided with one of the days on which the Yalta conference itself took place. (17)
The “Zavtra” forums of “expert opinion” to which Anpilogov has contributed have included other prominent spokespersons for far-right Russian nationalism (such as Anatoly Wasserman and Anatoly El-Myurid), Eduard Limonov (leader of the far-right “Another Russia”), and the internationally ‘renowned’ anti-semite Israel Shamir.
Anpilogov has also done a broadcast for the paper’s television station “Djen” (18). “Djen” shares the politics of “Zavtra”. It takes its name from the predecessor of the “Zavtra” newspaper, which Prokhanov also edited.
Anpilogov is the president of the “Fund for the Support of Scientific Research and the Development of Civil Initiatives, ‘Osnovaniye’”.
A multitude of initiatives and bank accounts have been set up by Russian nationalists to raise money for humanitarian and military assistance for civilians and armed separatists in south-east Ukraine. Anpilogov’s Osnovaniye is the one used by Prokhanov and his fascist coterie in the Izborsky Club for this purpose.
In May and July of this year “Zavtra” carried a financial appeal signed by Prokhanov and other members of the Izborsky Club. The appeal, having been endorsed by Prokhanov, was widely circulated by Russian-nationalist websites. The appeal called for donations to be made through Osnovaniye:
“Battling Donbass and Odessa in insurrection need our help. Medicines are needed, money is needed to create centres of IT resistance. Not least of all, money is still needed for the people’s militia!
Today the frontline in the anti-fascist patriotic war runs through Kharkov, Donetsk and Lugansk, along the barricades of Slaviansk and Kramatorsk, and to the people’s pickets of Odessa in flames. Everything for the front! Everything for the victory!
Here are the details of the fund which the newspaper (i.e. ‘Zavtra’) and the Izborsky Club work with, within the framework of assistance to anti-fascist Ukraine, and through which donations can be sent: Fund for the Support of Scientific Research and the Development of Civil Initiatives, ‘Osnovaniye’ … President: Anpilogov, Aleksei Yevgenyevich.” (19)
Another organization of which Anpilogov is the president is the Centre of Co-ordination and Support for Novaya Rus, also known as the Centre of Support and Co-ordination of the Activities of the South-East of Ukraine, and the Centre of Co-ordination and Support for the Ukrainian Federation.
Apart from its website, the organization(s) appears to have no actual existence. Until recently, the goals of the organization(s) were defined as:
“The struggle against the fascist junta which has seized power in Kiev. The struggle for the freedom of the citizens of Novorossiya. The struggle of the Russian World for the right to live according to its own laws, free of Neanderthal Galician nationalism and of oligarchic fascism of the Latin-American variety.” (20)
Its website now carries a new set of aims, with a greater emphasis on promoting the politics of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, raising material support, and ”breaking through the information blockade in the Western mass media.” (21)
But its previous aims are still reflected in the organisation’s financial appeal to help those who “do not want to live according to the laws of Neanderthal Galician nationalism and oligarchic fascism, who see Ukraine and Novorossiya only in a union with fraternal Russia.” (22)
The relevance of the above to the Yalta conference is simple and direct.
Three organisations came together to stage the conference. (23) One was Kagarlitsky’s Institute for Global Research and Social Movements. The other two were Osnovaniye (President: Aleksei Anpilogov) and the Centre of Co-ordination and Support for Novaya Rus’ (President: Aleksei Anpilogov).
That is to say, the leading figure of two of three organisations who staged the Yalta conference in order to rally support for the ‘anti-fascist resistance’ in Ukraine is a collaborator with the fascist Alexander Prokhanov, regularly writes for “Zavtra”, and is regularly called upon by “Zavtra” to provide an “expert opinion”.
It is not surprising, therefore, that “Zavtra” has welcomed the conference and the Manifesto. And perhaps the fact that the conference was staged at the same time and in the same place as a meeting of Prokhanov’s Izborsky Club was not such a coincidence after all.
(In its report of the conference “Zavtra” listed only the two organisations headed by Anpilogov as the organisers of the conference. It probably, and correctly, considered any ‘left’ input the conference and Manifesto so irrelevant and insignificant that it was not worth even mentioning.)
Another Ukrainian attendee at the conference was Vladimor Rogov. He too deserves more publicity than the mere words “Valadimir Rogov (Ukraine)” which are to be found in the list of signatories to the Yalta Declaration.
Rogov is the leader of the Slavic Guards and the International Georgian League (the symbol of which is the Ribbon of St. George, which has more recently been adopted as the symbol of the separatist movement).
Rogov’s description of the purpose of the Slavic Guards applies as much to the role of the International Georgian League (although the latter also contains a strong religious element):
“Initially we emphasized the military-patriotic education of youth on the basis of the examples of past generations. We teach a respectful attitude to everything that was good in the times of the USSR, we do not sweep aside the historical experience of that epoch. The Soviet people was a people-creator, and we are its heirs.” (24)
While the Slavic Guards hark back to the USSR, the International Georgian League goes back rather further in time, commemorating in particular the anniversary of the Pereyaslavskya Rada (Council) of 1654:
“The Rada saved our people from national and religious slavery. As a result of the Rada, Ukraine matured within the framework of the Russian Empire. As a result of the Rada, our people created the most powerful state in Europe, and then in the entire world.
We are one people! Fraternal peoples cannot be separated from one another, we have a single historical and spiritual inheritance. Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia – this is Holy Rus’!” (25)
One of the declared goals of the Yalta conference was to “expose what is really going on in the region” and, in the words of the “Zavtra” report, to “breach the information blockade and tell broad layers of the public the truth about the terror unleashed by the fascist junta.” For Rogov, examples of “what is really going on” and “the truth” include:
“The Kiev junta is actively carrying out the orders of the USA: to stop the supply of Russian gas to western Europe, so that Europe is forced to buy liquid gas from the Americans themselves. This is also another serious blow to the Russian economy. In Poltava the first blowing-up of a gas-pipeline has been carried out.” (26)
“I also have at my disposal information about the IL-76 which was shot down (in mid-June). Official figures say that 49 people died. In fact, it was a lot more. 211 passengers were on the plane. 49 of them were Ukrainians, but the rest were mercenaries from Poland and Lithuania.
Our militia heard about who the passengers were and tried to convince the crew not to fly. But the junta did not allow them to stay, threatening the pilots that their families would be killed. This resulted in what we know about already.
The junta does not care about the fatalities in the Donbas. But the loss of the mercenaries was a great tragedy for them, as they had to account for them to the USA.” (27)
At various times Rogov has also ‘exposed’ Yanukovich’s role in the Maidan protests (“President of Ukraine and foreign agent Yanukovich treacherously prepared the Euromaidan” (28)), the role of the Rand Corporation in supposedly drawing up Ukraine’s military strategy (29), and the threat to Ukraine from Euro-gay-rights (30).
The latter was adopted by Rogov’s Slavic Guards as a ‘cause celebre’. In 2013 the Guards plastered Zaporozhe city centre with posters carrying pictures of a military parade and a gay parade, and asking the question “Which Parade Will Your Son Take Part In?” (31)
In fact, a hostile identification of the European Union with gay rights is a constant theme of the advocates of a breakaway of south-east Ukraine. Thus, at the Yalta conference itself, Koltashov, the Deputy Director of Kagarlitsky’s Institute, declared:
“The struggle against the new Kiev authorities is really a struggle against the EU, only not just in the form of a rejection of the politics of the destruction of the family and heterosexual relationships but in the form of a rejection of the entire anti-social neo-liberal policies of the western elites.” (32))
Rogov is also the President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of the Union of People’s Republics of Novorossiya (UPRN), a matter of some significance for his attendance at the Yalta conference:
“In the course of the Yalta conference (July 2014) official discussions took place between the leadership of the Republic of Transcarpathian Rus’ (RTR, represented by Pyotr Ivanovich Getsko, Prime Minister of the RTR) and the leadership of the parliament of the UPRN (represented by Vladimir Valeryevich Rogov).
An understanding was reached about signing in the immediate future a full inter-state agreement about a union, mutual aid in the destruction of fascism in eastern Euope, and aid for the territories of the UPRN occupied by the Kiev junta.
Present at the ceremony which marked the signing of this understanding were representatives of countries and social organisations from the European Union, the USA and Canada.” (33)
Rogov opened his account of this event with the words “We are at the start of a great road.” But none of the reports of the Yalta conference even mentioned this epochal ceremony – although some, at least, of the conference were present at it.
Whatever, from a socialist perspective, the appropriate status might be for Transcarpathian Rus’, independence for the region is certainly popular with the far right.
The Hungarian fascists of Jobbik support it. So too does “Zavtra”. In April of this year “Zavtra” published a particularly sympathetic interview with Getsko. (34) And a week after the Yalta conference, under the headline “A Blow From the Rear”, it reproduced a much longer interview which “Pravda” had conducted with Getsko. (35)
Another Ukrainian attendee at the Yalta conference was Anastasia Pyaterikova, listed amongst the signatories to the conference Declaration as “Anastasia Pyaterikova (Lugansk People’s Republic)”.
It is unclear whether this means that she attended as an official representative or, more likely, merely as someone from Lugansk (given that there is no evidence that she holds any particular position in the Lugansk People’s Republic).
Pyaterikova is a former member of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (an affiliate of the All-Russia People’s Union, launched by Putin in May 2011). She joined the Lugansk Guards in 2013 and is now one of its leading figures.
Fearing arrest in Lugansk, Pyaterikova fled to Voronezh in Russia in March of 2014, where she spoke at rallies organized by the Russian Great Fatherland Party, the name of which sums up its politics: “Ukraine, Russia, Belorussia – A United Rus’!” and “A United Power – A Great Fatherland!” (36)
“I will not hide the fact: most of our activists (i.e. of the Lugansk Guards) are in favour of unification with Russia,” explained Pyaterikova in an interview with the “Eurasia” website. (37) For the Lugansk Guards the concept of Ukraine is simply a fiction: “There is not, and was not, any Ukraine.” (38)
Despite some superficially left-wing (in fact: populist) policies, the Lugansk Guards are cheerleaders for Yanukovich and his Party of the Regions. In April of this year a list of demands drawn up by the Guards included:
“To guarantee the above demands we call on the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Viktor Federovich Yanukovich, to call on the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to guarantee the security of residence of the legitimate President of Ukraine on the territory of Ukraine.” (39)
(This is a convoluted call for Russia to launch a war of conquest against Ukraine, in order to restore Yanukovich to power.)
Bearing in mind the concerns of “Zavtra” and the Yalta conference to expose what is really happening, to breach the information blockade, and to “tell the truth”, two examples – one historical, one contemporary – demonstrate the contribution which the Lugansk Guards can make to these laudable goals.
“A century ago everyone in Galicia regarded themselves as Russian. But what a terror was unleashed during the First World War by the Austro-Hungarian authorities (together with Ukrainian nationalists) in Galician Rus’.
The first concentration camp in the world – Thalerhof – was created by Austria-Hungary. It existed from 1914 to 1917 and was used only for Russians. … Over 100,000 Galician Ruthenians were physically exterminated by Austro-Hungary.
They were hanged, shot, brutally tortured, their arms and feet were cut off, their teeth were pulled out, and their ears and fingers were cut off. Their essential guilt: their devotion to the Russian Orthodox Church, to pan-Russian unity, and to the Russian language.” (40)
(Thalerhof was a wartime detention camp for ‘enemy aliens’. A total of 20,000 people were detained there between 1914 and 1917. As a result of the appalling conditions in the camp, between 2,000 and 3,000 people died, mostly during the first twelve to eighteen months.)
After the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 in July, the Lugansk Guards website, like other websites of a similar political ilk, provided the following insight into the event:
“It is probable that the goal of the Ukrainian rocket – either launched from the ground or fired by a military aeroplane – which hit the Boeing 777 airliner could have been the plane of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. … ‘Number One’ (Putin’s plane) and the Malaysian Boeing crossed their flight paths near Warsaw.” (41)
Apart from the unknown Yana Manuilova (listed in the Declaration signatories as “Donetsk People’s Republic”, but not known to have any position there, nor to have any particular record of political activity), the only other named signatory to the Declaration is Aleksei Albu.
Albu is a leader of the Ukrainian socialist (of sorts) party Borotba, much feted by various European leftist groups as the voice of the ‘real left’ in Ukraine, for reason of its ‘anti-fascist activities’, its denunciations of Ukrainian oligarchies, and its support for the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
Borotba flag at Russian-nationalist rally in Moscow, mid-July (third from left)
A former member of the Ukrainian Communist Party, Albu was a full-timer for the party from 2007 to 2011. He has been a member of Borotba since its foundation in 2011, when the CP’s youth wing split from its ‘parent’ party and became one of the constituent elements of Borotba.
From the CP Borotba inherited not just Albu but also its Stalinism. According to Borotba:
“Gorbachev: From theoretical opportunism to betrayal. Everyone understands that Gorbachev betrayed socialism. The fact that Gorbachev betrayed socialism is clear to everyone today. This is such a commonplace that it is undesirable even to repeat it. … The Gorbachev leadership finally liquidated socialism in the USSR.
The theoretical blindness of the Soviet communists (at the time of Gorbachev) is shared by their political opponents – Trotskyists. The most frightening thing is that this theoretical opportunism which paved the way for Gorbachev’s counter-revolutionary work, is alive on the left today (i.e. in the Trotskyist movement).” (42)
For Borotba, the Maidan protests, both in terms of their demands and their social composition, were inherently right-wing, and resulted in a government variously defined by Borotba as “a neo-liberal fascist government”, “a junta of oligarchs and neo-Nazis” and “a junta of oligarchs and Nazis”.
Borotba went on to advocate a boycott of May’s presidential elections, on the grounds that:
“Counting the votes will be controlled by the junta, and voting will take place in conditions of the nationalist terror of the Right Sector and other neo-Nazi bands. Only a boycott and disruption of the elections will show the strength of the opponents of the junta.
Voting for any candidate, even an oppositional one or a ‘south-eastern’ one, will only legitimize the farce being staged by the junta of oligarchs and Nazis. If we do not recognise the authority of the Kiev usurpers, then we do not need to take part in their ‘elections’.”(43)
The protests in the south-east are portrayed by Borotba as unambiguously working-class in composition, anti-capitalist, pro-nationalisation and necessarily progressive – as evidenced, for example, by the singing of the Hymn of the Soviet Union at protest rallies. (44)
Now, writes Albu, there are only two political camps in Ukraine, and criticism of the “anti-junta forces” would be inappropriate:
“The range of military and political organisations fighting in Ukraine today varies greatly. And if all of them are now actually divided into two camps – for or against the junta – then within each each there are various contradictions which will undoubtedly manifest themselves after victory.
For now, during the harsh confrontation, the contradictions within the camp of the opponents of the junta (to which I belong) are on the backburner, and they are united around the main idea: the overthrow of the junta.” (45)
In a statement announcing the creation of a Committee for the Liberation of Odessa, Albu went even further in abandoning political criticism in the name of the “anti-junta struggle”:
“What unites us (in the Committee) is a hatred of the Kiev government of oligarchs and neo-fascists. … Until we achieve self-determination and people’s power in the Odessa region we abandon all political differences and cease mutual criticism. We have a common enemy: the junta of oligarchs and neo-fascists.” (46)
In March of this year a number of Ukrainian socialist and anarchist organisations and individuals issued a joint statement denouncing Borotba as “not a part of our movement”:
“Borotba not only supports the authoritarian Soviet past. … Their activity at the moment does not have anything in common with leftist politics and class struggle. Moreover, Borotba does not disdain overt lies and manipulation of facts, deceiving foreign leftists and anti-fascists.” (47)
In response, Borotba accused signatories to the statement of:
“Trying to collaborate with far-right and Nazi forces that dominated the Euromaidan protests … helping to bring to power open Nazis and just another clan of oligarchs … backing clerical, conservative and reactionary sentiments … trying to defend the coup on behalf of the Nazis, oligarchs and IMF.” (48)
Borotba’s accusation that its socialist and anarchist opponents collaborate with the far right is not only slanderously inaccurate. It is also profoundly hypocritical.
Pictures and reports of a Moscow rally held in mid-June, which demanded that Putin send Russian troops into Ukraine and which was given full and favourable coverage by “Zavtra”, confirm Borotba’s involvement in the event – along with Russian nationalists such as Limonov’s “Another Russia”.
“All speakers at the rally were unanimous in their demands on the President of Russia, Vladmimir Putin, to immediately take the most decisive steps to defend the inhabitants of the Donbas from genocide by the Kiev junta.
One of the speakers informed the meeting about the broad anti-fascist underground activity which had unfolded on the entire territory of Ukraine and existed in all the major cities.
The underground activity was conducted under rally but at the very centre of the stage. Information about the activity of Borotba in Lviv and Kiev in particular was provided.” (49)
Anyone relying on Borotba’s output as a source of information about Ukrainian politics would certainly end up with a very skewered view of reality.
They would know nothing of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. They would know nothing of the weaponry, munitions and fighters shipped into Ukraine from Russia. And they would believe that the Ukrainian military shot down the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 and then drove the BUK missile launcher away to hide the evidence. (50)
In the same vein, Borotba’s “Chronicle of the Junta’s War Against Its Own People” consists in large part of uncritical reproductions of even the most bizarre of statements issued by separatist military figures such as Strelkov-Girkin, Fedor Berezin and ‘Abver’, and of clips taken from Russian news programmes.
Discounting unnamed “initiative groups of anti-fascist resistance from Sumi, Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhe and Odessa” – all of which are likely to be Borotba members, given the locations named and the use of the term “groups of anti-fascist resistance” – the conference Declaration bears the names of 16 individuals and 6 organisations.
Eight of the individual signatories are the “Western intellectuals”: Freeman, Brenner, Björk, Ehlers, Dworczak, Sommers, Desai and Annis. Another three are the Russian equivalent of the “Western intellectuals”: Kagarlitsky, Koltashov and Glinchikova.
The remaining five individual signatories are Anpilogiv, Rogov, Pjaterikova, Albu and the completely unknown Manuilova.
Given the limited number of individual signatories and, more importantly, the limitations (not to use a deservedly harsher expression) of their politics, this hardly amounts to a ringing endorsement of the Declaration.
Nor do the organizational signatories do anything to enhance the credibility of the document.
Five of the organisations in question are the Centre for the Co-ordination and Support for the Ukrainian Federation (i.e. Anpilogov), the Slavic Guards (i.e. Rogov), the Lugansk Guards (i.e. Pyaterikova), Borotba (i.e. Albu), and Kharkov People’s Unity (a Borotba front organization).
The sixth and final organization to put its name to the Declaration is the Union of Ukrainian Citizens. This works closely with Rogov’s Slavic Guards (51) and is led by Alexei Natalenko:
“Our position is simple. Yanukovich is the President of Ukraine. In Kiev there is a junta. As far as we are concerned, there are no elections in May. Anyone who supports them is a traitor as they legitimize the junta. We will picket polling stations in Ukraine and in the world.” (52)
This modest list of individuals and organisations does nothing to justify the Declaration’s claim to have been drawn up by “representatives of the people from south-east and central Ukraine and delegates from networks of international solidarity with the resistance to war in Ukraine.”
The contents of the Declaration itself have clearly been drafted with an eye to selling them to a European and American left-liberal and labour movement milieu.
The right-wing government in Ukraine, says the Declaration, has been given extensive “financial, diplomatic and military support by the US, UK and EU governments.” The EU wants to open up Ukraine to capitalist investment. The US wants to open it up to NATO.
The people of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, the Declaration continues, have voted for self-rule and have declared autonomous people’s republics. In response, the Kiev government is conducting a brutal military assault and crushing domestic dissent.
Hardly surprisingly, given the location of the conference and the political composition of its attendees, the Declaration is silent on Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and the subsequent repression of the indigenous Tatar population.
Equally unsurprisingly, for the same reasons, defence of Ukraine’s right to self-determination and condemnation of the threat posed to it by Russian imperialism are also absent from the Declaration.
The Declaration ends with a medley of predictable demands: end EU, US and NATO support for the Kiev government; end the war by the Kiev government; cancel NATO manoeuvres in Eastern Europe and Ukraine; end austerity policies; end the Kiev government’s human rights violations.
And an international protest against the NATO summit in Wales in September.
Just three days after the Yalta conference an Amnesty International report was published which found that “the bulk of the abductions (in south-east Ukraine) are being perpetrated by armed separatists with the victims often subjected to stomach-turning beatings and torture.” (53)
Unfortunately, but predictably, given the purpose of the exercise, the conference had failed to include in its Declaration the demand that the separatists too should refrain from human rights violations.
But this is of no particular significance. The Declaration was just for use with suckers in Europe and America. The conference’s ‘real’ political statement was the Manifesto.
The Manifesto: Shulgin
The very title of the manifesto – “Manifesto of the Popular Front for the National Liberation of Ukraine, Novorossiya and Transcarpathian Rus’” – is a telling indictment, from any even vaguely socialist point of view, of the document’s politics.
Not the politics of class and class struggle but the politics of populism and popular frontism. Not the politics of socialist liberation but the politics of national separatism (with more than an undercurrent of Great-Russian chauvinism). Not the politics of real anti-fascism but the politics of nationalist extremism masquerading as hostility to fascism.
Transcarpathian Rus’ is to be liberated from national oppression by Ukraine. Novorossiya – made up of not just the Donetsk and Lugansk regions but of six other regions of Ukraine as well – is to be liberated from national oppression by Ukraine.
(The Crimea is not mentioned in the Manifesto. Presumably, it already has been ‘liberated’ – by Russia.)
Ukraine is also to be liberated from national oppression – because, in the political universe to which the Manifesto belongs, it is no longer an independent state but a colony of the US and/or the EU, and one which take its orders from Washington and Brussels.
In fact, according to the Manifesto, Ukraine is not a people, not a nation, not a state, but simply a blob of land: “What is Ukraine? Ukraine is the territory between the European Union and Russia, with strong Christian traditions (primarily Russian-Orthodox), with a population made up of various peoples.”
(The reference to the importance of the Russian-Orthodox religion is unlikely to have been included as a throwaway comment. Religious affiliation is an issue in the conflict:
“Archpriest Andrey Novikov … said pointedly that Russia must win in Ukraine to defend the values of Russian Orthodoxy against Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and what he called the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox groups. If it does not, he warned, this war ‘will come to Russia itself’.” (54))
At one point the Manifesto touchingly appeals: “The territory of the struggle is the entire territory of Ukraine. The insurgents in the south-east (Novorossiya), extend their hands to their brothers and sisters in all regions of Ukraine with the call: ‘Stand up against our common enemy!’”
In reality, the Manifesto allows for the total break-up of Ukraine (in the name, of course, of ‘national liberation’). And such a break-up has been unambiguously pledged by Strelkov-Girkin, that hero of so many attendees of the conference.
As an article on the website of Pyaterikova’s Lugansk Guards (uncritically) reported:
“Donetsk People’s Republic Defence Minister Igor Strelkov clarified the goal of future activities of the Armed Forces of Novorossiya. In Novorossiya Kiev will not be farmed out to Ukrainian fascism. But the Ukrainianisers can count on having their own state in the borders of Galicia:
‘Sod all for the Austrians and Poles, and certainly not Galicia. In Galicia, as in the past, there will be an ‘independent’ (Ukraine). We’ll not be handing back Kiev, the ‘mother of Russian cities’, to the Ukries (slang for Ukrainians).
The liberation of Kiev from the gang of paedophiles, religious sectarians and other scum which occupies it is one of the main goals of our campaign.’” (55)
The word “Ukrainianisers” was used by the writer Vasily Shulgin in the title of a book published in 1939: “The Ukrainianisers and Us”. Shulgin argued that the concept of a “Ukrainian people” had been invented by Germans and Austro-Hungarians to weaken and divide Russia.
“Ukrainianisers” refered to people who tried to persuade, or force, Russians into believing that they were really Ukrainians. As an alternative, Shulgin advocated the unification of Great Russia, Little Russia (i.e. Ukraine) and Belorussia into a “Single and Indivisible Russia”.
The Manifesto: Izborsky Club
According to Ehlers’ account of the conference there were “different opinions about how the provisional and current Kiev government” should be defined:
“Not legitimate, fascist, or ‘only’ a violently installed neo-liberal government which imposes the austerity goals of the Ukrainian oligarchs and foreign capital with the aid of fascist violence. Agreement was reached on the formulation: ‘a neo-liberal government which contains fascist forces.’”
Such a formulation might be fine for the “delegation of western intellectuals”. But back in the real world, the political forces dominant at the conference clearly had nothing but contempt for their intellectual visitors and for any agreement reached with them.
The Manifesto variously refers to the Kiev government as “the liberal-fascist regime”, “the liberal-fascist authorities”, and “the liberal-fascist ruling elites, a criminal union of oligarchs, bureaucrats, the military, and straightforward criminals, who serve the interests of foreign states.”
Just as the Manifesto holds out the hand of friendship to the rest of Ukraine while simultaneously denying its right to exist, so too there is much superficially attractive verbiage in the Manifesto about how socially just and fair a future Novorossiya will be:
“The aim of our struggle is to construct on the territory of Ukraine a just and social people’s republic without oligarchs and corrupt bureaucrats. … We will create a new, free and socially responsible people’s power on the entire territory of Ukraine and Novorossiya. Power will belong to the people not in words but in fact.”
But Russian-nationalist extremism is permeated by invocations of the power of the people against oligarchs and capitalists (seen as an alien intrusion by the capitalist West, at odds with ‘traditional’ Russian values), coupled with reverence for a strong, but supposedly paternalistic, state.
Prokhanov visits ‘people’s social republic’ of North Korea:
This explains why, for example, a Russian anti-Communist ultra-nationalist like Prokhanov is such a great admirer of North Korea (no oligarchs and no capitalists, but supposedly a “socially responsible” people’s power, and certainly a strong state).
And the conference’s Manifesto would certainly appear to owe rather more to the philosophy of Prokhanov than, say, to that of Robert Owen.
In the “social people’s republic” which is to be created “on the territory of Ukraine”, explains the Manifesto, “the interests of the people and their all-rounded development – spiritual, intellectual, social and physical – are the highest values and tasks of the state.”
Any “private or collective initiative which benefits the people and their development will be permitted.” The state will be “the largest holder of capital and control strategic sectors of the economy.” Private property will be permitted, but society will place controls on “large fortunes and their investment in politics and the economy.”
“Usurious banking capitalism, living off loan interest, will be banned” because “money must be earned not at the cost of debt bondage but through the realization of successful projects.” And “no-one will be allowed to parasitically exploit the people, to create oligarchic empires, and dominate people by creating artificial monopolies.”
It may be – another – coincidence, but the distinction drawn by the Manifesto between ‘bad capitalism’ (money-lending) and ‘good capitalism’ (investing in production) has an anti-semitic lineage (usurious Jews, as against productive gentiles), consistent with Prokhanov’s own anti-semitic tirades.
The Manifesto’s differentiation of bad money-lending and good productive investment is also uncannily similar to a discussion about the same matter which took place at a meeting of the Izborsky Club in Donetsk just four days after the Yalta conference:
“What is capital? Is this accumulated labour or something that can be created out of thin air, allowing banks to appropriate the labour of future generations? That is to say: to issue money, to give it as a loan, and force people to work all their lives to pay back the banking credit.
But business credit – this is something completely different story. When a person takes business credit, then in the following month he does not spend the lion’s share on his own development but in order to pay back that credit.” (56)
(At the same meeting a Russian-Orthodox volunteer from Germany who had come to fight in the separatists’ ranks for a “social people’s republic” informed Club members: “In the former German Democratic Republic most people very much regret that the Berlin Wall came down, having now discovered what is drug addiction, unemployment and drunkenness.” (57))
That the Manifesto reflects – and embodies – the politics of Prokhanov and the Izborsky Club should not come as a surprise.
In early June the Izborsky Club blog carried the following announcement:
“The Izborsky Club has decided to form its own regional section in Lugansk, Slaviansk and Donetsk. Alexander Borodai, Pavel Gubarev and Igor Strelkov were elected as members of this regional section of the Izborsky Club.
The task of this body is to create the political, economic and ideological conception of the new state of Novorossiya. The first meeting of the Club was brief and lasted only a few minutes. As a result of the meeting two helicopters were shot down”. (58)
At the same time, the Information Agency of Novorossiya reported:
“Discussions took place today between Pavel Gubarev (leader of the People’s Militia of the Donbas, and leader of the Novorossiya Party) and the well-known writer and philosopher Alexander Prokhanov.
During the discussions the decision was taken that participants in the Izborsky Club – the best minds and patriots of the Russian World – will work out the economic and ideological conception of the future state of Novorossiya.” (59)
A few days later Prokhanov announced:
“The leaders of the militia have suggested that the conception of this state which is called Novorossiya should be worked out by the efforts of the intellectuals of the Izborsky Club. They should draft the constitution of the future state. They should draft its ideology. They should draft the political structure of this unique phenomenon.
The Izborsky Club has taken on this task as the most important matter of the day. The perspectives for the creation of a section of the Izborsky Club in Novorossiya are magnificent.
This is because all those who are now fighting in Novorossiya and are the political, military and economic leaders are products of our school. At one time or another these people had material published in ‘Zavtra’. They are acquainted with many members of the Izborsky Club.
We, the Izborsky Club, can consider ourselves to be part of the militant political movement for the creation of a new Russian World.” (60)
In mid-June Gubarev announced the first meeting of the Izborsky Club in Donetsk:
“On 14th June, a branch of the Izborsky Club is being inaugurated in Donetsk. The work of the Club on the territory on the Donetsk People’s Republic is attracting the best specialists in the spheres of philosophy, history, politics and the social sciences. Practical specialists, and leaders of the Russian Spring will also be talking part in the work of this expert society.” (61)
The Izborsky Club is also already helping to write a textbook on the history of Novorossiya:
“The first part of the book covers the origins of the Slavs and the role of the Donets Basin as a region of Ancient Rus’. Work on the textbook is being conducted within the framework of the programme ‘Novorossiya – Back to its Sources’.
… An intense discussion about this and many other questions took place at the meeting of the working group of the Popular Front of Novorossiya, to which specialists belonging to the Izborsky Club had been invited.” (62)
At the core of the leadership of the new “people’s social republic”, therefore, are members of the Izborsky Club.
The People’s Governor of Donetsk is Pavel Gubarev. He is a member and chair of the Donetsk branch of the Izborsky Club. The leader of the military forces is Strelkov-Girkin, also a member of the Izborsky Club. In the period 1998-2000 he wrote fifteen articles for Prokhanov’s “Zavtra”.
The Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic is Alexander Borodai. He formerly worked with Prokhanov as a journalist for “Zavtra” and co-founded the “Djen” TV channel with him in 2011. He continues to contribute to “Zavtra” as an “expert opinion” (63). And he is a member of the Izborsky Club.
Igor Druz – an aide to Strelkov-Girkin, head of the People’s Assembly of Novorossiya, and a member of the Association of Russian-Orthodox Experts – does not appear to be a member of the Club. But he attends its meetings and contributes to them.
An article on the second meeting of the Donetsk branch of the Izborsky Club, published by the Information Agency of Novorossiya, reported his contribution:
“Until the arrival of Igor Ivanovich (Strelkov-Girkin) in Donetsk there was too much democracy here. In Slaviansk if anyone was guilty of serious looting, we simply shot them. That’s why there was no looting and we were very popular with the population.
We had a ‘dry law’ (i.e. a ban on drinking). You need a strong power at a time of war. We are all in one boat – the peaceful citizens and the militia. Strelkov and Borodai must form a strong team.
The colour revolutions (i.e. the popular protests in post-soviet states associated with a particular colour) always take place at a time of elections. Elections – they are our weak point. There must be less of them.” (64)
Other leading figures in the embryonic “people’s social republic” may not be members of the Izborsky Club. But they are far removed from being anywhere on the political left.
In a statement issued in early July, entitled “Trusted Fighters of the Russian World Gather in the Donetsk People’s Republic: New Head of State Security Appointed”, Borodai and Strelkov-Girkin announced that Vladimir Antufeyev had been appointed to be in charge of security in Donetsk.
Antufeyev backed Russian militants in Latvia in the late 1980s. He then fought in Moldova (along with Borodai and Strelkov-Girkin) in the war which resulted in the breakaway Transnistrian Moldovan Republic (TMR). For 20 years, until, 2012, he was in charge of the KGB in the TMR.
“Zavtra” was ecstatic about Antufeyev’s appointment. Following on from earlier laudatory coverage of his activities in the war in Moldova in the early 1990s, it published a lengthy paean of praise of the decision to appoint Antufeyev – “a true and experienced professional” – to take control of security. (65)
While Antufeyev was being appointed to take charge of security in Donetsk, the self-proclaimed head of the Lugansk People’s Republic, Valery Bolotov, sacked ‘his’ government and appointed Marat Bashirov to the post of President of the Council of Ministers, tasked with forming a new government.
Bashirov has been a General Director, Senior Vice-President, and Chair of the Board of Directors of various Russian private companies. His current positions include chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Interregional Union of Energy Supply Employers and membership of the Energy Sector Commission of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. (66)
Neither Antufeyev’s record as the head of the Transnistrian KGB nor Bashirov’s record as a champion of Russian big business inspire confidence in their abilities – or willingness – to create a “people’s social republic”.
But the Izborsky Club and “Zavtra” certainly have every confidence in them.
The Manifesto: Putin
Whereas the conference’s Declaration sidestepped the issue of Russian involvement in the armed conflict in south-east Ukraine, the Manifesto does raise the issue, however incoherently, and comes up with the following explanation:
“A significant section of the Russian elite fears popular socio-political protest. It would be happy to reach agreement with the Kiev authorities and end the war in the south-east (Novorossiya). But the fury of the popular uprising against oligarchic-bureaucratic liberal-fascist capitalism does not allow them to do so.
The peoples of Russia support the just struggle of south-east Ukraine (Novorossiya). And this forces the entire Russian elite (i.e. Russian by origin, but not according to its views), often contrary to its own strategic interests, to support, or give the impression that it is ‘supporting’, the uprising of south-east Ukraine.”
So, firstly, the Manifesto cannot even come down on one side or the other. Either Russia really is providing support to the just struggle of Novorossiya. Or it is merely giving the impression that it is ‘supporting’ the struggle. But surely the Manifesto’s authors must know one way or the other?
Next, the Manifesto argues that the Russian elite has no strategic interest in supporting the uprising.
This is despite the fact that the Manifesto elsewhere argues that the USA needs “an anti-Russian state on the territory of Ukraine, with NATO bases on the border with Russia” or, alternatively, it needs to “plunge the country (Ukraine) into chaos, thereby destabilising the region.”
This would suggest that the Russian elite does have a strategic interest in weakening Ukraine. This, in turn, would entail support for the anti-government forces in south-east Ukraine, whilst seeking to ensure that the conflict and instability remain on the Ukrainian side of the border.
Finally, the Manifesto argues that the Russian elite supports (or maybe merely gives the appearance of supporting) the “just struggle of south-East Ukraine (Novorossiya)” as a result of popular pressure from within Russia.
This is a fantasy, and its author(s) must know that it is. Russia is an authoritarian right-wing state in which the normal channels of public-opinion pressure have been shut down. Short of full-scale confrontation, the Russian government is ‘immune’ to pressure from the street.
Insofar as there have been rallies in support of “the just struggle of Novorossiya”, they have not been the expression of broad public opinion demanding that their government take action. Such rallies have been organized – and addressed – by Stalinists, Russian nationalists, White-imperialists, and fascists. (67)
Rather than succumb to public opinion in relation to south-east Ukraine, the Russian government has done the opposite. It has deliberately sought to mislead and manipulate it. Thus, Russian state television coverage of events in Ukraine has included:
- When the Ukrainian presidential elections took place in late May, Russian TV broadcast ‘updates’ of the count showing the fascist Right Sector candidate in the lead with 30%. In reality the Right Sector candidate won 1% of the vote.
- Claims that Ukraine has been using phosphorous bombs in the fighting in the south-east – illustrated by footage from the American bombing of Iraq after the invasion of 2003.
- Claims that Ukraine has committed war atrocities in the fighting in the south-east, illustrated by footage filmed during the fighting in South Ossetia after the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008.
- Claims that Ukraine itself shot down the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, because it mistakenly thought that it was Putin’s presidential plane.
- Claims that the Ukrainian forces are committing “genocide” and pursuing a “scorched earth policy” in the fighting in the south-east. (68)
And yet, despite all this, and much more, the Manifesto portrays Putin as the helpless punchbag of Russian public opinion, forced into taking action (or perhaps just appearing to do so) by the relentless blows of the Russian civic society which he himself is dismantling.
Ukraine is a country wracked by gross inequalities, ruled since independence by a succession of competing oligarchic factions with no commitment to anything other than their own self-enrichment.
Irrespective of which particular faction is in power at any given time, irrespective of whether or not Ukraine (eventually) becomes a member of the European Union, oligarchic rule means austerity for the overwhelming majority of the country’s population.
In the east of Ukraine there are additional issues arising out of the particularities of the region’s history, economy and population.
Historically, it has been subject to longer periods of Russian rule. Economically, it is dominated by heavy engineering and mining too weak to compete in the world market. And its population contains a higher proportion of Russians, either in terms of ethnic affiliations or cultural identity.
And now parts of the south-east are also being laid waste by military clashes between the Ukrainian military and armed separatist forces. (Irrespective of whether or not such forces support integration into Russia, they are “separatist” in wanting independence for “Novorossiya”).
Russian imperialism – which, for centuries, and in one form or another, has oppressed Ukraine – is directly involved in that conflict, politically and militarily. Whatever Russia’s specific goals may be, its intervention into Ukraine is an attack on the country’s right to self-determination.
A socialist action plan for Ukraine would seek to unite the now-divided working class in a common struggle for expropriation of the rule of capital (not just oligarchs, or oligarchic capitalism) and a real democratization of all levels of government, including minority rights for the country’s national minorities.
It would defend Ukraine’s right to self-determination against Russian intervention and aggression.
And it would be committed to fighting the forces of fascism and national chauvinism in all their forms – whether it be the Ukrainian Right Sector and Svoboda, or the outpourings of Prokhanov, Strelkov-Girkin, “Zavtra” and the Izborsky Club.
But the Yalta conference, like its Declaration and its Manifesto, was not about any of these things. In fact, the conference and its literary output were in irreconcilable opposition to any such socialist action plan.
It was not only by travelling to Russian-occupied Crimea that conference attendees helped Russia’s ‘image’ – however modestly, given their number and composition. Two conference goals, identified in an article in the Russian e-magazine “Politicheskoye Obrazovaniye, were:
“Publications by conference participants in the western press and in the English-language section of the web (which) must facilitate the dissemination of information which is positive for Russia about the processes now underway.
Participants in the event, having returned to their own countries, will circulate those ideas and opinions (from the conference), based on the new information and personal experiences gained in the course of their trip.” (69)
But this was far from being the worst aspect of the event.
In terms of the conference’s organisers, its participants, its ‘special’ guest speaker, and its Manifesto, the names and politics which occur time and time again are those of Prokhanov, “Zavtra”, the Izborsky Club, and various other hangers-on of Russian-nationalist reaction.
Although the conference Manifesto talked of the insurgents “extending their hands to their brothers and sisters in all regions of Ukraine”, the only hand of friendship held out at this conference was the one extended by the leftist “Western intellectuals” to Russian-nationalist extremism and fascism.
Those conference attendees who consider themselves of the left should disown the conference and its Declaration and Manifesto. No union branch or labour movement body should sign up to the Declaration nor support any organization which campaigns to win support for the Declaration.
And, it must be said, the worst role in this debacle appears to have been played by Kagarlitsky.
Less than a week after the conference an article by Kagarlitsky appeared on the Rabkor (‘Workers Correspondence’) website (70). Five days later it was republished on the Russian Spring website (71), a particularly vile version of the myriad of pro-separatist websites.
The language of Kagarlitsky’s article is reminiscent of that of the Russian ultra-nationalists. The Kiev authorities are termed “the Kiev junta”. He talks of a “fifth column” in Donetsk and a “sixth column” in the Moscow. The “fifth column” in Donetsk were “traitors” who “sat in the leadership of the Donetsk People’s Republic and had been bought by Akhmetov.”
There are now two camps in Russia, Kagarlitsky continues. There are the supporters of reaction (including some on the left), and those who “want to see the socio-economic revival of the post-Soviet world.”
The supporters of reaction are the “Kremlin sixth column”, “the hidden enemies of Novorossiya”, those who wanted to “abandon Novorossiya” in order to re-establish relations with Kiev.
“Those who backed Novorossiya, independently of their subjective leanings and prejudices, objectively stand for the social republic, for the union of the peoples, and for meaningful democracy, as was confirmed by the Yalta conference of 6th/7th July.
Novorossiya has overcome its military-political crisis. Order has been restored in the direction of the military and the provision of the rear. There are also successes on the battlefield.
In this situation it becomes important to clearly formulate the tasks of the resistance and let public opinion know of them in the SNG (post-Soviet federation) and the EU. A step in this direction was taken by the Yalta conference.
The Declaration [Kagarlitsky has confused the Declaration with the Manifesto; it is the latter which he now quotes] states: ‘We are fighting for the construction on the territory of Ukraine of a just and social people’s republic without oligarchs and corrupt bureaucrats. … Our enemies are the liberal-fascist elites.’”
But if what counts above all else is supporting Novorossiya – whatever the “subjective leanings and prejudices” of the individual or organization in question – then the road is open to forming a bloc – a “Popular Front” – with the likes of Anpilogov, Rogov, the Slavic and Lugansk Guards, and, one step further, Strelkov-Girkin, Gubarev and Prokhanov.
While the conference Declaration calls on Kiev to stop the war, what Kagarlitsky and the Declaration advocate is continuation of the war by ‘their’ side until victory: “We believe that every honest citizen and patriot will approve and support them (the basic principles and goals of our struggle). … Together – we will be victorious!”
(And note that the Manifesto is not addressed to workers, or trade unionists, or socialists. It is addressed to “citizens and patriots”. But patriotism, by definition, seeks to mobilize people on the basis of nationalist politics, not class politics.)
Kagarlitsky praises the conference Manifesto. “Zavtra” carries the Manifesto on the home page of its website. Truly, this is a “Popular Front” of an unprecedented political breadth.
And if all that counts is victory for Novorossiya, not the politics of the parties involved, then why not defend the ‘right’ of Russia to intervene – or even advocate that that ‘right’ should be exercised?
Which is exactly the position taken by Kagarlitsky in a statement published on the website of Anpilogov’s Centre of Co-ordination and Support for Novaya Rus’ after the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777:
“If the West and the new members of NATO, such as Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, provide Kiev with military assistance in the course of the civil war, then there is no reason why Russia should not help the other side in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.” (72)
This is not the language of class-struggle socialism. Like the Yalta conference and its documentary output, it is the expression of accommodation and subservience to the politics of Russian imperialism and its Stalinist and white-imperial champions.
2) Reports of the conference at:
5) See report above by Kai Ehlers, a rather more honest account of the conference than some of the other versions in circulation.
6) See: http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2014/07/15/geopolitical-stalinist-apologetics
8) See: http://www.workersliberty.org/kag
12) See link at 2(e) above.
20) Quoted in: http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2014/07/15/pro-russian-separatists-regroup
23) See: http://www.lawinrussia.ru/node/299677
29) http://anna-news.info/node/17972 The document in question is better described as a hoax than a serious attempt at forgery. But separatist leaders sized on it as ‘proof’ of the role of American capitalism in Ukraine. The hoax was first published at: http://beforeitsnews.com/politics/2014/07/ukrainian-president-uses-rand-corporation-plan-in-eastern-ukraine-2634472.html
33) Posted on 10.50pm 9th July at: http://vk.com/id2996025
50) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UX443-MBWbY, cross-posted by Borotba onto its own website.
67) See, for example: http://rusvesna.su/news/1402516866
68) Further examples at: http://www.ostro.org/general/politics/articles/449617/
Even on its own terms, your analogy doesn't make sense.
Palestine is a colony of Israel. The movement for national liberation there includes various reactionary forces, yes. And yes, we would support Palestinian independence even if it was under an Islamist or reactionary-nationalist government.
Russia is not a colony of Ukraine. Something closer to the reverse is the case. In what sense does Russian nationalism - including the far-right, quasi-fascist, racist Russian nationalism of many of the key figures in this initiative - have any objectively progressive characteristics or potential? Russia is one of the world's biggest imperialist powers. In what possible sense can Russian nationalism be anything other than wholly reactionary?
“Richard really misses the point about the front’s demand for peace.”
The conference Declaration might say something or other about peace, but the conference’s Popular Front Manifesto is clearly in favour of (one side in) the war.
The Manifesto fails to acknowledge Ukraine’s right to exist as independent state (or, indeed, as any kind of state at all). It looks forward to “the victory of the people’s liberation revolution” and the defeat of the “liberal-fascist regime” in Kiev.
The quote from Strelkov-Girkin in the above article makes it clear that his perspective is the military conquest of Kiev. This was not a one-off by Strelkov-Girkin.
A post by Alexander Dugin (the intellectual guru of the Eurasian wing of Russian fascism) appeared yesterday on the Facebook page of the Izborsky Club (of which Dugin is also a member). The post, in which Dugin advocates a new military offensive, states:
“If the Great Novorossiya begins to emerge on the map of the south-east of the former Ukraine, the Great Offensive will turn to the final goal – the liberation of Kiev from the Nazi junta (the aim of Igor Strelkov).”
Aiming to militarily conquer Kiev is a recipe for a lot more fighting, not peace.
A couple of other points re. the conference:
Clips of the some parts of the conference have now appeared on Youtube:
It looks like not even 50 people turned up for it. And most of those who did turn up look incredibly bored by the event.
The background to various pictures of Getsko (the fourth one down is a picture of Getsko and Prokhanov, just after the picture of Getsko and Kagarlitsky) to be found at www.liveleak.com/view?i=3f1_1406202300 reveal that the conference was held in the Hotel Yalta.
(Please note: since 1st June this year the hotel accepts payments only in rubles. And we all know why.)
In addition to what's been said about the Palestine-Israel/Ukraine-Russia comparison, I think if there was an Islamist conference about Gaza, but basically organised to promote an Islamist agenda, socialists should minimally think very carefully about whether to participate. Let alone whether to provide "leftist" cover for it internationally.
Pompous man with messiah complex goes to Russia to provide cover for Russian fascists while drinking latte at posh hotel. Fifth International pass long motion in support of spluttering man (Bolivian section, comprising one student living in Paris, abstains, and is immediately expelled).
And Socialist Action confirm they are crap.
More evidence of the progressive, secular, rational nature of Novorossiya:
Order of Igor Strelkov, Banning Swearing in the Army of Novorossiya:
We call ourselves the Russian-Orthodox Army and are proud of the fact that we do not serve the Golden Calf but serve Our Lord Jesus Christ and our people. The face of the Saviour is portrayed on our banners.
The use of swear words by soldiers is to abuse the Lord and the Holy Mother, whom we serve and who protect us in battle
1 A ban on swearing.
2 Unit commanders to pass on the order to their subordinates. Commanders and officers responsible for ideology to conduct educational work about the nature of swearing and the reasons for its impermissibility.
3 Swearing in public places to be considered a serious breach of discipline and to be punished accordingly.
Swear words of non-Russian origin are used by the enemies of Rus’ to profane our sacred objects, and, by impacting on their spirit, to defeat Russian soldiers in battle and force the people down onto its knees.
Therefore: swearing is an abuse of God which has always been regarded as a serious sin.
The principle of the enemies of Rus’ was the same in the past as it is now in the case of the haters of Christianity who have seized power in Kiev, who order Russian-Orthodox Ukrainians to fire at their own churches, to mock banners which bear the face of our Saviour, and to mock the Russian-Orthodox Patriarch.
It is therefore impossible for a Russian soldier to use the language of the enemy. This demeans us spiritually and leads the army to defeat.
Commander of the Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic
Colonel I. I. Strelkov
(See: Приказ Игоря Стрелкова о запрете матерной брани в армии Новороссии at:
Perhaps yet another document of which Richard Brenner could say: “While I don’t agree with it all, there’s nothing reactionary in its practical proposals”?
I’ve just been forwarded a Facebook post about this article by Gerry Downing.
It really makes for a sad read.
The article in question spends 10,000 words criticizing a conference which was permeated by the fascist politics of “Zavtra” and Prokhanov – in terms of its organizers (i.e. Anpilogov and his front organisations), its politics (i.e. the “Manifesto”), and its special guest speaker (i.e. Prokhanov himself).
What does Gerry Downing have to say about any of this?
Nothing at all!
Instead, firstly, he complains about the use of the expression “medley of predictable demands” in relation to the demands of the conference’s “Declaration”.
But it’s difficult to know what other expression to use.
The demands certainly have only a limited relevance to the reality of what’s going on in Ukraine at the moment. They make no mention, for example, of solidarity with the struggle against the fascist leaders of the Donetsk and Peoples Republics.
(Not surprising really – given that the Yalta conference was an initiative by Russian fascists to build support for their fellow Russian fascists in Ukraine.)
Then we have Gerry Downing’s inability to understand that a certain critique of banking capitalism has an anti-semitic pedigree – on the left (e.g. mid-nineteenth century French socialists) and on the right (e.g. extreme forms of Russian-nationalism throughout its history).
To denounce usury or money-lending or finance capital or capitalism as a specific Jewish activity or invention is not a confused form of socialism. It is anti-semitism.
And anti-semitism is integral to the politics of the Izborsky Club: they are fascists.
Gerry Downing performs a similar feat in relation to the translation of the article by the Russian socialist Kirill Medvedev.
Out of the total of 2,500 words in the article Gerry Downing focuses on just six of them (“Our enemy is in Moscow”).
One can only assume that Gerry Downing no longer believes that “the main enemy is at home.”
Gerry Downing claims in his Facebook post that Cathy Nugent, not me, wrote this article.
Is Gerry Downing also one of those people who thinks that Marlowe wrote Shakespeare?