It seems that the AWL has been a (relatively minor) victim of a scam being operated in the Ukraine by members of the Taaffe group's (CWI) section.
A few weeks ago we got an email posting from some people (with whom we have had some Internet contact) in Moscow. We have consulted with other British groups mentioned there.
It seems that the SPGB gave some substantial money to what they thought was a Ukrainian sympathising group. They funded trips etc; sent people out there, bought a computer.
The IBT gave some substantial amount of money to fund an office in Kiev and trips to Britain.
Workers’ Power paid for trips to their international gatherings. They had 6 people - they say that 3-4 of them were reasonably politically literate - at a recent international event.
We set up a fund and have parted with £300 to cover translation of materials into Ukrainian. We haven’t had any translations.
One of us spoke to Niall Mulholland from the CWI. He says that they were alerted to these scams during a recent European CWI school. They asked two Ukrainians present - Oleg Vernik’s the central person - about the allegations. The Ukrainians admitted to running some scams. The CWI say they have suspended their section and have sent two people to the Ukraine to conduct an investigation.
We asked, as these people have admitted the allegations, if they’d been expelled. He said they were suspended.
We asked about the motivations for this scam. He said the Ukrainians stated that their operation had started out as political information gathering, and got out of hand.
These people were politically active and this odd case doesn’t seem to be (entirely) a matter of personal corruption.
Apart from the admission of guilt the evidence against these people includes photos of the same person who was claiming membership of several of these groups. We have no opinion about these photos - we’ve never met them face-to-face. Our contact had just been to send publications and emails; we had received emails, including copies of leaflets purportedly distributed in the Ukraine.
One comrade from another tendency whom we contacted says the statement we printed from the Ukrainians in the paper was very similar to a statement his group had received. One of the emails which the ‘Ukrainian AWL supporters’ sent to us mentions various other groups which have now been proved to be non-existent.
"Potemkin villages" in Kiev
Near 2001 the information about existence in Kiev of many left-wing organizations had begun to appear in Internet. All this virtual organizations were in contact with some Western left-wing organizations - trotskyist (AWL, ITO, LRCI, LRP, PTS), left-wing communist (IBRP, ICG), SPGB. All these organizations had shown the symptoms of their existence only in Internet. For everybody, who know real situation in the leftist milieu of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, the majority of ex-USSR states), who know the extreme weakness and extreme dispersion of this milieu, the existence of 12 trotskyist groups (which even had created "the united front", as they proclaimed) in Kiev was absurd, impossible.
There are only two leftist groups which had really existed in Kiev: 1) trotskyist Workers Resistance (Robitnychiy Sprotiv, RS) - the section of CWI (Taaffite "Militant"), leader Oleg Vernik, and 2) maoist, radical trade-unionist Coordination Council of Workers Movement (Koordinatsionnyj Sovet Rabochego Dvizhenija, KSRD; one of leaders - Yurij Dokukin). After the split of the group of a few of comrades from RS it had become possible to know in detail about the fraudulent activity of RS (these comrades had participated in this fraud, but finally they rose up against such practice and broke off their membership in RS).
The organizer of such activity was so-called International Department (Mezhdunarodnyy Otdel) of RS. After reading in Internet of documents of some Western left-wing organizations (only such, which had not their group in CIS!), International Department of RS had sent to them letters from some fictive Ukrainian groups, which read this documents and had understood that only in these documents true marxism is presented. After exchange by letters, usually a representative of a Western leftist group had gone in Kiev. At meeting with him the roles of members of fictive organization were played by the members of RS, instructed by its International Department, how they must to speak. At the end of meeting naive Western leftist had gave some money to them (the principle of the actors was: don't ask money directly, but wait - and the foreign guest will give his money himself!). By these money RS had rent its own office in Kiev and done other political work (may be, not only). This was the goal of all the masquerade.
For disinformation, in the documents of virtual groups Kiev Militantists included some facts, from which was possible to make the mistaken conclusion, that authors of this spectacle are members of KSRD. For example, the documents which they sent to LRCI were subscribed, among other names, by name of Yurij Dokukin.
Of course, Kiev Militantists had to accomplish some acts of collaboration with Western left-wing organisations, if RS wanted to convince them in reality of the scenery groups created by itself. For example, Militantists translated some texts of IBRP & ICG into Russian & Ukrainian. IBRP published these translations on its website: the quality of those Ukrainian translations is terrible!
One of the morals from this story: involuntarily the swindlers from RS had organized the parody upon the exclusively virtual activity of a lot of modern leftist groups. Only correct conclusion: no - to virtual existence, yes - to real revolutionary class struggle! Group of proletarian revolutionaries-collectivists