The Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) has teamed up with the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (PSPU) and a dozen smaller organisations to create the Left Opposition, “an alliance of left and centre-left parties and social organisations”.
In fact, there is nothing remotely left-wing about the Left Opposition and its constituent elements.
The CPU is a conservative Russian-nationalist party. It has no links with the organised labour movement.
Its press has overtly racist articles.
When it was still able to win seats in the Rada (Ukrainian parliament), it sold the top positions on the party list to the highest bidder. Hence, the richest woman in the last Rada session was a member of the CPU.
For the CPU, Stalin remains an authoritative source of political thinking:
A document submitted to the congress (held in Kiev last December) even cited Stalin as the source of its concept of the party: “Never, not for a minute, said Stalin, did the Bolsheviks ever conceive of the party as anything other than a monolithic organisation, hewn from a single block of stone.”
Stalin-nostalgia goes hand in hand with USSR-nostalgia. According to an article published by the CPU two months ago:
“However determined anti-communists may be to besmirch the Soviet epoch, Yuri Gagarin is socialism, and socialism is Yuri Gagarin. His spaceship did not disappear in the atmosphere. It pierces time and space, illuminating the hopes of all who love their Soviet Motherland and are faithful to the cosmos of socialism.”
In 2011 CPU MPs proposed legislation to criminalise being LGBT. In subsequent years they advocated reintroduction of the death penalty, and restrictions on freedom of conscience and religion to “safeguard” the position of the Russian Orthodox Church.
When Yanukovich — Ukrainian president at the time of the Maidan protests — presented a package of repressive laws to the Rada in early 2014, the CPU MPs voted for them unanimously.According to documents adopted by the last CPU congress, the US engineered a “neo-Nazi coup” in Ukraine. The “pro-western and essentially treacherous policies of the ruling Ukrainian regime” express “the anti-human ideology of fascism.”
These policies have resulted in “the loss of Crimea” (nothing to do with Russian military intervention!) and triggered “the resistance of the inhabitants of the Donbas, who reject the dictatorship of the Kiev pro-Nazi regime” (again, nothing to do with Russia!).
The CPU’s main partner in the Left Opposition, the PSPU, is a cult around its leader, Natalya Vitrenko. Founded in 1996 with the goal of “restoring Soviet power” and “the unification of Ukraine, Russia and Belorussia”, it is an anti-semitic, racist and clerical party.
Its website has carried recordings of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke accusing Jews of organising mass immigration into Europe: “How Zionists Divide and Conquer.” During the Maidan protests the PSPU blamed Jews for the social unrest.
Vitrenko has links with US political-cult-leader Lyndon LaRouche dating back two decades and bases much of her economic rhetoric on his theories. She also has a long record of collaboration with the Russian fascist Alexander Dugin and his “Eurasian” movement.
Today, Vitrenko is leader of the Eurasian Popular Union of Ukraine (EPUU). The EPUU’s slogan is: “Russia, Ukraine Belorussia — Only Together Are We Holy Rus’.”
According to the PSPU and EPUU (the politics of the two organisations are interchangeable), the Maidan was “a neo-Nazi putsch, aimed at establishing a Nazi dictatorship” which has transformed Ukraine into a US colony:
Other organisations which have signed up to the Left Opposition are equally as far removed from left-wing politics. They include: Assembly of Russian-Orthodox Women of Ukraine, Union of Russian-Orthodox Fraternities, Slavic Committee of Ukraine, Kievan Rus’, Union of Soviet Officers, Eurasian Popular Union of Ukraine, Anti-Fascist Committee, Gift of Life, and For the Unification of Ukraine, Belorussia and Russia.
Predictably, the main demand of the new Left Opposition is not class struggle, anti-capitalism or socialism. It is closer ties with Russia and Belorussia because:
“We are united with those countries — but not with the USA or EU countries — by a common history, culture, spirituality, and values of civilisation. History has shown that the territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine have been preserved only in conditions of the unity of our countries and fraternal peoples.”
The CPU and the PSPU are both parties in decline. In the late 1990s the CPU had 121 seats in the Rada, but now it has none. In the late 1990s Vitrenko won over 10% of the votes when she stood for president, but in more recent presidential elections she has not even stood.
Even so, both still represent politically significant forces. The CPU claims a membership of 104,000. And some PSPU and ex-PSPU members played a significant role in last year’s separatist movement in the Donbas (until increased Russian intervention pushed them aside).
The creation of the Left Opposition was reported in sections of the mainstream Ukrainian media. Many Ukrainians will conclude from this that left-wing and socialist politics are indeed a matter of Russian nationalism, Stalin, the Soviet Union, and alliances with fascist ideologues.
This underlines the need for socialists abroad to support those Ukrainian socialists attempting to build a genuine Left Opposition, and to challenge those who give expression to the politics of the CPU and the PSPU in their own countries.