Anti-fascist or Russian imperialist?

Submitted by AWL on 3 November, 2020 - 2:19 Author: Jim Denham
Russian nationalists in Ukraine

On 26 October the Morning Star published an obituary-cum-eulogy on “Ghost Battalion” commander Aleksey Markov.

The Ghost Brigade (since 2015: Ghost Battalion) was one of a myriad of “local” military units created in 2014 as a cover for Russian political and military intervention into eastern Ukraine after the overthrow of Ukrainian President Yanukovych.

TheMorning Star has long portrayed the Ghost Brigade as a latter-day version of the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War.

But this is contradicted by Markov’s own description of the Brigade’s creation: “We formed the Ghost Brigade with nationalist, monarchist and communist forces. We all agreed to insist on the need for people’s power.” (Which people?)

According to last week’s article, “socialist Aleksey Markov” was “a convinced socialist and anti-fascist”. He was “an ordinary man” who felt that he had “no choice but to fight against the fascist forces in Ukraine’s Donbass region.” His death was “a huge loss to all progressive forces.”

The fascism which Markov was fighting, according to the article, was that of the post-Maidan Ukrainian government: “The choice was whether to sit in Moscow and Omsk and watch the neo-Nazis kill civilians or try to stop them. In fact, I had no choice.”

In fact Markov did not leave Moscow (and/or Omsk) in May of 2014 as a spontaneous act of anti-fascist indignation. He left five months later because, and after, the Communist Parties in Russia and Ukraine had failed to initiate military units after the military clashes of mid-2014:

“During the summer battles of 2014 (in eastern Ukraine), we expected that one of the communist organisations of the Russian Federation or Novorossiya [“New Russia”, the Russian-chauvinists’ name for the area of Ukraine they claim] would create its own communist unit, which we could join.

“We had hoped for a time that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Communist Party of Ukraine or another similar force would create a unit of this type. We waited until October 2014 and then we realised we had to act ourselves.”

And to quote another of Markov’s interviews studiously ignored by theStar:

“We have very good, close relations with the Russian Communist Party. Personally, Gennady Andreyevich Zyuganov [Russian CP leader] helped us repeatedly and very significantly. Kazbek Taysayev and Rodin [leading figures in Russian CP] help us”.

In a 2015 interview Markov said that “about half the boys (in the Ghost Brigade) have their houses in Ukrainian-occupied land.” By “Ukrainian-occupied land” Markov meant: Ukraine.

Lift from Putin

The “Ukraine is a Nazi state” line was a straight lift from Putin’s propaganda war. This has used the label of “Ukrainian Nazism” and the slogan of “anti-fascism” as a cover for Russian expansionism, first in Crimea and then in eastern Ukraine.

Given the enthusiasm with which the Morning Star has repeated Putin’s propaganda, it was inevitable that it would give the late Markov’s avowed “anti-fascism” a clean bill of health. Even though Markov himself had explicitly endorsed Putin’s expansionist goals:

“The ideal outcome, of course, would be the unification of the Donbass with the Russian Federation. Even better would be the liberation of the territory of Ukraine, our fraternal Ukraine, even if only along the Dnieper [i.e. as far as central Ukraine] and the creation of an independent state friendly towards Russia.”

But the article in the Morning Star did manage to get one fact right: “He died in a car accident in Ukraine’s breakaway Lugansk on Saturday.”

Markov’s accidental death distinguishes him from other separatist military and political leaders in Lugansk and Donetsk who have been wiped out in recent years in the process of the early leaders of the fake “popular uprising” being replaced by more Moscow-compliant elements:

Oleksandr Bednov (shot dead, January 2015); Aleksey Mozgovoy (shot and blown up, May 2015); Pavel Dryomov (blown up, December 2015); Arsen Pavlov (blown up, October 2016); Mikhail Tolstykh (blown up, February 2017); Oleg Anashchenko (blown up, February 2017); Alexander Zakharchenko (blown up, August 2018).

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