National Sections of the L5I:

On the crisis situation in Eastern and Southern Ukraine

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1. The crisis in eastern and southern Ukraine, which saw takeovers of city administration buildings, declarations of independent “people’s republics” and in response the despatch of “anti-terrorist” forces by the Kyiv regime, holds enormous dangers for working class and progressive antifascist forces in Ukraine.

2. It comes as the neoliberals who dominate the Kyiv government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk announce they have signed the agreement for a savage austerity programme, the usual “medicine” the European Union and the International Monetary Fund dictate, in return for a “bailout” of Ukraine’s international creditors.

3. It comes, too, against the background of the consolidation of the repressive apparatus of the Maidan regime by means of the integration of various fascist forces into a National Guard. This will undoubtedly seek to extend the repression already reigning in Kyiv and western Ukraine against the left and all those who oppose the ultra-nationalists, to the east and the south as well.

4. The apprehension felt in the major working class cities of eastern Ukraine is fully justified. People there, many of them Russian speakers, have good reason to fear a government made up of virulent Russophobes (see Yulia Timoshenko's recent leaked phone call) as well as the havoc the neoliberals like Yatsenyuk will wreak on the industries of the east.

5. Ukrainian workers are right not to recognise this government or to accept the validity of its elections on 25 May. Above all, they are right to resist the “order” that the National Guard and the thugs of the Right Sector are seeking to impose.

6. However, the declarations of independent republics in Donetsk and Kharkov, and the calls for referendums on independence or autonomy under Russian protection, constituted a serious mistake or an adventure. Kyiv has immediately taken the opportunity to mobilise its forces of repression and, in Kharkov at least, to arrest those who took over the administration buildings.

7. Moreover, it seems that the numbers involved in the takeovers were quite small and, therefore, probably unable to resist the repression they are sure to face. A successful insurrection would require the participation of a mass movement of the working class, mass strikes and a workers’ militia that could confront the state forces. All this was plainly missing.

8. Nonetheless, in cities like Kharkov, Donetsk, Luhansk and Odessa, it is entirely justified for popular organisations to refuse to recognise the Kyiv regime and to resist the military and fascist forces sent to take control. It is also justified for them to assert their local/regional autonomy and, given the repression of left parties, impunity for fascist coercion etc, to boycott the election planned for May 25 until there is democracy in every part of Ukraine.

9. In present conditions, this can only be established by forming local workers’ and people’s defence squads in every town, city and village and the building of councils of locally elected and recallable delegates to take over local and city governments. These bodies alone would be able to ensure the protection and rights of all Ukrainians, whatever their ethnic or linguistic background.

10. Above all, they could ensure free elections to an All Ukraine Constituent Assembly, guarded against any fascist coercion and free of the bribery and corruption of the millionaire oligarchs. Free, too, from domination either by EU-US imperialism or its Russian rival.

11. Any attack by the new National Guard and the Right Sector fascists in Kharkov, Donetsk, Odessa etc, must be repulsed and resistance to them supported internationally. At the same time, any attempted takeover, overt or covert, by Great Russian nationalist groups, must also be resisted. Any direct intervention by Russia could trigger a bloody civil war and inter-ethnic conflict in Ukraine, which would be a disaster for all its people

12. The task of revolutionaries at the moment is not to launch minority insurrections which, without the masses, can only end in defeat and disaster. We believe the support for the proclamation of a "people's republic" in Kharkov by the comrades of Borotba was a mistake, despite the class and socialist demands under which it was made.

13. The main task today is to address the working class in the factories and mines, agitating for the rank and file memberships of the trade unions (despite their bureaucratic leaderships' ties to the oligarchs) to take action against the austerity programme, against the fascist-riddled National Guard and to reject the authority of the counterrevolutionaries in Kyiv.

14. Appeals to Vladimir Putin to intervene, calls for secession and to join the Russian Federation, can only alienate and divide the working class of the country even more deeply, whereas the task is to unify it against the neoliberals and the fascists. Only thus can Ukraine’s unity and freedom from imperialism, east and west, be established

Free all those arrested by the forces of the pro-Kyiv regime
Down with its EU-IMF austerity programme
Down with the fascist gangs; for workers' self defence
Down with the illegitimate Yatsenyuk government
All Nato planes and warships out of the region
No to any Russian intervention in Ukraine
For a sovereign Constituent Assembly
For a workers' and farmers' government and expropriation of the oligarchs
For a United Workers' Ukraine as part of a Socialist United Sates of Europe.