Ukrainian Military Joins Revolt, Troops Vow to Defend Protesters
By Steven Argue, Boston Indymedia
Up until today, the bravado of the coup government in Ukraine was terrifying as they declared the protests in eastern Ukraine “terrorist” actions and sent in the tanks, helicopters, fighter jets, and soldiers to carry out their promise of crushing the uprising. Now it is the coup government in Kiev has reason to shake in their boots, for the soldiers sent in to crush the uprising have instead joined it. On the ground the soldiers are both refusing to carry out orders to attack the protesters and they vowing to defend the protesters from any further military actions.In Slovyansk, a column of armored personnel carriers has rolled into the city announcing their allegiance to the uprising. These are soldiers of Ukraine’s 25th Brigade of Airborne Forces. They were greeted by chants of “Good Job! Good Job!”. A soldier was quoted in Euronews as saying “All the soldiers and the officers are here. We are all boys who won’t shoot our own people.”
Troops were also welcomed into the city of Kramatorsk as heroes as they also refused orders to fight the civilian population. These soldiers refused to continue fighting after a battle for the Kramatorsk airport brought deaths on both sides. Soldiers declared they would rather defend the people of Kramatorsk than carry out the illegal orders of the coup government. Here is video of soldiers joining the uprising in Kramatorsk:
Troop movements were also advancing yesterday on other Ukrainian cities seized by anti-fascist protests, but the spirits and bravery of the protesters were high. Watch the following video to see a tank stopped with human bodies at one check-point. Protesters keep asking who they are going to shoot with that thing.
Tank Blocked With Human Bodies
Similarly, trucks with howitzers and six APCs were stopped by protesters. The troops were going to Lugansk from Dnepropetrovsk. Residents of the village of Raygorodok blocked the convoy with cars and stopped its passage. In the following video, residents in the village of Ivanoka captured tanks and forced soldiers them to leave without weapons:
Last week and over the weekend, anti-fascist protesters in eastern Ukraine seized government buildings in ten cities, including security agencies, police stations, and administrative buildings, in a regional anti-coup uprising. Barricades have been erected in the cities and anti-fascist checkpoints have been erected across the countryside. Those holding the barricades and checkpoints are largely the mine workers and industrial workers of the heavily industrial region. The uprising is calling for equality between nationalities. This is in opposition to the U.S. backed ultra-nationalist government in Kiev. Protesters are also demanding a referendum on some form of self-determination, allowing them to determine their own affairs independently of the illegitimate government in Kiev that overthrew Ukraine’s elected president in February.
On April 13, cops and fascist paramilitaries from western Ukraine mobilized against the anti-fascist uprising. In a joint operation of Ukrainian police and fascists of Right Sector in Sloviansk, the Kiev government killed two protesters. A cop fighting for the coup government was killed as well when the police opened fire on an anti-fascist checkpoint using machine gun. Sloviansk, however, remains under working class and not fascist control. Besides the leadership of the neo-Nazi group Right Sector has calling for a full mobilization of its forces to go to war in eastern Ukraine, Russian intelligence report that the private U.S. mercenaries of Greystone are on the ground and involved in repressive activities. These private mercenaries have also committed many crimes against the Iraqi people.
Showing typical U.S. imperialist hypocrisy, U.S. spokesmen are backing this ultra-nationalist crackdown on protesters. Yet, during the Maiden protests the U.S. continually threatened sanctions to protect the ultra-nationalists who eventually came to power with U.S. aid in the February 22 coup. In that case, the U.S. repeatedly claimed that the ultra-nationalists were peaceful protesters, despite the fact that they were shooting and killing cops, lighting them on fire with Molotov cocktails, and beating them with clubs. Ultimately, all evidence shows, the U.S. backed ultra-nationalists opened fire on their own men with snipers in order to blame the police of the elected government and create the crisis needed to overthrow that government. Today, the new U.S. backed coup government has a number of open neo-Nazis in key posts. Now that the working class of eastern Ukraine is rising up against this same ultra-nationalist government, the United States is somehow blaming Russia for a revolt that is, in fact, a result of the U.S. imperialist coup.
On Monday, the New York Times echoed the official lies of the Kiev government with a headline saying,” Ukraine Forces Storm a Town, Defying Russia”. They were referring to the town of Slovyansk. Yet later in the article they admit: “By Sunday afternoon, the government’s push to reassert its authority in a vitally important industrial and coal-mining region appeared to have made little headway. Pro-Russian protesters appeared to control not only the police station but also the entire town of Slovyansk, having set up checkpoints at major streets leading into town.”
Fact is, reports from anti-fascist activists appear to be truthful when they say pro-coup forces (cops and/or fascists of the Right Sector) opened up with machine gun fire on a roadblock outside of Slovyansk, killing two people. One cop was killed in return fire and the pro-coup forces never made their way into Slovyansk. Now the Kiev government is lying again, trying to claim that reports of troops switching sides are false.
The Cause of Uprising is Kiev and Washington, Not Moscow
On February 23, one day after taking power, the coup government in Kiev voted to take away the language rights of Hungarian, Romanian, Tatar, and Russian speaking minorities. Eventually the bill was not signed, due in part to large uprisings against it, but the chauvinistic intentions and priorities of the anti-democratic government were made clear. That coup government is made up of a closely knit coalition of three capitalist parties, one of which is the neo-Nazi party Svoboda. For neo-Nazi Svoboda leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, taking away the language rights of the Russian minority will be just the beginning. He recently spoke before supporters in Kiev calling for criminal penalties for speaking in the Russian language. In addition, he called for stripping all ethnic Russians of their Ukrainian citizenship, forcing them to become non-citizens in their own land. In 2010 the official Svoboda internet website included in its program their desire to “physically liquidate all Russian-speaking intellectuals and all Ukrainophobes (Fast, without a trial, shot. Registering Ukrainophobes can be done here by any member of Svoboda).”
Political leaders and people in the media who defend the oppressed Russian nationality have been violently attacked by these neo-Nazi fascists. This includes a neo-Nazi attack by the Svoboda Party that forced the acting CEO of the National Television Company of Ukraine, Aleksandr Panteleymonov, to resign. One of the neo-Nazi thugs participating in the attack is ironically the head of the government’s Freedom of Speech and Information Committee.
Also attacked by fascists in the Ukrainian parliament was Communist MP Petro Symonenko who declared of the fascists who carried out the coup in February, “You are today doing everything to intimidate people. You arrest people, start fighting people who have a different point of view…” As if to prove him right, he was then interrupted by fascists of the Svoboda Party who physically attacked him. Likewise, on February 25th, fascist paramilitaries of Svoboda searched Petro Simonenko’s house, looking for evidence of anything, and upon finding nothing, burned down his house using Molotov cocktails.
“Give the scum promises, guarantees and then hang them.”
The Obama administration used these chauvinistic neo-Nazis to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine and they now occupy many key posts in the coup government. In eastern Ukrainian regions where the Russian minority constitutes the majority, there have naturally been uprisings against the chauvinistic central government and its appointed governments in the east such as the deputy head of South Eastern Ukraine as appointed by the illegitimate government in Kiev. He is a wealthy capitalist and criminal named Boris Filatov. Of Nazi collaborator and Nazi mass murderer Stepan Bandera, Filatov states, “I am proud of Bandera. He is my Hero. Particularly, as I see that people are ready to die under red-and-black flags.” Filatov has also stated his recipe for the solution in the region saying, “Give the scum promises, guarantees and then hang them.” When questioned on this later he explained it was just something he said on social media and not an official statement.
In addition to fascist hatred, the Obama installed coup government in Kiev is agreeing to IMF austerity and other dictates, including a 50% increase in the price of heating fuel. This IMF austerity comes on top of mass unemployment and much lower wages that have happened since the overthrow of the socialist economy in Ukraine with the destruction of the USSR. Higher fuel prices will cause the poor to freeze to death. To impose this austerity, the United States and EU supported the fascists and other ultra-nationalists who took power in Kiev in February.
Naturally, the oppressed Russian nationality of eastern Ukraine has risen up against the new imperialist imposed fascist infested government in Kiev. In Crimea the people voted to get out of Ukraine while the getting was good, with 96.5% of the people voting for Crimea to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.
Likewise, the oppressed Czech nationality is looking to get out of Ukraine as well. An estimated 20,000 Czechs live in the Volyn region of Ukraine. During the week of March 20th, Emma Snidevicova, leader of Czechs in Ukraine’s Volyn region, spoke before the Czech parliament appealing for repatriation of Ukrainian Czechs: “The situation in Ukraine is that we are afraid for our lives, families and children. The situation is getting worse every day and pushes us to ask the Czech people to take us back home.”
Czech MP, Radim Fiala, said of the situation: “Crime and banditry is on the rise in western Ukraine, and the local radical groups abiding by the legacy of Stepan Bandera are to blame. Apprehensions of our compatriots who have an experience of clashing with nationalists during the Second World War cannot be ignored.”
Besides Crimea which has now rejoined Russia, and Czechs who are looking to immigrate, there are now strong anti-fascist uprisings across eastern Ukraine, including in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv. Buildings have been seized including facilities where weapons are stored. In Donetsk the rebellion has now organized a 12 member ruling panel, declared its independence, and renamed itself the Donetsk People’s Republic. They are asking for a Russian peace keeping contingent to defend them from the illegitimate government in Kiev.
Regarding the potential for an anti-capitalist program in Donetsk, People’s Republic Commissar Nikolai Solntsev has declared the economic policy of the new government would focus on supporting “the working class, not the bourgeoisie.” Unlike the United States, which continues to carry out measures like an economic blockade against Cuba, the Russian Federation already has close relationships with countries with socialist economies, including Russia’s close ties to Belarus. This flows in part from the fact that Russia is only a weak capitalist country with little direct foreign investment, even in neighboring capitalist countries like Ukraine. Russia’s interests in the region have more to do with maintaining good mutual regional trading relationships while the imperialist U.S. and EU are seeking to maximize foreign exploitation while they also seek to isolate Russia.
In response to the uprisings in eastern Ukraine, the Obama administration, EU, and Kiev government are blaming Russia. The reality, however, is that it is the imperialist imposed coup in Kiev and the chauvinism of that government are the cause the anti-fascist uprisings in eastern Ukraine, not Russian intervention.
Leninist-Trotskyists support the anti-fascist uprisings in eastern Ukraine and call for the continued building of non-sectarian self-defense militias to protect oppressed nationalities, Jews, women, unions, and opposition political parties from fascist attacks. In addition, we call for the building of Leninist-Trotskyist parties that fights to overthrow the capitalist system itself, ending IMF austerity, massive unemployment, national oppression, and other devastation capitalism has brought to Ukraine. By Steve Argue, Indymedia. Republished without permission – Because the VOAG loves Steve Argue
For more of Steve Argue on recent events in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, check-out:
US & EU Imperialist Hands Off Crimea, Ukraine, Belarus, & Russia! (In Depth)
Communist Party Wins Mayoral Election in Russia’s 3rd Largest City
For Ukraine’s Self-Defense Militias!
For Crimea’s Right To National Self Determination!
Belarus: President Lukashenko Vows to Prevent a Coup Similar to Ukraine
Imperialists Out of Ukraine! Stop Supporting Neo-Nazis! (An earlier article before the coup with in-depth analysis)