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VOAG-Logo-(Ukraine)Against Ukraine repression: ‘In Donetsk and Kharkov, The people continue to fight’

By Greg Butterfield, Workers World
 April 10 – Desperate to stamp out a popular uprising in Southeastern Ukraine, the fascist junta in Kiev -which came to power through a violent coup against elected President Viktor Yanukovich -is moving to crush the newly declared People’s Republic of Donetsk and rebellions in other cities.  But anti-fascists throughout the region continue to resist in the face of increasing repression by the U.S.-backed regime.

Arsen Avakov, the junta’s Interior Minister, arrived in the Southeast April 9, delivering a 48-hour ultimatum to protesters occupying government buildings in Donetsk and Lugansk to surrender or face military attack. The deadline expires at nightfall on April 11. Avakov, a leader of the far-right Fatherland party, was tasked with bringing the various neo-Nazi groups under the regime’s discipline. To this end he created a “National Guard” composed of members of the Right Sector, Euromaidan Self Defense Forces, and other racist gangs from Western Ukraine. The Communist Party of Ukraine’s headquarters in Kiev was set on fire April 9, just hours after a court ordered the Interior Ministry to remove fascists who’ve occupied it since the coup. Euromaidan Self Defense goons, now employed by the Interior Ministry, were photographed tearing up red flags outside the building shortly before it was torched. In the Southeast, police and military units unwilling to act against the local populace have been replaced by “special task forces” from Western Ukraine.

 According to Ukrainian and Russian sources, Avakov has also enlisted foreign mercenaries from the U.S.-based Greystone Ltd.  U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, in charge of NATO forces in Europe, told the Associated Press April 10 that U.S. troops could soon be deployed in the region. NATO has scheduled an “emergency meeting” on Ukraine for April 14.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy destroyer U.S.S. Donald Cook was expected to arrive in the Black Sea April 10 near Russian waters, where it will join other U.S., Bulgarian and Romanian warships in provocative “war games” aimed at Russia. All of these forces are now deployed against the popular resistance in the largely Russian-speaking Southeast, where the anti-fascist and working-class traditions of Soviet times still run deep, and where some look to Russia as a last line of defense against the neo-Nazi threat from Kiev.

 But instead of intimidating the resistance, the fight-back has continued and spread. After losing ground earlier in the week, anti-fascists in Lugansk held onto government buildings. Miners in the Donbas region have downed tools to go to the defense of Donetsk. Hundreds have remained in the streets of Kharkov despite a ban on protests. And even in the Western Ukraine city of Lviv, near the Polish border, activists briefly seized the local prosecutor’s office to protest a new appointment by Kiev.

Donetsk prepares to fight
In Donetsk, capital of the Donbas mining region, protesters seized the Regional State Administration building April 6 and declared an independent People’s Republic of Donetsk. The new people’s council, with the support of thousands of demonstrators in the main square, announced a referendum for May 11 to determine the future of the region. The demand for a referendum has gripped the masses throughout the Southeast, who want autonomy or independence from the fascist, pro-NATO regime in Kiev, which is in the process of imposing austerity in return for International Monetary Fund loans. Calling for a general mobilization of the populace, the People’s Council said April 9: “According to information from our activists at civilian roadblocks, Ukrainian armored vehicles are on their way to Donetsk. The Kiev junta has decided to solve the problem posed by our protest by military force.  “But their politicians and security forces are afraid of the presence of civilians near the building, where a large number of foreign journalists are also present.

 “Last night, thanks to the presence of thousands of people around the Lugansk state security headquarters, people formed a human shield around the building to protect it and the presence of militias barricaded inside prevented police from carrying out their orders to kill our comrades.  “Let’s be worthy of our comrades from Lugansk! Protect our militia guarding the building of the People’s Council! Let’s defend our independence and freedom!”

And the people responded. Activists and volunteers, including many youth and retirees, have built barricades around the RSA building and other protest strongholds, set up checkpoints on roads, gathered food, water and medical supplies, and joined defense trainings against the expected military assault.

 On the night of April 9-10, teams of activists blocked several military buses and prevented them from deploying troops near the RSA.  “We will be on duty here all night, because the assault could begin at any moment,” one activist on nightwatch duty told Ria Novosti.  Sergey Tsyplakov, deputy director of the People’s Militia of Donbas, said: “In Donetsk airport, about 100 people from the National Guard have been housed. Around 100 Right Sector bandits are also in the city, as well as a hundred employees from a private U.S. military company operating under contract with the Kiev junta. “In total, there are around 300 professionals or well-trained and motivated fanatics,” Tsyplakov said. “This is a major force, but we are ready to fight.”

Kharkov: ‘Resistance does not subside’
  In the city of Kharkov, where the struggle has been led by the People’s Unity coalition and the leftist Union Borotba (Struggle), protesters seized the local RSA building and declared a People’s Republic on April 7.  The People’s Council called for regional autonomy, including independence of NATO, re-nationalization of former Soviet industry, and priority to collective forms of ownership.

That night, hundreds of fascists and mercenaries wearing Special Forces uniforms attacked the building. They arrested 70 people and dispersed the protesters – but only temporarily. Kiev-allied city officials declared they would ban mass protests in Freedom Square and the city center.

But the next day, hundreds again gathered on the square and outside the fascist-occupied RSA building. On April 9, more than 500 people turned out to demand the release of the detained activists, Borotba reported. The fearful authorities had the courthouse surrounded by 1,000 police and refused to admit members of the public. People picketed the courthouse for several hours, chanting “Power to the people, freedom for the Kharkov defenders,” while parents shouted, “Free our children!”

 The activists were sentenced to two months imprisonment or a fine of 180,000 hryvnia – about $14,000 each. Simultaneously, hundreds more rallied at Freedom Square ahead of a court hearing on the planned demonstration ban. “The ban is aimed not only at us, but at all Kharkovites,” charged Borotba’s Svetlana Tsiberganova.  Borotba and People’s Unity have called for a major demonstration on April 12 in defiance of the ban.  “Despite the repression, the resistance does not subside,” declared Borotba coordinator Sergei Kirichuk.  “The people are going to continue the fight.”ukraine pics

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VOAG-Logo-(Brick)13Anti-fascists organize resistance
as crisis grips Ukraine coup regime

Workers World, March 28, 2014
Just a month after a U.S.-backed coup d’état in Ukraine brought to power a regime dominated by neo-Nazis and pro-Western capitalist politicians, the ruling junta finds itself in deep crisis.

Threats from the government in Kiev and its U.S. and Western European patrons were unable to intimidate the people of the Crimean autonomous region, who voted overwhelmingly to break away from Ukraine and affiliate with Russia on March 16. Russian President Vladimir Putin and local leaders made it official on March 18.

Now infighting has exploded among the fascist factions in the ruling coalition in Kiev.
The International Monetary Fund, meanwhile, has agreed to give the coup-makers an $18 billion loan — but only if they accept painful austerity measures. These are almost certain to throw Ukraine deeper into chaos.

Further, Kiev has been unable to subdue the rebellious eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, where anti-fascists are digging in to organize grassroots resistance.

People in these major working-class industrial and mining areas are rising to oppose the junta and demand political and economic autonomy. They reject the rule of the billionaire oligarchs appointed as new regional governors by Kiev. Some are even calling for re-nationalization of privatized industries.

Thieves fall out
Overnight on March 27-28, members of the neo-Nazi Right Sector gang surrounded the Ukrainian Rada [parliament] and threatened to storm it — much as they had done a month earlier, when the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych was toppled.

But this time, the Right Sector was protesting its own erstwhile partners, some of whom were barricaded inside, including members of the far-right Fatherhood party and neo-Nazi Svoboda party. European television broadcast images of Svoboda politicians hanging out of windows shouting epithets while Right Sector goons hurled rocks at them from the street.

What happened?
On March 24, Right Sector leader Aleksandr Muzychko was shot dead during a police raid in the western city of Rovno. Muzychko had a long history of fascist terrorism and was on several international “most wanted” lists — a Ukrainian version of the anti-Cuba terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

The assassination of Muzychko was followed by raids on Right Sector hideouts and seizures of weapons. The hit came on orders from acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, a representative of the Fatherland party associated with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Avakov has established a “National Guard” under his command to deputize the fascist gangs and bring them all under the junta’s control. He also masterminded the joint neo-Nazi/police patrols that have suppressed any resistance in the western cities.

Avakov represents the coalition of far-right forces that control the commanding heights of police, military and prosecutorial powers of the new regime. Some forces in the Right Sector, like Muzychko, didn’t want to follow orders. Avakov and his colleagues decided that those who wouldn’t play ball must be eliminated.

The fascist street gangs served their purpose as the violent fists of the Euromaidan protests that ousted Yanukovych. But when it comes to investments and military strategy, Washington, Bonn and the IMF prefer to work with well-groomed, business-suited fascists like Avakov and Svoboda leader Oleh Tyanhybok.

Tymoshenko: ‘Grab a machine gun’
U.S. imperialism has big plans for Ukraine. First, it contains pipelines that control much of the flow of oil and gas between Russia and Western Europe. In addition, stationing NATO troops and weaponry there is also key to U.S. plans to isolate and dismember Russia.

Even after promising the Kiev junta $10 billion in loans, Washington is worried about the stability of the coup. Means have to be found to stabilize the country — that is, make it profitable for the Western imperialists. That means not only controlling the far-right factions in the western part, but quelling the anti-fascist resistance in the south and east.

While the inter-regime crisis was unfolding in Kiev, a leaked phone call posted online revealed more about the fires of war that the Obama administration and congressional leaders are furiously stoking. The call was from former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, considered a leading candidate in the presidential elections planned for May 25. Tymoshenko, a leader of the so-called Orange Revolution of 2004, was imprisoned for corruption before the coup.

Speaking with a former military official after the Crimea referendum, Tymoshenko urged her supporters to “take up arms and kill the fucking Russians along with their leader.” Tymoshenko also said she was ready to “grab a machine gun and shoot [Putin] in the head.” The recording ends with Tymoshenko threatening to use nuclear weapons against the 8 million Russian-speakers living in Ukraine. After the call went public, Tymoshenko claimed the part about using nukes was manipulated. The rest, she confirmed, was accurate.

Anti-fascists build resistance
In the cities of southern and eastern Ukraine, the leftist Union Borotba (Struggle) is one of the groups organizing anti-fascist resistance. Borotba’s central office in Kiev was ransacked after the coup and its activists forced underground. Outside Kiev, Borotba and other anti-fascists work in a hazy state of semi-legality, operating more or less openly depending on the level of organized resistance in each city.

This creates special challenges for organizers. For example, print shop owners refuse to print flyers or newspapers due to threats from the fascists. However, Borotba has managed to get help from sympathetic workers to publish its materials. A 10,000-copy run of “Front,” the first issue of a newspaper published by Borotba and the Antifascist Resistance Center, sold out in just three days. Borotba activists have set up tents and information tables to spread their message and recruit people to local anti-fascist defense committees composed of activists, workers, youths and former Red Army soldiers.

In Kharkov, where the Right Sector murdered two anti-fascists on March 14, Borotba plays a leading role in organizing mass resistance. On March 22, some 2,000 people defied a ban and rallied at Freedom Square for a people’s speakout initiated by Borotba. A major goal of the event was to recruit supporters for the local defense organization, People’s Unity.

The following day, hundreds marched down Rymarska Street to remember the two slain activists. They chanted: “Fascists kill! Power covers up!” Police then charged Borotba leader Denis Levin, a convener of the rally, with violating the ban and ordered him to appear in court on March 26. After a crowd of supporters picketed the court during his hearing, the judge dismissed the charge as “baseless.”

In Odessa, Borotba activists took up the case of Anton Davidchenko, a local resistance leader who was seized by the “Alpha” special police unit on March 17 and kidnapped to Kiev, where he is being held incommunicado. Some 1,000 people defied fascist threats and rallied at Odessa’s Kulikovo Field on March 23 to demand a referendum on autonomy. Led by Regional Council Deputy and Borotba activist Alex Albu, they marched to the prosecutor’s office to demand Davidchenko’s release and an end to the regime’s political repression.

Communist Party holds congress
The Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) has also been targeted by the junta. On its first day, the new regime threatened an outright ban of the KPU. The party’s headquarters in Kiev was trashed and is still occupied by the Right Sector. Party members have been attacked and beaten. KPU leaders have continued to assert their membership in the parliament although they have been effectively banned from Kiev since the coup.

On March 26, the KPU held its 47th Extraordinary Congress in the eastern industrial city of Donetsk. The party nominated its general secretary, Peter Simonenko, to run for president in the May elections. It is unclear whether the KPU will be allowed on the ballot, or what dangers party candidates might face.

Emphasizing the need of the party to preserve its cadres and organization, Simonenko said: “We have grounds for optimism. In a short time, the new regime showed its anti-people nature and incompetence, its inability to govern. The inevitable deterioration of the situation of workers as a result of the requirements of the IMF will inevitably create the basis for a new protest movement.”

Workers, youths and retirees alike are determined to defeat the far-right gangs and push back Western imperialism. They remember their history as part of the Soviet Ukraine, which defeated the fascist occupation during World War II, with support from the Red Army.enemy is at home