Protests in Ukraine

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ocelot
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Feb 19 2014 16:56
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(Reuters) - Opponents of Ukraine's president declared political autonomy in the major western city of Lviv on Wednesday after a night of violence when protesters seized public buildings and forced police to surrender.

Raising the prospect of Ukraine splitting along a historic cultural and linguistic faultline, the regional assembly in Lviv, a bastion of Ukrainian nationalism near the Polish border, issued a statement condemning President Viktor Yanukovich's government for its "open warfare" on demonstrators in Kiev and saying it took executive power locally for itself.

In other signs of fraying central control for a government seen as close to business magnates from the Russian-speaking east, Poland said Ukrainians blocked the Korczowa border crossing near Lviv. And local media said opposition groups in other western cities, including Khmelnitsky, Ivano-Frankivsk, Uzhorod and Ternopil, also took over public buildings.
[...]
From late on Tuesday, taking their cue from the drama in Kiev that was Ukraine's bloodiest day in just over 22 years of post-Soviet independence, mobs swept through Lviv's picturesque city center in a spasm of violence that went unchallenged.

Erecting barricades outside a police barracks, the protesters demanded their surrender. Officers filed out, hands above their heads, and were stripped of their body armor.

The barracks were set ablaze, as were the office of the state security service and the premises of the state prosecutor. Rioters tossed papers through smashed windows.

Torched cars lay upturned in the streets.

"We are the citizens of Lviv," the crowd chanted. "We are the strongest."
[...]

As Ukraine leader fights for Kiev, west slips from his grip

teh
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Feb 19 2014 21:56
FatherXmas wrote:
Any idea what the artist's background is?

His name is Андрей Ермоленко. Don't know anything about him. Searched on google. In this interview he calls himself a nationalist-anarchist : (very poor google translate): http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://radio.rkas.org.ua/index.php/19-sample-data-articles/joomla/74-andrej-ermolenko-geroi-kuda-vy-delis

In this tv interview for his art exhibition he says the main principle of anarhcy is that you can trust only yourself. http://atv.odessa.ua/news/2012/08/08/hudojnik_andrey_ermolenko_4565.html

Don't know if the Breivik thing is a provocation or a reflection of his own sentiment.

S2W
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Feb 19 2014 22:50
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Any idea what the artist's background is?

He's a known right-winger.

S2W
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Feb 19 2014 22:50

Autonomous Union of Workers (Kiev section) declaration.

http://avtonomia.net/?p=8609

A mostly excellent text, which I unfortunately do not have time to
translate right now.

Last paragraph:

"This is not our war, but victory of the government will be loss of the
workers.Victory of the opposition also means nothing good. We may not
call proletarians to sacrifice themselves for opposition and its
interests. We consider participation to conflict as everyone's personal
choice. But we call everyone to dodge draft, realised my Janukovich
regime, to internal army, and also to sabotage actions of the parliament
with every possible means".

I do not agree with this position completely though. I think anarchists
(and workers in general) should never in any circumstances pick sides in
bourgeois civil wars, it is not a matter of "personal choice".

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Tyrion
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Feb 20 2014 00:47

The usual political spectacle playing out in the US.

Washington Post wrote:
President Obama said Wednesday that the Ukrainian government would face "consequences" if it crosses the line in cracking down on protesters in Kiev.

Obama said the government is "primarily responsible" for ensuring the protests remain peaceful, but also warned that protesters need to demonstrate without resorting to violence.

"I want to be very clear, as we work through these next several days in Ukraine, that we’re going to be watching closely, and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters," Obama said. "We've also said we expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful, and we'll be monitoring very closely the situation, recognizing that with our European partners and the international community there will be consequences if people step over the line."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/02/19/obama-on-ukraine-there-will-be-consequences-if-people-step-over-the-line/

It's amazing the level of condescension always taken in these sorts of US government statements on mass demonstrations in whatever country, where it's treated as a sort of game with the Western powers playing referee and certain responsibilities and standards of acceptable behavior assigned to each "side."

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Feb 20 2014 02:18

English translation of the AWU statement is up now:

http://avtonomia.net/2014/02/19/zayavlenie-ast-kiev-o-situatsii-v-ukraine/#english

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mikail firtinaci
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Feb 20 2014 04:03

I think the analysis is illuminating. But I feel the statement underestimates the opposition. As the statement suggests it seems even if the opposition manages to gain the upper hand, it may only form a fragmented government. But this does not make the ultra-right less dangerous. What can stop the fascist elements to start a bloodbath once the opposition formed some form of a government, especially since they are so disorganized and since the paramilitary elements are so unruly and independent?

Anyway, I hope the comrades in Ukraine will remain safe...

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Feb 20 2014 05:55

Asheville Fm radio interviewed an Ukrainian Anarcho-Syndicalist from http://avtonomia.net/
Here's what he answered about this:

Asheville Fm radio: I came across the website of Dimitrov Kutchinsky, that guy is crazy. There are also references to national-anarchism.

Denys: “Are you familiar with that concept at all?”

Asheville Fm radio: Yeah there are some idiots claiming to be that in the United States. In San Francisco, and New York and Chicago. Are they much of a thing in the Ukraine?

Denys: “Yes, actually yes. Because unfortunately this is a very popular trend – to mix with the leftist things, like (in adopting an) anticapitalism (narrative). The anarchist (position) is very trendy, cool and gives you some points immediately, but people mix it with national things, which also look very trendy and cool with the youth, mainly with teenagers who just don’t see any problem in trying to combine these things. And it’s especially funny in Ukraine because we have a very big myth about Makhno.

Today he’s an integral part of the national myth, he’s considered a nationalist, actually, because, well, he fought the Bolsheviks, therefore he must be for Ukraine, for independent Ukraine, and for the rule of the nation and so on. Obviously this is total bullshit, but this mythology is very popular and it adds to the popularity of that left-right synthesis, the third position actually, like Terza Posizione, (which is) the Italian fascist tradition.”

Asheville Fm radio: Yeah that’s the same phrasing that they use in the United States: third positionists. There’s also a lot of overlap of nationalism and regional bio-centric ecology, so that they seem to make invasions into Green Anarchism before they start to make it into the mainstream or before a lot of people became aware of who they were and what they were doing.

Denys: “I understand that, but here in Ukraine, apart from the New Age things, they are also very fascinated by the proper fascists, such as Mussolini, for example. They somehow are trying to mix it with anarchism.

Also you may be aware of the split in the Russian anarchist movement recently?

Asheville Fm radio: No, I’m not actually.

Denys: “Well there was a big split and that is repeated in Ukraine too.

It’s the split between the anarchists who support the minority rights, the feminist struggle, they pay attention to general issues, to the minority rights to the ethnical minorities, and the other macho-anarchists who don’t like all this ‘feminist b….t.’ They say, ‘We are cool guys, we do lots of sports and we are the proper anarchists, we don’t want anything to do with those pussies.’

Unfortunately, this manarchism is also gaining a lot of popularity lately.”

confusionboats
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Feb 20 2014 06:30

he states in that interview that there are somewhere between 30 and 35 members of the group
they may have grown in popularity since .?

S2W
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Feb 20 2014 11:24

Statement about the situation in Ukraine from AWU (Autonomous Workers Union).

Civil war began in Ukraine yesterday. A less than peaceful demonstration clashed with state defense forces and divisions formed by the adherents of the current government near the Vekhovna Rada (Parliament). On February 18, police, together with the paramilitaries, arranged a bloodbath in the governmental quarters during which numerous demonstrators were killed. Butchers from the special divisions finished off arrestees. Deputies of the ruling Party of Regions and their bourgeois lackeys from the “Communist” Party of Ukraine fled from the Parliament through an underground tunnel. The vote for constitutional amendments, intended to limit presidential power, did not take place after all. After their defeat in the governmental quarters, demonstrators retreated to the Maidan. At 6 P.M., the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Internal Security Bureau (SBU) declared an ultimatum to the protesters, demanding their dispersal. At 8:00 P.M., special police forces and paramilitaries, equipped with water cannons and armored vehicles, began their raid on the barricades. Police, the special divisions of SBU, as well as pro-governmental troopers made use of their firearms. However, the protesters managed to burn down one of the armored police vehicles, and it turned out that governmental forces were not the only ones in possession of guns. According to the data released by the police (on February, 19, 4 p.m.), 24 people were killed: 14 protesters and 10 policemen. Thirty-one policemen received gunshot wounds. Even if their estimate of losses on the side of the police is accurate, the number of victims among the protesters was definitely diminished. Maidan’s medics cite at least 30 killed.
One gets an impression that President Yanukovich was certain that by morning the resistance would be crushed, and so arranged for the Opposition leaders to meet with him at 11 A.M. on February, 19. As the negotiations did not take place, we can conclude that the government’s plan had failed. During the unsuccessful operation to clear off the Maidan, the citizens of several western regions occupied administrative buildings and chased away the police. At the moment the police, as an institution, do not exist in L’viv. According to the SBU, protesters have captured 1500 firearms. In less than 24 hours, the central government lost control over a section of the country. Right now, the only solution may be the stepping down of the President, however, that would mean that he, his family, and their multiple acolytes and dependents, which form a rather large group in the ruling government, would lose their source of profit. It is likely that they will not accept this.
In the event of Yanukovich’s victory, he will become a ruler for life, and the rest will be doomed to a life in which they face poverty, corruption, and the abolition of their rights and freedoms. Rebellious regions are now experiencing massive restorations of “the constitutional order.” It is not improbable that the suppression of such “terroristic groups” in Galicia will have the character of ethnic cleansing. Mad Orthodox radicals from the Party of Regions have, for a long time, seen the conservative Greco-Catholics as the aids of “Eurosodom.” Such an “antiterrorist” operation would be carried out with the assistance of the army, as the Minister of Defense, Lebedev, has already announced.
Today, Ukraine experiences a tragedy, but the real horror will start when the government breaks down the opposition and “stabilizes” the situation. Signs of the preparation of a mass-cleansing operation became noticeable as far back as early February, when criminal cases were opened against the Maidan self-defense divisions as illegal military formations. According to Article 260 of the Criminal Codex, members of such divisions may face imprisonment for 2 to 15 years. This means that the government was planning to put more than 10 thousand citizens behind bars. In the regions, as well as in the capital, special “death divisions” are acting as a supplement to the usual police forces. For example, responsibility for burning alive a Maidan activist from Zaporozhye was claimed by such a “death division,” calling itself “Sebastopol Ghosts.” They announced that they are ready to subject Maidan participants in the East to similar treatment.
In the event of the Opposition’s victory life would be far from perfect as well. Although fascists form the minority of the protesters, they are quite active and are not the sharpest tools in the shed. A few days of truce in mid-February lead to conflicts between the rightist groups, resulting in several pointless and violent confrontations, as well as attacks on ideological ‘heretics.’ Besides the fascists, old and experienced Oppositionists will also attempt to seize power. Many of them already have some experience with working in government and they are no strangers to corruption, favoritism, and the use of budget funds for personal purposes.
The “concessions” that the Opposition is demanding in Parliament right now are pitiful. Even the Constitution of 2004, that they are trying to restore, gives too much power to the President (control over the riot police and special forces is one example), and the proportional electoral system, with closed listings, hands parliament over to the control of a group of dictator-like leaders, who can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Together with the President they will rule without obstructions.
Their second demand – the appointment of a Cabinet of Ministers composed of Opposition leaders – is altogether shameful. Are people risking their health, freedom, and life for the sake of someone becoming a prime-minister, and someone-else getting an opportunity to control the flow of corrupt-money? This is the logical outcome of preferring pathos-ridden conversations on “the nation,” and focusing on vertical structures tied to the same hated politicians, instead of developing ground-up organizations around financial and material interests. This is the main lesson that Maidan is yet to learn.
However, we will be able to apply this lesson in practice only if the current government loses the battle.
The Opposition inside and outside of the Parliament is broken into multiple hostile and competing factions. If it wins, the ensuing regime will be unstable and lacking in coherency. It will be as bourgeois and repressive as was the Party of Regions before their first show of force against the protesters in November.
The guilt for the spilled blood is partially on the EU which gladly receives money from the corrupt scumbags in Ukraine, Russia, and several African countries, while diligently neglecting to check the source of such “investments.” It is only after seeing the dead bodies of the victims of such “investors,” that it gets so very sentimental and full of humanitarian pathos.
This is not our war, but the victory of the government will mean the defeat of the workers. The victory of the Opposition also does not promise anything good. We cannot call the proletariat to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the Opposition and its interests. We think that the extent of participation in this conflict is a matter of personal choice. However, we encourage all to avoid being drafted to serve in the internal military forces controlled by Yanukovich, and to sabotage by all means available the actions of the government.
No gods, no masters, no nations, no borders!
Kiev organization AWU (Autonomous Workers Union).

http://avtonomia.net/2014/02/19/zayavlenie-ast-kiev-o-situatsii-v-ukraine/

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Chilli Sauce
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Feb 20 2014 12:17

I heard it reached over 25....

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Shorty
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Feb 20 2014 12:34

CONTENT WARNING!

Protesters being shot dead in the street by snipers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DxkDiAcSF8#t=83

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FatherXmas
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Feb 21 2014 00:19

By their own admission, the AWU has no meaningful influence amongst the working class. Still, it is good to see left-libertarian ideas at least represented in Ukraine.

There are other anarchist groups in Ukraine but they are also extremely marginal. One group called Narodniy Nabat (The People's Bell) have been participating in the direct confrontation with the police forces. From what I can gather (and its difficult to nail down with absolute accuracy) they have adopted the strategy of a temporary armistice with some of the far-right groups, whom they had been previously been trading blows, in order to focus on the bigger enemy of the state.

There is another group called Volnaya Zemlya, which I know next to nothing about except that their flag has flown next to Narodniy Nabat on the barricades. There is also something called "Blackmaidan" which from what I gather is an attempt to unify the anarchist forces at Maidan, although I don't know specifically what activities/actions are done by them.

Finally there is "Autonomous Resistance" who I have seen called anarchists but in reality they are national-anarchists. All of these groups' social media pages can be found by searching vkontakte.

There are also a host of other far-left non-anarchist groups that likewise garner very little support. The left as a whole is completely unrepresented at the national level and pretty much non-existent in the popular Ukrainian mind. While the Communist Party totes itself as a left-wing option they are thoroughly corrupt and closely tied to the Party of Regions. They are also a party in quick decline as can be seen from their electoral returns over the years.

In the absence of any meaningful leftwing movement the people's anger is being increasingly channeled through far-right groups. In many cases individuals supportive of Svoboda or Praviy Sektor do not sympathize overtly with their ethnocentrism, but rather see them as the only forces willing to take real action. Svoboda is also largely considered "uncorrupted" as they are not tarnished by the current government or orange revolution's corruption.

As far as the working class are concerned, I do not know to what degree they are conscience as a class and how they are organized. I do know Svoboda called upon the workers to conduct strikes. It would be interesting to know if the far-right has succeeded in organizing workers at any level. I think most people think more about their day to day survival and support those factions which benefit them the most in the moment. The mining districts around Donetsk for instance are known for being very supportive of Yanukovych, due to his pro-mining policies.

The situation is looking increasingly dismal. I don't think a civil war will break out in the way it is often portrayed (i.e. West vs East Ukraine). I could see the opposition easily fragmenting, it already is to some degree. If Yanukovych manages to hold onto power, it is likely terrorist-type militias will conduct violent campaigns to destabilize the government. Another thing to pay attention to is Crimea. The Crimean government is vehemently opposed to Maidan and has already threatened to transfer its territory back to Russia. If they actually did this its hard to say how the Opposition would respond and what steps Russia would take to secure Crimea.

Madman Defarge
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Feb 21 2014 05:41

'Why should anyone vaguely leftist support a "pro-European [that is EU] movement.'

So you clearly still have no idea what the fuck is going on in Ukraine. Most of the people out in the Maidan don't give two shits about EU membership. They mostly just want their corrupt authoritarian government out and they don't want the Kremlin pulling the strings in their country. To them, 'Europe' has less to do with trade treaties and currency unions then it does with rule of law and constitutional governance. Which might sound like a conservative demand when you consider what living in a state without such things is like.

What kind of a 'leftist' turns a deaf ear to a people's pleas for an end to a kelptocracy that answers to imperial power instead of the people? What kind of a 'leftist' calls such a movement 'facism' out of rank ignorance and debased tankie real-politik?

"If that Cold War justification for fascism isn't worring enough the author writes"

What justification for facism? Are you reading something that has been written in invisible ink that I am somehow missing? I think that you need to send me your magic decoder ring. Or at least tell me which brand of breakfast cereal it came with.

"So while we whip up a civil war you go look the other way."

Again: how does a paragraph that invites journalists to actually take a look at what is going on in the country asking anyone to 'look the other way'?

teh
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Feb 21 2014 09:16
Madman Defarge wrote:
'Why should anyone vaguely leftist support a "pro-European [that is EU] movement.'

So you clearly still have no idea what the fuck is going on in Ukraine. Most of the people out in the Maidan don't give two shits about EU membership. They mostly just want their corrupt authoritarian government out and they don't want the Kremlin pulling the strings in their country.

If the EU association (Ukraine is not getting "membership" any time soon) wasn't the main concern the protests wouldn't have happened in the first place, foreign diplomats wouldn't be visiting the protesters/government, and Independence square would have been cleared out months ago since "Western" governments don't threaten sanctions and unleash their human rights industry when governments, as you say, uphold the "rule of law and constitutional governance." Yanukovych is after all the constitutional elected head of state with only one more year in his term (What's the rush? Its the EU/Russia). It's the loser's of the last two elections who want to form an unelected coalition government, dissolve parliament, and hold elections while their base is occupying numerous strategic areas around the country. If you support democracy, which I don't, then you're taking the opposite approach.

And how is allying with the opposition parties - whose corruption and authoritarian government are the only reason Yanukovych made his political comeback in the first place and who want to and will release extra judiciously the plutocrat Tymoshenko, you know the one who made corrupt back deals with those evil Russians - supposed to achieve an end to "corrupt authoritarian government"? The opposition oligarchs are going to dis-empower themselves or do you expect that the extra-parliamentary fascists, who you would march side by side with, are going to have their national revolution?

What the protesters want is an alliance with German imperialism against Russian imperialism. This sets the stage for Civil War and imperialist proxy war. Even if war is contained early and there is a compromise between plutocrat factions the violence against workers will only escalate as John Kerry's statement today about the necessity for "difficult" "economic reforms" makes clear.

Quote:
To them, 'Europe' has less to do with trade treaties and currency unions then it does with rule of law and constitutional governance. Which might sound like a conservative demand when you consider what living in a state without such things is like.

I live in a two party dictatorship and police state with the largest prison population in the world (1/4 of the worlds total) who's president openly and proudly holds a meeting every Tuesday to sign off on a kill list of his political adversaries. To the protesters "Europe" means White Nations, who they believe are politically, socially, and economically superior by their very essence than the rest of the world. Nothing else. Ukraine is geographically located in "Europe" and last time I checked the consensus was that Russia was also in "Europe". This illusion that the regimes that have supplied +$100 billion in arms in the past several year to prop up a family that rules most of the Arabian peninsula as it's private property in any way stand for anything decent, "constitutional", or "lawful" is dangerous.

And btw where I live this crap about "constitutional governance" being attacked, "dictator", and especially "freedom" can be heard by one of the two parties and their millions of supporters every time they, respectively, alternate out of office. Doesn't matter if their party has the exact same policies, the "country is dying" until they rotate back. And if some foreign power was to destabilize the country these people would be armed and fighting for freedom like there's no tomorrow.

Quote:
What kind of a 'leftist' turns a deaf ear to a people's pleas for an end to a kelptocracy that answers to imperial power instead of the people? What kind of a 'leftist' calls such a movement 'facism' out of rank ignorance and debased tankie real-politik?

These are platitudes and demagogy. "The people" is Stalinist hogwash. Nation states only serve the ruling class. I hear these, the people, though and they call for kleptocracy and subserviance to imperial power. I don't think I called the "movement fascism." I called it a movement by a coalition of two conservative parties and a neo-fascist anti-Semitic party, opportunistically allied with extra parliamentary fascist movements, for the opening of Ukraine's economy to "Western" capital, which it is.

Quote:
"If that Cold War justification for fascism isn't worring enough the author writes"

What justification for facism? Are you reading something that has been written in invisible ink that I am somehow missing? I think that you need to send me your magic decoder ring. Or at least tell me which brand of breakfast cereal it came with.

Whether its the genocide in Indonesia or the killings of thousand of teachers and trade unionists by the CIA installation of Park in Korea these crimes have been rationalized by "Western" ideologues as being unfortunate but a result of life being cheep in the orient and the natural "backwardness" of the Child Races. Mr. Umland, of Germany, is explicit when he writes "We also call upon Western commentators to show empathy with a nation-state that is very young, unconsolidated and under a serious foreign threat" (the serious foreign threat is the Soviet Union as Hilary Clinton described the new trade union between Russia and it's neighbors). This contemptuous condescension and rationalization of violence continues: "Support for fundamentalism, ethnocentrism and ultra-nationalism may sometimes have more to do with the permanent confusion and daily anxieties." Like US/EU arming and training Islamists in Syria and Libya (or Jimmy Carter in Pakistan/Afghanistan in the 70's) because "the people" in these countries are childlike and "backward" and these forces are natural to them, though abhorrent to civilized whites, so the "ethnocentric" "ultra" "nationalists" will be backed because the natives though "confused" and "anxious" idiots need protection from "foreign threats" (in all five examples the Soviet Union).

Like all racists the petition author objectifies to control.

Quote:
"So while we whip up a civil war you go look the other way."

Again: how does a paragraph that invites journalists to actually take a look at what is going on in the country asking anyone to 'look the other way'?

Are you kidding me? In the last sentence he literally says agree with us (we are rational) or shut the fuck up (with a quite silly condescending tone for a 'petition'. Almost as if hes angry.) You don't have a problem with whipping up a civil war?

baboon
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Feb 21 2014 12:59

I agree with the internationalist position defended by teh above. The last thing that the EU wants is the integration of Ukraine into its already shaky ranks. Russia successfully "took back" Georgia into its sphere of influence after western attempts to detach it and Russia initially provoked this crisis with a diplomatic, economic and political push into Ukraine. Vanucci on the other Ukraine thread sums of the view of "supporting someone" in saying clearly that this is a proxy war of the superpowers but hopefully the "rebels" will take power in this "legitimate and righteous" struggle. It's a similar position to the dead horse of the "Syrian Revolution" still being flogged by some. For the working class there's no one to choose in this fight that is being fought on the ground of constitutional reform, elections and "opposition". As teh says, the opposition have already amply demonstrated their own corrupttion and anti-working class policies. Where is the working class in this "revolution" or "civil war" - it doesn't exist as any sort of independent force, not even in embryo. Worse than that, it is having the shit kicked out of any possible consciousness of its class identity as it can only line up as individuals in an inter-bourgeois faction fight taking place within colliding imperialist interests.

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Feb 21 2014 13:24
baboon wrote:
Where is the working class in this "revolution" or "civil war" - it doesn't exist as any sort of independent force, not even in embryo. Worse than that, it is having the shit kicked out of any possible consciousness of its class identity as it can only line up as individuals in an inter-bourgeois faction fight taking place within colliding imperialist interests.

I think this adequately sums up the ultra-left position on class composition.

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Feb 21 2014 20:22

s2w, Many thanks for posting that translation. Please feel free to post any future translations of similar texts straight to the news section!

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Feb 23 2014 22:48

This article is from the 20th but only just seen it (DISCLAIMER: it is unconfirmed and seems unreliable, see comments below). About a trade union building burnt down, killing 18 people inside. The building was being used as a base by opposition protesters. Most sources blame the police, but the government is claiming that fascist elements in the opposition did it:
http://workinglife.org.au/2014/02/20/ukraine/

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Feb 24 2014 00:13

Video of Euromaidan meeting attacked by residents who call them fascists (though the 'residents' themselves seem like Russian separatists?).. any more info?

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ad2_1393083985

Quote:
UDAR/УДАР (translates to "strike" or "punch") is a pro-European political party in Ukraine headed by Vitali Klitschko. On 22/02/2014 UDAR activists organised meeting in Kerch (a city on the Kerch Peninsula of eastern Crimea). However, people of Kerch was not very hospitable to Euromaidan supporters.
Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ad2_1393083985#T4OErtwsAMQTIg33.99
teh
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Feb 24 2014 00:40
Steven. wrote:
This article is from the 20th but only just seen it. About a trade union building burnt down, killing 18 people inside. The building was being used as a base by opposition protesters. Most sources blame the police, but the government is claiming that fascist elements in the opposition did it:
http://workinglife.org.au/2014/02/20/ukraine/

The deaths haven't been mentioned since so I dont know whether that was a rumor or not (theories about its cause mentioned here and here.) I saw it burn live on a feed, with people climbing down the facade. The NYT article says that the fire caught from the fire barrier outside, but I saw huge flames from windows nowhere near that so I'm skeptical. The other guy politician says he was in a firefight on the top floor but doesn't explain the fire. This building was way beyond the front lines so if there were police attacking it it was in small numbers cause you couldn't notice them from outside.
Anyway that article is farcical. "Workers targeted as Kiev protesters escalate" "by autocratic Ukrainian leader"? The Trade Union building is the headquarters of the Party of Regions allied Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine. The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine quoted in the article is the union front of Tymoshenko and company (And the statement cited by the article as "slamm[ing] the Ukrainian Government over the deaths" says nothing about the deaths or the fire. The author just makes it up. Only example he gives of "most reports suggest" is the "Daily Beast" citing Radio Free Europe). So the opposition occupies the headquarters of the union federation its hostile to, it happens to burn down, and then cites this as repression of workers?

Here's a right wing summary of the politics of trade union bureaucrats in Ukraine: http://ukrainianweek.com/Politics/27610

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Feb 24 2014 03:01

Here is an interview with an AWU member from February 20th:

http://avtonomia.net/2014/02/20/maidan-contradictions-interview-ukrainian-revolutionary-syndicalist/

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Feb 24 2014 12:30

another conflict on the brink of escalation?

http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/1097-moldova-the-eu-and-the-gagauzia-issue

Quote:
As the grand geopolitical struggle for Eastern Europe continues, greater attention will likely be drawn to Moldova, which is set to become the next major battleground in the saga. The omen for this has been seen in a most unlikely place: the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia (known locally as Gagauz Yeri).

In contrast to Transdniestria, Gagauzia is not a breakaway republic but a "national-territorial autonomous unit" per a resolution on its status taken in December 1994. Now it seems that this once relatively quiet and unproblematic area of Moldova could again become one of the major scenes of contention as the geopolitical struggle for Eastern Europe begins to focus on what has long held the epithet of “Europe’s poorest country”.

During a recent referendum, voters in Gagauzia overwhelmingly voted against Moldovan integration with the EU. In it, 98.4 per cent of voters supported closer integration with the CIS-led customs union, while 97.2 per cent voted against closer ties with Europe. In addition to voting against EU integration, a referendum was held on independence for Gagauzia, in the case that Moldova should decide to continue its European path and possibly even unite with its larger ethno-linguistic counterpart, Romania. Mihail Formuzal, the leader of Gagauzia (known by the title of başkan) previously described the referendum as the beginning of true democratization in Moldova and highlighted grievances that he felt the central government in Chişinau was ignoring the desires of the Gagauz.

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Feb 25 2014 11:32

Interesting. But I think looking for the "next major battleground" is a little premature at this stage, given that the situation in Ukraine still has potential for a far worse cataclysm than has occured up until now. While the Russian propaganda that the fall of Yanukovych represents a 1933-style neo-nazi Machtergreifung, is a little overdone (and since when did Putin & co become such principled oppenents of anti-semitism, anyway?). The situation remains extremely serious. I think the interview with the AWU linked a few posts above, is extremely useful in getting a handle on the situation.

The main dangers are two-fold and possibly intertwined. Just because the horse the Kremlin backed turned out to be a nag, does not mean that the filly and colts backed by the EU/US are necessarily any more competent or up to the job of restoring the "reproduction of everyday life".

On the one hand the rag-bag association of Tymoshenko - widely distrusted as no less corrupt than Yanukovych - Klitschko and the nazis, could be stupid enough to throw symbolic but provocative measures to the Ukrainian nationalist cause, that would alienate the East and South, including Crimea.

Crimea is already more or less openly saying they will declare UDI as soon as Putin gives them the nod, and a number of Eastern regions/Oblasts may follow their lead, if it comes to it.

The current interim "government" has already shown some tendency towards Ukrainian revanchism by cancelling the language law that allowed Russian to have official second language status in those Oblasts where it is the majority spoken language. A symbolic law concocted by Yanukovych for electoral purposes, with little practical effect, to be sure, but a bad indication.

One piece of upcoming legislation that could be a major flashpoint is the extension of the Russian Black Sea Fleet's free use of Sevastopol after 2045. If the Kiev and Western Ukraine uprising really is a NATO plot as some more traditional minded lefties seem to think, then this is an obvious one for the new government to dismiss. It's also probably the quickest way to get Russian tanks parked at the Crimean junction with the mainland.

The second but intertwined issue is that the economic situation is now at a point where the state could easily default on payments. If police, army, bureacrats and public sector workers stop getting paid, then there's all the less reason for Crimea and the East to send locally-collected tax revenue to Kiev, or pay any attention to what the supposed government is saying or doing ("You and whose army?"). Magnanimous Russia could of course step in with humanitarian aid to keep the schools open (teaching in Russian, of course) and the balkanisation of the stete could follow fairly naturally.

Add to that a flow of Cossack irregulars from Kuban and neighbouring parts of Russia to aid their Orthodox brethen in the fight against the "Uniate and Polish vermin" and its Yugoslavia all over again. Except that Yugoslavia was already outside of Russia's orbit and had nowhere near the strategic significance to it that Ukraine has.

So a little early to declare Ukraine all over bar the IMF visit.

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Feb 25 2014 11:59

an escalation in Crimea would also trigger further conflicts, the 12-15% Crimean Tatars there are pretty much pro-Ukrainian and a conflict involving them would also cause at least some Turkish involvement on the side of "fellow Turks/fellow Muslims" (there are at least several hundred thousand people in Turkey with Crimean Tatar ancestry)

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Feb 25 2014 12:24

For anyone who missed this:

Just back from Kiev, Gabriel Levy will be speaking about the 'revolution' in Ukraine

- this Saturday, March 1, 2.30pm at No.88, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH

(entrance in St. Brides Avenue, nearest tube Blackfriars / Chancery Lane)

For articles by Gabriel Levy see http://peopleandnature.wordpress.com/

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Feb 25 2014 13:35
Entdinglichung wrote:
an escalation in Crimea would also trigger further conflicts, the 12-15% Crimean Tatars there are pretty much pro-Ukrainian and a conflict involving them would also cause at least some Turkish involvement on the side of "fellow Turks/fellow Muslims" (there are at least several hundred thousand people in Turkey with Crimean Tatar ancestry)

Coincidentally just reading up on that now. I guess this means we'll see a sudden upsurge in concern for the plight of Crimean Tartars in the western corpo media any day now then...

Now if only you could get index derivatives on media headlines/mentions, we could finally turn all this obsessive lefty media-story watching into a proper money-making opportunity! smile

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Feb 25 2014 14:33

and like in Chechenya or Bosnia some Jihadists and Saudi Arabian "charities" popping up there among a largely very secular Islamic group

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Feb 25 2014 16:00

I think a direct Turkish involvement in Crimea is very unlikely, especially considering the total political chaos and approaching rounds of elections in Turkey.

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Feb 25 2014 16:06

true ... but I can imagine that e.g. the MHP will try to capitalize on the issue