Internationalism – a guide to action or an excuse for inaction? To the start of the Prague Action Week 20-26 May


Nine points for further discussion from the anarchist newsletter of Kharkov. In some very, very eastern geography of the country, which until 2022 many would not even find on the map.

Submitted by Thunderbird on May 19, 2024

The French poster “They migrate, they squat, they herald spring” echoes the Afghan proverb that you can kill all the swallows, but you cannot stop the coming of spring. In our realities, these words take on a special meaning: the flight of serfs brings closer the collapse to the serfdom state, as hundreds of thousands of punishers, officials and deputies will have to go defend themselves

Program and list of event participants

1. First of all, these theses will only talk about the war in Ukraine. No regional egoism. Before Kharkov was close to the front, there were many students from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa; now we have no opportunity to learn about what is happening there through personal communication. Therefore, we will limit ourselves only to what is visible from our bell tower.

2. The situation in recent months in Ukraine fully confirms the thoughts from our English-language interview from February 24 and review article from March 31. Ukraine is turning from a concentration camp into a death camp. Yesterday, the law on total mobilization No. 10449, adopted on April 11, came into force, contrary to all forecasts that deputies would be afraid to do this. Now, during any street check of documents and reconciliation with the electronic register of persons liable for military service, cops will have the right to detain a man and take him to the enlistment office (official name – territorial center for recruitment, TCR) if his credentials are not in the system after the 60-day submission period. For not having a military ticket (special ID card) with you, you are also subject to detention and busification to establish your data. A day earlier, the supreme utilizer signed another law – No. 10379, increasing absentee fines for evaders. For refusal to appear on a subpoena or to update credentials, a fine of 17 to 25.5 thousand hryvnia will be imposed with the prospect of blocking accounts for non-payment (the minimum salary in Ukraine is 8 thousand hryvnia). Estimates of the number of citizens planned to be drafted into the army vary from 150,000 to 500,000; in the second case, this will mean the mobilization of every tenth man in the corresponding age. In other words, the totality of mobilization is limited only by the financial capabilities of the budget.

In last two month, the editorial group of our media has prepared detailed analyzes of the butcher law and the reaction to it from below, as well as how its adoption affected the ways of getaway from Ukraine. Then told about a project for free mutual aid of Ukrainians in unauthorized border crossings and about the Russian recruit Yuri Galushko from our city, who killed six artillery commanders for his mother traumatized during the Russian shelling of Kharkov and then escaped with his rifle. For the International Conscientious Objectors’ Day on May 15, we wrote about the spring increase in desertion from Russian occupying troops and talked with a deserter from the Ukrainian border guard service.

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Over this couple of months, the Ukrainian army decay began to be discussed at the highest level. From the words of one of the most famous advocates in the country, Rostislav Kravets, during the war, more than 100 thousand military personnel left their units without permission; parliamentarian from the ruling party Yuri Kamelchuk said about 15 thousand militaries received disciplinary sanctions for violation of orders or desertion. Very often those who escaped from units are not punished in any way, otherwise there will be no one to fight at all. Demoralization in the Armed Forces of Ukraine is facilitated by a lack of understanding for the prospects of war, the attitude towards soldiers as meat and the failure of parliament to fulfill its promise to set a demobilization period when adopting Bill 10449. The shortage of personnel in the army is even more acute than that of weapons and ammunition. In the repressive bodies are afraid of being sent to the front and turn a blind eye to any violence by TCR against civilians, just so as not to go to fight themselves.

3. Calls to unite against uniformed sadists imagined that they have the right to decide who lives and who dies are as ubiquitous among the masses as the readiness to organize together and change the life is weak. More and more of those who have nothing to defend are trying to leave Ukraine without desire to choose between life under the Kremlin and death for the wallets of scum at the trough. On May 17, a sad anniversary was reached: 30 men had already officially died trying to cross the Tisza river bordering EU countries. Those who do not flee are forced to survive under virtual house arrest (many have been doing this for more than a year, but now this practice is becoming widespread). Talking about the imminent end of Ukraine as a state, especially in the front-line regions, also does not contribute to protest activity: from this point of view, there is no point in risking criminal liability if it will end soon anyway and you will have to think about what to do in the new reality. “It’s better to possibly die in the Russian occupation than to definitely die now for the internal occupation,” is the logic of this sombre apathy.

4. Nevertheless, episodic examples of social resistance are regular. April 6, the Desnyansky district of Kiev: during a conversation between the TCR patrol and some passer-by, Timofey Molderf born in 1972 approached one of them from behind and struck him on the head, after this he took a knife out of his bag and tried to stab another raid participant. April 20, near the village of Chornoguzy in the Chernivtsi region: two civilians knocked down a TCRist to the ground during notification. The vehicle was blocked, he fired a pistol into the ground but for some time still was not allowed to enter the car. On the evening of May 3, in the town of Vinogradov in Transcarpathia, about 10 people of Roma nationality gathered at the TCR entrance and tried to forcefully open the gate, protesting against the mobilization of two men from their village. The staff fired into the air; the next day, video footage was published with apologies from the women for taking part in the assault. The evening of the same May 3 in Zaporozhye: at the call of the wife of Yevgeniy Butenko, detained by the cops at home that day because of allegedly being wanted, a crowd of residents also came to the TCR. They shouted: “Let all the people out of the basement!”, “You should protect us, not kidnap us!” Police surrounded the building to prevent people from entering. The three-hour rally was broadcast by the YouTube channel of local activists of the “living people” movement. On the night of May 12, in the same Zaporozhye, someone (according to rumors) threw two Molotov cocktails into the Shevchenkovsky districtal TCR building, they did not catch fire. On May 14, cops announced the detention in this city of an organized group of five “living people” suspected in spreading disinformation about the mobilization: activists talked about its illegality and filmed the kidnapping cases. At least one of the detainees got severely beaten. Sinelnikovo in the Dnepropetrovsk region: yesterday, TCRists were carrying a private security guard Alexander Sadovsky, born in 1975. He was in the back seat of the car; while driving took out a knife and put it to the throat of one of the servicemen. Another one began to take the knife from Sadovsky and received a stab wound to his hand. The same day in the regional center, Dnipro: unknown people in black attacked a military medic sitting in a camouflage minivan with the words “TCR faggot”, sprayed him through an open window, broke his face and glasses. Also yesterday afternoon, in the village of Bolgan of the Vinnytsia region, border guards noticed a man trying to cross the Ukrainian-Moldovan border outside the checkpoint. During the detention, a guy from Kiev, born in 1990, hit one of them, then used a spray balloon and tried to take away the weapon from the serviceman. One of the border guards fired two warning shots and then shot him in the legs; he was hospitalized. And how many videos every day of passers-by helping to fight off those being kidnapped on the streets!

5. Parallels in internationalist circles between the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the First World War with calls for Russian and Ukrainian workers to stop military production do not take into account the fact that Ukraine is fighting on the economic base of its Western partners. All critical goods, from ammunition and fuel to food and medicines, are supplied from abroad. Ukraine's drone production and military repair bases do not play a key role in the war. The weak link is the transport system. Ukrainian international carriers are alarming: many drivers, having left Ukraine, abandon their trucks and refuse to return; the logistics workers remaining in the country simply quit or do not want to leave home, saying “let the TCR and the police carry it.” Yesterday afternoon, about 100 trucks partially blocked the Odessa-Kiev highway, one of the busiest in Ukraine. The traffic jam at the exit from Odessa reached 5 km. The strikers from different regions stated that “the country rests on us” and demanded mobilization reservation for their profession; they let cars and buses through the blockade. In our Kharkov, transport companies are also on the verge of stopping; retail is in danger of nationwide collapse. This was probably the maximum strike struggle possible for the working class under existing conditions. Unfortunately, this example of the standing for survival attracted much less public attention yesterday than the fight of Usik and Fury for the title of absolute world heavyweight champion. This says a lot about the environment in which the Assembly has to operate.

At the same time, this month was also marked in Ukraine by the first public episode of ordinary workplace struggle during the war. On the morning of May 1, in Druzhkovka, due to a strike and rally, was stopped a plant supplying bread to the north of the government-controlled Donetsk region part. The reason is many months of salary arrears; about 200 people work there. However, for the reasons described above, such protests are unlikely to have a critical impact on military operations. The ones in castles don't worry about whether slaves are starving.

6. While foreign comrades continue to ignore our calls to campaign among Ukrainian refugees, the “free country” does not leave them. The agonizing regime is desperate to recapture the fugitive serfs, whether through refusing to grant consular services to men without military credentials or directly persuading European authorities not to work on integration of Ukrainians. This month, amid the silence of internationalists, migrants began to speak up for their rights themselves. As you can read, rather with a liberal democratic than with a class-based agenda:
May 4th: "Сoncerned Ukrainians gathered for a rally in downtown Dublin. The tipping point was the Ukrainian government's new law prohibiting men living abroad from receiving passport services at embassies worldwide. The rally aimed to highlight the critical human rights situation in Ukraine and to advocate for a pathway to legal residency and naturalization for Ukrainians in Ireland after their temporary protection expires in 2025. Currently, this option is unavailable, even for Ukrainian refugees who have worked in Ireland for three years. Join our movement - various events will be held on a regular basis." As protesters told us, a similar rally is being prepared in Berlin
"Today, on the international day of refusal military service, a spontaneous memorial of the Heroes of the Tisza raised near the embassy of totalitarian Ukraine in Dublin. Heroes Never Die!"

It is noteworthy that they sent a photo of the picket to a conservative Anti-Maidan blogger from Kiev, who also provided informational support for the protests in Zaporozhye. The forecast from the winter Assembly’s interview that, given the international anarchist movement’s passivity, the anti-war theme will be used by right-wing conspiracy theorists can be considered confirmed. And we suggest this is true not only in Ukraine.

7. This can only be changed by going to the Ukrainian embassies and consulates with demands to release those who do not want to fight. We have no illusions that the regime will take such a step – this ridiculous hybrid of the American Confederation with North Korea is rather ready to send the majority of the country’s population to mincemeat, just to gain at least a little more time to plunder what has not yet been stolen. Even if Ukraine opens its borders, European states may close entry. Therefore, if such actions get into the major media, they will first of all show anti-war people in Ukraine that our community really stands on their side. Without concrete practical steps, any slogans about “no war but the class war” will be perceived as an empty abstraction for everything good and against everything bad.

8. Although war supporters sadly acknowledge that internationalist positions are gaining strength in foreign anarchism, it still devotes disproportionately big attention to denouncing social chauvinists and disproportionately little to discussing what is actually happening on the ground. For our collective, even before the war, it was self-evident that anarchism is about “no borders, no nations” instead of “borders and nation are first”; proving such basic things in the third year of the war is even less interesting. Perhaps the organizations of Ukrainian former anarchists have significant influence in Western countries, however in Ukraine they are unlikely to be known by more than a few hundred people, and wasting such efforts on criticizing them looks from our point of view like free advertising. As Elon Musk says, let's not be too hard on the NPCs.

9. And yet, all of the problems listed do not negate the historical significance of the upcoming Week. The whole history of Europe 1918-1923 is a history of social revolutions failed or lost due to the unpreparedness of revolutionaries, resulting in even greater global carnage. This story must not be repeated. We hope this event will be only the beginning for great anti-war activity, with a permanent structure established by comrades from different countries. For our part, we are ready to provide as much assistance and support to this matter as we can now.

Our readers are well aware that we try not to quote classics to avoid any cult of personality, but this case seems to be really worth ending with the words of Bakunin from a letter to Nechaev:

“...This passion is only real and salutary when both sides, the positive and the negative, are closely connected in it. Hate, the negative side alone, does not create anything, does not even create the power necessary for destruction and thus destroys nothing. The positive side alone will not destroy anything since the creation of the new is impossible without the destruction of the old, and will not create anything, remaining always a doctrinaire dream or a dreaming doctrine.”

Let's remember this in our further work.