In Ukraine and Donbass, class contradictions come to the fore

October 8 is the Day of the Heroic Guerrilla, honoring the sacrifice of Latin American communist revolutionary Che Guevara. It is also the date of the founding congress of the Communist Party of the Donetsk People’s Republic, held in the capital city of Donetsk.

About 100 people attended the founding meeting, including parliamentarians, anti-fascist activists, trade unionists and members of the people’s militias, representing an initial 1,000 members.

The Communist Party becomes the first registered political party established in the newly independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics of the Donbass mining region, formerly part of southeastern Ukraine.

The Communist Party of the DNR is headed by Boris Litvinov, who also chairs the Donetsk Supreme Soviet, the young republic’s parliamentary body. At a news conference announcing the party’s founding, Litvinov said it will participate in elections to the Supreme Soviet, currently scheduled to take place on either Nov. 2 or Nov. 9. (

Litvinov noted that this is the first step in establishing a United Communist Party of the People’s Republics — a project supported by a wide array of pro-communist forces, not only in Donbass but in other areas of southeast Ukraine that hope to join the people’s republics.

Groups participating in this movement include former members of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Union Borotba (Struggle) and the Workers’ Front of Lugansk. In addition are many unaffiliated activists and members of the volunteer people’s militia, including some who belong to Russian communist organizations.

“The communists stood at the cradle of the revolution in southeast Ukraine — the uprising against the fascist coup [in Kiev],” said Litvinov in an interview published by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

“Although we have formed two People’s Republics, and the process from our point of view is irreversible, the state originated in a political vacuum. Although the whole revolution was based on the ground of leftist ideas, it lacked a powerful political party which could become the ideological core and driving force behind this movement.

“In our view, the Communist Party must become one of the leading political forces in the construction of the DNR … . Therefore, on the eve of the elections, it was decided to create the Communist Party. … Everyone is expecting a left turn, the movement of our country in the direction of socialism.”

In Ukraine, anti-communist witch hunt

The contrast with events in the Ukrainian capital couldn’t be starker. In Kiev, an anti-communist coalition of oligarchs, neoliberal politicians and fascists illegally seized power last February with Washington’s support.

The rump parliament there recently supported a proposal by the openly neo-Nazi Svoboda Party to vote Oct. 14 on a measure formally banning “communist ideology” in the former Soviet republic.

The vote will take place amidst campaigning for early parliamentary elections called by the junta for Oct. 26. All the pro-coup political forces are jockeying for position to be the most anti-communist and pro-war against the Donbass republics and Russia.

Communist Party of Ukraine members who had been elected to their seats were banished from parliament under a law signed by oligarch President Peter Poroshenko in July. A case brought by the Interior Ministry to ban the Communist Party on charges of “separatism” and “terrorism” is currently being heard before a Kiev court.

October 14 has special significance for the far right. It is the anniversary of the founding in 1942 of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera’s Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which carried out ethnic cleansing and anti-communist massacres during the World War II German occupation of Ukraine. The red-and-black flag of today’s violent fascist gang Right Sector is based on the UPA banner.

That day is expected to see violent actions by neo-Nazi gangs across Ukraine, especially in the embattled cities of the southeast, where fascist National Guard battalions retreated after their humiliating defeat by the Donbass people’s militias in August.

“Tomorrow there will be a pogrom in Kharkov,” Ukraine’s second-largest city, declared the independent newspaper Verb on Oct. 13. “The initiators of the so-called ‘March of Heroes’ … were the Azov Battalion and the Social-National Assembly. …

“Local monuments to Lenin have already been demolished as hindering the current regime’s efforts to inculcate ‘new European values.’ It is possible that targets of the ultra-right on Oct. 14 will be the mayor’s office, the regional committee of the Communist Party, and the Orthodox churches.

“Activists of the Resistance, who went underground, urged supporters not to conduct activity on the streets of Kharkov Oct. 14 and not put themselves in danger. …

“Neither the local authorities nor the police are trying to relieve the tension or defuse the disturbing atmosphere in the city,” Verb reports. “The demolition of the monument to Lenin in the central square was followed by similar acts of vandalism in other areas of the city and the region. Police officials encouragingly wink at the ongoing destruction of monuments.”

Assassination attempt on governor

Pavel Gubarev, a leader of the anti-fascist resistance in Donetsk popularly known as the “people’s governor,” was seriously injured in an assassination attempt on the night of Oct. 12. Gubarev’s vehicle was attacked and run off the road. He suffered a brain trauma in the ensuing crash and was shot in the hand. His driver escaped with a mild concussion.

As of the evening of Oct. 13, he was hospitalized in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, unconscious and breathing with the aid of a ventilator. (

Gubarev had been scheduled to formally announce his candidacy for the post of prime minister of the DNR. He is challenging current Prime Minister Alexander Zaharchenko, whose reputation has been tarnished by his signing of the lop-sided Minsk Accords with Ukraine, brokered by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Russian Federation.

On Oct. 10, Zaharchenko announced that the DNR had signed an agreement with Kiev on territorial demarcation that would leave some cities, including Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Mariupol, under Ukrainian military occupation. (Verb, Oct. 10)

The demarcation agreement was criticized by the Supreme Council of the Donetsk Supreme Soviet, said Litvinov. The council passed a resolution noting that “negotiations with the authorities of other states and international organizations [must be] guided solely by the Declaration of Sovereignty of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.” The declaration includes the following: “The territory of the republic cannot be changed without the consent of its citizens.” (

Gubarev is closely allied with Igor Strelkov, the former DNR defense minister who was removed from his post in August along with other leading “hardliners” in Donetsk and Lugansk in exchange for Russian humanitarian aid. He is probably the only political figure who could seriously challenge Zaharchenko at this time.

Strelkov, Ghost Brigade commander Alexey Mozgovoy and other militia leaders, voicing the opinions of many ordinary militia fighters and Donbass residents, have openly criticized the Minsk Accords, which they say have given the Ukrainian military “breathing room” to regroup and rearm after the people’s militia reportedly had them on the run in late August.

They note that Ukrainian forces have violated the ceasefire continually since it was inked in early September, with an average of eight civilians being killed each day in the Donetsk capital region. The militias expect that open hostilities could resume at any time — before or after the Ukrainian elections.

They also say the snap elections called by Donetsk and Lugansk officials do not offer sufficient time for other political forces to organize and register their candidates. Some have called for a three-month delay in the elections for prime ministerial posts and the Supreme Soviet.

In this tense situation, when contending class forces in the Donbass republics are measuring each other under wartime conditions, anti-fascists have cautioned against provocations by U.S. imperialism and the Ukrainian junta. They note, for example, the hush-hush visit of U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland, one of the architects of the coup, to Kiev on Oct. 6. (RIA Novosti, Oct. 7)

Katerina Gubarev stated after the assassination attempt on her spouse: “Now the media and the Internet spread mass speculation and outright lies. Enemies of the DNR and Novorossia try to use any excuse to sow discord between the commanders and political leaders of the country.

“On the eve of the first democratic elections in the country, it is first of all the work of former Donetsk oligarchs and the Ukrainian government. They could not beat us by force, and now attempt to split us. Anyone who spreads panic in the networks, and supports the unfounded accusations by taking sides, gives grist to the mill of Kiev fascists.” (