Dec. 15 — With strong, almost universal support from the corporate media, the United States government along with the European Union is carrying out a propaganda blitz while threatening sanctions against the government of Ukraine.
On Dec. 15, Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), with the full tacit support of Washington, traveled to Ukraine uninvited and spoke to demonstrators who are trying to overthrow the elected government. These demonstrators are protesting President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a trade deal with the European Union.
Such a deal would undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and allow the International Monetary Fund to impose onerous economic restrictions, while allowing the EU to flood the Ukrainian market with its exports. It would also open the door to NATO penetration of Ukraine, on Russia’s border, according to former Congressperson Dennis Kucinich. (Huffington Post, Dec. 15)
After the pro-EU demonstrators rammed a bulldozer into a government building, the protesters expanded their demands to call for Yanukovych’s downfall.
McCain told NBC News today that sanctions against Ukraine “would deserve serious consideration” by Congress if Ukraine signed a customs and trade union with Russia instead of entering into the trade deal with Europe. Speaking from Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, the militarist senator then appeared on nearly every Sunday morning talk show in the U.S.
This was not the first time that there has been a threat of U.S. sanctions against Ukraine. On Dec. 11, U.S. spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “All policy options, including sanctions, are on the table in our view.” (UPI)
Hundreds of thousands oppose EU domination
Among the masses, some of those organizations not part of the government have diametrically opposed positions. Nor is the pro-EU “opposition” in any way progressive or democratic, as the imperialist-based media make it out to be.
On one side was the Dec. 8 action in Kiev, led by the Svoboda (“Freedom” Party), in which a statue of Soviet leader V.I. Lenin was toppled. Svoboda set up its flag and also the flag of the World-War-II-era Nazi collaboration regime on the pedestal. The group’s leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, boasted this vandalism was the “political murder” of communists.
Following this attack, the Communist Party of Ukraine issued an urgent call for solidarity from the international workers’ movement, warning that an attempted fascist coup is underway in the former Soviet republic.
As many as 200,000 demonstrators opposing the pro-imperialists mounted a rally in Kiev on Dec. 14 right next to Europe Square, where the anti-Yanukovych and pro-EU demonstrators are besieging the government and protesting the president’s refusal to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. (Agence France-Presse, Dec. 14)
Speaking of the pro-EU forces, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told the pro-government rally: “The politicians who promote hatred and division of Ukraine don’t belong in today’s politics. Their place is at the garbage dump.” (AFP)
The so-called opposition contains some very unsavory characters and parties. McCain had met with some of them before making his threats. He wrote on Twitter that he had “good conversation and dinner” with the three main opposition leaders — Vitali Klitschko, head of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform; Oleg Tyagnybok of the Svoboda Party; and Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Fatherland Party. He also met with the powerful Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarch, Filaret, who has backed the protests.
The Svoboda party’s Tyagnybok deserves special attention. A pillar of his party’s ideology is the glorification of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought against Soviet forces in World War II when Nazi Germany occupied Ukraine and whose offshoots continued anti-Soviet armed actions right up into the 1950s. Svoboda regards the growing Communist Party of Ukraine as its mortal enemy.
Svoboda once organised a march against the Hassidic Jews who arrive in the thousands for a pilgrimage every year in the city of Uman, and opposed a singer of African origin representing Ukraine in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. (AFP)
Along with the pro-imperialist and fascist parties, some 40,000 Western-based nongovernmental organizations have been operating in Ukraine. (worldbank.org) These provide some of the services once provided by the socialist government, but they fully backed the pro-West “Orange Revolution” of 2004, which has since been pushed back.
By meeting with neofascists like Tyagnybok and threatening economic sanctions — which amount to an act of war — with the apparent full backing of the U.S. government and its lapdog media, McCain has made the imperialist intentions of the U.S. and the EU perfectly clear. Progressives and advocates of true democracy around the world should vigorously oppose these moves in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.