Interview with Borotba — ‘They hate us because we are communists’
Workers World is publishing parts of this interview by Andrej Hunko, who is a member of the German Bundestag (Parliament) from the Left Party (Die Linke), with Borotba leader Sergei Kirichuk. The entire interview is at tinyurl.com/mj36exz
July 9, 2014 — Sergei Kirichuk is a founding member and coordinator of the Ukrainian left-wing organization Borotba (Struggle). He left Ukraine because of the repression against his organization. Borotba is discussed controversially due to accusations by anarchist organizations from Ukraine. I confronted Sergei Kirichuk with the accusations.
What are the current conditions for political work for Borotba members in Ukraine?
Our organization now is under strong attack by the Kiev regime. One of our comrades, Andrej Brajevsky, was killed during the massacre in Odessa on May 2, many of our leaders are on a wanted list of the government’s prosecution office. Some leading comrades are still in Ukraine but they are working now under very dangerous conditions. Neo-Nazi gangs tried to kidnap Denis Levin and Svetlana Licht in Kharkov .
All of our offices were destroyed and partly occupied by fascists. The so-called National Guard that was created from right-wing paramilitary forces from the Maidan and that is now the legal disguise for them, attacked our last office in Kharkov. 
A few days ago, our fellow activist Maria Matushenko was kidnapped from her apartment in Dnipropetrovsk. She was kidnapped by the secret police, who took all electronic devices of her family (two laptops, four cell phones, one tablet PC). Later she was released and fled the country. Other comrades have been arrested and tortured by the police in Kharkov. Police officers tried to get information about the whereabouts of our leading comrades. Many comrades have left their apartments in order not to get arrested.
At the moment we have no political democracy in our country. Instead, we are confronted with a civil war in Ukraine.
Since the Maidan protests and the ousting of President Yanukovitch, the conflict in Ukraine has escalated into an armed conflict in the eastern parts of the country. What are Borotba’s proposals for a resolution of the conflict?
We are supporters of a peaceful solution, and we sharply criticize the military hysteria inside Ukrainian society. We are part of the Minsk Declaration  peace process, a declaration created and signed by Ukrainian, Belorussian and Russian left activists in order to build up pressure towards all governments involved in the conflict to stop the war.
The declaration of the left forces is calling for solidarity with the left forces in our countries:
“We express our solidarity to all participants of the Ukrainian left-wing movements who are fighting against war, nationalism and xenophobia. We consider it necessary to provide them with all possible information, political and material support. We oppose the pressure, pogroms and reprisals by all participants of the conflict. We oppose the massacres, torture and abductions of Ukrainian leftists, anti-fascists and all Ukrainian citizens, regardless of their political views. We oppose political persecutions in the Crimea region as well.”
Of course this position is under attack by the mainstream media who are accusing us of supporting “terrorists” and “separatists.” But we strongly insist that a military solution is impossible in this conflict.
We are proposing a plan for the re-establishing of the Ukrainian state. That means that we are supporting the idea of a federal state with wide autonomies for the people of the southeast, furthermore the recognition of social, economic and cultural rights of the regions, recognition of language equality, and a neutral status of Ukraine in international relations. One important condition is to stop the glorification of Nazi collaborators.
In the German media, the forces of the so-called “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk are portrayed as “pro-Russian separatists.” How would you analyze the political actors and what is your relation to them?
We should keep in mind that the protests in the southeast developed in a way very similar to what happened at the Maidan. People organized large protests and demonstrations in the main cities. They were demanding rights and respect. When the government ignored their protest, they occupied administrative buildings. The answer of the “democratic” Maidan government was riot police and special forces. Hundreds of activists were arrested and imprisoned at a time when the Maidan protesters were still occupying administrative buildings in Kiev. We are being confronted here with a government that is showing ugly double standards.
It is true that many people in the east feel pro-Russian. But this fact cannot be considered a crime! There are many different reasons for people to feel pro-Russian in this part of Ukraine. Some people feel very strongly about the common language and history, some people feel strongly about a common culture and religion, but a lot of people are also worried about their jobs.
The southeast regions are still producing many high-technology products like aviation engines, space rockets, orbit satellites, airplanes, machinery, equipment, etc. These products are not allowed to be exported into the European Union. They can be exported only to Russian and Asian markets. A lot of young highly qualified workers and engineers also want to work in the technologically advanced industry sector and create something important.
The real separatists are sitting in the Kiev government. They split the country with their decision to sign the free-trade zone agreement (not supported by half of the country), with the abolition of the language law (that had been giving some rights for Russian language speakers), and with the glorification of Nazi collaborators in the country, where one in five inhabitants was killed during the Nazi occupation.
For example, in Kharkov the protest movement started as a campaign to protect the local Lenin monument. Thousands of people, men and women, young and old, workers, jobless, students and engineers were on duty near the monument day and night. Sometimes, fascists attacked them with sticks and rubber bullets. For Borotba it was our duty to be with them and among them.
The protection of Lenin monuments was an important beginning of resistance. Then we had so-called city meetings. Thousands of people were coming to the central Freedom Square and all of the political groups tried to promote their political line.
We openly spoke from the stage about socialism, internationalism and the anti-capitalist struggle. At that time, Russian nationalists were a small minority within a huge popular movement. They have become much more important now after the government and neo-Nazi gangs attacked and defeated left forces.
We have totally different political views from the nationalists. Sometimes we had skirmishes with them. Russki Vostok (Russian East) made a statement later and blamed us for the defeat of the popular movement in Kharkov. Some pro-Russian forces said that it was a mistake to speak about an anti-oligarch struggle. But our position was always very clear: There is no anti-fascist struggle without fighting for socialism. …
Regarding the accusation against us: We are not a “pro-Russian” organization. We are fighting for the rights of the working class, youth and women. Neither Russian nor Ukrainian nationalism is acceptable for us. Our ideology is proletarian internationalism. So we hate the oligarchs of Russia and Ukraine. Our partner in Russia is the Left Front. Many of their activists are in prisons now and we are showing our solidarity with them.
At the same time, we support democratic rights for Russian citizens of Ukraine. They have the right to use their language and to protect their cultural values. We support the idea of language equality and resist the idea of a Ukrainian ethnic state. We support the idea of a democratic federation for Russians and Ukrainians with wide autonomy for regions. We also support the idea to guarantee the rights for Romanian, Moldovan, Greek, Bulgarian, Roma and other minorities. …
Speaking of anti-Semitism, Borotba has also been accused of tolerating the anti-Semite Aleksej Bljuminow, who is an editor of Wechernij Lugansk. What is Borotba’s relation to him?
Aleksej Bljuminow created problems also in other political parties. He was in our organization for a short time. Then he supported the Maidan protests and left our movement. Now he supports the “separatists.” During his stay with us and later on, I never heard any kind of anti-Semitic statements by him. We have zero tolerance to anti-Semitism and xenophobia in our organization, and we organized a lot of political protests against anti-Semitism.
We have a few comrades that have had a nationalist subculture past, but now they are dedicated to ideas of communism and internationalism. We will always follow proletarian political lines. Anti-Semitism, xenophobia and sexism are not acceptable for us.
We face accusations from the government, the media and liberal-nationalists. They hate us because we are communists, because we are defending Marx and Lenin — and socialism! We stand together with the working class and the youth against racism and fascism. Even in terror conditions we organized actions to support workers’ unions. 
What is Borotba’s analysis of the Maidan movement?
We said that this movement was very reactionary from the very beginning. We were totally against the free-trade zone with the EU because it leads directly towards a Greek scenario. The Maidan protests created a cult of individual success. They had no left-wing ideas there.
Of course not all of the movement was fascist, but it was very anti-communist. They destroyed Lenin monuments all over the country. One of the main problems was that the Maidan protesters claimed that the so-called “Soviet mentality” did not give us any possibility to become free and rich. On the Maidan, they even have a symbolic border: When you enter the Maidan you can see an announcement that you are leaving the Soviet Union and entering the European Union.
But they had a very specific understanding of European values. The fascists on the Maidan were a minority in the beginning, but they were tolerated by the majority of the protesters. Then, they became an active minority and injected their political agenda into the whole movement. This movement was sponsored by the richest people of Ukraine and the victory on the Maidan was very beneficial to them.
They called it a revolution of dignity, but now the supporters of the Euromaidan in Kharkov have created a website to collect the personal data of anti-government activists, including their home addresses and their places of work.
The results of the victory of this movement are the private armies of the oligarchs, an oligarch president, oligarchs and fascists in government, oligarch-governors, economic collapse and civil war in Ukraine.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKcLuZiiCIM and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Klw_Ar9Aq5I