On Sept. 20, the 15th day following a cease-fire agreement brokered by Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Ukrainian troops loyal to the far-right junta in Kiev bombed a chemical plant in Donetsk, sending a mushroom-shaped cloud over the capital city of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
In the neighboring Lugansk People’s Republic, hundreds gathered the same day in Stakhanov for the funeral of three local fighters of the People’s Militia who died in a Ukrainian military attack on Sept. 18. A young militiaman mourned for his dead mother, a militia fighter beheaded in the attack.
While the Kiev regime carried out numerous cease-fire violations and continued its war crimes and military buildup against the newly independent Donbass region, the U.S. Congress lauded the oligarch president, Petro Poroshenko, at a joint session in Washington on Sept. 18.
Here in Simferopol, capital of the Crimea region of the Russian Federation, these crises loom over Ukrainian revolutionaries and anti-fascist activists.
Crimea separated from Ukraine through a popular referendum following the U.S.-backed coup that seized Ukraine’s government last Feb. 22. Members of the Marxist Union Borotba (Struggle) have gathered here in Crimea, along with others forced into exile under threat of arrest or death by the Kiev junta and its neo-Nazi footsoldiers.
But their immediate, urgent task is fighting for the lives and freedom of two of their own: Vladislav Wojciechowski and Nikolay Popov.
The two Odessa activists are being held in administrative detention for 60 days following their arrest on the night of Sept. 12-13. They are charged with plotting to create “a terrorist Ukrainian Red Army.”
Wojciechowski is a Borotba member and a survivor of the May 2 neo-Nazi massacre at the Odessa House of Trade Unions. Popov is affiliated with the Communist Party of Ukraine.
Family members report that Wojciechowski was brutally beaten during the raid on his apartment, carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine and neo-Nazis. Explosives were planted during the search. Forced confessions were taken from both men under torture.
“I associate Vladislav’s arrest with his political activity, solid citizenship and anti-fascist struggle,” says Alexei Albu, Odessa Regional Council deputy and Borotba leader. “We see how the government is trying to intimidate anyone who holds a different point of view on the events taking place in Ukraine.
“This is a great signal to me, as a deputy, of what can happen in case I return to Odessa. But I can say with confidence that such intimidation will not work on me. We still will go back to a liberated city.”
Borotba is appealing to international human rights groups and attorneys to investigate and represent the two activists.
“We encourage everyone to paste leaflets, write graffiti and post about it on the Internet,” says Victor Shapinov. “We are looking for maximum impact. The fate of our friends depends on our actions today.”
In the U.S., the International Action Center has joined the call for Wojciechowski and Popov’s immediate release. Readers are urged to contact the nearest Ukrainian embassy or consulate and the White House in Washington, D.C. Let them know you hold Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. President Barack Obama responsible for the youths’ safety.
In the U.S., contact Igor Sybiga, Chief of the Consulate General of Ukraine in New York, 240 E. 49th St., New York, NY 10017; phone: 212-371-6965; fax: 212-371-5547; email: [email protected]; website: ny.mfa.gov.ua.
White House switchboard: 202-456-1414; comment line: 202-456-1111; submit messages of protest to President Obama at Whitehouse online.