Just days before the Pentagon was set to begin training troops from Ukraine’s National Guard, including the notorious Azov Battalion, Kiev’s parliament voted 254-0 on April 10 to ban “communist propaganda,” communist symbols and anything deemed as “glorification” of Soviet history.
The same day, the parliament, known at the Verkhovna Rada, officially approved the ultra-right Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and its successor, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). The Rada declared the two groups “freedom fighters” entitled to receive benefits under the new law.
The UPA/OUN and its leader, notorious Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, worked hand in hand with Hitler Germany during its World War II occupation of Soviet Ukraine. Later, during the Cold War, the UPA/OUN worked with the CIA to carry out terrorist actions against the USSR.
Some 270 of the Rada’s 450 deputies voted in favor of the bill. No one dared vote against it.
The night following the vote, right-wingers rampaged through the eastern city of Kharkov, tearing down three Soviet-era monuments. (Agence France Presse, April 11)
According to an April 9 report in the independent Kiev newspaper, Vesti, the Security Service of Ukraine “blocked more than 10,000 websites” and “seized the servers” of web hosts. (Global Research, April 10)
But there is resistance, too. April 10 is the anniversary of Odessa’s liberation from Nazi occupation. There people protested a visit by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Confronting neo-Nazi regime supporters, they chanted “Murderers!” and “Fascism will not pass!” (Timer-Odessa.net)
In a statement released on its Facebook page, the revolutionary Marxist organization Union Bortoba (Struggle) said: “Today’s decision by the Rada to ban communist ideology is the same logical and inevitable result of the victory of Euromaidan as are the civil war, Draconian utility rate increases and elimination of social benefits, along with the remnants of free education and health care.”
Despite the ban, Borotba vows to “promote communist ideology in Ukraine with a vengeance.” Many of Borotba’s activists have been forced into exile, imprisoned and/or violently attacked.
Erasing anti-fascist history
The new laws were adopted in anticipation of the upcoming 70th anniversary of Soviet Victory Day over Nazi Germany on May 9. Ukrainian veterans of the conflict who display their Red Army uniforms and medals, or anti-fascists who carry replicas of the flag planted by Soviet troops atop the Reichstag (parliament) in Berlin when they liberated the city from Nazi rule in 1945, could face a prison sentence of 5 to 10 years.
Those who collaborated with Hitler’s genocidal regime and their successors will be celebrated as heroes.
This alliance of capitalist oligarchs, neoliberal politicians and neo-Nazis came to power in an illegal coup, funded and supported by Washington, in February 2014.
One year ago, on April 13, 2014, Kiev’s new rulers launched a war of terror against the primarily Russian-speaking population of southeastern Ukraine, known as the Donbass, as well as against anti-fascists throughout the country.
Ukrainian rightist forces violated the latest ceasefire agreement, negotiated by Russia, Germany and France in February, at least 200 times by the first week of April. Russia’s foreign ministry denounced the Rada’s communist ban.
Alexander Smekalin, a deputy of the Donetsk People’s Republic Supreme Soviet and co-founder of the Union of Left Forces of Donbass, announced on social media April 13: “In light of recent events in the territories occupied by the Kiev junta, liberated Donbass will welcome refugees and displaced persons from the former Ukraine. We will provide political asylum for internationalists and anti-fascists.”
‘Ban on Marxism, leftist ideology’
A court case brought by the junta to ban the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) has not yet been decided. However, the new ban on communist “propaganda” and symbols sets the stage for such a ruling.
Days before the Rada vote, on April 1, the Security Service of Ukraine — the country’s equivalent to the FBI — initiated a criminal case against KPU leader Peter Simonenko, charging him with responsibility for “terrorist activities” by party members, illegally obtaining Russian citizenship and collaboration with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. (KPU statement, SolidNet.org, April 1)
Several other well-known Marxist leaders have recently been put on trial, including A.A. Majewski, editor of “Workers’ and Peasants’ Truth” and secretary of the All Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks), and former Rada Deputy Alexander Bondarchuk, editor of “Working Class” and chair of the All-Ukrainian Union of Workers.
Andriy Manchuk, editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian Marxist website Liva (“The Left”), explained: “For those who do not understand, the bill is going to ban Marxism, among other things associated with the communists, and leftist ideology in general.”
Manchuk was among those forced to seek refuge last year in Crimea, where residents voted in a popular referendum to rejoin Russia following the coup in Kiev.
Fascists central to U.S. plans for Ukraine
The anti-communist law adopted by the Rada cynically equates the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany and claims to ban the symbols and ideology of both. But this is merely a lie for international consumption — a flimsy attempt to make the latest wave of repression more palatable to Washington’s European junior partners.
In fact, with Washington’s support, fascist elements are becoming more deeply integrated into the Kiev government and Ukrainian military, and Nazi symbolism is ever-present.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army 172nd “Sky Soldiers” Airborne Brigade are scheduled to begin training members of Azov and other National Guard units on April 20. (Associated Press, March 31)
In late March, a standoff between President Petro Poroshenko’s government and a rival oligarch, the ultra-rightist Igor Kolomoisky, ended when Washington reportedly came down in favor of the current regime. However, this is no move to the “left,” as the junta is integrating fascist elements into central roles in the state at an ever-quickening pace.
Why? Working-class draftees have deserted or fled Ukraine in droves since the war against the Donbass republics began. Meanwhile, the neo-Nazis have proven to be the only motivated force in this war. Like the ultra-right Latin Americans trained at the “School of the Americas” at Ft. Benning, Ga., these elements are the backbone of U.S. plans to dominate the Donbass region and bring NATO bases to Russia’s western border.
Case in point: Dmitry Yarosh, head of the fascist Right Sector and a Kolomoisky client, was appointed as a top advisor to Col. Gen. Viktor Muzhenko, chief of general staff of the Ukrainian military. Yarosh “will act as a link between the volunteer battalions and the General Staff,” military spokesperson Oleksiy Mazepa said. (AFP, April 7)
The Right Sector’s 10,000-strong Ukrainian Volunteer Corps will be integrated into the chain of command and receive funding from the Ministry of Defense.