This statement of ideological principles was issued by the Political Commission of the Ghost Brigade in the Lugansk People’s Republic, following the death of its founding Commander Alexei Mozgovoi in May. It offers U.S. and other Western readers insight into the anti-fascist forces resisting the Ukrainian coup regime and U.S.-NATO expansion in the Donbass region. Workers World contributing editor Greg Butterfield translated it from Russian.
The first commander of the Ghost Brigade was Alexei Borisovich Mozgovoi. He was able to create a cohesive and responsible staff. Despite the tragic death of A.B. Mozgovoi, this team continues its work. The Ghost Brigade was formed by the people in arms — the militia. It became famous because, from the outset, this Brigade did not pursue material gain, believed in the need for establishing people’s power, and threw down an uncompromising challenge to the fascist dictatorship, incorporating the best representatives of the Donbass workers and volunteers from other countries. With their cowardly murder of the legendary Brigade Commander, the enemy unknowingly made him an immortal symbol of popular resistance. Despite this heavy loss, the Brigade has become more cohesive, our motivation to struggle for the liberation of the motherland grows even more.
In its year of existence, the Ghost Brigade has created and developed these principles:
1) Collectivism and solidarity. Priority given to collective interests over individual ones. Joint decision-making.
2) Fear not for your skin – fear for your honor. We give priority to our moral principles. Fear of personal safety and material well-being are not qualities that contribute to the creation of a just society.
3) Friendship of peoples. We have no national prejudices and preferences. We recognize and strengthen fraternal solidarity with all the peoples of the world. Consequently, our enemies are those who incite war, oppress workers and contribute to hostility between peoples. We also believe that the culture of every nation is important and special. We oppose the liberal version of multiculturalism. We are for the preservation and development of the traditions and characteristics of different peoples. The main thing is that these characteristics and traditions do not provoke new conflicts. Only the friendship of the peoples can stop ethnic strife and destroy the instigators and sponsors of these inhuman developments worldwide. We think of ourselves as the successors of the international brigades that defended the values of popular revolutions in Spain from 1936-1939 and Afghanistan from 1979-1989.
4) People who have become Brigade fighters are representatives of labor rather than capital, defend their homeland, and consciously advocate for the creation of a society that operates on principles of justice.
5) Democracy. This is why Donbass rebelled in Spring 2014. We are against the seizure of power by oligarchic clans. The oligarchic clans are guilty of unleashing the current war in the Donbass. The people must have maximum power. While fighting, we are at the same time building the foundations of a new society — within the Brigade and within the liberated territories. We also support close contact between military forces and civilians. The first social canteens in Novorossiya appeared thanks to the Ghost Brigade. Humanitarian aid to the population, organizing various public events – these are also part of the Brigade’s activities.
6) People’s Militia. We are not trying to build a regular army modeled on other states. (Regular state armies, no matter how they are officially described, carry out the orders of the government, not the people.) Our goal is to create a new type of armed forces, taking into account the unique characteristics of the Donbass. The militia — that is, the armed people — can always resist state and corporate dictatorship. Unarmed people are defenseless before governments and large corporations, which are protected by their own armed groups. History shows that most often they are treated like cattle. Therefore, the militia is necessary not only in war, but also in peacetime.
7) The principle of voluntary service. We do not conduct forced mobilizations. Therefore, those who come to us are those who feel responsible for their relatives and friends, cherish their homeland, and share our ideas. We don’t have people who come “to make money” or who are compelled to serve so as not to go to jail.
8) Victory in the Great Patriotic War is the foundation of the anti-fascist movement. There can be no revision of the outcome of the Great Patriotic War in favor of Nazi Germany and its allies. We condemn all those who are attempting such revisions — first of all, the Western, Ukrainian and Russian neoliberals and neo-Nazis.
9) Attention to the education of youth. Throughout the countries formed on the territory of the former Soviet Union, the youth were tossed aside. These states offer no ideological education, no social ideals. The relationship between these states and the youth is like that between a drunken stepfather and weak children. Those who were born and lived in independent Ukraine could see this from their own experience. We know that young people are the future. We understand the need for their cultural, physical and intellectual education. We take on this responsibility.
10) Discipline. In war, discipline is one of the fundamental factors of successful military operations. Without discipline, military victory is impossible.
11) Freedom of conscience. Each Brigade soldier is an integral part of the team, proudly and honorably bearing the battle flag of the people’s Brigade. Opinions, religious beliefs and political beliefs are a private affair of each member of the team. However, they must unite around the fundamental principles of the people’s ideology — anti-fascism, anti-oligarchism and democracy. Any hateful ideology (right-wing radicalism, neo-Nazism, neo-fascism, racism) is alien and hostile to any Brigade fighter.
12) Russian world. We associate ourselves with the residents of a large Russian world, which brings together different cultures, nationalities and linguistic characteristics, but has a common mentality hostile to fascism, Nazism and racism, and has its own domestic and psychological characteristics that have always helped us to defend our homeland and beat the enemy in the most difficult times. The Russian world is a worldview and attitude, the spirit of its carriers. Novorossiya is the front line of the Russian world.
13) Our principles are of general importance – there can’t be a separate liberation of Donbass without changes in Ukraine and Russia. We are engaged in a liberation struggle that has significance not only for the Russian world, but also for the whole world.