By Victor Shapinov, Union Borotba (Struggle)
Ukrainian fascism, whose existence is hard for even the most ardent supporters of the Kiev regime to deny today, did not emerge in 2014. Ukrainian fascism did not arise suddenly. Its development, first slowly and then rapidly, can be traced to the turn of the 1980s-90s and reached its culmination during the so-called “revolution of dignity” last winter.
This gradual fascization of Ukrainian society, the peak of which naturally came at a time of economic crisis, has long been the subject of analysis by the Ukrainian left. In 2012, two years before the Maidan, our organization, Borotba, published a report entitled “Ukrainian oligarchy prepares a creeping fascist coup.” The report predicted the events of last winter with remarkable accuracy.
Here are some quotes from the document:
“Under cover of security agencies, and with funding from oligarchic groups, nationalist militias will be formed which will constitute the power for a future fascist coup. These units will carry out attacks on leftist and anti-nationalist forces and their headquarters, and carry out terror against individual politicians and social activists.
“As the power of ethnocratic Ukrainian nationalists will inevitably lead to the growth of separatist movements in the southeast of the country, as well as in the Carpathians, the establishment of a dictatorship of the fascist type will be supported by international players who are interested in the disintegration of Ukraine and the destruction of the Ukrainian state.
“Leftist political organizations and social organizations opposed to nationalism, chauvinism and xenophobia will be banned. Criminal cases will be opened against their leaders. In parallel with persecution under the law, attacks will be carried out by the radical nationalists against left and progressive movements, ethnic and linguistic minorities.”
Dear listeners, you may think that this was written after the 2014 coup. But no, it was written two years earlier, when the government of President Yanukovych seemed unshakable, and our forecast was met with sneers from mainstream political figures. However, not only in 2012 but even earlier, a Marxist analysis allowed us to predict the dire threats associated with the rise of the extreme right and the possibility of big business betting on them in time of crisis.
1. State anti-communism and nationalism. The Ukrainian bourgeois state arose on the ruins of the Soviet Union. Its architect was that section of the Ukrainian Soviet bureaucracy which sought to participate in the privatization of public property. This part of the bureaucracy sought to dispose of public property on the territory of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic without the control of the central apparatus of the USSR. Therefore, the union of former Soviet bureaucrats with nationalist forces became the basis for the formation of the new ruling class of “independent” Ukraine.
It should be noted that nationalism was the main public educational policy beginning in 1991, and periodic changes of presidents and governments, some of which were considered “pro-Russian,” made little difference. The whole history of the Ukrainian people was taught in schools as the fight for an independent state, and the state which was created in 1991 was described as the implementation of an age-old dream of Ukrainians. In parallel, the same educational system was riddled with anti-communism and tried to portray the Soviet Union as an “empire” oppressing Ukrainians and seeking to destroy the Ukrainian nation.
Several generations of young Ukrainians have grown up in this context of anti-communist and nationalist propaganda, and many of them formed the human basis for the fascist organizations.
2. Failure of the “communist revenge” in 1999. The presidential candidate of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Petro Symonenko, could have won the 1999 elections against right-wing incumbent President Leonid Kuchma. However, the Communist Party failed to unite with other leftists to support a single candidate, and then did not dare to oppose the unfair and rigged election results. This indecision at the top of the Communist Party led to disillusionment in the left’s ability to take power and return the country to the socialist path of development. After 1999, the Communist Party lost support from election to election. After President Yanukovych came to power in 2010, the Communist Party became part of the ruling coalition, abandoning the role of critic of the authorities’ socio-economic policies to the ultra-right forces.
4. The union of pro-Western neoliberals and Nazis against President Yanukovych became the nucleus of Euromaidan. Our organization wrote in winter 2014: “The undoubted success of the nationalists is that they, due to their high level of activity, have managed to impose their ideological leadership on the Euromaidan. This is evidenced by the slogans which have become a kind of ‘password’ for activists at mass gatherings on Maidan Square. The first is ‘Glory to Ukraine — Glory to heroes!’, which, together with the raising of the right hand with straightened palm, was the salute of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in April 1941. Others include ‘Glory to the nation — death to the enemy!’, ‘Ukraine above all’ (tracing back to the infamous German ‘Deutchland uber alles’), and ‘Whoever does not jump – is a Muscovite.’ The other opposition parties do not have a clear-cut ideological line or set of slogans, leading the liberal opposition to adopt the nationalist slogans and nationalist agenda. ” Thus, the alliance of neoliberals and Nazis took place. While the neoliberals adopted the political program of the Ukrainian fascists, the Nazis agreed with carrying out the neoliberal line in the economy. This alliance was “sanctified” by representatives of Western imperialism, such as Catherine Ashton, Victoria Nuland and John McCain.
5. Support of Ukrainian big capital for Euromaidan, including its Nazi side. The largest owners and oligarchs were customers, sponsors and the main “beneficiaries” of Euromaidan. The fact that oligarch-capitalists, such as Igor Kolomoisky, Petro Poroshenko, Dmitry Firtash, Sergei Taruta and, to a lesser extent, Rinat Akhmetov, allocated funding to Euromaidan, swept this movement into the media they control. When the Euromaidan triumphed, those who previously governed the country indirectly, through the administration of Yanukovych, received direct control, including as governors of key areas, and oligarch Petro Poroshenko became president.
Thus, the coming to power of openly fascist forces, as well as the transition of mainstream right-wingers (such as Poroshenko and Yatseniuk) to fascist positions, was predictable and to some extent natural in the developing global economic crisis.
While the fascist forces were prepared for the development of the Ukrainian crisis, our resistance forces were not. After the seizure of power by the right-wing coup in February 2014, a semi-haphazard protest movement began to emerge, mainly in the southeast of the country. At first, its slogans were very modest, demanding only a certain degree of autonomy from the central government in Kiev, which took on a more and more clearly fascist character. As soon as the regime consolidated its power, Kiev increased the pressure on the southeast with the help of paramilitary attacks by neo-Nazi groups, which radicalized the resistance. In the end, this resulted in a successful revolt in Donetsk and Lugansk and defeated uprisings in Odessa and Kharkov.
Due to the fragmentation of resistance forces, there was no coherent ideology or common goal in the uprisings. However, the general anti-fascist and anti-oligarchic orientation was healthy and clearly reflects the proletarian and semi-proletarian class composition of the resistance.
Today, the fascist regime in Kiev is greatly strengthened throughout the country, except for the territories controlled by the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Terror and intimidation have extinguished active street resistance to the regime. Today there are probably several thousand political prisoners in Ukraine. There is de facto media censorship. “Communist propaganda” is officially banned. Ultra-right militant groups are legalized and integrated into the ranks of law enforcement agencies.
Under these conditions, the resistance groups, including our organization, are forced to work underground, as our comrades face not only charges of “propagating communism” (5 years or more in prison), but also “terrorism” (8 to 15 years in prison).
However, the resistance is alive. And not only in the People’s Republics.
We believe that Ukraine will be free, will be socialist.
Translated by Greg Butterfield