Gerry Downing, 9.5.2014: Borotba – Justified heroes

On March 3, a ‘Statement of left and anarchist organisations about the Borotba organisation’ in Ukraine was circulated among the left in Britain and internationally by many leftists, including some leaders of the Labour Representation Committee and others, condemning Borotba in the following terms:

“We, the collectives and members of Ukrainian leftist and anarchist organisations, announce that the ‘Borotba’ union is not a part of our movement. During the whole time of this political project’s existence, its members tended to be committed to the most discredited, conservative and authoritarian ‘leftist’ regimes and ideologies, which do not represent the interests of working classes in any way.

“Borotba has proved itself an organisation with a non-transparent funding mechanism and unscrupulous principles of cooperation. It uses hired workers, who are not even the members of the organisation. The local cells of Borotba took part in the protest actions together with PSPU (Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, which is an anti-Semitic, racist and clerical party, and has no relation to the world socialist movement) and with the Kharkiv pro-government, anti-Semitic and homophobic group, Oplot; and are known for their linkage with an infamous journalist, O Chalenko, who openly stands for Russian chauvinism.”

The signatories included the Autonomous Workers Union, independent student union Direct Action, the editorial board of Tovaryshka, Anarchist Black Cross – Ukraine, anarcho-feminist collective Good Night Macho Pride, Anti-Fascist Action Ukraine and the Left Opposition. They proudly announced that they “stand on anti-fascist positions” and that they did not “support some of the Maidan’s ideas” but:

“The representatives of Borotba take an extremely biased stance concerning the composition of the protest movement, which is represented both on their own web resources and in the media commentaries. According to them, the Maidan protests are supported exclusively by nationalists and the radical right, and were aimed only at a coup d’etat (‘fascist putsch’).‎”

Never has a statement been proved so wrong so quickly; the signatories of this document have been condemned by history: they are the pro-imperialist reactionaries and the ‎Borotba are the justified heroes of the revolution. On May 3, Borotba revealed the full extent of the progress of “some of the Maidan’s ideas” that these pusillanimous idiots apparently demurred little from:

“On May 2, under the pretext of the so-called march, ‘For unity of Ukraine’ (that was dated to coincide with the Chernomorets v Metallist football match), the paramilitary squads of Ukrainian nationalists were brought together to Odessa from all over the country. They arrived by buses and by trains. From the very beginning – when they just started to gather on Sobornaya Square – among ordinary ultra-right fans too many well-equipped paramilitaries could be seen. They had shields, helmets, bats, traumatic and service weapons. Mostly, men about 30-40 years old who were evidently not football fans. Some of them had shields where it was written: ‘14th hundred of Maidan self-guard’. And these nationalist paramilitaries became the main striking force of the bloody massacre of Odessa residents on Kulikovo Pole square.

“The Neo-Nazis began to pelt the tent camp with Molotovs and set it ablaze. Activists from the protest camp were forced to retreat to the nearby House of Trade Unions building. When trying to kill Odessa residents, the ultra-rights set ablaze the ground floor of the House of Trade Unions. And the fire spread rather quickly over the building.

“People began to jump out of the windows of the upper floors, trying to escape the fire. But on the ground they were finished off by nationalist paramilitaries. Thus, our comrade Andrew Brazhevsky, a member of Borotba union, was killed. Regional council deputy Vyacheslav Markin (a fellow of the leader of Borotba in Odessa, Alexey Albu) was also brutally killed the same way when he jumped out of the window. Over 40 activists were burnt alive, poisoned by smoke or murdered by the Nazis while trying to escape from a burning building. Fortunately, most of our comrades managed to escape alive. Some – including Alexei Albu, who is a city council deputy – were severely beaten with bats and kicked. They have numerous bruises, broken bones and head injuries.

“The massacre in Odessa was organised by the Kiev junta to intimidate the population that is discontented with the new regime and to eliminate the active fighters against the new regime. The evidence for this is the fact that far-right militants were brought together and well equipped. Moreover, the police inaction, as well as the fact that the attack of the ultra-rightists in Odessa was synchronised with the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ in Slavyansk, are also the evidence of it. The massacre in Odessa reveals that the Kiev regime of nationalists and oligarchs is rapidly growing into the outright terrorist dictatorship of the fascist style.”

The left in Britain and internationally is split by these events. Leaders of Socialist Resistance Duncan Chapel and Liam Mac Uaid (‘Russians are the aggressors!’) and their bogus ‘Fourth International’ have blood on their hands for their defence of this illegal coup regime (only “some of the Maidan’s ideas”, of course), as have all those who defended the Maidan as some kind of ‘contradictory’ movement and tried to tell us the working class of the eastern Ukraine was just as bad. When you cannot take a clear and unequivocal stance against fascists who are, in Trotsky’s famous words, “the stormtroopers of finance capital”, you have crossed red class lines.

Now the task of the genuine revolutionary left is to organise an international solidarity campaign with the revolution in the eastern Ukraine and defend it against these fascistic assaults by the regime installed by the CIA. It will need to gather food, medicine, money and every other kind of assistance. And it will need to demand support from Labour and trade union leaders, beginning with the leftist candidates for RMT general secretary – Steve Hedley, Alex Gordon, John Leach, etc. And Ken Loach will surely put his shoulder to the wheel in this, the most testing issue for the global working class since the Spanish Revolution.

Gerry Downing
Socialist Fight