Ukraine’s “Left Opposition” Calls for Solidarity Against Intervention and Oligarchs

Ukraine socialist union












3 March 2014

The socialist union “Left Opposition” offers its assessment of the Russian aggression in Crimea and the destructive role of Ukrainian nationalists. The intervention of Russian armies was made possible as a result of a split in Ukrainian society. Its unity is impossible with the oligarchs and chauvinists in power. Only solidarity will save Ukraine.

1) We are for the self determination of Crimea only after the withdrawal of the Russian armies that are carrying out this flagrant intervention. We are for the self determination of the people, and not of the mercenary elite who “self determine” so as to protect themselves from Crimeans with the muzzles of Russian automatic weapons. The outcome of separatism in Crimea will become the rebirth of the Russian empire, which threatens a world war.

2) The justification of Putin’s aggression is the nationalist hysteria that the leaders of the Maidan have ignored. Aggressive xenophobic jokes were treated as normal, and even today on anti-war pickets we are still hearing provocative slogans like “Glory to the nation! Death to its enemies!” The Kremlin’s manipulation of these slogans has frightened the people of the East and South. However, the aggression initiated by the Russian Federation is patently imperialistic and aimed against the revolutionary republic (the genuine revolution, unfavourable for the oligarchs, only just began to unfold and it was sure to put the question of social lustration on the order of the day.

A war of liberation if led by the Ukrainian oligarchs would resolve itself in the fascisisation of society: we can expect unification around mythical national interests, an unrestrained dictatorship and the conduct of social policies aimed at concentrating wealth in the hands of the elite. Our government can claim popular legitimacy only after a social lustration has been carried out.  However, our government has been legitimised by the threat of foreign intervention – we are forced to love a regime, not our country. Government in Ukraine is progressively passing directly into the hands of the oligarchs (Kolomoisky and Taruta have become governors). The oligarchs plundered our country, and now they are demanding that hungry people stand in defense of their corrupt state!

3) the Maidan was not uniform – radical nationalists really bespoiled the protest with xenophobia, but fortunately they did not determine the Maidan’s demands. The population of Eastern and Southern Ukraine, as well as the members of ethnic minorities should know that there stood on the Maidan many representatives of those forces who uphold internationalist, left and democratic positions. To support the myth of a “fascist Maidan” is to legitimise the use of force by neo-Nazis against such citizens as those noted here who disagree with them. We are very saddened to see that antifascist ideas are being exploited to justify war. Antifascism is solidarity, not intervention!

4) the citizens of Western and Central Ukraine should press the government not to allow linguistic discrimination, destruction of monuments or the incitement of unnecessary hostility. Ukrainisation led by the oligarchs can be realised only in a chauvinist key. It is necessary to review language policy and to broaden the right to use the native language in those regions where it is needed. The national-cultural renaissance of the Ukrainian and other peoples of our country is inseparable from the resolution of social questions.

5) We are for the preservation of a united Ukraine, as a unique cultural phenomenon. The coexistence of various ethnicities only enriches universal human culture. In the event of the country splitting the rule of chauvinists will be established in both its parts. All conflicts in Ukraine are as a result of the dictatorship of the oligarchs. Ukraine can be consolidated on the basis of defeating the rule of the oligarchs – the workers of the East and South equally want social change and they should understand that inflaming conflict simply puts off the prospects for improvements to an unforeseeable future.

6) the Russian federation government is controlled by the most conservative advocates of the interests of capital. And that is why those citizens who support a referendum on “reunification” with Russia had better prepare for a police state and for an antisocial policy. We will not allow for the precedent of a victory for Russian imperialism. Despite the claims of Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists, there are no traces of socialism at all left in Russia. The population of Ukraine will start to hate Russians even more, while among the Russian masses imperialistic and revanchist illusions will grow stronger. Hitler-style promises of a better life will culminate in a catastrophe for the aggressor nation. Let us not forget that this war is also an opportunity for Western capital to bring in its own armies and to seize part of Ukrainian territory.

7) It is necessary to appeal in the first instance to the Russian speaking population of Ukraine and to Russians who do not support war. They must sabotage the mobilisation and movement of occupying armies, while also exerting continuous pressure on the Russian government and Russian capital. Russian imperialism is using them to strengthen its domination through a referendum. It is necessary to create international brigades to maintain lawful order, to oppose mutual chauvinisms, to defend strategic facilities, to conduct propaganda among troops, as well as to oppose the disarming of Ukrainian armies. Form workers self defence detachments at enterprises for their protection from external intervention and the covetous hands of their unpropitious “owners”. Organise detachments with those you trust, or whom you are prepared to elect! The Ukrainian army should act under citizens’ control. Why die under the leadership of nationalists like Parubiy and Yarosh? They have on their conscience inept tactical mistakes on the Euromaidan and the stoking of interethnic hostilities. Why die in the interests of the Akhmetov-Kolomoiskys? The workers of all nations should learn solidarity from the Ukrainian oligarchs – they overcame all their differences and united around their common class interests.

Down with the bandit office holders who have become separatists!

Down with Russian imperialism!

Down with the Ukrainian chauvinists!

Long live the workers’ independent Ukraine!

Translation from the original (

[Added March 16, 2014: See also this report on the Maidan Movement and the on-going situation.]


  1. If one denounces imperialism and then class for opposition to only one of those that rule the world, than this is not “anti-imperialism” but simply taking the side of one’s own imperialism.
    If only “chavinism” gets criticized, then it is a case of simple normal nationalism.
    If one calls for a “workers’ independent Ukraine,” then obviously “workers” is an addition not as important as “independence”, once again proof of bread and butter nationalism.
    If a British leftist sides with anti-russian “anti-imperialists,” it is in the bad tradition of classical social chauvinism, as it was called during the time of World War One.

  2. @Neoprene, firstly it is ridiculous to speak of Ukrainian “imperialism” – which country has Ukraine attacked exactly? I think you need to revisit your notion of “imperialism”. It may make more sense to talk of Western “imperialism” but any concessions made by Ukrainian capital to western imperialism does not make Ukrainian capital itself “imperialist”.

    Secondly, and very important, the statement acknowledges that “The intervention of Russian armies was made possible as a result of a split in Ukrainian society”. The healing of this split in Ukrainian society, it argues, “is impossible with the oligarchs and chauvinists in power”.

    Thirdly, the statement says that as long as the oligarchs are left in control in Ukraine “the fascisisation of society” in Ukraine is an imminent danger.

    Lastly there is an acknowledgement that “this war is also an opportunity for Western capital to bring in its own armies and to seize part of Ukrainian territory”.

    The independent workers’ movement in Ukraine and Eastern Europe generally is at a nascent, early stage, trying to recover after a century of Stalinist atomisation and Russification carried out in the name of “socialism”. What they need is our support and solidarity. I don’t think we can expect, or even wish for, them to adopt exactly the same positions as the Bolsheviks during the first World War. While there are parallels which can be drawn between the period before WWI and contemporary events in parts of Eastern Europe, much has also changed in the intervening 100 years.

  3. In the case of self-determination the only important issue for workers is their class development. Therefore, it is necessary to keep support those who give more rights to the proletariat. Whether the workers could win in Ukraine from entering the country in the EU? I do not know. But I know that the EU position with the United States supported the new Ukrainian government, which signaled Russian-speaking workers about the attack on their rights. This signal forced Russia to respond in the way that fits its geopolitical interests. This position of Russian government was supported by Russian workers since in their view it protects the interests of Russian-speakers at Ukraine more than new Ukrainian government. Anyway this conflict of big capitalist states around Ukraine gives workers chance to strengthen their class struggle. But it will correlate with the attempts of capitalist states to find those who suffered the most at the recent economic crisis to put them down. And I agree that the most fruitful measure is workers pressure on the capitalist governments to provide their rights. But the unity of interests and actions is the most difficult issue. National interest seems to be a huge obstacle that can be overcome by guys like Lenin. February is not their month, let’s wait till October.

  4. In spite of the animosity presented in previous comments, I think we can agree that Ukraine has been exploited by Russian chauvinism and imperialism in the past, is afraid of Russian moves to control its future by oil and gas bribery, and ultimately fears Russia more than western imperialism. Russia is not the Soviet union, EXCEPT that the KBG, via Putin and his cronies, still lives while operating in a more subtle manner. Russian speakers have been pushed into Putin’s corner by the rightist (i.e., anti-Russian, vehemently anti-communist)) control exercised by the current putschist rulers, and do not see themselves as Ukrainians anymore (if they ever did). However, to speak of a working class unified opposition to these events ignores the nearly century-long separation of this class into ethnic blocks, and totally ignores the weak political organization of the class at the present time. Yes, call for unified opposition, but calls do not make unity – hard groundwork and effective struggle against nationalism and ethnic rivalry should have been done these many years, cutting off they division of the class. This lesson will have to be painfully learned by the Ukrainian workers as they fight through the repression to come from either side in this issue. Russia will not lift a finger for its brethren in Ukraine, and austerity will reign for all until the workers leave the existing parties and form their own, dropping tools until their demands are satisfied.

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