The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 78/No. 43      December 1, 2014

Moscow sends arms, troops
for separatists in Ukraine
(front page)
In recent weeks Moscow has been sending more heavy weapons and troops across the border into the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces of eastern Ukraine. From war devastation in the east to anti-working-class measures of the capitalist government in Kiev, working people across Ukraine face a growing economic and social crisis.

Meanwhile, workers, farmers and others in Ukraine are preparing to mark the anniversary of the first Maidan demonstration in Kiev’s Independence Square Nov. 21 that led to months of popular mobilizations and street battles culminating in the overthrow of the pro-Moscow government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Maidan protesters in Kiev and cities and farms across the country fought to end Moscow’s economic and political domination of Ukraine and political repression by the government in Kiev. Demonstrators wanted greater political rights and a better life, not just new faces in the government.

After the overthrow of Yanukovych, Moscow seized the Crimean Peninsula, launching a campaign to suppress the Tatar people. They also organized a separatist war in the country’s mining and industrial region in the east.

In response to Moscow’s moves to cement its influence in Ukraine, Washington and its imperialist allies have imposed economic sanctions on Russia, turning the screws on working people there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin walked out of the G20 economic summit Nov. 16 in Australia after being confronted by criticism from U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and others.

Miners across the country face mass closures, layoffs and widespread lack of payment. “Miners in the east in mines in Pavlograd and other areas under Ukrainian sovereignty are still working, but they haven’t been paid for four months,” Aleksyi Simvolokov, a leader of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, told the Militant Nov. 16 by email from Dnepropetrovsk.

“They organized a two-day protest in October outside the Cabinet of Ministers in Kiev, demanding to be paid,” he said. They also demanded mines, including state-owned mines, be kept open to provide jobs and that the minimum wage be raised to fight inflation.

“The free trade unions continue to grow and the employers continue to oppose workers organizing,” Simvolokov said. “We need to bring the workers together. We know how to fight: demanding contracts, street protests, strikes, electing regional workers’ delegates and the Maidan.”

Food protests

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, a multimillionaire known as the “chocolate king,” announced Nov. 15 all state and financial services, including for hospitals and schools in the areas occupied by the forces of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, would be cut off.

Many retired workers in these regions have not been able to receive pensions for months because they have no means to travel to cities under Kiev’s control. As a result, the elderly and disabled are getting no help from either side.

“Ukraine should take care of it, seeing as the Ukrainian government considers these regions part of the country,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in September.

Most industries are shuttered in the east. Eighty coal mines have been abandoned, flooded or forced to shut. The Severodonetsk chemical plant and Lysychansk oil refinery are closed down.

“I was at a rally for Ukraine in March,” a woman in Donetsk who gave her name as Natalya told the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group. “I’m a Ukrainian citizen and was not able to save my country. And because of that I’m supposed to leave my home and wander? Or simply remain here going hungry?”

Actions demanding food supplies and protesting deaths from starvation have started taking place outside separatists’ government offices in the so-called Peoples Republics. The main participants are young mothers, elderly, women caretakers and disabled parents.

Some 2,000 people marched in Sverdlovsk Nov. 17 demanding food, according to a report by a correspondent on the website. Some separatists’ units backed the marchers and even fought Russian Cossack paramilitaries. According to the report, someone raised a “Sverdlovsk is Ukraine” banner and shouts rang out for Russian troops to leave.

Several dozen residents blocked the road in Makiivka in the Donetsk People’s Republic demanding coupons for free food, Donetsk journalist Olexiy Matsuka reported. Armed paramilitary forces showed up, but the protesters refused to disperse.  
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