Putin’s charge Ukraine gov’t is ‘fascist’ is a lie

By Seth Galinsky
May 30, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin claims Moscow had to invade Ukraine to “denazify” the country. He propagates through his rigidly government-controlled media the charge that “neo-Nazis” and “far-right nationalists” took over Ukraine in 2014 in a “coup” backed by Washington and are carrying out “genocide” against Russian speakers in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

But his accusations are false to the core. The government of Ukraine is elected and not much different than other liberal capitalist regimes around the world. Russian speakers are a significant part of the Ukrainian population. They overwhelmingly back Ukraine independence and are proud members of the fierce resistance to Moscow’s invasion.

In the United States, calling anyone you disagree with “Nazis” or “fascists” has become the stock in trade of many middle-class radicals, who use it as a way to shut down debate and discussion and silence opposition.

For Putin, his slander has an additional purpose. In World War II, Moscow’s resistance to Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union was a key part of defeating Hitler, at a huge cost of millions of lives of Russian, Ukrainian and other peoples there. By invoking the specter of fascism, Putin hopes to convince working people in Russia to support the war effort or at least keep quiet.

What is fascism?

Fascism is a mass movement of reaction set in motion by the capitalist class at times of deep crisis, when they fear losing power to a rising working-class movement. To prevent the working class from advancing on the road to power, the capitalists turn to fascist forces to smash the unions and all working-class revolutionary organizations. They turn despairing middle-class layers — who face being crushed by the capitalist crisis — into a battering ram aimed at beating down the working class.

The Nazis also sought to convince working people that the problems they faced were not caused by capitalism, but by the Jews. Hitler sent fascist bands to physically assault trade union meetings and demolish synagogues. They carried out mass arrests of political opponents and murdered millions of Jews — along with communists, Romas and others — to save the “purity” of the “master” white race. At the same time, his regime took over the remnants of the unions, turning them into tightly controlled instruments of the state to police the workers. This led to the Holocaust.

Can anyone seriously argue that this describes Ukraine today, where President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose family is from Kryvyi Rih in the east of Ukraine, is himself Jewish, has relatives who were killed in the Holocaust and others who fought as part of the Red Army, and where the union movement continues to openly organize to demand better wages and work conditions against the bosses?

Little hostility toward Jews

“During the years of my life in Odesa, I have never met hostility anywhere just because I am a Jew,” Rabbi Abraham Wolf, the chief rabbi there, told Dumskaya.net, a Ukrainian news site, after the Russian invasion began.

“I used to love and respect the Ukrainian people,” Wolf added. “But now, after the war has started, I just adore them! I could not even imagine how strongly people would unite, how determined they would be defending their homeland.”