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AWU-Kiev Statement on the Odessa Tragedy (EN, ES)

Травень 05, 14:31, 2014

black and red

More than 40 people were killed and nearly 200 were wounded in the tragic clash of right-wing combatants in Odessa on May 2: football hooligans and Euromaidan self-defence on the one side; Stalinists, pro-Russian paramilitaries and local police force on the other.  

It started as a belligerent mob, comprised of men with “St. George’s ribbons” and red armbands (such armbands were also spotted on some police officers), wielding clubs and firearms, approached the march “for united Ukraine” which was made up of right-wing football hooligans joined by a large crowd of civilian people. As fighting began between the sides, the riot police provided cover to the attackers and cooperated with them. 4 people were killed. It is noteworthy that in the previous days the Antimaidan protesters had repeatedly marched along the centre of Odessa and never met any physical counteraction either from their political opponents or the police.

Photo: Pro-Russian paramilitaries firing shots behind the defensive line of riot police / credit: napaki.livejournal.com

Photo: Pro-Russian paramilitaries firing shots behind the defensive line of riot police / credit: napaki.livejournal.com

Civilian “pro-Ukrainian” crowd didn’t disperse after the shootings; enraged, they started the counterattack. As the fighting became sufficiently intense, some of pro-Russian combatants withdrew to the Afina trading center, which was then blocked by the police. The crowd, incited by hooligans, followed the other part of the attackers and proceeded to rout the Antimaidan camp, located near the Trade Union house. The Antimaidan protesters fled to that building and then the entrances were barricaded. It should also be noted that Alexey Albu, leader of Stalinist Borotba organization, personally urged protesters to come inside the blocked building, although never joined them himself. We see this as a proof enough to any left or anarchist organization in the world to sever any ties, either financial or informational, with this organization. By sending them money you would fund the civil war; by spreading their statements and supporting them morally you would contribute to their war propaganda.

Violence continued, as Euromaidan crowd surrounded the Trade Union house and combatants from both sides fired shots and hurled Molotov cocktails both to and fro the roof of the building. At this moment is still unclear which factor contributed the most to the fire, which burned some and suffocated others to death.

Video: Civilians from “Euromaidan” crowd attempt to rescue people from the burning Trade Union house.

We are sure that the violence of right-wing hooligans was the integral part of this tragedy. However, it is clear that this violence was planned for and counted on. The people who should also be held responsible are the pro-Russian instigators and the local police, who supported them.

Members of AWU wish to express their deepest mourning for the victims. They fell prey to the interests of the forces that consistently try to instigate a civil war in Ukraine. Sadly, large parts of the working class are disoriented and serve as merely blind puppets in the hands of such forces, giving their lives for utterly stupid and meaningless things and ideas. The immediate effect of the escalation of this tragically pointless conflict is the split of the working class in Ukraine. While some workers are threatening with a political strike in support of the Antimaidan, several members of the (pro-Maidan) Confederation of Free Trade Unions are being kidnapped by Antimaidan forces. Instead of taking a united stance against the neoliberal policies of the government, proletarians are busy fighting each other for the interests of various bourgeois cliques.

The final result of such policies will be a civil war in Ukraine, which will mean an ultimate catastrophe for the working class. We are not pacifists and will be at the side of the working class whenever it fights against the bourgeoisie, no matter what forms this fight takes — but this is not the case in Ukraine nowadays. The disoriented and weak proletariat will be busy engaging in self-destruction; the outcomes will be drastic fall of life standards, rise of unemployment and criminal activities, and loss of huge number of lives. All prospects of working-class self-organization and mobilization will be buried for some time.

We can see that this scenario is being pushed forward by the alliance of various right-wing groups, nazis, conservatives and Stalinists. It is important to understand that Antimaidan cannot be considered a “working-class social protest”: the typical demands of this movement in various towns are dictated by the most reactionary clerical conservatives (abolition of electronic IDs because they include “the Number of the Beast”; banning of vaccination; etc.) and have little to do with the interests of workers.

On the other hand, we are disgusted by the reaction of the right-liberal and patriotic general public which takes delight in the Odessa deaths. However wrong the killed people might have been, they shouldn’t have died in this brutish accident. As Ukrainian workers side with various warring right-wing movements, they are sliding further from socialism to barbarism. The cure is well-known: we should realize our own class interests, organize at workplaces and direct our rage against the real enemy, not at each other. In days like these global workers’ solidarity means very much. The global working class is doomed to eliminate itself: either in the process of social revolution and construction of a classless society or in the process of a barbaric all-out war.

No gods, no masters, no nations, no borders!

Autonomous Workers’ Union – Kiev

Free Interprofessional Workers’ Union (SMOT – Belarus), coordinator Anatoly Matveenko

Independent trade union Granit (Belarus), chairman Oleg Stahayevich

5 May 2014

***

ES

Más de 40 personas murieron y cerca de 200 resultaron heridas en el trágico choque de los combatientes de extrema derecha en Odessa el 2 de mayo: los hooligans y Euromaidan defensa propia, por un lado; Estalinistas, los paramilitares pro-rusas y la policía local por el otro.

Comenzó como una turba beligerante, compuesto por hombres con “Cintas de San Jorge” y brazaletes rojos (tales brazaletes también fueron vistos en algunos agentes de la policía), blandiendo palos y armas de fuego, se acercaron a la marcha “por una Ukrania unida”, que se compone de los hooligans de derecha unidos a una gran multitud de civiles. Al inicio del conflicto entre las partes, la policía antidisturbios proporcionó cobertura a los atacantes y cooperaron con ellos. 4 personas perdieron la vida. Es de destacar que en los días anteriores a los manifestantes Antimaidan habían marchado repetidamente a lo largo del centro de Odessa y nunca se había producido ninguna acción contraria física ya sea de sus oponentes políticos o de la policía.

La multitud de civiles “pro-ucranianos” no se dispersó después de los disparos; enfurecidos, empezaron el contraataque. A medida que la lucha se convirtió en lo suficientemente intensa , algunos de los combatientes pro-rusos se retiraron al centro comercial de Afina, que luego fue bloqueado por la policía. La muchedumbre, incitada por los hooligans, siguió a la otra parte de los atacantes y se dirigió al campamento Antimaidan, situado cerca de la casa de Sindicatos. Los manifestantes Antimaidan corrieron a ese edificio y luego se levantaron barricadas en las entradas. También hay que señalar que Alexey Albu, líder de la organización estalinista Borotba, instó personalmente a los manifestantes a entrar dentro del edificio bloqueado, aunque él mismo nunca se unió a ellos. Vemos esto como una prueba suficiente para cualquier organización izquierda o anarquistas en el mundo para romper cualquier vínculo, ya sea financiera o de información, con esta organización. Enviandoles dinero se colabora a financiar la guerra civil; mediante la difusión de sus declaraciones y apoyandolos moralmente se contribuye a su propaganda de guerra.

La violencia continuó, como Euromaidan multitud rodeó la casa de Sindicatos y los combatientes de ambos bandos hicieron disparos y cócteles molotov fueron lanzados a un lado y otro de la cubierta del edificio. En este momento todavía no está claro cuál es el factor que más contribuyó al fuego que quemó unos y provocó la muerte por asfixia de otros.

Estamos seguros de que la violencia de los hooligans de la derecha es la parte central de esta tragedia. Sin embargo, está claro que esta violencia fue planeada y pensada. Las personas que otambién deben ser considerados responsables son los autores intelectuales pro-rusas y la policía local que les dió apoyo.

Los miembros de ACT desean expresar su luto más riguroso para las víctimas. Ellos fueron presa de los intereses de las fuerzas que tratan constantemente de instigar una guerra civil en Ucrania. Lamentablemente, gran parte de la clase obrera está desorientada y sirven meramente como marionetas ciegas en manos de tales fuerzas, dando la vida por cosas e ideas estúpidas y sin sentido por completo. El efecto inmediato de la escalada de este trágico conflicto es la división de la clase obrera en Ucrania. Mientras que algunos trabajadores están amenazando con una huelga política en apoyo de la Antimaidan, varios miembros de la Confederación de Organizaciones Sindicales Libres (pro-Maidan) están siendo secuestrados por fuerzas Antimaidan. En lugar de tomar una postura unida contra las políticas neoliberales del gobierno, los proletarios están ocupados peleando entre sí por los intereses de diversas camarillas burguesas.

El resultado final de estas políticas será una guerra civil en Ucrania, lo que supondrá una catástrofe definitiva para la clase obrera. No somos pacifistas y estaremos al lado de la clase obrera allí donde ésta luche contra la burguesía, no importa qué forma tome esta lucha, pero este no es el caso hoy en día en Ucrania. El desorientado y débil proletariado estará ocupado participando en su autodestrucción; los resultados serán la drástica caída del nivel de vida, el aumento del desempleo y las actividades delictivas y la pérdida de gran número de vidas. Todas las posibilidades de autoorganización y movilización de la clase trabajadora serán enterrados por un tiempo.

Podemos ver que este escenario está siendo empujado hacia adelante por la alianza de varios grupos de extrema derecha, nazis, conservadores y stalinistas. Es importante entender que Antimaidan no puede ser considerada como una “protesta social de la clase trabajadora”: las exigencias típicas de este movimiento en diversas ciudades están dictadas por los conservadores clericales más reaccionarios (abolición del DNI electrónico ya que incluye “el número de la bestia “; prohibición de la vacunación; etc) y tienen poco que ver con los intereses de los trabajadores.

Por otro lado, estamos disgustados por la reacción pública generalizada de la derecha liberal y patriótica que se deleita en las muertes de Odessa. A pesar de ello, la gente no debería haber sido asesinada, no deberían haber muerto en este accidente brutal. Como algunos trabajadores ucranianos con varios guerreros movimientos de derecha, que se van deslizando del socialismo a la barbarie. La cura es bien conocida: debemos movernos por nuestros propios intereses de clase, organizarnos en los lugares de trabajo y dirigir nuestra ira contra el verdadero enemigo, y contra ningún otro. En días como estos la solidaridad de los trabajadores a nivel mundial significa mucho. La clase obrera global está condenada a eliminarse a sí misma: ya sea en el proceso de la revolución social y la construcción de una sociedad sin clases, o sea en el proceso de una bárbara guerra total.

!Ni dioses, ni amos, ni naciones, ni fronteras!

Unión de Trabajadores Autónomos – Kiev

Unión de Trabajadores Libres Interprofesionales ‘(SMOT – Bielorrusia), coordinador Anatoly Matveenko

Sindicato Independiente de Granito (Bielorrusia), presidente Oleg Stahayevich

05 de mayo 2014

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17 Comments

  1. Mike
    Mike Травень 05, 23:46

    This is basically all a denunciation of anti-coup activists and not of the neo-Nazis who just mass murdered 38 civilians. wtf

    Reply to this comment
  2. Connors
    Connors Травень 06, 00:41

    Thanks for this article. Am wondering what you think of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the attempt by some on the left to interpret it as a working class uprising worthy of support.

    Reply to this comment
    • master-genie
      master-genie Травень 06, 10:39

      That’s exactly the manipulation we are talking about. We don’t see anything worthy of support there; moreover, in many ways even the explicit agenda of that movement is pretty reactionary, dictated by hardline conservatives. Of course there are some “social slogans” like “abolition of exploitation of labour” (understood, obviously, in the sense that the current labour law should be abided – not in the sense of abolishing capitalism) – but, then again, the NSDAP also had some “socialist” slogans in 1923 :)
      I would compare that movement to the Tea Party in the US. Mutatis mutandis, the social background of the movements is analogous, and the Tea Party also has some “social slogans” like resisting bankers, fighting corrupt politicians, blah blah. But in the end the movement itself is utterly reactionary or even fascist in some respects, and it serves the purposes of capital, not those of the working class. Same things are true for the “people’s republic” in Donetsk.
      Also, isn’t it funny how they chose the name? “People’s” but not “socialist”, for example: that’s just enough to make the conservatives nostalgic for Brezhnev happy and not to irritate Putin and the capitalist class.

      Reply to this comment
  3. jemene
    jemene Травень 06, 12:50

    “It should also be noted that Alexey Albu, leader of Stalinist Borotba organization, personally urged protesters to come inside the blocked building, although never joined them himself. We see this as a proof …”

    I don’t get it. What exactly do you see proven by this?

    Reply to this comment
  4. Oles Petik
    Oles Petik Травень 06, 15:46

    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/_VtTxK0xdiN0IQ2my1QJ3tMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite

    Here you can see this man standing in the midst of an armed attack by pro-russian paramilitaries, unharmed. Later, he urged people from Antimaidan to come inside the barricaded building, but never came inside himself, to ensure his personal safety. We see this as a proof that Alexey Albu was aware of the provocation, and acted in order to make it happen.

    Reply to this comment
  5. OCL (France)
    OCL (France) Травень 06, 19:57

    French translation

    Déclaration du SAT-Kiev sur la tragédie d’Odessa

    Plus de 40 personnes ont été tuées et près de 200 ont été blessées dans les affrontements tragiques entre combattants de droite à Odessa le 2 mai : hooligans de football et auto-défense d’Euromaïdan d’un côté ; staliniens, paramilitaires pro-russes et police locale de l’autre.

    more here : http://oclibertaire.free.fr/spip.php?article1523

    Reply to this comment
  6. Igance Reiss
    Igance Reiss Травень 07, 03:01

    AWU are supporting the Right Sector, are pro-Kiev government, contrary to the anti-fascist struggle of the East and they participated int the event in Maidan, in fact they are pro-EuroMaidan. Probably they are paid by the CIA to try to divide the anti-fascist movement in Ukraine.Reformist, pro-imperialist and sectarian simultaneously, is what they are.

    I wanted to be in the same place as them to do the same thing that made Ravachol: drop a bomb on them!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Connors
    Connors Травень 07, 04:23

    master-genie,

    I agree the Donetsk Republic is a nationalist, reactionary outfit. Has some Bolshevik elements apparently, but since they are both reactionary and nationalist, there’s no contradiction. But because it has some of these ostensibly ‘communist’ aspects, some people on the left – including Kargalitsky – are trying to pass the group off as a working class uprising. Absurd, I think.

    On Borotba, some insist they are both anti-Putin (ok, maybe) and anti-Russia nationalist, but I don’t see this last part come through. They seem entirely with Udaltsov who has shown his nationalist colors. I’ve also been told that while Borotba is obviously pro-Lenin, they are anti-Stalin. What do you say to that?

    Reply to this comment
    • master-genie
      master-genie Травень 07, 11:19

      The sad thing is that for the last 20 years all leftists in Ukraine were branded as pro-Russian nationalists in the mainstream discourse. Pro-Russian, nostalgic for USSR and Stalinist. This opinion was partly justified by the existence of the Communist Party of Ukraine which is actually a hardline conservative organization with Stalinist rhetoric; all the actual left radicals were consistently trying to distance themselves from that image. But now, when the CPU has suffered severe political blow, Borotba has decided to try and grab their piece of pie in bourgeois politics. Hence the stronger appeals to conservative pro-Russian and pro-Stalin sentiments in their latest rhetoric.
      Generally, they originate from the Organization of Marxists which was a kind of “Marxist unity” organization in 2007-2010 but then split along Trotskyist/Stalinist lines. Trots created their own organization, Left Opposition, and Stalinists formed Borotba. For example, one of their founders and leading theoreticians, Viktor Shapinov, used to write hilarious articles explaining why Trotsky should have been killed and why Stalin was right in all his policies after all. They are not hardcore Stalinists, though; one of my comrades has coined a term “low-fat Stalinism” to describe their politics. They try to develop a populist project which would blend Stalinist nostalgia with social-democratic slogans and anti-nationalist sentiments (against Ukrainian nationalism, not Russian though). So, a more correct term would perhaps be Brezhnevism, not Stalinism.
      Have you seen a statement of Ukrainian leftists about them? http://avtonomia.net/2014/03/03/statement-left-anarchist-organizations-borotba-organization/

      Reply to this comment
  8. alister whitlock
    alister whitlock Травень 07, 13:20

    Have You considered the possibility that the masked gunmen and police wearing red armbands among the ‘anti Maidan crowd, seen on several videos could have been provocateurs? Who benefits from the massacres other than the current Kiev regime

    Reply to this comment
  9. Ignace Reiss
    Ignace Reiss Травень 08, 00:12

    Borotba are the justified heroes of the revolution

    By Gerald Joseph Downing

    On 3 March 2014 a “Statement of left and anarchist organizations about “Borotba” organization” 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 organizations, announce that “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 organization with a non-transparent funding mechanism and unscrupulous principles of cooperation. It uses hired workers, who are not even the members of the organization. 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 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”, Editorial board of Tovaryshka, Anarchist Black Cross – Ukraine, Anarcha-feminist collective Good Night Macho Pride, Anti-Fascist Action Ukraine and the Left Opposition. They proudly announced they “stand on antifascist 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 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 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 3 May Borotba revealed the full extent of the progress of “some of the Maidan’s ideas” that these pusillanimous idiots apparently demurred a little from:

    “On May 2, under the pretext of the so-called march ‘For unity of Ukraine’ (that was dated to football match ‘Chernomorets’ – ‘Metallist’) – the paramilitary squads of Ukrainian nationalist 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 bloody massacre of Odessa residents on ‘Kulikovo pole’ square.

    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 building of ‘House of Trade Unions’. When trying to kill Odessa residents, ultrarights 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 – a member of “Borotba” union Andrew Brazhevsky – was killed. Deputy of regional council Vyacheslav Markin (a fellow of the leader of ‘Borotba’ Odessa Alexey Albu) was also brutally killed the same way when he jumped out of window. Over 40 activists were burnt alive, poisoned by smoke or were murdered by the Nazis while trying to escape from a burning building. Fortunately, most of our comrades managed to escape alive. Some of our comrades, including the leader of Odessa “Borotba” and city council deputy Alexei Albu were severely beaten by bats and kicked. They have numerous bruises, broken bones and head injuries.

    The massacre in Odessa was organized by Kiev junta so that to intimidate the population that is discontent with the new regime, and so that to eliminate the active fighters against new regime. The evidence of it is the fact that far-right militants were brought together and well-equipped. Moreover, the police inaction as well as the fact that attack of ultra-rightists in Odessa was synchronized with the “anti-terrorist operation” in Slavyansk – are also the evidence of it. The massacre in Odessa reveals that Kiev regime of nationalists and oligarchs is rapidly grows 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 storm troopers of finance capital” you have crossed red class lines.

    Now the task of the genuine revolutionary left is to organise 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 the Labour and TU leaders, beginning with the leftist candidates for the 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.

    Comradely Gerry Downing Socialist Fight

    Reply to this comment
  10. Connors
    Connors Травень 08, 01:48

    Really appreciate your explanation. Yes, I read your earlier statement on Borotba. The thing is, I’ve been arguing with native English speakers on Twitter – some of who say they’re anarchists – and much of the western left has bought into the Soviet/Russian propaganda, as if the USSR’s total betrayal of the Left/anarchists *didn’t already happen* in a dramatically horrific fashion.

    Unfortunately, I think a lot of people on today’s left are pretty clueless when it comes to history. And to call yourself an anarchist but be unaware of or indifferent to Bolshevik persecution of anarchists is a total insult to anarchism and the anarchist tradition.

    But more importantly, many anarchists today – because of their ignorance of history – are repeating the mistakes made by certain anarchists – the ‘Soviet anarchists’ – almost a hundreds ago. But at least in 1917-18, it was sort of understandable to get caught up on the revolutionary moment, and there was some reason to believe Lenin had taken a turn toward anarchism, but what possible excuse do today’s “Soviet anarchists” have? It’s pathetic.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Art Francisco
    Art Francisco Травень 10, 01:11

    To AWU

    It may be helpful to reply to the article posted above “Borotba are the justified heroes of the revolution” By Gerald Joseph Downing on your blog and in a letter format to the Communist Party of Great Britian CPGB which sometimes publishes letters to the editor. I think the Downing rebuttal was already sent there , and the CPGB might be interested in the AWU response. Many in the west are still seeking clarity on Ukraine, ignorant of the changing political ecosystem and climate there.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Duncan Chapel
    Duncan Chapel Травень 15, 14:17

    I support the AWU statement, and I think it’s unfortunate that Gerry misunderstands both my view and that of the AWU. The task of anti-capitalists should not be to support the violent ultra-nationalists in Ukraine. Gerry seems to to think that if you disagree with Borotba then you are a fascist. That’s not true: anti-capitalists are not be supporting the government in Kyiv, or the Ukrainian-nationalist fascists.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Anarquía1936
    Anarquía1936 Травень 15, 15:43

    Kiev anarchists are the shame of world anarchism

    Reply to this comment
  14. KT
    KT Травень 28, 02:07

    Your Coблєєєдь… скіки ж йобнутих серед західних тіпа “антифашистів” з їхньою тіпа “антинаціоналістичною” майн боротьбою…

    (I just wondered, where all them western “antifascists” supporting the russrian chauvinists from “boraotba” and “donetska Volkrsrepublik” comming from. can somebody explain it?)mments

    Reply to this comment

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