A Third Camp in Ukraine’s tussle

Submitted by Anon on 12 October, 2007 - 9:15 Author: Chris Ford

Parliamentary elections took place in Ukraine on 30 September; western pundits are proclaiming these may “have saved the Orange Revolution”, of 2004. The elections were an effort to resolve the political crisis in Ukraine, triggered by by President Viktor Yushchenko’s decree on 2 April dissolving parliament, after a protracted power struggle between rival blocs.

One bloc is the “opposition” associated with the “Orange Revolution”, comprising President Yushchenko’s party Our Ukraine and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYUt). There is no popular movement with democratic aspirations underpinning their electoral revival at present.

The rival bloc is headed by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, which heads the Coalition of National Unity with the neo-Stalinist Communist Party of Ukraine and the Socialist Party of Ukraine.

Russia has responded to the possibility of a pro-Western government in its former colony with new threats to reduce energy supplies, sparking fears of a repeat of the 2006 gas crisis when the Russian energy giant Gazprom briefly shut off the flow of gas to Ukraine, affecting large parts of Europe.

Some on the British left, for instance the Morning Star and various kitsch Trotskyists, align themselves with figures such as Yanukovych and his counterfeit left allies simply because they are opponents of the USA and friendly to Moscow. There are other voices in Ukraine struggling to be heard, those of the reviving genuine working class socialism.

Below we publish part of a statement on the elections by the New Left movement, a coalition of several left organisations, informal groups, web-sites, analytical centres, trade unions, and individual left, environmentalist, feminist and human rights activists. The New Left stands on the principles of anti-capitalism, anti-fascism, and anti-Stalinism, and working on the renovation of socialist theory and praxis.

Among the participants in the New Left movement are the revolutionary socialist group Left Initiative; Network of Civic Initiatives “Basta”; art-group “Ukrainian Vanguard”; Makhnovist club; “Bricolage” , a left history web-site; the trade unions Defence of Labour and Metrostroi [Subway] trade-union; Canter of Civil Society Problems Research; and “Stratagema” analytical centre. The Organising Committee of the New Left movement includes well-known human rights activist Volodymyr Chemerys and the head of the Federation of Independent Trade-Unions of Ukraine, Viktor Yavorsky.

IT is apparent to us that the crisis of 2007 is caused by the aggravation of the competition between the groups of large capital, whose interests are represented in both main camps of the political confrontation. Its premise is more intense political corruption from both sides.

The pre-term parliamentary elections this year are the consequence of behind-the-scenes political agreements which contradict the formal premises of the law. Furthermore, it creates preconditions for the organisation of political manipulation (such as the “constitutional referendum”), intended to change the constitution with the aim of placing in presidential hands unlimited autocratic authority...

We are convinced that the parliamentary elections of 2007 do not represent the sovereign choice of the Ukrainian people and are taking place in the conditions of external interference and the aggravation of inter-imperialist rivalry for markets, economic resources and the political orientation of Ukraine between the main actors on the post-soviet space.

These are, in the first place, expansionism of the United States, interested in supporting conflict between Ukraine and Russia and in strengthening the position of “Orange” factions in the domestic ruling class, representatives of the interests of trans-national corporations;

Closely behind them is the young Russian capitalism, which has consolidated its power in recent years and seeks greater control over the transport infrastructure and the most liquid assets in its “near abroad”;

The third vector of power coincides with big capital of the European Union countries supported by the Brussels bureaucracy. Whilst not wishing to extend the borders of European Union to include Ukraine it cherishes its own exclusive interests.

At present we consider that a victory in the elections of any of the main political powers will only worsen the existing social crisis in the country. Grounds for such an affirmation stem from the nature of the main political actors.

For instance, the pro-presidential, bureaucracy-business bloc “Our Ukraine/People’s Self-Defence”, covering itself with the usual “social initiatives” and “national-patriotic” slogans of its leaders, really represents the interests of agents of neo-liberal fundamentalism.

On the other hand, their contingent counterpart — The Party of Regions — defends the positions of the large capital formed during the bloody privatisation in the 1990s. Its main interest consists in the final redistribution of the remaining state assets, in particular in the transport, communications and military-industrial complex, in favour of its own business-groups.

The third actor, according to its own self-identification, is the “radical opposition” Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko flirting with social-populist rhetoric. However, it is well-known that the real aim of “Lady Yu” is the establishment of an autocratic rule that in no way corresponds to the interests of the labouring classes of the Ukrainian nation.

The probable coalition between “Our Ukraine” and the Party of the Regions after the elections will allow for the collusion of ruling classes against the interests of labour. At the same time the creation of an alliance between ByuT (Yulia Tymoshenko’s block) and “Our Ukraine” poses numerous risks for the Ukrainian economy encouraging the subsequent sell-off of her most profitable assets to trans-national capital.

The old “left” parties (Communist Party, Socialist Party, Progressive Socialist Party), for a variety of reasons, do not correspond to their self-proclaimed identity and are not worthy of being supported in the parliamentary elections in 2007…

We are convinced of the fact that no matter what the outcome of the elections and the format of a future government coalition will be, Ukraine will face further anti-social “reforms”, particularly in housing and communal services, labour and pension legislation, which will result in a decline of living standards for the majority of the citizens of our country.

The Organising Committee of the “New Left” movement asserts:

1. We will not take part in the pre-term parliamentary elections of 2007 on any side, and call on citizens to boycott them.

2. We call on electors to recognise that the existing electoral system deforms the free expression of popular will, coercing them to choose among powers associated with ruling classes and their property interests.

3. We condemn any endeavours to revise the Constitution which will weaken political democracy and redistribute the power in favour of a presidential autocracy.

4. We call on labour in Ukraine to break from illusions in the present political actors and to understand that through engagement in the formation of grassroots movements for social rights and social emancipation (strike committees, trade-union organisations, ecological initiatives and others) we can defend our interests and create premises for political changes for the better.

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