Left Opposition: For an independent socialist Ukraine
The short answer to the question “Where is the left in Ukraine today?” is that it’s weak and divided. Weak because 70 years of Soviet rule discredited it for many and 22 years of oligarchy marginalized it. Divided because while many leftists in central and western Ukraine support the interim government, much of the southern and eastern left is ambivalent or fights on either side.
The Ukrainian workers’ movement Left Opposition has tried to steer the divide by calling for a national workers’ movement that would focus on shared economic goals as against the pro-EU orientation of the Maidan and interim government, but also against the pro-Russia positions of the separatists.
In a statement from last week, they discuss how other groups have been drawn into the growing divide — socialist union “Borot’ba” on the pro-Russian side, anarchists and anti-fascists on the pro-Maidan side — and call for unity among Leftists.
For their models, they turn to the examples of miners’ brigades in the eastern city of Kryviy Rih stepping in to prevent violence by pro-Yanukovich militants (so-called “titushky”) against local Maidan activists, workers in the western city of Chervonohrad “nationalizing” the local power station away from multi-billionnaire oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, and miners in the eastern city of Krasnodon (in contested Luhansk province) staging their own Maidan separately from the pro-Kyiv Maidan and the pro-Russian “anti-Maidan.”
The authors conclude, poignantly:
“When war in Yugoslavia was starting, the ultra-right was also weak and marginalized. Their support was no greater than Yarosh’s (Right Sector) and Tiahnybok’s (Svoboda) with their microscopic ratings. But within a year of the war, Serb and Croatian nazis began to dominate the Yugoslav polity and had built huge organizations.
“If the miners of Luhansk, Donetsk, Lviv and Dniropetrovsk provinces can’t ally together to prevent a war, we will all get sucked into the meat-grinder. In that case, the Left movement in Ukraine will definitively be destroyed for many years, and it’s unlikely it will survive in Russia as well.”