Statement on the Odessa tragedy - Autonomous Workers Union

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

An account and analysis of the clashes in Odessa earlier this week between rival groups of Ukrainian and pro-Russian nationalists in which more than 40 people were killed, by the Kiev group of Ukrainian anarchist organisation Autonomous Workers Union.

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.

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

5 May 2014

From http://avtonomia.net/2014/05/05/awu-kiev-statement-odessa-tragedy/

Posted By

Steven.
May 6 2014 11:42

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Richard Brenner
May 6 2014 23:23

A number of people are sharing a statement from Autonomia.net, from the anarchist Ukrainian group AWU, which gives an account of events in Odessa on 2 May eerily similar to the Kyiv regime's, and which slanders the socialist Borotba group, a local militant of which was killed in the Nazi fire. Please be warned, with thanks to Дмитрий Колесник, editor of LIVA.com.ua, Ukraine's biggest left website: "here's the list of council of civil council of Interior ministry of Ukraine and #12 is the leader of AWU (V. Zadiraka)! http://rada-mvs.org.ua/2/ But I don't understand why in course of Ukrainian civil war and antifascist struggle we pay so much attention to this small group of 5-6 persons..."

teh
May 7 2014 01:01
Quote:
At this moment is still unclear which factor contributed the most to the fire, which burned some and suffocated others to death.
....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.

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

Oh so they are blaming the protesters for their own deaths. It wasn't made clear from the excerpt posted here:
http://libcom.org/forums/news/protests-ukraine-02122013?page=5#comment-5...
Eerie changes of tone.

Esty
May 7 2014 02:46

I vote we ban these crypto-nationalist syndicalists from posting on libcom. They're equivocating by calling what happened in Odessa an accident. Also, they admitted to materially aiding national chauvinists during the euromaidan.

Steven.
May 7 2014 09:10

Now, it's quite hard to determine exactly what's going on, so a few questions:

Esty wrote:
I vote we ban these crypto-nationalist syndicalists from posting on libcom.

where have they ever said anything even vaguely nationalist? Everything I have seen from them has been working class internationalist.

Quote:
They're equivocating by calling what happened in Odessa an accident.

do you have evidence that it was not?

Quote:
Also, they admitted to materially aiding national chauvinists during the euromaidan.

where?

On this bit:

Richard Brenner wrote:
A number of people are sharing a statement from Autonomia.net, from the anarchist Ukrainian group AWU, which gives an account of events in Odessa on 2 May eerily similar to the Kyiv regime's

firstly, there doesn't have to be anything "eerie" about it if it's correct.

Quote:
and which slanders the socialist Borotba group, a local militant of which was killed in the Nazi fire

this is the AWU statement a couple of months ago on Borotba, which is pretty damning:
http://avtonomia.net/2014/03/03/statement-left-anarchist-organizations-b...

From that, and their own statements, it looks like they are just pro-Russian nationalism. And have a line that Maidan was an entirely fascist movement, so opposition to it is justified in the name of anti-fascism. And this view is clearly false. So so far, AWU is much more convincing.

Quote:
Please be warned, with thanks to ??????? ????????, editor of LIVA.com.ua, Ukraine's biggest left website: "here's the list of council of civil council of Interior ministry of Ukraine and #12 is the leader of AWU (V. Zadiraka)! http://rada-mvs.org.ua/2/

#12 on this list is called Vladimir. There is no one on that list called V. Zadiraka, unless there is some alternate way of translating Ukrainian names.

And it's not the "list of council of civil council of interior ministry", it is a list of members of the "Public Council at the Ministry of Interior" (in January 2011 no less): and they are all NGO workers by the looks of it. So even if she/he were on this list I don't really see what it would demonstrate, other than an AWU member works for an NGO.

Quote:
But I don't understand why in course of Ukrainian civil war and antifascist struggle we pay so much attention to this small group of 5-6 persons..."

well I have done because so far their coverage has been accurate, balanced, internationalist and from a pro-working class perspective. When most of the left with regard to these events has abandoned proletarian internationalism into supporting one bourgeois nationalist camp against another: basically the pro-Russian side, just because they happen to be against US-EU imperialism in this instance.

Can you explain what you perceive as the "antifascist struggle" going on?

Esty
May 7 2014 14:26

"However wrong the killed people might have been, they shouldn't have died in this brutish *accident*." That sounds like they're equivocating to me. Don't call it an accident. People were barricaded inside of a building set on fire and they were afraid to exit for fear of being beaten to death.

"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". Really? More equivocating and minimizing.

About materially aiding fascists: what I meant by this is that they engaged in street battles alongside fascists against cops. This is related to the infantile delusion shared by some anarchists that anybody who is fighting cops is against the state. Euromaidan was clearly a right populist movement from the start and they naively saw emancipatory potential in it. That's not to say there is anything emancipatory in the anti-maidan protests. Clearly there is not and Borotba is Stalinist.

teh
May 7 2014 18:48
Quote:
Quote:
They're equivocating by calling what happened in Odessa an accident.

do you have evidence that it was not?

60-100 people don't accidentally burn and beat to themselves to death in a huge building because of an "accident".

First Maidan set the entrances on fire


Then they entered the building from the side

Killed people inside and set them on fire
http://youtu.be/9pUGJud91VY?t=2m25s

Then they exited

Once outside they shot at people clinging to windows
http://youtu.be/IVXm9nnY-AQ?t=6m6s
or

Or beat them to death after they jumped

And left Nazi insignia on the site

Afterwards they celebrated on their social media accounts

Then they blamed their victims for their own murder

Then American liberals said Putin did it

Amnesty International

Three days later, after anti-Maidan arrested at the scene of the massacre were freed from the police by protesters, Maidan returned to the scene of the arson to kill again

But the square was empty by the time they arrived

Heres an hour long video inside the building . Explain how this damage from separate fires was started "accidentally." Notice the dead bodies not near the fires.

teh
May 7 2014 18:08

Or here's the whole thing in 4 minutes

Yes clearly "at this moment is still unclear which factor contributed the most to the fire" but most likely the protesters set themselves on fire and Maidan came to help them so "the people who should also be held responsible are the pro-Russian instigators."

btw AWU description of the street battles before fire are also completely not true. I watched it live on a stream from the Maidan side.

teh
May 7 2014 18:20

Also Odessa's mayor fired the cities police chief who objected to the mayor welcoming Maidan forces from "Kiev" into the city and appointed a replacement who took part in the burning of the trade building

And the junta appointed governor made these allegations after being fired

teh
May 7 2014 18:21
Steven. wrote:
Quote:
Also, they admitted to materially aiding national chauvinists during the euromaidan.

where?

On statements posted in Libcom

2C-B
May 7 2014 22:44
Richard Brenner wrote:
which gives an account of events in Odessa on 2 May eerily similar to the Kyiv regime's

Kyiv regime has no class agenda in it's accounts. Also it doesn't blames right-wing combatants on the both sides of this accident as AWU does.

Richard Brenner wrote:
which slanders the socialist Borotba group

AWU blames the "socialist" Borotba group too easy, that's why it still acts and takes part in so called "separatist movement" and "antimaidan", making the fire of civil war in Ukraine brighter. Borotba group doesn't make any class war agenda in this riot - everyone can check their statements and find no callы for strikes, expropriation, subversion of bourgoisie and socialization of it's property or the dictatorship of the proletariat. Nothing tied with that. No calls even for trade-union activity or for labour rights movement.

2C-B
May 7 2014 22:51
Esty wrote:
That sounds like they're equivocating to me. Don't call it an accident. People were barricaded inside of a building set on fire and they were afraid to exit for fear of being beaten to death.

Sorry but English is not native for AWU members, so we don't usually load our translations in foreign languages with correct emotional component. You can read the ukrainian version and check which word is used there.

subprole
May 8 2014 03:01

AWU addressed the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left faction in the European Parliament with this open letter in which they are basically begging for political support from inside the European Parliament: http://avtonomia.net/2014/01/18/open-letter-european-left/

What else?
http://avtonomia.net/2014/01/30/the-politicians-obey-crowd-interview-protests-kiev/

Quote:
I guess in such conditions the best form of support from abroad would be efforts to make the Ukrainian government back off, but without showing solidarity with the far-right. My guess is that such messages – “we support your struggle but not your fascists” – would be optimal form of pressure from abroad.

Not just here they are demonstrating their collaborative position towards the (liberal) elements of the - in its general tendency - populist and nationalist Euromaidan movement. This passage shows they were hoping for a new government constructing a (supposedly) more "democratic" mechanism managing Ukrainian oligarchic capitalism. Explain: why should proletarians in Ukraine or elsewhere force a government to resign in exchange for some parasitic scum like Yatsenyuk or Tymoshenko?

Devrim
May 8 2014 03:30
2C-B wrote:
Sorry but English is not native for AWU members, so we don't usually load our translations in foreign languages with correct emotional component. You can read the ukrainian version and check which word is used there.

I'd imagine that you used accident when you should have used incident. It is a really common mistake.

Devrim

big foot
May 8 2014 17:34

In their russian and ukrainian version they use the word бойня wich means "massacare", yes it is a common mistake but they should correct it. Also: come on people, dont judge them just from one single word. The whole statement is very clear whats all about. you can give them wrong about a lot of things but not for collaborating with fascists....

subprole
May 8 2014 18:38
Quote:
you can give them wrong about a lot of things but not for collaborating with fascists....

Of course they didn't collaborate with Ukrainian Nazis. AWU are just crawling into the arse of the pro-European Union parliamentary left (where they should rot!) by making servile appeals to them as if this faction would be in any way better than the Ukrainian CP. And the supposedly somehow "progressive" elements inside Euromaidan. It is very clear their priority is now the defense against the "Russian" aggression.

teh
May 8 2014 18:35
big foot wrote:
In their russian and ukrainian version they use the word бойня wich means "massacare", yes it is a common mistake but they should correct it. Also: come on people, dont judge them just from one single word. The whole statement is very clear whats all about. you can give them wrong about a lot of things but not for collaborating with fascists....

Who is singling them out on a single word?

AWU write:
A)"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”....."

B)"Civilian “pro-Ukrainian” crowd didn’t disperse after the shootings; enraged, they started the counterattack. ...."

C)"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. "

D)"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."

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

F)"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."

G)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. [that is anti-maidan not the dictatorship which AWU supported in installing]

H)" We...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. [workers are stupid because they don't listen to us]

H2)"We can see that this scenario [ described in G] is being pushed forward by the alliance of various right-wing groups, nazis, conservatives and Stalinists." [describing people who don't accept the new order]

and finally I) "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." (Meaning that they consider "right-liberals and the patriotic general public" as a potential audience and critical allies, not as adversaries. "On the other hand" means that unlike the anti-Maidan Nazis, these people have potential and should be reached out to.)

So here these say that anti-Maidan attacked what they describe as "right-wing football hooligans and a "large crowd of civilian people." They even emphasize their groups peaceful nature: "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." Then they write that these two groups "started the counterattack" which ended in a mysterious fire that burned the aggressors. The AWU concludes: "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."

After excusing the massacre- and despite the countless video documentary evidence (and even statements from regime officials in Odessa that the purge of anti-government protesters was planned in advance) writing that anti-Maidan attacked the Maidan crowd that beat, chased, and surrounded it- they hyporciritcally write "we should realize our own class interests, organize at workplaces and direct our rage against the real enemy, not at each other"

teh
May 8 2014 18:58
Quote:
you can give them wrong about a lot of things but not for collaborating with fascists

"The politicians had to obey the crowd": interview on the protests in Kiev
with AWU:

Quote:
Far right party Svoboda is the most organized of the three large political forces trying to control the protest. They are the only party which has real active cells in various regions, actual activist base. So, as the most organized and the most ideological of the three, they are gaining the most. Apart from Svoboda, there is an umbrella coalition of neo-nazi militant groups. It is called Right Sector. They were formed in the beginning of the protests, and by now they've succeeded to gain enormous prominence and conquer sympathies from apolitical and liberal people. They are mostly famous by their demonstrative militancy and aggression, and the public doesn't see anything wrong with these cute young patriots.
....The fascist hegemony was indisputable until January 19th, when the protests were joined by lots of other people - random apolitical citizens, liberals and even the left......Since then they had to step back a bit but nevertheless it's obvious that in the long run these protests will enormously benefit the far right, whoever wins. In the case of the victory of the opposition, they will surely get themselves the police forces, special services etc. If Yanukovych wins, this means that half of the country will become firm supporters of the far-right as supposedly the only patriotic radical force able to confront the dictator.

Meanwhile, most left activists also joined the protests after January 19 because those laws will severely damage them as well. They found their niche in infrastructural activities, such as vigils in emergency hospitals: they stay there in order to prevent police and thugs kidnap the wounded. Other area of left activity is the above mentioned attempt at igniting the political strike.

Maidan and its contradictions: interview with a Ukrainian revolutionary syndicalist
Interview with a member of Autonomous Workers Union conducted by Přátelé komunizace,

(Very Foreboding )

Quote:
The far left have been divided to some extent in their relation to the Maidan. A smaller part declared the protests as utterly reactionary and declined any support at all. The problem is that such position pushes them into the ranks of government supporters! The logical outcome is the situation where a member of one such organization, Borotba, defends the regional state administration in Odessa from the siege by opposition activists. True, the siege was led by neo-nazis, but there were neo-nazis among the defenders as well! Namely, local “Cossacks”, paramilitary pro-Russian units.

Quote:
Anyway, most of the left activists understand that it’s not their war. After the “dictatorial laws” were passed, they decided to join the movement – not so much as political activists, more as common citizens whose political freedoms were at risk. Many leftists joined forces to institute the “Hospital Watch”: guarding injured people in hospitals so that they are not taken away by the police. Of course, this is an infrastructural, “humanist”, not political project. Other people tried to organize an all-Ukrainian student strike. They started from the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy but eventually failed: everything was over when the university was closed for winter vacations anyway.

Now there is also another group of people who are often confused with the radical left. I mean organizations like“Narodniy Nabat” and several other initiatives who call themselves anarchists but actually have a very conservative political agenda full of machismo and xenophobia. After the protests have begun, they shifted to the right dramatically; they reached truce with the nazi groups and showered Molotov cocktails at the police together. Eventually, they parted ways with left movement finally.

......

The most reasonable strategy for the left, as for me, is to try to build a “second front” against the government as well as the far-right. This should be done from outside of Maidan, not from inside of it. We should not be afraid of saying who we are and what are our ultimate political goals; only in this way we can build a strong political coalition with other forces who are in the same position right now (namely, with left liberals who are also excluded from the movement). Right now we are planning a campaign against political dictatorship, stipulating that the weakening of presidential powers actually does not correspond to the interests of any political parties. This can be a rallying point for a broad coalition, and then we can start developing a critique of bourgeois democracy per se. Another important direction is preparing for anti-austerity campaign if the government faces budget crisis later this year. But anyway, we must understand that we cannot reverse the fundamental trends and achieve cultural hegemony overnight. We have a lot of hard work before us, there will be years before we will have our own revolution.

At least when the Old Left worked with Nazi's it sometimes genuinely related to worker struggle, not annexing "your" country to the US and Germany.

big foot
May 8 2014 20:24
subprole wrote:
Quote:
you can give them wrong about a lot of things but not for collaborating with fascists....

Of course they didn't collaborate with Ukrainian Nazis. AWU are just crawling into the arse of the pro-European Union parliamentary left (where they should rot!) by making servile appeals to them as if this faction would be in any way better than the Ukrainian CP. And the supposedly somehow "progressive" elements inside Euromaidan. It is very clear their priority is now the defense against the "Russian" aggression.

Yes i've read it. I think that this is one of the things you can give them wrong. I can understand the concept behind such an apeal, i dont think they had bad intensions, but nevertheless it is stupid

Steven.
May 8 2014 22:50
subprole wrote:
What else?
http://avtonomia.net/2014/01/30/the-politicians-obey-crowd-interview-protests-kiev/

Quote:
I guess in such conditions the best form of support from abroad would be efforts to make the Ukrainian government back off, but without showing solidarity with the far-right. My guess is that such messages – “we support your struggle but not your fascists” – would be optimal form of pressure from abroad.

Not just here they are demonstrating their collaborative position towards the (liberal) elements of the - in its general tendency - populist and nationalist Euromaidan movement. This passage shows they were hoping for a new government constructing a (supposedly) more "democratic" mechanism managing Ukrainian oligarchic capitalism.

your dishonesty here was pointed out by ocelot in a different discussion where you duplicated this comment.

But in any case just to be clear, making the government "back off" in the sense which is meant here, i.e. stopping its violent repression and mass killings of opponents, is a material demand. It is not support for a "better government" any more than opposition to the poll tax in the UK in 1990 was about a material demand and not a movement for a "new government" with a more "progressive" tax system.

subprole
May 9 2014 05:34
Quote:
But in any case just to be clear, making the government "back off" in the sense which is meant here, i.e. stopping its violent repression and mass killings of opponents, is a material demand.

Ok, I can reconsider my interpretation in this case although I personally don't get sentimental when cops and nationalists - which included nazis - decimate each other as some social pacifists may do (besides the text was written before these events).

Anyhow the demand of "backing off" seems totally hypocritical considering the fact AWU has nowhere mentioned the ongoing military operation and (para) state terror against the population in the Eastern/Southern part of the country under the pretext of combating some "separatists". This is just another example indicating that they are not equidistant as I have explained in other comments (and this lack of equidistance is certainly no "accident"). Ironically an (anarcho-)syndicalist from Russia - Vadim Damier - came to the same conclusions:

Quote:
[German-English/Google Translate: Several groups in Ukraine have got into a mess and in themselves do not agree . Thus, for example, the majority of the so-called " RKAS Makhno " in eastern Ukraine rather majdankritisch , some of whose members but took part in the Maidan events in Kiev. Even more bizarre is the " Autonomous Workers Union '( AST) .

At first she was " against the two ." - Both against the Yanukovych government , and against the opposition and the Euro - Maidan Then her position changed significantly .

Officially remained the statements on the website of the group balanced, in reality , the texts were stylistically formulated so that one has but the government attributed a greater sin . They tried and tried even further the " people's movement " to Maidan and the political opposition to separate in the estimates of each other: the second was still negative , but misjudged the first positive rather than a spontaneous self-organization. So a " undivided love for the missing with them masses " is common in many well known left !

After the endorsement of the repressive laws in January 2014, the AST now declared their support for the protests. Then these laws were withdrawn , and the further position of AST was now unclear. In one of the last statements in February 2014, it criticized in particular the Yanukovych page for the provocations , and this text is clearly not enough equidistant . On the one hand expressed the activists of the AST private (eg on Facebook) their concern about the role of the extreme right on the Maidan , on the other hand tried the farther the more this role somehow downplay ...

During the events , the people made from the group in Kiev quite different things : some painted anti- nationalist graffiti , others participated in various initiatives around the Maidan , the third did nothing at all. In Kharkiv , the members inside the AST Group participated in the local " Euro - Maidan " . And after the beginning of the conflict with Russia several AST members took more of a position in favor of " defense against the Russian aggression" one . They also refused to sign the internationalist declaration against the war , since this declaration refers to the Maidan movement as a power struggle between the oligarchic cliques and sentenced both states instead of Russian aggression ..] Source

akai
May 9 2014 07:21

Actually, I have found various problematic points in different statements of this organization, so I do consider their politics to be rather muddled, if not problematic at points. In addition, Zadiraka was named here as a figurehead and there is no way to justify him. He has a long career which is very interesting and he is rather well-known for some of his escapades. In terms of working with the government, he was working with the Ministry of the Interior, which he admits himself. (Maybe such work does not bother some people on Libcom, but it should.) At the end of the 90s he was on some pro-presidential TV as an analyst. He also, if I am not mistaken, at that point distanced himself from his "radical" past. Then he was in this Leninist nationalist KSRD. And before that, in the early-mid 90s, he organized LOM (Left Youth organization) with the infamous Oleg Vernik, who was outed as creating different fake organizations in order to get money from international organizations. So I understand that some people in England might not know this, but this person cannot be excused or justified for anything. It is simply a political scammer and adventurist with very flexible and shady politics. And a fucking damn shame that crazy kids in Ukraine allow him to be a grey emminance behind their organizations.

Unfortunately there is a very long tradition of muddled politics in Ukraine. As this text http://anarchistnews.org/comment/43386 (which I do not endorse, but refer to) points out, there were different ways to react during the events. Guess that is normal given the diversity of tactics and opinions.

In this text, we can read the following about Kharkiv:

When AntiMaidan attacked the Maidan in the city of Kharkiv, its imagined enemy were not the anarchists, but NATO, EU or Western-Ukrainian fascists. Since anarchists had joined Maidan, it would have been cowardly to desert once the fight started. Thus anarchists ended up fighting side by side with liberals and fascists. I do not want to criticize the Kharkiv anarchists, after all they made, perhaps, the most serious attempt among Ukrainian anarchists to influence the course of events, but this was hardly the fight, and these were hardly the allies they wanted,

I find shit like this really problematic. And if we talk about the slant which people give in their texts, how can one note oppose language like "imagined enemy" in respect of NATO, EU, etc.?

There seem to be lots of problems in the scene around Ukraine and I think it is not right to avoid criticizing some of it. Also, although I consider myself an anarchist and probably would not identify with the politics of some of the critics of this organization, I do think some of their points are correct. I also didn't like these things like open letters to fractions in Parliament and think it was a really bad idea.

In general, the anarchist movement in the post-Soviet countries suffers many problems, from brainless actionismo, to incorporating parts of liberal agendas to failing to make good analyses at critical times, which incorporate certain class elements. And the common shady alliances or common struggles with nationalist elements that happen from time to time.

all isms are wasms
May 9 2014 08:43

akai said:

Quote:
he was working with the Ministry of the Interior, which he admits himself. (Maybe such work does not bother some people on Libcom, but it should.)

Why should it bother libcom? They put up an article supporting Tony Benn, so why not some other bit of bourgeois politics?Justifying and lying about JD, the crowd controling cop consultant never bothered the libcom admin. And why should it? It's always good to see libcom admin putting up such obviously compromised stuff - and I was very happy to hear that someone I used to know found that the first part of "Cop-Out - the significance of Aufhebengate" ("Good cop - bad cop") all about the cops and some of their history - was taken down from this site after 2 hours. I mean, though he'd gone to the trouble of taking out the unmentionable JD, this text was rightly considered unacceptable.

I look forward to more articles praising this or that aspect of bourgeois politics and culture on libcom. Long live the shining light of Libcom Anarco-optation Thought! Long live toleration for the intolerable!

big foot
May 9 2014 09:03

akai, your comment must be the most balanced and accurate cooment so far.
I really find hard to understand some of their actions but i also find hard to understand why so much hate against them: They are not the most ultra-communist anarchist organization in the world, people calm down. They happened to find themselfes in a very difficult and contradictionary situation, they tryed their best because they didn't want to stay idle(which is a very revolutionary consious point of view and action, even if they aparently failed) and they found their limits and their contradicions in the course of events. I think that this is more or less expected in such situations

PA
May 9 2014 23:35

I am still searching for this mysterious footage of these petrol bombs and molotovs that were supposedly thrown from inside the building. I may have missed it.

Personally I am also very confused (not really) about the supposed peaceful nature of the Euro-Maidan "self-defense" coming equipped with fire arms, bats and riot gear as was clearly visible in the footage of the may 2nd events for the fire at the Trade Union started .

The AWU statement is parroting the Kiev line and adding some veneer of revolutionary slogans and jingoism devoid of any real meaning. It is there for the sake of it being there. For Anarchists this is inexcusable. There is no defense that these are confusing times. While this may have been the case in the chaotic days during the Kiev protests and riots this time has long passed and there has been ample opportunity and time to come up with a revolutionary analysis which distances itself from capitalist and imperialist real politics. There is no realization whatsoever that these may protests in Odessa were taking place in a wider context of military and threat of military action against civilians by the Kiev regime.

This analysis is perpetuating the narrative that everybody opposing the Kiev regime is in fact pro-Russian and a Russian agent. There is no mention of the very real fears of many Eastern-Ukranian and ethnic Russians for repression nor the realization that these fears are fueled by RS and Svoboda activist statements. The influence of these forces in exporting violence and opposition towards Eastern Ukraine seems to be diminished and there is no substance in nuance about the motives of the opposition forces which all seem to consist of pro-Russian militants or duped workers by evil Stalinists.

There seems to be no mention of the federalist movements striving for greater autonomy from Kiev. Seems that they do not exist according to AWU.

I have absolutely no love for Marxist-Leninists of whichever tendency but their statement against Borotba seems to be somewhat of a knee jerk.

For completions sake. Here is Borotba's counter statement:
http://borotba.org/statement_of_the_union_borotba_over_recent_smear_camp...

At the very least they do not downplay fascist and nazi involvement.

John Drinkwater
May 27 2014 14:22

Esty,

They're 'crypto-nationalists' yet they have the full support of the Russian anarchist group Autonomous Action? Why would Russian anarchists support a 'crypto' Ukrainian nationalist group? Answer: they wouldn't. You insult these anarchists - and everybody else - by pretending to know more about what's happening in the region than they do. Can you read the Russian and Ukrainian press? What are your sources?

If anyone should be blocked from this site it's people like 'teh' who post a bunch of gruesome pictures that looks more like a disinformation campaign than anything else, and serves only to needlessly take up a significant amount of space in the comments section, almost as if the attempt is to shut down the voices of AWU and the dialogue here. It's utterly shameful.

jonthom
May 27 2014 15:17
Steven. wrote:
Quote:
They're equivocating by calling what happened in Odessa an accident.

do you have evidence that it was not?

Quote:
Also, they admitted to materially aiding national chauvinists during the euromaidan.

where?

On this bit:

Richard Brenner wrote:
A number of people are sharing a statement from Autonomia.net, from the anarchist Ukrainian group AWU, which gives an account of events in Odessa on 2 May eerily similar to the Kyiv regime's

firstly, there doesn't have to be anything "eerie" about it if it's correct.

just to be clear: a group of nationalist thugs chased a bunch of people into a trade union building, torched it, shot those trying to flee. the kiev government, partly helped to power by those same thugs, blamed the victims and claimed they started the fire themselves.

...and your response is "well, maybe they're telling the truth"?

in honesty i think some folks are so eager to avoid being seen as "pro-Russian" that they end up taking some incredibly dodgy positions. see also, the kneejerk "OMG Maidan wasn't *totally* fascist guise!!" attitude compared to treating antiMaidan as wholly "pro-Russia".

"neither Washington nor Moscow", indeed.

Steven.
May 27 2014 15:49
jonthom wrote:

just to be clear: a group of nationalist thugs chased a bunch of people into a trade union building, torched it, shot those trying to flee.

On this bit, you say the maidan were "nationalist thugs". Is that all of them? What about the anti-maidan lot? Were any of them nationalist, or thugs?

And do you dispute the eyewitnesses who said the events were started by anti-maidan attacking the pro-Ukrainians?

And you also dispute the video where maidan people helped some people escape the fire?

Quote:
...and your response is "well, maybe they're telling the truth"?

no, my response is: maybe the Ukrainian and Russian anarchist witnesses are telling the truth, as well as generally reputable media outlets like the BBC in saying that it was not clear exactly how the fire was started as both sides were throwing petrol bombs.

Seriously, how is it that you are in a better position to know what happened than comrades who were there, and who speak Ukrainian and Russian and so have been able to review all the relevant materials firsthand?

This is clearly a complex situation, so generally I will defer to those more closely involved themselves for a more nuanced understanding.

As there is a lot of clearly bogus propaganda about this whole thing. I mean look at the narrative that teh posts above as gospel truth, which actually makes no sense.

Claiming that these people had some organised plan to burn everyone alive, so they set the entrances on fire first so no one could escape. And then a bunch of them entered the burning building no one could leave, to beat people to death.

Seriously, do you not see how stupid that sounds?

Quote:
in honesty i think some folks are so eager to avoid being seen as "pro-Russian" that they end up taking some incredibly dodgy positions. see also, the kneejerk "OMG Maidan wasn't *totally* fascist guise!!" attitude compared to treating antiMaidan as wholly "pro-Russia". "neither Washington nor Moscow", indeed.

what's the "dodgy position" anyone here holds?

My position is the proletariat should fight for its own interest, and oppose both sides in this futile bourgeois faction fight.

This seems to also be the position of AWU (although as others have pointed out, their positions I wouldn't agree with 100%, as they didn't sign the "internationalist statement" libcom.org signed, presumably because they did participate in maidan to some extent early on, believing it had some progressive potential).

baboon
May 27 2014 21:23

That's a good starting point; the proletariat fighting for its own interests and opposing both sides in this faction fight - I wouldn't call it "futile" but that's a secondary point. It's from this point of view that we should judge statements from groups that claim to represent the interests of the working class and we have a responsibility not to accept what's being said at face value. Some of the statements, from the very beginning, from the AWU have been ambiguous at least. The statements are in English and they can be read in their entirety. I don't believe that one has to "speak the language" - the bourgeoisie speak the language and are there on the ground (how they are there on the ground) but that doesn't mean we will get a defence of a proletarian perspective because they are locally present. You don't have to be an Arab to speak on the Middle East or black to speak Africa. The working class is international or its nothing.

There should be no black and white here in Ukraine; fascists on one side and terrorists on the other. During the orginal Maidan protests I saw youngsters on the streets harassed by the paramilitaries. There were genuine expressions of protest. But where was the real strength of the movement coming from? From the state and its units just as the Russian state has engineered its side and units. Many people in the east are likely pissed off with the war - and with austerity as it bites even harder - and many in the east are sick of the paramilitary "separatists" who are bringing fear and destruction around them. I think that we have to careful about the Donbass miners striking - some union leaders. undoubtedly pro-Russian, have had discussions with the separatists and after those the "strike", which looked small, started. A strike movement against both sides would have significance but that doesn't look likely for now.

Unlike the recent protests in Spain, Greece, Turkey and Brazil, the "Maidan movement" was nationalist from the start - this and democracy was its framework. This was the overwhelming force which was backed up by diplomatic and then military assets from the west, namely the US. Part of these forces, the US-backed National Security and Defence Council in Kiev has links to the paramilitary units that have been at work in Mariupol, Donetsk and were involved in the Odessa killings.

Alongside this idea that one can only really "know" what's going on by speaking the language and being on the ground (on the ground where? Odessa, Mariupol, Kiev, Washington, Moscow?), goes the idea about the BBC being "generally reputable". The BBC is not just based on being a paedophiles paradise (that's just its Light Entertainment Department) but is a very sophisticated expression of Britain's national interests. Just as RT expresses the interests of Russian imperialism so the BBC expresses Britain's. It does so in a much more sophisticated manner that, like the whole parliamentary process, gives an impression of opposition. RT is learning not to be so openly progagandistic but the BBC have been at it far longer and have far more experience and reach. Goeballs reportedly admired the BBC - he was probably jealous.

teh
May 28 2014 00:48
Steven. wrote:

As there is a lot of clearly bogus propaganda about this whole thing. I mean look at the narrative that teh posts above as gospel truth, which actually makes no sense.

Claiming that these people had some organised plan to burn everyone alive, so they set the entrances on fire first so no one could escape. And then a bunch of them entered the burning building no one could leave, to beat people to death.

Seriously, do you not see how stupid that sounds?

The videos of the massacre show what happened yet because you believe that a neoliberal and neofascist putsch backed and openly sponsored by foreign powers "had some progressive potential" your brain conjers a defense based the irrelevant premise there had to have been an "organized plan" and as there axiomatically wasn't one then there was no massacre filmed in the videos.

Quote:
This is clearly a complex situation, so generally I will defer to those more closely involved themselves for a more nuanced understanding.

So a nuanced understanding is to say that the people who were massacred attacked the perpetrators, set themselves of fire, and then seemingly heroically were rescued by the other side that just appeared there by the force of events, probably to defend themselves.

Quote:
no, my response is: maybe the Ukrainian and Russian anarchist witnesses are telling the truth, as well as generally reputable media outlets like the BBC in saying that it was not clear exactly how the fire was started as both sides were throwing petrol bombs.

Where do the AWU say they 'witnessed' anything or 'ukrainian and russian anarchists' did? And based on the text posted on the other thread http://libcom.org/forums/news/protests-ukraine-02122013?page=7#comment-5... (googletranslate) Ukrainian anarchists in the east are "critically" helping occupy government buildings for the separatists. So the opinions of some petty bourgeois forces are more equal to you then others.

As for the BBC, heres them reporting on another revolution organized by yuppie scum

akai
May 28 2014 11:52

I would be very hesitant of any endorsements from Autonomous Action and be careful about using different Russian anarchist groups as any indication, especially given the long and disturbing connections of "action faction" anarchists with shady people.

Right now, there are some awful tendencies coming around among different groups in Russia.

The first tendency, is the anti-feminist, homophobe tendency which is saying that "we should not defend pederasts" but be with "the people". As far as I know there was a split in Autonomous Action and this included people from the homophobe tendency.

The next tendency, which also drew in people from Autonomous Action from what I know is the tendency to build red-brown coalitions with everything from Stalinists to nationalists. There are people who now consider the National Bolshevik Party as a left-wing party and say it is alright to cooperate with them.

There is also a national anarchist tendency and narodnik tendency.

In any case, Autonomous Action has always been a strong mix of things ranging from insurrectionalism on and in a number of past actions and situation there have been rather questionable positions coming from this group in terms of nationalist elements, so I find it an extremely weak argument to say that anybody is not a nationalist because they have support of that organization, whose members at various times have claimed that nationalists are not nationalists, National Bolsheviks are normal leftists, etc. etc.

I think that some of the things around the Ukrainian group have not been clear. I would also like some clear statement from them about their positions towards the national anarchists of Maidan and the Kharkiv incident. I don't know if I would say they are "crypto-nationalists" but I sense national ideology in some of their arguments personally, so I think it would be worth investigating what they really think. On the other hand, I suspect that their politics are not clear and some debate or discussion with them about this would be helpful.