The Rulers and
Translation: Mark Harris, 24 February 2001
The political crisis that today seized Ukraine is called by many names. For the presidential administration it is “a provocation”, “destabilization”, and “an insane revolt”. For the right opposition, it is “the continuation of the national revolution of 1991.” For the consistent left it is “a pre-revolutionary situation”. For the “neutral” political analysts, it is “the geopolitical struggle for control of the country.” For the man in the street, it is “a threat of chaos and destruction”. But no matter what the events taking place today in Ukraine are called, the main thing is clear to everyone: that the fate of our government of 49 million people depends on the development and outcome of these events.
Firstly, about the crisis. To call it exclusively “political”, as do the presidential authorities and right “oppositionists”, and supporters of the pro-american premier Yushchenko, is, to put it mildly, incorrect. In the first instance one should say that the country is in the grip of a severe economic crisis, and this very fact has fundamental significance for communists. They alone put ahead of everything else the social-economic situation in the country, which is being crushed by the bourgeois regime, which includes representatives of both bourgeois groupings. The right opposition is silent about this—well, if you look at it, its not clear who brought more effort to bear in order to drive the country to its present misery– Kuchma, or “the true reformer” Yushchenko. In sum, for the right opposition the main sin of the regime of Kuchma is its “moral insolvency”. And this dishonest and bad president must be exchanged for a better one – preferably, premier Yushchenko.
Finally, its been long understood that the activity of the right “centrist” and socialists is directed from the USA. Their “head-quarters”, almost openly, “were housed” in the American embassy. For this very reason, Kuchma was deprived of the ability to “discharge” the premier. A year ago, when Kuchma at the cost of some effort falsified the presidential elections, the financial-political powers of the USA put to him three conditions which were immediately satisfied: a declaration on rapid privatization of industry, the beginning of a campaign of land privatization, and the naming of Yushchenko – the greatest and oldest friend of the American special services, whose wife, as every one knows, is a “former” cadre agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, and in the recent past, a citizen of the USA.
Finally, Kuchma's guilt, as far as the West is concerned, is not just his “sabotage” of privatization, but that he carried it out (with maximum effect) in the interests of Russian companies, which in recent years strengthened their expansion in Ukraine (which is natural, considering the interdependence between Ukrainian and Russian industries, surviving from the time of the USSR. Now Kuchma openly looks for support among the Russian State bourgeoisie, and, naturally, finds it. But the West for its part gave their people, who earlier defended the president from communist propaganda, the command to “bring down” Kuchma – that is, in fact, to repeat that which earlier had been revealed by the left. And now these revelations begin to bring results..
The anti-presidential campaign has practically discredited the Kuchma regime entirely. One can say, that all of the dissatisfaction with the constantly deteriorating conditions of life today manifests itself in the deep hatred to this cowardly foulmouthed lout. “Kuchmagate” led to the present “Kuchmahate”.
On the other hand, the right opposition does not have particular confidence in the country either – other than perhaps the western regions. The principle cause of this is the generally known fact that the majority of the right leaders supported Kuchma until relatively recent times, and worked under his direct instruction.
For the average Ukrainian citizen, it is difficult to understand the complex political combinations, and in those combinations the positions of those present day opponents of the regime, who had earlier been identified with the power of the dirt-splattered president. On this point Kuchma himself spoke not without irony in his last interview with the loyal mass media on 12 February (2001). “Look: Julia Vladimirovna (prior vice-premier of Timoshenko), or even Sergei Folovatii (ex-minister of justice, who persecuted the Communist Party of Ukraine) – all of them were in power, all of them were with this president, and all followed the line of this president, including his “European choice” (tr.: i.e. Ukraine’s orientation toward the West)
The ‘pink’ socialist International “opposition” finds itself in an analogous position – the socialists of Moroz (tr:Oleksandr Moroz, head of the Socialist Party of Ukraine) who, after prolonged social-democratic drift, openly supported the pro-western group of the bourgeoisie. In this regard it’s possible again to cite the remark of Kuchma: “Comrade Moroz…who practically rejected the European choice, who was against the market development of the economy, who until the present day speaks of ‘privatization of land only over my dead body’, and suddenly today he is such a champion of the European choice. It’s amoral!” Unfortunately, our highly moral president, very probably, simply did not understand the class foundation of the metamorphosis of the socialists.
In this way it is possible to say that in the country a distinctive “vacuum of power” has been gradually formed. The “upper classes” already cannot, while the “ruled” so far only do not want to, believe the professional politicians. “An ideal situation is forming for the establishment of a left or right dictatorship”, thus did secretary of the Council of Ukrainian Security, E. Marchuk characterize the situation, and it looks like today this is the only real alternative for our country.
Communists – the communist party, the all Ukrainian Union of Workers, and more small organizations have, as before, significant support, in the first place, in industrial regions and in the villages which are quickly becoming impoverished, and today both groupings of the bourgeoisie are trying to win them over to their side – either by promises or by threats and outright terror, as in Kiev, and particularly, “in the dark corners” of western Ukraine, a region in the throes of reaction.
One can say, that this is a serious ordeal for the Communist movement of Ukraine, which once again sharpened the contradictions between its left and right wings. It’s questionable whether the leadership of the Communist Party of Ukraine, with the undisguised opportunism of many of its members, will come to agreement with Kuchma or with the “democrats”. For years, when the Communist Party of Ukraine was the single real power resisting bourgeois power, the contradictions with the Kuchma regime reached an insurmountable level, and attempts to support it would cause a breach with the mass membership of the party.
On the other hand, “unification” with the right is even less possible. As the deputy head of the Kiev City Police Department Colonel Savchenko said, “Nothing like the 1993 showdown in Moscow will take place here, not now, nor ever…because our communists and nationalists will never come together and will always try to annihilate each other.
In order to explain this situation briefly to the non-Ukrainian reader, we will note that in Ukraine there are, at a minimum, two “nationalisms”, the main of which is the “state” Ukrainian. For this reason in its time the Communist Party of Ukraine did not become the twin of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, close to the hearts of CPU leaders. CPU did not fit in the role of a “national patriotic opposition.” On the contrary, it was severely persecuted for internationalist tendencies, (such as frequently falling into reverse, the “Soviet Union” patriotism) and the resistance to aggressive Nazism, in which the henchmen of the West see “the hand of Moscow.” Although this “hand” often turns out to be Kuchma himself and the big capitalists supporting him and trampling the communists.
Under such conditions, the obvious support of Kuchma would practically lead directly to divisions within the party. Therefore, when the principle Goebbels of the country, the journalist Lapikuroi presented on state television the opinion of Zyuganov, accompanied by a portrait of Gennady Andreich (Zyuganov), who “suggested” to the Ukrainians that they “support Kuchma”, even the most orthodox admirers of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation were compelled to dissociate themselves from its leader. Zyuganov simply could not more completely discredit himself.
The position of the All-Ukrainian Union of Workers must be finally
established at the 6th congress of the Union, which is to take place
on 17-18 February. It is expected, that an all Ukrainian protest
action will be organized, an alternative to “Ukraine without Kuchma!”:
“Ukraine without Capitalism!”. Meanwhile the already persecuted
left activists believe that with the growing destabilization of the
bourgeois state it is necessary to intensify protest actions, and, then,
to attempt to take political power by revolutionary means. Others
recommend at first to secure the dismissal of Kuchma and the complete
elimination of the office of president, which should seriously weaken
the entire system of bourgeois power.
This Is How the Dictatorship Creeps In
The short visit of president Putin to Kuchma, who emigrated to quiet Dnepropetrovsk (tr: a city 400 miles SE of Kiev), after the first information on the preparations, provoked the intense attention of the entire country, which tracked the activity of the “secret service operative”, secretary of Security Forces of the Russian Federation S. Ivanov. The simple meaning and transparent subtext of this meeting was clear to all: Putin must support his titular colleague in exchange for guarantees of safety for the widest expansion of Russian capital in Ukraine. In other words, one can say, that with this quickly arranged short visit, Putin established his staus as suzerain over Kuchma, and openly showed the dependence of bourgeois Ukraine on bourgeois Russia. The prospects of this visit particularly excited the opposition, and as was seen, certainly with good cause. The support of Putin untied the hands of Kuchma, and gave him the possibility of waging a “bit less democratic” struggle with the discontents.
It’s true, that on 10 February, Kuchma nonetheless dismissed his old friend Derkach from his post as head of the Ukrainian Security forces, and fired the head of his personal guard. But it is not possible to call these actions concessions to the opposition. The management of Derkach always provoked discontent within the Security Forces, which Kuchman neutralized, returning to this post the “professional’ general Radchenko, who had been removed by Derkach. The head of the guard, however, was dismissed for professional incompetence.
On the next day the visit of Putin in Dnepropetrovsk suddenly changed the situation perceptibly. The Russian bourgeoise, in the person of its president provided Kuchma complete support – political, expressed in the first declaration that the Russian leadership intends to support relationships “exclusively with the “the President of Ukraine, selected as a result of democratic procedure, Leonid Kuchma”, but also economic. This last was especially important, considering that the country finds itself in a condition of a power and fuel crisis. The agreement between the two countries effectively unifies their energy systems, and places the energy system of Ukraine under Russian control.
Describing the results of this quickly arranged meeting, the central Russian press did not hide the pleasure of the Russian rulers in its outcome. Even before the visit “Moscow News” openly wrote: Putin in going in order to save Kuchma” and at the end “Izvestia” made the cynical, but certainly justified conclusion: “Kuchma – our (p)resident.” Actually, Kuchma today fills the role of an employee of Russian capitalism – their interests are now common and their fates, tied.
And in conclusion, Putin sealed the fate of the right anti-Kuchma opposition in a restrained and stately manner by saying this: “Are we going to wait until some sort of internal problems are settled there? We hope they will be settled in a democratic spirit and to general satisfaction”. For Kuchma, his circle, and other Ukrainian politicians, this was an unambiguous command-sanction to suppress “some sort of problems”.
On the next day 12 February the fate of activists of “Ukraine without Kuchma” was settled with the order to take the tent camp away from Kreshchatik (tr.: main street in downtown Kiev). Ignoring the resistance of the deputies and their parliamentary immunity, the police gradually removed the tent city. In Dnepropetrovsk the participants in the action were severely beaten and held for a 24 hour period.
On 13 February one of the leaders of the opposition was arrested – the former vice premier Yulia Timoshenko, absolutely the sharpest and cleverest bourgeois politician in the country. Timoshenko was accused of bribing the previous premier Petr Lazarenko, who is now under prosecution in the USA, but the actual cause of Timoshenko’s arrest is the desire to decapitate and disorganize the right opposition. This was to a remarkable degree successful. At the same time with this arrest a declaration was published, signed by Kuchma, speaker of the legislature Ivan Pliushch and premier Yushchenko. In its 10 year history the imbecilic bourgeois regime in Ukraine did not produce anything like this masterpiece. (Tr: a lengthy citation in the Russian translation of the statement of the Ukrainian Government is omitted.)
Yes how indeed can one here forget “how fascism starts.” With all its clumsy style the government’s document has doubtlessly provoked terror among many of the opponents of the regime. But the arrest of Yulia Timoshenko and a number of lower functionaries of the opposition, was an instantaneous confirmation that the turgid presidential works about defense of the bourgeois “stability of the state” will not pass away.
Generally, after these two days the democrats practically lost all political initiative, and fell into a “depression”, reducing their activity to a minimum. The shock to the right opposition was provoked not so much by the fact of the declaration, but by Yushchenko’s signature on it.
It’s humorous to describe how presently the ‘Ukrainian patriots” are publishing numerous declarations to their not-yet-dead idol, to whom in a now angry, now pleading tone they demand-entreat the premier to “change his mind, renounce the tyrant,” “to be a man and stand up to his female colleague”, and so on.
But the reason for such “apostasy” is clear – today Yushchenko, and possibly, the West, have lost the struggle for Ukraine to the pro-Russian grouping of the bourgeoisie. It’s very possible that soon the premier himself will be dismissed. The Russian daily “Kommersant” wrote about this. Incidentally, it’s most recent issue, was not allowed to go to print in Ukraine after the objective coverage of the events of 6 February. It’s obvious, that the pro-American circles and their patrons will not give up and will wage the struggle, above all, by the usual path of economic and political pressure on Ukraine and its bourgeois leadership.
The immediate reaction of the West testifies to this. The next day after the events in Kiev, the ambassador of the USA to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, David Johnson, appeared in Vienna, and expressed the “bewilderment” of his administration concerning the “strongly worded” manner of the president-premier-speaker’s appeal and called on Ukrainian authorities to conduct a complete investigation of the disappearance of Gongadze, proposing “for assistance” in this matter “the help of technical experts of the USA”.
From this moment the western press, through its most influential publications make ever stronger attacks on Kuchma. (tr: a series of excerpts from the major European press organs along the lines suggested is omitted).
The western press quickly reacted to the incident of 16 February, when at 5 a.m. some “unknown persons” threw 2 bottles with incendiary liquids through the window of the newspaper “Comrade”. The press accused Kuchma of a tolerance for provocation and terror”.
It goes without saying that the greatest danger for the regime of Kuchma would be the economic sanctions – the threat of the complete collapse of financial help from the West, which, together with energy handouts from the Russian federation, have permitted him to remain in power. Only his fear to go broke compels Kuchma to slightly democratize his actions and to tolerate the pro-American premier, since in recent years “help” was addressed to “care of Yushchenko.” Now, it looks, that the West might proceed to support the destabilization of the situation in Ukraine directly; and the barely alive democratic opposition might try to activate new protest actions. But without the support of the workers all the activity will be nothing but attempts at something serious.
The working class of Ukraine stands before the alternative: to
choose the “more convenient” of two national state dictatorships, to
conditionally support one in the struggle with the other, or to attempt
to win for itself complete political power in the country. Such
prospects are possible, in so far as the workers and communist organizations
of the country, regardless as to how complex the situation, did not
so far compromise themselves by cooperation with the bourgeoisie.
Now it’s all in the question: will the workers find their voice, or
will the dictatorship continue its daily attacks.