PODCAST: Marxists of Ukraine and Russia — comradeship over the trenches.
Good afternoon. My name is Pavel Vlasov. I represent the organization of Ukrainian Marxists Workers' Front of Ukraine. Together with the Russian Workers' Front, we decided to record a podcast where we will discuss how the war affected society on both sides of the front, what problems the left movement has now. Let's briefly discuss the political situation in our countries and many other issues.
Hi all. If I may introduce myself, my name is Alexander Batov (communist, activist of the Russian Labor Front). I am very glad that I will be able to speak to the Ukrainian audience.
I am Mikhail Zhura, representative of the Workers' Front of Ukraine.
If you allow, we will probably have the first question for Alexander. It's no secret that war gives rise to chauvinistic sentiments among entire peoples and nations. How can you assess the state of Russian society now? What moods are walking among the townsfolk? According to some opinion polls (in particular, the Levada Center, which is published here), it turns out that, basically, the older population supports the war. Younger people take a more pacifist position, that is, they do not support, or are not at all sure whether to support it or not to support it.
Yes, this is a very interesting topic. I can just rely on this study, which was conducted by the agency, in my opinion, called Russian field. It was published by RBC (Rosbusinessconsulting), a very well-known news agency. According to this study, it is mainly Russian youth who oppose the special operation, and, interestingly, people, as they were called in the study, "with low income." The youth and the poor, to put it simply, are mostly opposed to military action. As for older people, they are indeed predominantly in favor. But this study also shows that women are less likely to support the so-called special operation than men. Among the supporters of military operations, most of all are law enforcement officers, civil servants, and so on, and among the opponents, most of all are those working in science, culture, the media, advertising, and similar professions. Based on my own observations, the observations of my comrades, we can say the following: the majority still really supports everything that is happening, but for different reasons. One of the reasons is the belief that the "collective West" wants to destroy us, and the other reason is the belief that it is necessary to fight Ukrainian Nazism by any means, or some kind of jingoistic patriotic sentiments "for faith, the tsar and the fatherland" , for the preservation of the Russian language in Ukraine, and so on. In general, all this, as a rule, is the result of mass propaganda that affects the population of the country from Russian television. But I would say that all of them are "patriots until being drafted into the army", that is, they are ready to make noise, tear their throats and advocate military action, but they themselves do not want to get there in any case. Of course, we in society are faced with many examples of the obsession with dividing into insiders and outsiders. This is also a consequence of propaganda, when people are ready to denounce their opponents with foam at the mouth, those who do not agree with their way of thinking and attribute to them a wide variety of mortal sins. Finally, many people think something like this: “actually, we shouldn’t have done this, but since we got involved in this matter, we must somehow bring it to its logical conclusion". Russian society. I, in turn, would also like to ask this question. Russian propaganda often emphasizes the patchwork nature of Ukraine: "on the one hand, there is Donbass - this is Russian land, this is the Russian east of Ukraine, and on the other hand there is Western Ukraine - Galicia ". I would like to understand how big are the social, economic, cultural differences that exist between different regions of Ukraine?
Firstly, this question must be considered materialistically, and secondly, it is necessary to consider the basis. Initially, even in the Soviet period, at the beginning of the 20th century, Ukraine was assembled from rather heterogeneous regions, then Western Ukraine joined, but during the Soviet Union, a community of Ukrainian people was formed in Ukraine. In Ukraine, although Ukrainian propaganda is trying to present the opposite, there was no oppression of Ukrainians. The official languages were both Russian and Ukrainian. Then, in the early history of Ukraine, there really was a relative unity of Ukraine. In the 1990s, it began to be violated due to the collapse of the Union. A gradual division of the Ukrainian economy into spheres of its orientation began. Earlier, during the Soviet era, there were connections with the rest of the Soviet Union and with the countries of the Eastern bloc. After Ukraine gained independence, after it became a capitalist country, part of the economy still continued to focus on the Russian Federation. The other part, under the pressure of the penetration of Western capital, under the influence of more powerful Western imperialism, began to orient itself towards the West. The more western the region of Ukraine is, the more companies there are that focus on the Western market. Unemployment is widespread in Ukraine. The west of Ukraine is initially a rather rural region. Even during the Union, despite the industry developing there, it did not develop to the level of the East in its self-sufficiency. Since the 1990s, people from there began to travel to earn money. This led, accordingly, to different points of view in Ukrainian society, which countries Ukraine should be oriented towards. The options were either the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance, or the Russian Federation, the Eurasian Union, military alliance with Russia. This division was very relevant for Ukrainian society from about the beginning of the 2000s until 2014. It seems to me that the problem with many Russian leftists, Russian propaganda and discourse in general is that this view of the situation in Ukraine is outdated. It is relevant to the period from 2004 to 2014.
A lot has changed since 2014. In the period from 2004 to 2014, during the time of both the First Maidan and the Second Maidan, one can recall the results of the presidential elections, when the country was clearly divided: one half voted for a pro-Russian candidate, the other for a pro-Western one. Twice because of this there were conflicts in Ukraine. This was connected, among other things, with the showdown of the Ukrainian oligarchs. Until 2014, Ukraine, due to the division of Ukrainian business and the division of Ukrainian oligarchs, tried to sit on two chairs. Then Yanukovych and the Ukrainian ruling elite were forced to make a choice under the control of which imperialist Ukraine would be. At the same time, this was superimposed on the internal struggle of the Ukrainian oligarchs themselves: the Donetsk clan, headed by Yanukovych, and the clan of Dnepropetrovsk and others (Kyiv, Vinnitsa), who were more profitable to orient themselves to the West. This happened in Euromaidan, in the split of Ukraine and a civil war with elements of intervention, both Western and Eastern, which helped the movement of the South-East. The result was the victory in most of Ukraine of the pro-Western discourse, the pro-Western forces of the pro-Western direction of the economy, and the total victory of the pro-Russian forces in the Crimea, the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics .
This led to the fact that for eight years, the entire Ukrainian society, with the exception of the LDNR and Crimea, was completely under the rule of the pro-Western government, which centrally distributed pro-Western propaganda and, most importantly, rebuilt the economy of Ukraine in the interests of the West. As a result, western Ukraine felt relatively satisfied because a visa-free regime was introduced for Ukrainian citizens, a simplified procedure for crossing the border. Traveling to work just got a whole lot easier. At the same time, this satisfied the demands of Western Ukrainians. As for the east of Ukraine, over the past eight years, there have been trade wars with the imposition of all sorts of Ukrainian sanctions against Russia. That share of the Ukrainian economy, which was oriented towards Russia, began to decrease. The working class began to look for a new place in this society and, basically, found it. Some were able to get a job at Ukrainian enterprises, which are also mostly connected in one way or another with the West. Someone even from the east of Ukraine travels to Poland to work. That is, gradually, Ukrainian society began to become more united and more consolidated. This can be seen in the example of the 2019 presidential elections, when, unlike in the 2000s, when Ukrainian society was divided in half, all of Ukraine came out in solidarity for a change in Poroshenko’s course. It is not entirely correct to believe that Poroshenko led an openly pro-Western course, was a protege of the Maidan, and the population voted for the opposite side - for the anti-Maidan, for the pro-Russian policy. The situation is a little more complicated. Firstly, under Poroshenko, there were certain social problems in Ukraine that urged him to overthrow, and secondly, the main part of Ukrainian society wanted not so much closer rapprochement with Russia, but rather to move the Minsk process off the ground, so that in Ukraine peace has come. Zelensky, who promised exactly this during the election campaign, therefore became the favorite. This requirement meant a moderate rapprochement with Russia, finding some kind of compromise. Zelensky did not move along this path during 2019-2021. This should not surprise the Marxist, because the elite, the ruling class that elected him, were Western-oriented. Therefore, having been nominated for the presidency and having received the necessary votes, he discarded all his promises and began to pursue almost the same foreign policy that Petro Poroshenko pursued before him.
Now let's move on to the "question of identity", about the "Russian Donbass" and about the "Galician West". As I said, this view, which more or less correctly characterizes the period from 2004 to 2014. Speaking of "identity", it is worth saying such interesting facts: most of the militant Ukrainian nationalist movements, organizations (battalions "Azov", "Aidar", the National Corps) are mainly formed, oddly enough, in the east of Ukraine, including in the Donbass. Not everyone was interested in the arrival of the LPR and DPR, and many dissatisfied people supported Ukrainian nationalists. That is, even in the east of Ukraine, Ukrainian nationalists have their own vanguard, their most combat link. This is logical and, in many respects, due to the fact that here, near the east of Ukraine, there is, as they believe, the main threat - the Russian Federation, therefore it is necessary to fight there. At the same time, the population of the east of Ukraine suffered the most from the Maidan, and for the most part, they did not support the Maidan and therefore were set up before the start of the war in many respects against the Maidan. They supported moderate forces, for example, the For Life Opposition Bloc, or voted for Zelensky. But we must not forget that a certain stable minority (largely from the local petty bourgeoisie, from the more privileged layer of workers, from officials, from those who were able to get along well after the Maidan), voted for Poroshenko in the elections and supported the pro-European course of Ukraine. Meanwhile, in the west of Ukraine, the following situation has suddenly developed. When, in 2014, under Poroshenko, an anti-terrorist operation was announced in eastern Ukraine, guided by the opinion that "the most ardent nationalists are those who live in western Ukraine," and the authorities decided to carry out increased mobilization in the west, the biggest protests against mobilization took place there, and the mobilization plan was not fulfilled there. In western Ukraine, a significant part of the population is dominated by the following opinion: "We live in western Ukraine, and if the Russians come here, we will rebuff them, and those who live in eastern Ukraine must defend Ukraine there on their own. We have achieved that we can travel to the West, and, in principle, everything is fine with us." Surprising as it may seem, according to the observations of our acquaintances, people from our organization, defeatist sentiments were almost stronger in the West than in the East.
It should be said about what differences exist between the East and West of Ukraine now.
Since the beginning of the war, many people from western Ukraine have realized that the European Union is issuing humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees, without really understanding where they came from. Many of them went to the European Union, and they began to rent their apartments in western Ukraine at exorbitant prices, given the demand for it among those who fled the war from the East. Those who remained also began to charge three times the amount they should from temporary settlers from the East. This is now also causing conflict between the inhabitants of the West and the East of Ukraine. Further, it is no secret to anyone that the zone of the predominant use of the Ukrainian language is located in western Ukraine, central Ukraine and part of the southeastern one is a mixed zone, and in the east there are completely Russian-speaking areas. Excesses are frequent when, for example, Western Ukrainians, despite the official propaganda of the unity of the nation, treat badly refugees from the east of Ukraine for their Russian-speaking.
What kind of reaction does this cause among Russian-speakers? This is a very important point. This, as a rule, does not cause a reaction "you are alien to us, and we will support Russia." No, it provokes a reaction in the spirit of propaganda: "We are all Ukrainians, regardless of language, religious preferences, and we must unite to repel the enemy." We must not overestimate the Russianness of the Donbass, the southeast and the center of Ukraine. Let's remember what the nation is. The nation is, after all, not only a language, it is "a historically established, stable community of people that has arisen on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and mental make-up." When a referendum on independence was held in Ukraine, then Kravchuk voiced the figure of 12 million Russian citizens of Ukraine, and then the population of Ukraine was 52 million. This is not the majority of the population, but still a significant minority. Other people who are often recorded as Russians, but who, nevertheless, are not Russians by most criteria, are the so-called Russian-speaking Ukrainians. These are people belonging to the Ukrainian ethnic group, socially and economically connected with Ukraine, and there is little that connects them with Russia. We will not go into details why this happened, but, basically, in the cities of the South-East and in the center of Ukraine, the main language of the population is Russian, so these people speak Russian and belong more to Russian culture. Both Russian and Ukrainian propaganda tried to play on these feelings, both until 2014, and, especially actively, in 2014. Russian bourgeois propaganda appealed to the fact that "you are Russian-speaking, so you are Russian, so let's support all pro-Russian movements." Ukrainian propaganda played on the fact that "you are Ukrainians, so everyone should be for united Ukraine." Here we return again to the difference between the situation in 2014 and 2022. In 2014, most of the South-East of Ukraine had an economic connection with Russia: people worked in enterprises that are connected to the Russian market. People spoke Russian and, even as Ukrainians, many were in favor of having a government in Ukraine that would be friendly with Russia. But what has changed in eight years? The movement, which was really massive in 2014, was defeated. For 8 years the country was reoriented to the West. 8 years is a long time. Many lost their jobs, many got new jobs. Now there is no economic connection with Russia. The last thing that connects them with Russia is only the cultural aspect, the Russian language and the fact that these people are closer to Russian culture than Ukrainian. Now they are much more connected with Ukraine. For all eight years, the Ukrainian population mainly listened to Ukrainian propaganda and was exposed to it, and not Russian. This propaganda fueled national feeling even in Russian-speaking Ukrainians. By 2022, most of the hesitant people have made a choice in favor of Ukraine. Under the Ukrainian government, they already have a certain place in society, and they are afraid of losing it. They are afraid of changing the regime to a Russian or pro-Russian regime.
As for the Russian population, it is worth adding that the Ukrainian policy was aimed at assimilation, and it is rather difficult to distinguish a Russian-speaking Ukrainian from a Russian. Most ethnic Russians in Ukraine did not receive Russian passports. They continued to live in Ukraine, became part of Ukrainian society. They are also subject to Ukrainian propaganda, so even many ethnic Russians are also in favor of supporting Ukraine.
As for the stable social group in which pro-Russian sentiments are most widespread, these are primarily pensioners in eastern Ukraine, people over 50 years old. The younger a person is, the more life has passed under independent Ukraine, the more his consciousness has been shaped by Ukrainian propaganda, including the especially strong propaganda of the last eight years. Therefore, the young and middle-aged population is mostly pro-Ukrainian. Among them, people with pro-Russian sentiments are a minority. If we talk about the national question, then most of the territory of Ukraine is inhabited by Ukrainians, even in regions such as Donbass. If we look not only at the results of the last Ukrainian census of 2001, but also at the previous Soviet-era censuses, in order to eliminate the argument that the figures were simply falsified in Ukraine, then even in the Donbass people who identify themselves as Ukrainians, although insignificant, but the majority in comparison with Russians.
As for the claims that in Ukraine "totally Russian Donbass" and "totally Ukrainian West" came together in a struggle without feeling united, then, firstly, there has never been such an ideal picture. This was closer to the truth from 2004 to 2014 for the reasons I have already mentioned. Much has changed since 2014. If we talk about the "Russian Donbas", then at least 50% of the territory of the Lugansk and Donetsk regions have been controlled by Ukraine since 2014. As a result, those people from these regions who most sympathized with the LPR and DPR moved to the LPR and DPR, and those who sympathized with Ukraine more went to the Ukrainian part of the Donbass or to Ukraine. There is such a situation that supporters of Russia live in the LPR and DPR, and those who live in the parts of these regions controlled by Ukraine, as a rule, have made their choice, including a conscious one, in favor of Ukraine. Therefore, it is wrong to portray this conflict in a national and cultural sense, as Russian propaganda does. The reality (the course of the war and the mood of the Ukrainian population) demonstrated the incorrectness of these ideas.
I have one more such rather frequent question, which relates directly to military operations.
Russian propaganda almost every day claims that the armed forces of the Russian Federation inflict only pinpoint strikes on military targets, in extreme cases, on decision-making centers, the civilian population does not suffer. How, in your opinion, in the opinion of your comrades, are things really going on?
First of all, we must not forget what war is. If the war did not end in three days, and if it was a full-scale one, then it is impossible to confine ourselves to pinpoint strikes, and everyone suffers. The following can be said about point strikes: оn the one hand, indeed, we did not have carpet bombing of cities, and the Russian side did not demonstrate a purposeful desire to destroy cities and civilians, but, at the same time, it cannot be reduced to the fact that it inflicts only high-precision strikes on Ukrainian troops, because that this is a war. At least, missiles do not always hit the target.
Let's move on to the second side of this accusation: Russian propaganda says that if civilians suffer, it is because Azov bases are everywhere. Here it is also worth mentioning the degree of influence of nationalists in the army in general, and about the number of nationalists in the army, because this is also important. They say that when missiles hit not decision-making centers, but schools or homes, it means that Ukrainian units are stationed there. Yes and no. On the one hand, Ukrainian units are not going to take up positions in places where they could be easily hit. They are trying to survive, so they take positions where it is profitable for them: if it is profitable to take positions at school or at home, they take them. In the cities that they storm, they fight for every house. And how do you fight the troops, who thus occupy a residential area, without inflicting artillery strikes on it? No way. Therefore, the population suffers, this is part of the war. Russian propaganda often exaggerates the extent to which Ukrainian units are abusing this. Yes, the Ukrainian units occupy all the positions that they consider necessary to occupy, including residential buildings, schools and hospitals, but, after all, not every hospital is a place where the Azov battalion is situated.
Very often, the Russians can make a mistake and strike not where the Ukrainian troops are located. This is war and it happens. There are special incidents like the one my friend has told me about. Someone from the inhabitants of one of the villages of the Kharkiv region told the Russian side that a column of Ukrainian troops was passing there. They sent a Russian plane. By the time it arrived, the column of Ukrainian troops had left. It is not known why the pilot fired one rocket at a tractor that was driving across the field. The tractor driver was killed. In fact, this is stupidity, and it led to the fact that the population of the village became anti-Russian. One should not, especially being a Marxist who must think dialectically, fall into metaphysics and see everything in black and white. Russians are not demons who want to arrange a total genocide of the Ukrainian people, as Ukrainian propaganda portray s, but they are not angels either, who do absolutely no harm to the population. The Ukrainian side is also not demons, as Russian propaganda portrays. The Armed Forces of Ukraine bear the main burden of the war. They are completed by ordinary citizens of Ukraine of all nationalities and all views. These are ordinary soldiers. There may or may not be Nazis among them. Most of them are not Nazis. It is the personnel units of the armed forces that hold the defense, participate in the battles. It is the professional military who operate most successfully. Some nationalist will not be able to fire a cannon. This can be done by a person who was conscripted to serve in an artillery unit, where he was taught for a year. For example, there were 3 weeks left before demobilization, and the war began. What should he do? He fulfills orders, combat missions. The same goes for tank troops and everything else. That is, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are mainly fighting. Of course, in the bulk of the entire Ukrainian population, including the Armed Forces of Ukraine, patriotism dominates: "we are defending our native country from Russian invasion." It rarely goes over to Nazism. There are certainly nationalists. Since 2014, with the beginning of the ATO, when Ukrainian society was not as monolithic as it is now, the Armed Forces of Ukraine could not be so relied upon, the nationalists really played the role of shock battalions and the most motivated units. Since 2014, many of them have joined the structure of the armed forces and, especially, the ministries of the interior. It was then headed by the well-known (even in Russia) Avakov. Nationalist volunteer battalions were formalized as an integral part of the National Guard. There are more well-trained nationalist units, like that very Azov battalion, but there are simply nationalist organizations that called for going to war. The first were the most combat-ready units of the nationalists, but they never made up the majority among Ukrainian formations. They formed units that fought on an equal footing with units of the armed forces. If we talk about Mariupol and Azovstal, they were not the only ones there. There was also a brigade of marines, and a separate unit from the police of the city and territorial defense. That is, on the part of Ukraine, the Nazis and open right-wing radicals are a minority among those at war.
—I would like to move on to the question of the left movement in our states. I would like to ask Alexander a question. Can you somehow characterize the Russian left movement? What, in your opinion, features and specifics can be identified? What are the main disengagement issues before and after the war? What difficulties do you face during the war? I think it would be right and interesting for the Russian audience to know what is happening with the left movement in Ukraine. We will talk about it after you.
— I am not a big connoisseur of the left movement, but, nevertheless, I can tell something about what it is. To be honest, it's such a rather hazy brew, and it has a fairly fragmented character.
This is especially true for large cities, primarily Moscow. But I must say that life in Moscow and maybe two or three other large cities of Russia, such as St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, is fundamentally different from life in Russia. This has long given Russians a reason to joke that Moscow and Russia are two different states. On the one hand, there are all sorts of old-school organizations, that is, organizations that either trace their genealogy back to "ancient times" - from the late Soviet times. These are organizations such as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the RKRP (Russian Communist Workers' Party) , or those organizations that have arisen, perhaps recently, but copy the structure, foundations, traditions and approaches of these old-school organizations, such as the United Communist Party or the Communists of Russia. In my opinion, all these structures are basically losing perspective, they were unable to adapt their work to the modern realities of bourgeois Russia, they use rather outdated methods and approaches in their work, and the influx of young people there is very insignificant. Of course, it should be said separately about the Communist Party. This structure stands alone. This organization can no longer be called not only communist (it could never be called communist), but even leftist, as it gradually transformed into a pale pink with a brown tint branch of United Russia. This is an organization that, in fact, has already completely degenerated into a bourgeois party. I do not mean a sign, but the principles of acquisition, the principles of work. It is, in fact, led by a faction in parliament. There is no democratic centralism there, and the masses of the party are not capable of influencing party decisions, the elaboration of the party line. In recent years, especially when the so-called Russian Spring happened, this party switched to direct direct support of President Putin and formed (perhaps you heard such an expression) the “Crimean consensus”, that is, the agreement of all parliamentary parties that “Crimea is ours”. "that "Donbass is ours", and that in this part the government and the president should not be criticized in any way. Now the Communist Party plays a branch of United Russia. This is a party that, without hiding, supports the president, the so-called special operation, and it expresses all its opposition only by giving advice to the president and government on improving and embellishing capitalism.
I have said so much about the Communist Party of the Russian Federation just to finish this topic, because it is difficult to consider this party as part of the left movement at all. In addition to the old school, which I have already mentioned, there are many courses, Marxist circles, and in the wake of the creation of these circles, attempts were even made to organize their association somehow. This resulted, in particular, in the creation of the Union of Marxists. The guys who did all this were probably good, but they believed that the very fact of the quantitative growth of circles already provided sufficient grounds for a qualitative leap forward in order to move from circles to party building. In my personal opinion and in the opinion of our comrades, this idea failed. It turned out that building a party is not at all the same as studying Marxism in circles. However, such an organization exists. In addition to the "Union of Marxists", there are many other kinds of left, moderate left, Trotskyist organizations: RWP (Revolutionary Workers' Party) Left Front, RST, Socialist Alternative, and so on and so forth. I think, from this enumeration alone, you realized that the left movement in Russia does not have any unity within itself, even situational.
And, if in small towns, in remote regions, left-wing activists from different groups and organizations somehow get together (simply because there are few forces, there are few people, and they are forced to cooperate), then in large cities, especially in Moscow, the left movement is deeply affected by petty-bourgeoisness. In Moscow, this is especially evident: here there is the most money, media influence, and power is closest. Here, there are the most opportunities to “rise up” precisely in the bourgeois sense, and therefore the leftists are ready to push each other with their elbows, drown each other and chase after the ghostly dream of bourgeois success: after journalists, the media, some financial, parliamentary opportunities, and so on. To be honest, in my deep conviction, there can be no unity of the left, since the very concept of “left” is a rather abstract concept that means adherence to the ideas of social justice, and these ideas, as we know, can be interpreted very freely and broadly. For some, social justice is the protection of animals, for others it is the protection of sexual minorities, and for some it is the protection of workers, and so on. Therefore, there can be no unity among them, and the leftist movement in Russia itself has repeatedly proved this; on any more or less significant social and economic, political occasion, the left movement of Russia split, whether it was the monetization of benefits in 2005, whether it was the events in the Donbass in 2014, or, finally, a special operation in February of this year. I can also note a characteristic feature - this is the isolation of the left from its social base, caused by both objective and subjective reasons. The objective reasons are that the labor movement in Russia is also quite weak and fragmented. With such weak support from the social base, even the best forces oriented towards working with the labor movement feel extremely unstable, as if on thin ice, since there is very little support from the workers. The subjective component is that many leftists (in my opinion, the majority of Russian leftists) do not even set themselves the goal of strengthening ties with workers. For them, the means have become an end in themselves in the best or, more precisely, the worst traditions of Bernsteinism, when “the ultimate aim of socialism is nothing, but the movement is everything” In addition, there are many disagreements in the left movement, ranging from the most profound theoretical questions, for example, “what is socialism”, “how do we feel about the Soviet Union”, and ending with questions of strategy and tactics, for example, what is the path to victory, on what social base it is necessary to rely on whether now the emphasis should be on legal politics or on some other forms of self-organization, and so on. As for the difficulties that we have faced and are facing: in our opinion, the process of fascisization has been going on in Russia for a long time, that is, the process of “tightening the screws”, a gradual but steady curtailment of political rights and freedoms. We have come across this first hand. For example, in Moscow for 9 years in a row our organization has not been given and is not given permission to hold public actions in general. That is, they allow the holding of actions of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, although in the last couple of years the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is facing great difficulties, they allow some other organizations that are on a short footing with the mayor's office. We are not allowed anything at all. Any of our applications for holding public events are rejected. Now that the so-called special operation has begun, in general, we can only speak with caution, since any incorrectly spoken word, repost on a social network, public speaking, or even a conversation (such as ours with you) can lead to the most sad consequences, that is, criminal prosecution.
I think that now it would be logical to talk about the situation with the left movement in Ukraine. For the Russian left movement, this will be especially relevant, because many in Russia are not entirely clear about the situation with the Ukrainian left.
We, too, can distinguish, firstly, the “old-school” left. This, for example, is the former Communist Party of Ukraine, which existed before the war in limbo: it seems to have been banned, but activists are not imprisoned either. In general, it existed in a state of "life after death."
There were organizations copying the CPU, or trying to make “CPU 2.0”. Recently, in 2021, there was the Derzhava party (Ukr. state, country, nation). I think it's clear from the title: this is an appeal to the fact that we had a great power, the USSR, with social justice, and so on. This organization suffered the same as the CPU. For the last 8 years, the CPU has been engaged in the fact that from time to time it held some kind of ritual meeting for eight people in honor of November 7 or May 1, but it was not enough for more. Another problem with these parties is that they view the Soviet Union as, foremost, a union of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. These organizations have already become the past, flashing in the firmament of the Ukrainian left movement. They did not distinguish between bourgeois Russia and socialist Russia, so they, in fact, joined the pro-Russian bourgeois parties. For example, the CPU was in coalition with the Party of Regions. These parties continued essentially the same policy. They are a kind of analogue of the Communist Party, only in Ukraine, with the same view of the “Crimean consensus” and bourgeois opportunism. The difference is that if in Russia the authorities “fed up” the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, then these “comrades” were strangled. They still existed before the start of the war. The Ukrainian regime is not so cruel. We should not portray Ukraine as the Third Reich. In Ukraine, fascisization has gone far, no one denies it, but, for example, before the war, the opposition platform “For Life” was in parliament, which represented the anti-Maidan discourse of past years in favor of an alliance with Russia. Although the leftist movement was suppressed, most of the Communist Party activists (except for those who showed themselves most clearly in 2014) were not repressed. Many of them continued to operate. For eight years they did not make any amendments, and as a “swamp”, like “living dead”, they existed until the war: no one really touched them, they didn’t bother anyone much, and they didn’t produce a resonance. During the war, since they did not draw conclusions about the changed situation and the internal regime (the current regime of Ukraine still requires secrecy), many of them went through the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine), the police, and the territorial defense. Many were arrested, some were later released. Of course, this is an indicator that leftists (mainly the “old” leftists) are being repressed in Ukraine, but the main accusation is that they work for Russia. In fact, they justify Russian imperialism. Russian national chauvinists can accuse us of not being pro-Russian. We are neither anti-Russian nor pro-Russian. We, unlike Ukrainian parties such as the Communist Party or the “Derzhava”, clearly see the difference between socialist Russia and the Russian working class and bourgeois and predatory Russia and the aspirations of the Russian ruling capitalist class. The old leftist parties and organizations similar to them were repressed on charges of working for the Russian Federation. Many of them spoke in the media for the Russian Federation.
This is a curtailment of freedoms, because now pro-Russian rhetoric is prohibited (and we condemn this), but you should not portray them white and fuzzy, and say that they all suffered for nothing. Some of them were actually arrested for having connections with the FSB even before the start of the war and trying to work for them. Some of these facts we know exactly because some of these figures really cooperated directly with the Russian special services, and we cannot but condemn such a fact as direct work for the bourgeois authorities. But you should not paint everyone with the same brush; the world is not so clear-cut. Many of them have not stained themselves with any actions in favor of the Russian regime, except for pro-Russian rhetoric, we cannot but condemn these repressions.
The main topic in Ukrainian politics (not counting the war) is still 2014.
The left-wing organizations of the old school (these are the CPU, “Derzhava” and “Borotba”, which is a less rotten alternative to the CPU), which are equal to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, have one circumstance in common. When Ukraine was divided once again by the conflict between Western and Eastern imperialism, many leftists, including the Ukrainian communists, decided to use opportunity to oppose imperialism in principle. Many of the old organizations that I have listed have tried to somehow participate in this social protest. There was no place on the Maidan for them with their agenda, so they tried to seize the initiative at the protests in eastern Ukraine. This they could not do.
Very soon, by 2015-2016, left-wing organizations were suppressed in the LDNR, but even at the beginning they could not seize a leading role in the protest. Therefore, they simply "stand in the tail" of Russian imperialism. Many of them left for the LDNR and now support the special operation from there and from Russia. They want to return to Ukraine and act as the KPU (Ukrainian Communist Party of the Russian Federation) here. This will do little for the left movement.
Another part of the left movement in Ukraine, also of the old school, is, in contrast to the listed pro-Russian organizations, pro-Ukrainian, pro-Western organizations. Now we are talking about the left movement, not the communist one. And the first ones could not be called completely communists, but they took from the communists the name, symbols and that they are for the Soviet Union, but they understood this in the same way as the Communist Party does. The pro-Western left is also pro-government, since our government is pro-Western. They do not call themselves communists, because the authorities have forbidden to be called communists. They call themselves social democrats, democratic socialists, they also include many Trotskyists and left-wing liberal anarchists (both left and right, almost all of them are pro-Western. These organizations include “Sotsialny rukh” (“Social movement”, a pro-Western social democratic organization), from of the anarchists, it is primarily Revdiya (Revolutionary action), of the Trotskyists, it is the SSL. There are smaller groups. Many of these organizations existed at the time of the Maidan. They tried to work with the Maidan, and this also failed, because, as you know, the Maidan ended with the change of some oligarchs to others. The proletarian socialist side also failed to seize leadership in the protest, so they became the tail of Western imperialism and its accomplice in the form of the Ukrainian authorities. Before the war, they acted legally. They did not seek to violate Ukrainian laws on decommunization, although they opposed them. Don't portray them as nationalists, they also supported relatively progressive things: opposed the law new, infringing on the rights of Russian-speaking laws. They were very fond of fitting into the classic Western agenda for minority rights, but they advocated support for the Ukrainian authorities, so it was sometimes difficult to distinguish them from the Ukrainian right. On the one hand, this is a plus for them, because they are not touched by the authorities, but it is also a minus for them, because they are not very suitable as an opposition. Therefore, the pro-Russian part of the Ukrainian communist movement was weak and now essentially died, and the old pro-Western part of the Ukrainian left movement had some support, but did not represent any strength. The fact is that the traditional electorate of the CPU is pro-Russian, and the pro-Western left did not have a traditional electorate, since they could not win over the electorate of nationalists. Any socialists are enemies for the nationalists, but for the population they are not much different from the authorities. Under the conditions of fascisization, the field for the legality of opposition forces, primarily socialist ones, is shrinking, because the movement of workers is the main enemy of capitalist power. Those organizations that did not reorganize in time for an illegal existence, as a result, depend very much on the authorities. The pro-Russian organizations were suppressed and could not show themselves in any way, and when the war began they were simply repressed, because it was very easy to reach them. They did not hide, did not try to draw any conclusions from the results of 2014. Pro-Western organizations do not hide and operate in the legal field, and are completely dependent on the authorities. There are also those who do not see any prospects for the left movement of Ukraine, except for legally existing organizations, such as Social Movement, so they joined them, but they do not agree with the general agenda. They are trying to change something in this legal organization, but they are not succeeding.
Many of the pro-Western left work off Western grants. They are given money, they imitate violent activities: rallies for the rights of minorities, various lectures. We used these lectures: we were invited, we gave our lecture. Then they stopped inviting us. Revolution is not their goal a priori. They consider themselves reformists, their goal is to take shape as a party, to enter the Ukrainian parliament. You yourself understand that these are ordinary social democrats, but even now they are working on grants.
Legality gives them another small plus. Being legal, it is much easier for them to contact the trade union movement, they have someone to speak on behalf of.
Sotsialny rukh, for example, took part in the strikes of Krivoy Rog workers (we also participated in this, but we cannot do it publicly). They appear at rallies, during strikes, and they have connections in “yellow” trade unions. As a rule, the union was used to cover strikes in the media, to provide humanitarian assistance to workers, but often strikes are initiated in state-owned mines in order to get money from the state, which the authorities subsequently plunder. I would not say that these organizations have their own agenda. One way or another, they are very much dependent on various bourgeois circles: either from grants, mainly from the Western Social Democrats, or from the domestic trade union mafia (“yellow” trade unionists). One of their main activities is holding rallies.
You mentioned that you were not given the opportunity to hold actions. In Ukraine, the situation is diametrically opposite. The constitution states that it is only necessary to notify the authority “within a reasonable time”, and it cannot prohibit the action. That is, even in 10 minutes you can send an e-mail to the local police station, and the rally will be allowed. The cops will even try to promptly gather to guard the rally in 10 minutes. Therefore, it is easier to hold rallies in Ukraine. In fact, they are carried out by all and sundry, and there are no problems with this in Ukraine. Here, however, it’s worth saying right away that if someone indicated in advance that he was the organizer of the rally, wrote a notice, the authorities received the notice, then the organizer will immediately be called from the SBU and offered to proceed to the conversation. They ask the organizer what he is like, if he is a Russian agent: “Why are you rocking the boat? In a word, please sign a cooperation agreement with us. Anyway, keep in touch with us, report to us about your events. Keep in mind, bro, don’t go where you don’t need to, and if you want to do it, then let us know, and we will tell you what you should do, and what you should not.” That is, in Ukraine, the situation with freedom of assembly and freedom of speech is simpler than in Russia, but still the state controls this, it’s just that the form of control is different. The secret services control it all. In Ukraine, rallies are held by everyone, from sexual minorities to nationalists. This is useful for the authorities: when there are rallies of fans of the SS Galicia division or a torchlight procession in honor of Stepan Bandera, the authorities can always say: “We have democracy in Ukraine. We do not give permission for the rally. We are notified and they held a rally, in accordance with their legitimate civil right.” All nationalists are supervised by the Security Service of Ukraine, so freedom here is only in words. In fact, this is just another form of control of the special services. We staged rallies through figureheads, because we cannot openly declare that they are being held: the security service will deal with us too closely. We are surviving because we have drawn all the conclusions from the situation in Ukraine, but we still cannot take risks once again.
The third part of the Ukrainian left movement (“new left”) is the organizations that began to emerge after the Maidan. From about 2015 to 2020 there was a complete lull. There were only remnants of the old movements. There was the pandemic in 2020, and some people had more free time to study Marxism, while others got worse. Before that, there was a change from the Poroshenko regime to the Zelensky regime, and then many were disappointed. As a result, interest in left-wing ideas and Marxism increased . Various Marxist media began to appear in our country (before that they did not exist at all). People began to gather around them. As in the Russian movement, there was a certain period of fragmentation in Ukraine, but it passed quickly, in about one year, because in Ukraine there is a tough regime that keeps you in good shape and does not allow you to exist disunitedly. Alone or with a small company of your comrades, nothing can be done here. In order to engage in at least some normal activity, it is necessary to unite with other communists, therefore, in our country, as a result, separatist tendencies were defeated. In the new Marxist-Leninist communist movement, the RFU is the central organization. There are smaller organizations besides us. These are either small remnants of old organizations that do not want to join a single organization, subject to a common discipline. There are some small left channels, as well as independent leftists that are not affiliated with organizations. We, like all Marxists, also have discussions and disputes about the nature of socialism in the USSR, and disputes about organizational building, but in Ukraine the situation itself makes us more tolerant of the opinion of comrades. If the majority makes a certain choice, then it is better to agree with it, because if you leave the organization, you leave the movement. You have to either be a member of the organization, agreeing with its structure in accordance with the principles of democratic centralism, or not participate in the movement at all. In the RFU, there is, relatively speaking, a general line, the main provisions of which are supported by the majority, and there is a minority that has alternative points of view.
We do not expel them; we do not suffer from sectarianism, but, they have to agree with the majority; they do not contradict the "general line" of the organization and continue to cooperate. If the situation changes, they have a chance for discussion; when they vote, they themselves can become the majority and form a new general line. In Ukraine, due to harsh conditions, there is greater tolerance for the opinions of others and less desire for splits because a split now means the collapse of the entire movement and the destruction of everything that has been achieved.
The new movement draws conclusions from the current situation: the existing regime forces them to conduct their activities secretly, underground. I won't go into details. Thanks to this, we can survive and remain free. If we had acted legally and said openly what we wanted, we would have been arrested like many others at the beginning of the military operation, although we were not pro-Russian. As for the position on the war, the pro-Russian old movement came out in support of Russia's special operation in Ukraine; the pro-Western part came to the conclusion that it was necessary to postpone the class struggle; everyone should enlist in the Ukrainian army, stand up for the struggle for the Ukrainian fatherland. They demonize Russia (they say that there is complete fascism), and romanticize Ukraine: "We still have democratic freedoms, real elections, freedom of assembly. Guys, we need to defend the progressive regime; we are fighting fascism." They call on the West to supply weapons to Ukraine; that is, they fully support the regime. We represent the third part of the movement (new Marxist-Leninists). We view this conflict in the following way. Previously, the only hegemon in the capitalist system was the United States. Now China has stood out, which is at war with it. This creates fertile ground for the weaker imperialists, who can act in these conditions in their own interests. An example is Russia. This is also an imperialist state, which is weaker than the US and China. Because of the crisis, it has its own problems, and this pushes its capitalists to aggression and attempts to conquer new spheres of influence. Thus, one side is Russian imperialism (both Russian troops and LDNR troops, which are puppets). On the other hand, we see Western imperialism, that is, the EU of the USA and the Ukrainian government completely controlled by them. Therefore, in this war, we are against both Russian and Western imperialism: both against the Russian government and against the Ukrainian one. Our slogan is "no war but class war." We believe that the Russian communists should fight to the best of their ability against Russian imperialism, we should fight against the Ukrainian puppet regime, and the Western left should fight against their imperialism. So we must unite in the fight against imperialism and capitalism.
I would like to make several important points. Firstly, speaking about the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Communist Party of Ukraine, we often emphasize that these are really fraternal parties in the sense that they are pursuing the same line of "demobilization" of workers in Ukraine and Russia and are being integrated into the existing bourgeois system. Therefore, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is doomed to repeat the path that the Communist Party of Ukraine has passed. Once in the 1990s, it was a very strong party with a powerful parliamentary faction, but it ended up with meager support from the population and, in the end, a ban. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation is preparing the same fate for itself. In addition, questions of conspiracy are not idle for us either. We started working on this topic even when people tapped their temples to tell us we were out of our mind. As early as 15 years ago, our youth organization Russian Communist Youth League (Bolsheviks) — RKSMB— began the first "experiments" in this direction, and they came in handy pretty quickly when, for example, in 2006, the Russian opposition organized a so-called "counter-summit" against the G7 summit. Activists and delegates of most leftist organizations who neglected security measures and secrecy were then detained, and some of them were convicted.
One more small question concerning the left movement: what can you say about "Labor Kharkovshchina". This organization is also called, if I'm not mistaken, the Workers' Front of Ukraine. It is headed by a former deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Tishchenko. I had to deal with reports about this group, and I want to understand what it is like now.
— It happened by chance that we named it the same. When we created our Workers' Front, we did not know about this organization. Now we don’t know anything about it either, because it shows nothing of itself after the Maidan. Perhaps they hold some kind of "ritual" demonstrations, but they don't carry out media activities. Their activity is invisible, so we can say that they are absent from the left movement. I do not rule out that they may gather somewhere and do something, but nothing is known about this.
I would also like to talk about the right. It will not be a secret to anyone if we say that our government is openly right-wing, and our right-wing radicals act mainly as participants in violent actions that can disperse demonstrations and act against individual activists. How are things in Russia? You have monarchists, nationalists. How strong are their ideas in society?
— The right movement is just as fragmented and atomized as the left movement. It has different currents. I will not now consider it pro-Western liberals, although they are undoubtedly also part of the right-wing movement. We will now talk more about such forces as monarchists, nationalists and fascists of various kinds. On the one hand, these are rather marginal structures and groups that are filled by people who are by no means representatives of the working class. There is one very important circumstance: they would have continued to remain on the margins of the Russian political scene, if there had not been a secret, and in recent years, more and more explicit support for them from the authorities themselves. I can give an example from the media sphere, which the well-known communist blogger Konstantin Semin has already spoken about more than once. The nationalists and monarchists grouped around Tsargrad TV (a TV and YouTube channel funded by the monarchist Orthodox oligarch Malofeev) have now become the leading federal television channels and radio stations in Russia. They were accepted there, and in fact, the state propaganda machine of Russia is actively integrating with them. That is, those people who do not hide their monarchist far-right convictions have become hosts on federal television and radio. Another example is the movement "Sorok sorokov." It positions itself as a public organization. In fact, this is a gang, a detachment of paramilitares, which has close ties with the Moscow mayor's office and acts as a power group when it is necessary to suppress the resistance of the inhabitants of some areas who are protesting against development projects destroying parks, and the like. These are power units in the service of the bourgeoisie, which, with the connivance of the government, carry out terror against citizens. The same detachments were involved several years ago in Yekaterinburg when there was a very noisy story associated with an attempt to build another temple in a park in the city's center. However, the nearest temple was less than a kilometer away. You can also note the well-known LDPR party, which is closely associated with criminals and with Nazi gangs. For many years and even decades, it patronized these groups (including fan groups).
We can recall the openly anti-communist monarchist society "Two-Headed Eagle," which, using the patronage of the authorities, visits educational institutions, including universities, and quite openly promotes monarchism, Stolypin's ideas, and anti-communism among young people. Of course, liberals, as well as pro-Western forces in Ukraine and Russia, are also ready to link up with those on the right who oppose the current regime in Russia. There are not very many of them, but they exist, and liberals are ready to interact with them in every possible way. But most of the Russian right-wing movement is now clearly on pro-government positions and is a shock detachment of the Russian capital in the event that it will inevitably have to suppress the workers, people, and communist movement. The Russian government is making great efforts, spending multibillion-dollar budgets on promoting monarchist propaganda in Russian society, and propaganda of imperial values, and thus a twofold situation is emerging. On the one hand, the nationalists themselves have always been a marginal movement, but on the other hand, thanks to the financial and media support from the authorities, these movements receive wide media coverage, and therefore they look like a mass movement.
One example of media support is the coverage in the Russian media on July 17 of the anniversary of the execution of the royal family. On this occasion, religious processions and other fairly mass events are held in Yekaterinburg. It is very difficult to say what is the proportion of people who go to the procession sincerely (being fanatical monarchists or nationalists), what is the proportion of those who go out just for the company (because it is accepted and trendy), and what is the proportion of those who are recruited in the same way, as civil servants, who are often recruited for pro-government public events in order to portray mass support for the authorities. The same can be said about the Cossacks. Initially, these are absolutely marginal structures, but they receive benefits, they are sponsored by large corporations and Russian oligarchs. Now there is more and more talk that the Cossacks will become part of the National Guard, just like the nationalist battalions in Ukraine became part of the National Guard. Thanks to this, the Cossacks become quite an attractive organization for those who do not find a place in life and who seek, perhaps, to feel at least a little power in their hands. Such people willingly join the ranks of the Cossacks in order to manage, command, and in fact serve as tools in the hands of capital to suppress the popular movement.
Of course, the Russian Orthodox Church, which is the conductor of the most chauvinistic, obscurantist moods in Russian society, plays a big and very reactionary role in whipping up these sentiments and forming paramilitary detachments. It can be assumed that, most likely, the ROC also plays an active role in the formation of paramilitary formations, which are called upon to fight the popular movement in Russia in the future. The movement Sorok sorokov is a very good example of this. So, in general, the right-wing movement in Russia is still fragmented and marginalized. However, it enjoys mass support in the form of state propaganda and generous financial injections (both from Russian oligarchs and from various public institutions, including institutions, among civil servants and so on.
I would like to ask an obvious question. How did the war affect the mood of Ukrainian workers? On the one hand, as we understand, the Kremlin counted heavily on pro-Russian enthusiasm, but on the other hand, there is a feeling that Russia's actions have pushed the waverers to rally around the Kyiv authorities. To what extent is Ukrainian society consolidated now, after February 24? The next question is more about the economic situation. The war, of course, caused a deterioration in the economic situation of the working people.
How much does it feel and, most importantly, who do they blame for this?
—Here we can recall what was said about the Russian right. In comparison with them, the Ukrainian right-wing movement was much more developed. They were also the "club" of the authorities, only much more powerful. As in Russia, they also enjoyed little support from the population, they were also marginal forces. To confirm this, you can look at the results of any elections: parliamentary, presidential and local ones. Nationalist organizations were not even able to overcome the five percent barrier to enter the Verkhovna Rada. That is, the population did not support them. But after February 24, they took the next step: only now, eight years later, our nationalists are really not a marginal force. The nationalists have been saying all these eight years that it is necessary to prepare for war with Russia, that the Russians will attack, therefore "we must unite, we must not 'rock the boat', we must prepare for war." The opposition forces said: "No, guys, you're just turning the screws for the sake of the current regime." The Russian Federation nevertheless openly attacked Ukraine.
Thus, everything that the rightists were talking about now turned out to be true in the eyes of the population. Therefore, they are now, moreover, popular among the people. The degree of consolidation after February 24 of the Ukrainian population reached a record level. This can be judged by the degree of confidence in the president: in 2019, Zelensky received the votes of 73% of voters, but according to social polls, more recently (in the fall of 2021), he had the support of 24% of the population. Now, according to new polls, the president is supported by 80-90% of the population. This indicates that the society has united.
As for pro-Russian sentiments, firstly, they were greatly overestimated. Second, it is important to keep in mind that support for the pro-Russian regime in Ukraine does not equal support for the Russian regime in Ukraine. That is, if the population is ready to maintain friendly relations with Russia, this does not mean that it is ready to become part of the Russian Federation. Such sentiments were marginal. The reason for the pro-Russian sentiment in the southern regions of Ukraine was that the war that had been going on since 2014 concerned them the most, so they were interested in peace. But the attack of the Russian Federation on Ukraine looks exactly like an attack for them: they wanted peace, but received only a full-scale war, and it was the southeastern regions of Ukraine where pro-Russian sentiments were most widespread, and they suffered the most.
The hopes of the local population that the authorities would come to an agreement with Russia did not come true. Of course, being Marxists, we understand that this is natural, because our power is completely controlled by the West, which is set to conflict with Russia, and the authorities were not going to negotiate. But the population, which is dominated by Ukrainian propaganda, does not look at things so broadly. It sees the fact that is explained to the townsfolk very simply: “We are Ukrainians, we lived peacefully in our country. Somehow, at the very least, but we lived in relative peace, everyone had their own place. And then, Russian troops cross the border, attack Ukraine, and a full-scale war begins, from which everyone suffered terribly." I will say right away: if this war really ended in three days, then perhaps there would be no such consolidation of the Ukrainian population, because many would think that if this regime cannot hold out, then there is no point in supporting it. But the Ukrainian regime was preparing for war, and it was expected that it would put up fierce resistance. Because of this, the population rallies around it even more and burns with the desire to support him. In the minds of the Ukrainian people, this war really turned into a patriotic war. We have to admit this fact, although the war is an imperialist conflict. Speaking of fascism, I would like to add a detail that can be called relatively funny, although it is sad. Many, including the Ukrainian right, the ordinary population of southeastern Ukraine who support the war, and even the Ukrainian government itself, which the Russian authorities are trying to portray as anti-Soviet, use a reference to the Great Patriotic War: then the Germans attacked us without declaring war at 4 in the morning crossing the borders and striking at our cities, and now in the same way, early in the morning, without declaring war, the Russian Federation also attacked us. Many (I met with such people) think that our grandfathers fought the Germans, and we are also fighting the Russians. Accordingly, based on such sentiments, it is clear who the majority of Ukrainian citizens are now blaming for the fact that life has become worse due to the war, and for everything else that the war has brought. They blame Putin. Someone blames only him. This was especially noticeable at the beginning of the war, many said that "the crazy old man from the neighboring country attacked us," but now, because of the bitterness in the war, they are also ready to blame the entire Russian people, all of Russia as a whole. They are accused of worsening the situation. I have already said that the inhabitants of eastern Ukraine are unhappy with the behavior of the inhabitants of western Ukraine, who speculate on their disasters, but, in general, the war served to consolidate around the regime and united the country in blaming Russia for everything that happens in Ukraine. For now, this situation persists. Although the population is tired of the war, but it has not yet turned into something more: the population does not realize that the Ukrainian government also bears a share of the responsibility for the outbreak of the war.
At the same time, people do not turn to each other and do not see that they are not really alone, and that most of the workers have the same problems. People are atomized, moreover, they live for today and do not see any prospects in the future.
— In that case, I would also like to talk about the situation in the Ukrainian economy, the actual situation of the workers and how it worsened due to the war. If in Russia many Western companies closed due to the fact that sanctions were imposed on it, then in Ukraine many Western companies (some retail chains, enterprises, especially in the service sector) also stopped their work due to the war. This caused a significant increase in the number of unemployed. Many domestic enterprises, especially in the front line, also stopped their work due to the war, as a result of which there is simply huge unemployment in Ukraine at the moment (as far as I know, more than 40% of people of working age are now unemployed according to official statistics). The state somehow tries to provide assistance to the unemployed, internally displaced persons, but in the first two months after the start of the war, it was possible to receive a payment in the amount, if I am not mistaken, of the minimum wage, that is, a relatively small amount. The government does little to help the temporarily unemployed, and they are mostly left to fend for themselves. In general, the Ukrainian economy is now particularly dependent on Western supplies (food, humanitarian aid) and on the economy of those regions of the country that are not affected by the war. Ukraine is struggling just to get by. There was a fuel shortage problem. It is very expensive. It was sold in a volume of no more than 10 liters, and there were huge queues. In general, there has not been a complete collapse of life in Ukraine: there is food and clothing, and the working people mostly live on the savings that they were able to accumulate before the war.
— I have another question about the army. First, I would like to better understand what territorial defense is, who was recruited there now and at the beginning of hostilities, and on what principle it evolved in general. There is also a question about the Ukrainian armed forces. In Russia, efforts are now intensifying to recruit contract servicemen in the army. The contract service is advertised in every possible way. What is the state of the armed forces now? Is the army replenished with contract soldiers? Maybe some additional mobilization measures are being taken? In general, what is the main contingent now entering the armed forces and in what mood do people take up arms? In addition, there is a related issue: we understand that hostilities will obviously be of a protracted nature. Of course, the communists believe that war is bad, but what exactly do you recommend to those who ended up in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and territorial defense, and what do you recommend to those who remained to work in the rear?
The Ukrainian government knew that the war would take place, it began to prepare for this in advance, especially actively during the last month.
On July 16, 2021, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Presidential Draft Law “On the Fundamentals of National Resistance” on the formation of the same forces, which assumed their formation starting from January 1, 2022. On July 29, 2021, Zelensky signed the law. That is, this structure was already prepared by the beginning of the war. In fact, this is something like a militia: volunteers who are ready to take up arms and fight. Territorial defense plays a supporting role. For example, during the war, all of Ukraine (main highways, important rear facilities, and even just cities and towns) was covered with a network of checkpoints, patrols, and various control forces. Along with the police, this function is performed by territorial defense. Territorial defense was formed in all oblasts (administrative units). At the beginning of the war, these forces usually took part in the battles on the territory of the regions where they were formed. Recently, due to heavy losses at the front, it was allowed to move the territorial defense between regions, and the territorial defense from the west and from the center of the country goes to the east and also participates in battles. Sometimes they are sent to the rear of the troops (to the third line of defense), in other cases, they have to directly participate in hostilities. At the beginning of the war, military registration and enlistment offices left the front-line cities more easily, so, for example, in Kharkov it was possible to enroll only in territorial defense. In this regard, there managed to recruit a lot of volunteers. It was the same in other oblasts. People who join the forces are different. On the one hand, there are patriots and nationalists who can not only cheer about the victories over Russia and participate in parades in Kyiv, but are also ready to actually join armed formations and fight at the front. But there are, of course, such nationalists who preferred to stay behind the lines and engage in repressions of the local population, look for dissenters and identify real Russian agents.
In addition to them, many unemployed join the territorial defense. Many workers have nowhere to work, and in the territorial defense, as well as the armed forces, they get quite a lot of money (more than the average salary in the country). Many enroll there not only because of money, but also because of patriotic feelings.
Here we turn to the mood with which people take up arms. As I have said many times, patriotism is really strong in Ukraine. The population perceives this war as a defense of the motherland and is driven by patriotic feelings. During the formation of territorial defense at the beginning of the war, mostly those who had previously served in the army were recruited. Secondly, those who had not served in the army, but wanted to (for example, students) were recruited. They are trained and they also serve.
As for the armed forces of Ukraine, since the beginning of the war there is no division into contract soldiers and conscripts. From the very first day, the Ukrainian army has been fighting in its entirety: both contract soldiers and conscripts, who had three weeks left before demobilization. Everyone is fighting. Already on February 25, general mobilization was announced in Ukraine, which assumed the existence of 4 categories of conscription of the population for war. At the moment, in the last month, there has been a third wave of mobilization in Ukraine. The Ukrainian army suffers heavy losses, so the population is called up to its ranks. Some dodge the call. Others do not enlist as volunteers, but if they receive a draft notice, they consider it shameful to evade the draft and really fight at the front. Basically, patriotic sentiments prevail in the Ukrainian army. Recently, especially in the Donbass, there have been cases when Ukrainian units abandoned their positions and retreated to the rear. These facts should not be exaggerated: they are retreating not because they do not want to die for Ukrainian power or because they doubt the need to defend the Ukrainian state. The fact is that not everyone can survive in this meat grinder. Considering that the supply is also not ideal, people turn out to be demoralized in battles and sometimes leave their positions. There is no realization that there is nothing to fight for.
But, if we talk about the prospect in the mood of the armed forces, firstly, there is a general dissatisfaction with thе rich (oligarchs and everyone who went to the West and lives in Poland on refugee allowances): "We are fighting at the front, shedding our blood, sitting in trenches, but while we are fighting, someone is fattening. Many are afraid that after the war their feat will be forgotten and they will not receive benefits. In general, not all military personnel have confidence in the stratum of the ruling class, in the "rich" and in the "authority". After the war, this, it seems to me, will cause a desire in society to ask: “What did we fight for? Ukraine has already faced so many trials over the past 10 years, life has become worse. We fought for a better life, but it is getting worse and worse. do with it." These moods of distrust towards the Ukrainian government and doubts that it reflects popular aspirations and should be used by the Ukrainian left for agitation among the soldier masses. It is necessary to explain (they themselves are already beginning to understand this) that the main enemy is not ahead, it is not Russian soldiers and the entire Russian people, but the Ukrainian authorities in the broadest sense of the word. The ruling class does not lead the country to success, but acts for its own selfish purposes. The Russians have the same ruling class that sends soldiers to slaughter for their interests, just like this Ukrainian regime. It's not about "evil Russia" and "evil Putin" and not that Ukraine is so "kind", but that the regime in our country also needs to be changed, and that if the regime in Russia were different, there would be no war. It is in this direction that those who serve in the army should be agitated.
We have such an individualistic pacifist point of view (let us call it the old word "petty-bourgeois"): "The war is imperialist, which means that we must do everything possible to evade conscription into the army, not to serve, not to participate in this massacre between peoples." We believe (of course, there can be no question of forcing a communist to join the army, this is a voluntary matter) that we should conduct agitation, if possible, among all sections of the population, and we must not miss the opportunity to agitate in the army. Therefore, if someone has a desire to enlist in the army, not with thoughts that "now we will defend Ukraine etc," but with the understanding that he is going to agitate the mass of soldiers, explain why the war is on and how to make sure that there are no more such wars, so that the people whom they, being patriots, protect, really begin to live better. The same, it seems to me, can be said to Russian communists who wish to serve in the army. In general, it makes sense to have an agitator on the Russian side. As we were told by Russian communists, the idea of "Soviet patriotism", sympathy for the USSR, is relatively popular among rank-and-file soldiers. This is largely due to the opportunistic activities of the Communist Party, which supports the authorities. Therefore, the soldiers hang out red flags, they think that they are restoring the USSR. It seems to us that it is worthwhile to influence such soldiers with propaganda: to explain that by setting a red flag over Kherson you will not restore socialism. It is necessary to restore the red flag over the Kremlin, and not just as a "rag", but to explain that the USSR was a socialist state, to talk about exploitation, capitalism, socialism. In general, it must be explained that if you are sympathizers of socialism, the Soviet Union, then by helping the Russian ruling regime to subjugate Ukraine, you are not bringing socialism closer in any way. Moreover, this only complicates the situation for the Ukrainian communists. After many red flags were hung over the occupied territories, monuments to Lenin were restored and Soviet names were returned, for the Ukrainian layman in general, let's say all communist symbols and all communist rhetoric are associated with Russian occupiers.
Therefore, this only causes great harm to the communist movement: in order to act in the legal field, we will have to adapt to the mood of society. It will be necessary to develop an alternative leftist symbolism, an alternative rhetoric, preserving the Marxist communist content in order to avoid association with the Russian authorities, which discredited the old symbols.
I think that will be all, this time.
No matter how hard the ruling classes try to pit us, there is no need for the working people of Russia and Ukraine to divide up anything. No war but class war.
To the unity of the proletariat of all countries.
Ukrainians and Russians have the same cry: let there be no master over the worker.