Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 25 February 2014

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
25 February 2014

After months in which thousands were wounded and over a hundred killed in violent clashes with riot police, Ukrainian protesters finally ousted president Yanukovych. No-one will shed any tears over the end of this corrupt regime - which ordered its police to use live bullets against its own people.

But will the protesters see the democratic changes they were hoping for? If what they wanted was to end the rule of the cliques of gangsters which have been in power ever since the country became independent, they can expect nothing from those opposition forces which are now taking over power.

Lessons from the past...

Ten years ago, the so-called "Orange Revolution" overthrew the regime of the day and brought these opposition leaders into office. But the population was so disappointed that it chose to elect someone like Yanukovych back into office.

It is one thing to bring down a dictatorial leader, but it is quite another to choose which direction to take, once this is done. Political forces which are already organised, know what they aim to achieve. But those who go to protest, without knowing what exactly they are fighting for, are bound to be used as cannon fodder by these organised forces.

And the least that can be said in the case of Ukraine is that not one of the politicians who is bidding for power represents the interests of the population. Some declare themselves in favour of a rapprochement with the European Union while others are waving the Ukrainian national flag. But in either case they represent the interests of the layer of rich "oligarchs", who built their wealth by using their connections in high places to hijack or parasitise state-owned companies.

The only objective of opposition leaders like Tymoshenko or Klitschko is to perpetuate the oligarchs' domination over the economy.

The ex-boxing champion and wealthy businessman Vitali Klitschko is also the son-in-law of a former president who was well-known for his cruelty and corruption. As to Yulia Tymoshenko, who leads the main opposition party, she was born and bred in the ruling bureaucratic circles and proved so good at taking advantage of her position, that she was soon leading a large energy company, winning the nickname of "natural gas princess". After two terms as prime minister, during which she proved just as greedy and corrupt as Yanukovych, she became Ukraine's richest woman.

The Ukrainian population can't expect anything from such politicians. Yet these are the characters upon whom both Putin and the western leaders rely to stabilise Ukraine. Beyond their differences and rivalries, the world's powers all want the popular mobilisation to end as soon as possible and Yanukovych's administration to be replaced with a new one.

... And the dangers in store

But whether the situation will go the way they wish is another question. The far right has used these past three months of protests to raise its profile. Its armed groups held Kiev's Independence Square for weeks. Some of these far-right groups are overtly fascist, but all of them are busy whipping up the crassest nationalism, against Russian-speaking Ukrainians, Jews, Roma and generally against all other minorities.

Today, using the opportunity of the power vacuum, these far-right thugs have taken over police stations and town halls, under the pretext of "restoring order". Their policy of setting sections of the population against one another by playing on linguistic or religious differences could not only lead to a partition of Ukraine, but also to a bloody dead end for the population - much like in Yugoslavia.

The speed of Yugoslavia's implosion, in the 1990s, and the resulting years of bloody ethnic cleansing, show that once political demagogues have got the ball rolling down that road, it is very difficult to stop it.

No-one can tell what the future has in store. But it will certainly be decided by organised political forces, not unorganised ones. To avoid the dead end resulting from the accession into office of politicians who are just like Yanukovych and against the danger of a bid for power by nationalist, far-right forces, the population and working class of Ukraine has only one option: to get organised in order to impose, collectively, a policy which serves its interests.

The downfall of Yanukovych, just as that of Ben Ali in Tunisia, or Mubarak in Egypt, shows that when a population is determined to get rid of a corrupt regime, it can do it. Likewise, if the Ukrainian working class is determined to defend itself against today's dangers, it has the collective strength to do so, and, by the same token, to lead the Ukrainian people out of the present deadlock.