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(en) Moscow Autonomous Action on the Ukrainian war

Date Mon, 20 Oct 2014 00:00:16 +0300

This text was written as an answer to our foreign friends' questions about situation in the Eastern Ukraine and Russian anarchists' attitude towards that. We hope it will be of use to everybody interested in these matters.--The situation is complex and controversial and you should understand that the text below does not (and can't) reflect the opinion of all Russian anti-fascists and anti-capitalists. We discussed this within our group, but even here we have a couple of contradicting points of view. ---- Anyway, our organization ("Autonomous Action") mostly agrees to this anti-war statement of left-wing movements. We do not support Ukrainian government (neither government, in fact), and undoubtedly there are some harsh nationalist tendencies in the Ukraine today. However, even less is our support for Russian government and for so called 'Novorossiya republics'.

It seems that fascists are fighting each other at both sides
in this war, backed by capitalists. Additionally, for Putin this war is
a chance to distract Russian people from financial crisis and recession
in country's economic system, while for Poroshenko the war is useful as
a way to channel people's strive for changes into patriotic madness,
instead of trying to continue what had started in Maydan and establish
real self-government.

Concerning the attitude of Donbass people, we would say that most of
them do not want anything except 'stop bombing us, both of you'. Leaders
of pro-Russian paramilitares several times told in public that "Donbass
people don't want to fight, that's why Russia must directly invade". In
fact, politically passive population is characteristic for many exUSSR
territories. However, it is known that in the spring of 2014 opinion
polls showed that only about 20% of Donbass people supported separating
from the Ukraine and joining Russia. Of course, right now it is very
difficult to conduct any opinion polls in war-torn land. Moreover, tens
of thousands left Donbass as refugees - both to Russia and to western

We do not support the view that Donbass war is some kind of 'resistance
against Ukrainian fascists'. As stated before, there are nationalist
tendencies in contemporary Ukraine, but hardly more than in any other
exUSSR country. In Russia, patriotic, imperialist and outright fascist
propaganda is at least as often heard as in the Ukraine or even more.
And pro-Russian 'people's republics' of Donbass mimic this. Judging by
what we know from there, there is no sign that any changes happen there
which can be considered 'leftist' or at least 'social democratic'. Vice
versa, they keep issuing 'laws' like prohibiting homosexual relations or
establishing 'dominant role' of Orthodox Church in the region. The
rhetoric of their leaders is exactly what you call 'red-brownism': a
paradoxical mixture of right-wing conservatism and Soviet-like
imperialism. We know about cases of ethnic cleansing under their rule:
at least it happened with Jews and Roma people. So, it comes as no
surprise that European fascists are joining them.

Thus, we believe that 'anti-fascist struggle' is here a simple label,
which does not have anything to do with the reality. And the reality is
that these 'republics' are an attempt of Russian imperialists to back
pro-Russian nationalist groups in the region and to provide them with
weapon, equipment and lately with armed forces in order to create havoc
there. The final aim is, perhaps, to use the situation as a tool in
stopping the Ukraine from joining NATO, and, as stated before, in
distracting attention of Russian population towards some external enemy.
It is ironic that at the same time Russian laws proclaim any call to
separatism to be a grave crime, and you can be sent to prison for
several years if you demand a referendum like the one conducted in the
Crimea in March 2014.

It's difficult to say anything about left or anti-capitalist resistance
in Donbass right now. The region is in the hands of tens or hundreds of
paramilitary groups, only very loosely united under self-proclaimed
'ministers' and 'governors'. It is very possible that some local leaders
can stick to left-wing political views. However, there are no signs
from them, no clear political statements. Additionally, it's obvious
that the region is under heavy Russian influence (enough to say that
large part of military leaders are Russian citizens), and of course
Putin is not very much interested in real anti-capitalist resistance
there. Nationalists, monarchists and Orthodox zealots are much better
for him.

We understand that Putin's propaganda really works well on people in the
Western countries, because they are sick and tired of their own leaders
and Putin looks like 'hooligan' who threatens these leaders and scares
them. This propaganda already drove some international fighters to
Donbass republics. However, we, living under Putin's regime, would like
to warn you against thinking about him as some kind of Che Guevara. He
is not. Contemporary Russian elite is a rather plain company of rich
capitalists, mostly united around persons who are either Putin's old
friends or somehow related to Russian secret service ('Federal Security
Service', FSB). It would be absurd to think that they are progressive
from any point of view. They simply want to stay in power for as long as
they could, because in case they lost this power, they would be
immediately sent to trial (corruption among the authorities is immense
here), and they clearly understand that. That's it.

Having said that, it is important to emphasize that Russian
anti-fascists (even those who were considered to be left-wing or
anti-authoritarian) do not have a unified point of view on the Ukraine
war. Some believe that even these right-wing Novorossiya republics are
better than 'Ukrainian fascists'. Several antifa groups declared
themselves 'Russian patriots', and, to our mind, are now a kind of
'left-wing fascists'. We know of at least one Russian militant antifa
who was killed while fighting for Novorossiya. At the same time, several
Ukrainian anarchist anti-fascists fought against Novorossiya, within
Ukrainian volunteer squads. Sadly, it looks like the whole notion of
'anti-fascism' is so much worn out in propagandistic use (from both
sides of the conflict), that it is impossible to seriously apply it to
anything or anybody.

Autonomous Action - Moscow

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