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Political left in Ukraine facing huge challenges as rightist government assumes office

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The governments of the United States, Europe and Canada are working furiously to help consolidate the conservative and rightist government that has come into office in Ukraine following the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of Victor Yanukovych in that country ten days ago.

The overthrow of the regime came about through a confluence of mass protests against its authoritarian rule and retrograde social and economic policies and a very active intervention by right-wing and fascist political forces. The rightists of the Svoboda party along with fascists of the Right Sector constellation dominated much of the street protests of the past several months. Some leaders of Svoboda have been appointed as ministers of the new government.

The protest movement has been named by many observers as 'The Euromaidan' for the views of many of its participants in favour of closer economic ties to capitalist Europe and for the main square in the center of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, which is called The Maidan.

The government of Russia is very unsettled by the overthrow of Yanukovych and will strive for a dominant role in the future of Ukraine. It has intervened militarily in the Crimea Peninsula in order to protect its military installations there and to assure for itself the dominant political role in the region going forward. A referendum on autonomy may take place in Crimea as soon as March 30. The “autonomy” vote will effectively be a proposal that the majority Russian-speaking region loosen its ties with Ukraine and deepen them with Russia.

The political left in Ukraine is small and facing very difficult conditions of dominance of right wing ideology, assault and violence in the protest movement and in the country as a whole. A very good English-language source of articles and documents translated from Ukrainian and Russian is the East Europe-based website, Left-East. Below is a selection of key material in English that has appeared on that website in the past several months about the crisis in Ukraine.

A few of these examples of material on Left-East are an informative commentary by a Russian writer who visited Kiev in late 2013: Ukraine: Days of Decisions, Days of Struggle; and a column that appeared in The Guardian on Feb. 28: Ukraine has not experienced a genuine revolution, merely a change of elites.

Two articles by Russian socialist and writer Boris Kagarlitsky have recently been translated and published on the Australia-based Links Journal of International Socialist Renewal. A March 1 article by Tony Iltis in Australia's Green Left Weekly is an excellent summary and interpretation of recent events as well as the history of Ukraine.

Following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine yesterday, one of the editors of Left-East has written, "In my view, any denunciation of the Russian military operations which does not ALSO take explicit distance from the coup politics of the West and its collusion with the far-right forces in Ukraine is using both the peace movement and Eastern Europe for other interests. It is especially sad if such denunciations are expressed by Western leftists."

Selected articles about Ukraine on the website Left-East:

Ukraine has not experienced a genuine revolution, merely a change of elites, from The Guardian, Feb 28, 2014

A time to mourn, a time to act: Open letter to the Ukraine left, Feb. 22, 2014

Blood and soil or communal power?, Feb 21, 2014

Ukraine’s protest movement: the far-right in focus, Feb 18, 2014

Ukraine’s protest movement: Is a ‘left sector’ possible?, Feb 12, 2014
Also by the same author:
Ukraine: Days of Decisions, Days of Struggle, Dec 17, 2013

Ukrainian protesters must make a decisive break with the far right, Feb. 8, 2014

Is Tiahnybok a patriot? How the spread of Banderite slogans and symbols undermines Ukrainian nation-building, Jan 28, 2014

Ukraine’s protests, from The Guardian, Jan 23, 2014

Manifesto: Ten Тheses of the Leftist Opposition in Ukraine, Jan 14, 2014

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