Ukraine’s communists, under attack, seek solidarity

The Ukraine is now suffering under a totalitarian regime, the head of that country’s beleaguered Communist Party told me.

I spoke with Petro Symonenko, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, in June, about the present situation in his beleaguered country. The occasion was

a conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, that both he and I attended in June – the 22nd congress of the AKEL party of Cyprus, the direct descendant of the Communist Party of Cyprus.

Symonenko said that business elites, working primarily under the dictates of the U.S. and European Union powers, mainly Germany, and also of international agencies such as the IMF, succeeded in staging a coup and installing a puppet government in Ukraine.

One thing that the coup government promised was to reduce the power of the business elites – the oligarchy, Symonenko noted. However the oligarchs remain, he said, some having simply switched sides from one politician to another, and the recently installed president, Petro Poroshenko, himself comes from the oligarchy.

The coup has produced a conflict that may well morph into a larger war, Symonenko warned.

As many Ukrainians see it, he said, the U.S. and certain forces within the EU are trying to do what Hitler failed to do: The government and its far-right enforcers are hailing the Hitlerites and collaborators as heroes and condemning as occupiers the Soviet soldiers,who defeated the Nazis and liberated the concentration camps. Partly towards this end, new, repressive, laws are being implemented and opposition parties are being harassed.

One measure mandates five years imprisonment for speaking positively about the Soviet period in the Ukraine, part of a drive by the coup government to ban all reference to and symbols of communism. The law hypocritically links support for communism with support for Nazism, while the regime itself incorporates neo-Nazi-type elements. So extreme are the new measures that they were criticized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European human rights watchdog group. Symonenko said it is now the Communist Party of the Ukraine that is the main force protecting democratic rights in his country.

At the present time, he said, international support is very important and indeed at the AKEL congress a resolution in solidarity with the Ukraine was signed by representatives of most of the international delegates. He called for unity of the left against the resurgence of fascism until it is defeated.

Since I spoke with Symonenko in June, the situation in the Ukraine has continued to deteriorate. In early July there were several violent incidents involving security forces and armed bands. The Ukrainian government claimed that these were the result of attempts to control far-right elements but others say they were actually squabbles between political factions and disputes over smuggling.

In a recent development, Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko has signed a decree prohibiting communist parties from participating in elections this October. Symonenko called it one more step towards outlawing the entire left. He said the KPU would challenge the ban. The party’s constitutional right to run in the elections cannot be cancelled by the justice minister, he said.

Photo: Ukrainian Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, at a meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus, June 2015. Gary Bono/PW


Gary Bono
Gary Bono

Gary Bono is an activist and retired transit worker writing from New York.