On Supporting Progressives in Ukraine, Wherever They Are

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The Guardian/UK

On Supporting Progressives in Ukraine, Wherever They Are

Maidan or anti-Maidan? The Ukraine situation requires more nuance and we should support the progressive wings of both factions, not tie ourselves up with hypocritical justifications of one or the other

Pro-Russian activists clash with Maidan supporters as they storm the regional government building in Kharkiv on 1 March 2014. (Photograph: Sergey Bobok/AFP)

I have little doubt that Russian security services were in some way involved in the recent escalation of violence in several towns in eastern Ukraine.

The seizures of administrative buildings on 12 April were well co-ordinated between different towns, the armed men were well equipped and showed high levels of military training. This does not necessarily mean that Russian special operations units are directly taking part; those men could be former Ukrainian riot police officers, many of whom fled to Crimea and Russia to escape punishment from the new government. But all of this does not preclude the fact that the planned provocation happened in the context of mass, grassroots, self-organised social protests which started against the new government in eastern Ukrainian regions after former president Viktor Yanukovych was toppled.

"It would be better to support progressive wings of both Maidan and anti-Maidan, and try to unite them against the Ukrainian ruling class and against all nationalisms and imperialisms on shared demands for social justice."

The Maidan movement has never had majority support in eastern and southern regions in Ukraine. After it succeeded in toppling the government, many people were scared and outraged with the exaggerated pictures they saw on television of violent clashes in Kiev, armed paramilitary groups including many far right elements controlling the streets, attacks on Lenin's monuments, and the far right Svoboda party included into the new government. Many people in the east call it the "Kiev junta" and disapprove of its actions.

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Volodymyr Ishchenko

Volodymyr Ishchenko is a sociologist studying social protests in Ukraine. He is the Deputy Director of the Center for Society Research (Kiev), an editor of Commons: Journal for Social Criticism, and a lecturer in the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

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