Ukrainian troops sent to the eastern part of the country have refused orders to suppress opposition to the right-wing imperialist-backed government in Kiev and instead handed over their weapons, including armored cars and tanks, to the popular movement there.
According to detailed accounts from British reporters in eastern Ukraine—carried by Reuters News Agency, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and the Guardian daily newspaper—two armored columns of Ukrainian troops were confronted by hundreds of local residents.
The Guardian described at least three separate incidents:
· A crowd of locals was able to stop a column of armor outside Kramatorsk on Tuesday.
· In another video uploaded on Monday, angry locals stopped a Ukrainian tank outside Slavyansk. After they chastised the soldiers inside, the soldiers stopped the engine.
· The troop carriers seized by the militia on Wednesday had apparently arrived by train, possibly from the neighboring region of Dnipropetrovsk. They were taken without a shootout, suggesting that the troops who had arrived with them had at least to some extent joined protesters.
The reporter, Alec Luhn, described women who “recognized one of the masked fighters and drew him in for a quick hug. At least some of these pro-Russian militia men are local, it seems.” He noted that the men wore a variety of camouflage and carried an assortment of weapons, another indication that they were not Russian troops, as claimed by Kiev.
He concluded, “the bulk of them appeared to be from the ranks of the same armed militia that has seized government buildings around the region in recent days. Others were reportedly Ukrainian paratroopers from the neighbouring Dnipropetrovsk region who had joined the rebels on Wednesday.”
Reuters reported from Kramatorsk that government troops had driven armored personnel carriers into the town in the early morning hours of Wednesday, only to go over to pro-Russian protesters.
A soldier guarding one of the six vehicles identified himself as a member of Ukraine’s 25th paratrooper division from Dnipropetrovsk and told Reuters: “All the soldiers and the officers are here. We are all boys who won’t shoot our own people.” He said the soldiers had gone without food for four days until local residents fed them.
One anti-Kiev protester who gave his name as Olexander told Reuters, “I think Donbass should be an independent country allied with Russia. My homeland is the Soviet Union.”
The BBC reported heated political discussions between Kramatorsk residents and the Ukrainian soldiers sent in by Kiev: “Why did you come to our land?” asked one man. “Why are you driving over our fields? We are peaceful people! And we just want our demands to be respected!”
The BBC report continued: “BBC journalists witnessed civilians, at least some of whom appeared to be local people, challenging soldiers, who were also blocked by a crowd a few kilometers outside the town. One officer said he had not ‘come to fight’ and would never obey orders to shoot his ‘own people.’”
The American press also reported the incidents at Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. The New York Times acknowledged, “A highly publicized Ukrainian Army operation to retake control of Slovyansk and other eastern cities from pro-Russia insurgents appeared to falter badly on Wednesday, with one column of armored vehicles abandoned to militant separatists and another ground to a halt by unarmed protesters blocking its path.”
The Times reported on videos from Kramatorsk showing Ukrainian soldiers handing over their armored cars to anti-Kiev protesters, saying it was not possible to determine whether they had been compelled by force or were in “collusion” with the population, drawing the remarkable conclusion: “Either possibility, however, would signal an escalation by Russian-backed militants in eastern Ukraine.”
How Ukrainian soldiers rebelling against orders from Kiev to massacre protesters would constitute “escalation by Russian-backed militants” the newspaper did not bother to explain.
That the Kiev regime wanted a bloodbath cannot be doubted, given the statements from government and military leaders there. The commander of the pro-regime forces who moved into eastern Ukraine Monday, General Vasily Krutov said of the anti-government activists, “They must be warned; if they do not lay down their arms, they will be destroyed.”
Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov announced Tuesday that the “antiterrorist operation to take back control” of roughly ten cities in the eastern region of Donetsk had begun.
Arseny Yatseniuk, prime minister of the coup regime, accused Russia of “exporting terrorism” to Ukraine in the form of the armed groups that seized police headquarters and city halls in several eastern cities. “The Russian government must immediately call off its intelligence-diversionary groups, condemn the terrorists and demand that they free the buildings,” he declared.
The denunciations of Russia published in yesterday’s New York Times, as the armed forces of the US and European-backed Kiev regime assaulted protesters in eastern Ukraine, are vile propaganda. The newspaper whitewashes the social and political character of the new Ukrainian government, installed in a fascist-led putsch in February, and blames on Moscow the violence that has been orchestrated in Washington and Berlin.
In an editorial calling for sanctions against Russia, titled “Mr. Putin’s Power Play,” the Times writes: “When President Vladimir Putin of Russia talks about what is happening in Ukraine these days, it is as if he’s looking into a mirror. He says fascists and nationalists are running amok in Kiev, even as Crimea is annexed in the name of Great Russia; he says Russians are threatened in eastern Ukraine, even as Russia directs secessionists there to seize administrative buildings and arms; he calls on President Obama to use his influence to prevent the use of force in Ukraine, even as he puts a major military force on the Ukrainian border.”
“This ploy was a fixture of Soviet propaganda,” the Times continues, “and when other sources of information are silenced, it can fool people for a while. But nobody outside Russia is buying it.”
What shameless propaganda! It is not Moscow that is presenting an inverted mirror image of reality, but the Times. As Washington’s proxy regime in Kiev orders tanks and assault helicopters to take back installations in eastern Ukraine and prepare to storm state buildings occupied by protesters in eastern Ukraine’s major cities, it portrays Russia as the aggressor.
The Times writes not as a journalistic publication aiming to inform the public and critically examine the arguments advanced by the state to justify its policies, but as a propaganda outlet echoing the talking points of the US State Department.
The newspaper ignores CIA director John Brennan’s extraordinary visit to Kiev this weekend, as plans for the crackdown were finalized—a visit that the White House and the US media grudgingly acknowledged only after the Russian media reported it first.
It ignores howling contradictions of the Western powers’ arguments. The claim that Washington is fighting for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine against Moscow-orchestrated secessionists is a fraud. Washington reserves the right to bomb and invade countries as it chooses, from Afghanistan to Iraq and Somalia. It has repeatedly backed secessionist movements, from the Kosovo Liberation Army during the 1999 NATO war with Serbia, to the Benghazi separatists whose protests led to the 2011 NATO war in Libya.
The charges Washington and its European allies are advancing of Russian meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs are utterly hypocritical. They installed a regime in Kiev by backing a putsch led by the fascist Right Sector militia that overthrew the elected, pro-Russian regime of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Washington supported the putsch and denounced Yanukovych for sending riot police against right-wing protesters in Kiev, but is now pressing the new regime to send tanks and attack helicopters against protesters in eastern Ukraine.
The Times’ strategy to obscure the far-right, aggressively anti-Russian character of US policy is deeply cynical: it claims that well-established facts are simply Putin’s opinion, which it summarily dismisses as a propaganda “ploy.”
It is a matter of public record that the government in Kiev includes several ministers from the Ukrainian fascist party Svoboda, whose anti-Semitism and xenophobia were censured in a 2012 European Parliament vote. Moreover, one of the first actions of the new parliament was to propose to eliminate the status of Russian as an official language in Ukraine.
The Times makes no attempt to inform its readers about the interests driving Russian policy. Even briefly presenting the issues involved—the fight to control gas pipeline routes through Ukraine, for geo-strategic advantage in the Black Sea region, or to keep NATO troops from being posted on Russia’s borders—would shatter the Obama administration’s claims that it is motivated only by high-minded democratic and legal principles, and reveal the aggressive imperialist interests driving US policy.
Incapable of serious journalism on this issue, the Times simply demonizes the Putin regime, denouncing it as driven by an appetite to annex eastern Ukraine and undermine world peace for which it offers no explanation.
These themes are picked up again by the Times’ lead article on Wednesday by David M. Herszenhorn, “Russia is Quick to Bend Truth About Ukraine.”
Reading Herszenhorn’s article shows that Russia has nothing on the Times when it comes to bending the truth. It is not even clear why Herszenhorn—a reporter who spent decades at the Times covering local New York City and then US Congressional politics, and whose career gives no indication of particular expertise on Russia—was sent to Moscow to report for the Times.
Herszenhorn begins by dismissing Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev’s warnings of bloodshed in Ukraine and criticism of Brennan’s secret visit to Kiev. He writes, “And so began another day of bluster and hyperbole, of misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally, outright lies about the political crisis in Ukraine that have emanated from the highest echelons of the Kremlin and reverberated on state-controlled Russian television, hour after hour, day after day, week after week. It is part of an extraordinary propaganda campaign that political analysts say reflects a new brazenness on the part of Russian officials.”
In fact, Medvedev’s comments were factually correct. The Kiev regime had shot several protesters the day before Medvedev spoke, and Brennan had visited Kiev. It is Herszenhorn’s denunciations of Medvedev’s remarks that are part of a brazen US propaganda campaign—“hour after hour, day after day, week after week”—to mislead the American people about the Ukraine crisis and cover up the reactionary and reckless character of US policy.
This emerges all the more clearly when Herszenhorn appoints himself the task of rebutting Russian media fear-mongering over the Ukraine crisis.
Discussing the recent attack by pro-Kiev military helicopters on protesters at an airfield near Kramatorsk, Herszenhorn dismisses Russian media reports that four to eleven people were killed. He writes, “In fact, on the ground, a small crowd of residents surrounded a Ukrainian commander who had landed at the airfield in a helicopter, and while there were reports of stones thrown and shots fired in the air, only a few minor injuries were reported with no signs of fatalities.”
What rubbish! Indeed, media reports from Russia Today to the Irish Independent indicated that once the helicopter was “on the ground,” a standoff developed between pro-Kiev forces and local protesters in which no one was reported killed. However, while it was in the air, the helicopter strafed protesters, killing several people.
This absurd presentation is intended to downplay the government’s decision to deploy military aircraft against its own population, and its deeply reactionary character—a point to which Herszenhorn returns later in the article.
Russian television, he fumes, is presenting coverage of Ukraine with a logo based on “the red-and-black flag of the nationalist, World War II-era Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which inflicted tens of thousands of casualties on Soviet forces.” He mocks this as proof that Russians are being “pulled into a swirling, 24-hour vortex of alarmist proclamations of Western aggression.”
In fact, the red and black flag was a favorite symbol of the fascist forces that led the US-backed putsch. As Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh told Newsweek in a friendly interview last month, “We stood under red and black flags throughout the revolution. Red Ukrainian blood spilled on the black Ukrainian earth—that flag is the symbol of the national revolution. I am convinced that this flag will bring us freedom.”
Herszenhorn’s shameless cover-up of the fascist character of the US proxies in Ukraine extends to his presentation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA) led by Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. The UIA not only killed tens of thousands of Soviet troops—who were allies of the United States at the time, a fact the Times omits—but hundreds of thousands of Poles and Jews, as part of their alliance with the Nazis during the Ukrainian Holocaust.
Anti-austerity protests took over parts of Paris and Rome on Saturday, with one demonstration in Rome spurring violence when protesters threw rocks, eggs and firecrackers at police, with at least one person injured.
Tens of thousands of people took part in protests in central Paris and Rome, organized by hard-left parties opposed to government economic reform plans and austerity measures.
Police in Rome armed with batons charged members of a large splinter group — many wearing masks and helmets — and also used tear gas to push back the crowd, with protesters fighting back with rocks and firecrackers. One man lost a hand when a firecracker exploded before he could throw it.
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There were dozens of lighter injuries among police and protesters, and at least six arrests, police said.
The protest was organized as a challenge to high housing costs and joblessness as a result of Italy’s long economic slowdown. The procession made its way peacefully through central Rome until the more violent element wearing helmets started throwing objects at police near the Labor Ministry.
In Paris, protesters marched from the Place de la Republique, some carrying banners attacking President Francois Hollande with slogans such as “Hollande, that’s enough,” and “When you are leftist you support employees.”
French police said that about 25,000 joined the protest, which follow new Prime Minister Manuel Valls”s unveiling of a plan Tuesday to make tax and spending cuts, vowing to bring down France’s public deficit and following on the heels of pro-business reforms announced earlier this year by Hollande.
"This is the first demonstration of the left-wing opposition against the government," Olivie Besancenot, spokesman of the New Anti-Capitalism Party, told i-Tele TV channel.
The turnout, however, was well short of protests in Paris last year in opposition to same-sex marriage that drew hundreds of thousands. The French Communist Party, on its Twitter account, estimated Saturday’s turnout at 100,000.
The protest in Rome was smaller, drawing several thousand, according to witnesses. They called for more affordable housing and took aim at 39-year-old Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his plans to reform labor rules to make it easier for companies to hire and fire employees.
"The problem with the Renzi government is that since it took power, even though he is supposedly of the left, his policies are of the right," said Federico Bicerni, a 23-year-old from Modena with a temporary work contract who is also the youth head of the Italian Marxist Leninist Party.
"They are reducing democracy. Renzi’s labor reforms will worsen the situation for workers without job security, hitting young people when they are already struggling. The rage of the people in the squares today is justified," he said.
Renzi, who took power in February, is seeking to make sweeping reforms, including tax cuts, to revive Italy’s ailing economy where youth unemployment has risen to well over 40 percent.
And so it begins …if you don’t stand up and fight for those who are being oppressed and dispossesed, don’t be surprised when there is no one around to help you when YOU are the one being oppressed and starving. We need to be standing together with these people around the world who understand that the oligarchs cannot be allowed to continue to enslave us and destroy the planet.
A coordinated military attack has begun against the anti-fascist resistance in Southeastern Ukraine.
The attack began hours after the U.S. confirmed that CIA Director John Brennan had visited Kiev on the weekend of April 12-13 for secret meetings with coup leaders. In other words, Washington gave its approval for the impending attack.
Overnight on April 14 came numerous reports and videos of Ukrainian tanks moving toward cities in the Donetsk region, where forces opposed to the Kiev coup regime have seized government buildings and declared an independent People’s Republic in Donetsk.
Media reports confirmed that a major attack was underway in cities of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk in the Donetsk region. Casualties are reported among the anti-fascist fighters.
In sync with the regime’s assault, Right Sector fascists stormed the offices of Ukraine’s Communist Party in the northeastern city of Sumy, where they beat Regional Secretary Valery Siryachenko. Earlier, Right Sector members had stormed Communist Party headquarters in the western city of Rovno.
In Kharkov, the office of the leftist Union Borotba (Struggle) and People’s Unity coalition was again seized by right-wing militias on April 15. Borotba has been leading a protest movement there demanding a regional referendum on autonomy from the Kiev coup regime.
Anti-coup regime demonstration in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 13.
The Kiev junta has begun an “anti-terrorist operation” against those in Southeast Ukraine who rebelled against the oligarchs and nationalists. There is an absolutely false campaign in the oligarchic media to discredit the rebels. Supposedly we are all agents of the Russian secret services.
This is a blatant lie. Ukrainian citizens rebelled against the junta. Among the 64 political prisoners arrested in the Kharkov Regional State Administration, all are citizens of Ukraine and Kharkov-area residents.
On the other hand, there is increasing evidence that the junta intends to use mercenaries from private military companies — including foreign ones — against the rebels. Ukrainian police and military personnel have refused to fight against their own people. Kharkovites have seen police on Freedom Square with St. George’s ribbons tied to their shields, showing they are with the people. In this situation, the junta will rely on mercenaries and neo-Nazi groups such as the Right Sector, which they have hurriedly dressed in the uniform of the “National Guard.”
Union Borotba declares that the People’s Republic is the creation of the protesters in the Southeast, not the machination of Russian special forces. This is the will of the people in the Southeastern provinces.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the U.N. speaks of the right “to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression.” The people of the Southeast have exercised that right.
The junta wants to suppress the rebellious people by military force, organizing an “anti-terrorist operation.” We declare that it is impossible to win this war against its own people. In trying to suppress the people’s movement, the junta digs its own grave.
A smear campaign has been unleashed against the forces leading the protests, including Borotba. All these lies aim to split our movement and sow distrust among activists.
Borotba advocates unity of the protest forces. We oppose the junta, which stands for the country’s richest oligarchs, supported by Western imperialism. In this confrontation, unity and cooperation of all organizations and leaders of the protest movement are crucial. To do this, we have created a voluntary association of organizations, advocates and citizens of Kharkov — Popular Unity. Popular Unity is open to all. In unity — there is strength