At its Annual General Meeting in Bristol in June 2014, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, which organises over 80,000 workers, passed a motion in solidarity with the antifascist resistance in Ukraine, denouncing Western support for the far right regime in Kiev and affiliating to the Solidarity with Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine campaign.
RMT 2014 AGM Decision
Solidarity with Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine
This Annual General Meeting condemns the murder of at least 42 anti-fascists at the hands of neo-Nazi paramilitaries and football hooligans in the Odessa Massacre on May 2nd 2014.
The killings occurred when fascists set fire to the Ukrainian city’s trade union centre, where anti-fascists had retreated after right-wing thugs destroyed their camp outside the building.
Those who attempted to escape the flames and toxic smoke were gunned down or beaten to death outside. Police did not intervene.
The victims had been protesting against the Western-backed coup, which overthrew Ukraine’s elected president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.
The neo-Nazi paramilitary ‘Right Sector’ organisation and fascist Svoboda party acted as the vanguard of the anti-Yanukovych protest on Kiev’s Maidan Square, which began in November 2013 and grew increasingly violent, culminating in the unconstitutional putsch.
The coup government is an alliance of privatising, free market conservatives and their fascist allies. Svoboda holds five ministerial positions, including key posts of Deputy Prime Minister, Defence and Agriculture. Ukraine’s newly appointed Prosecutor General is also a Svoboda member.
The new regime’s first act was an attempt to strip Russian, Hungarian and Romanian minorities of their official language rights. Russian is the mother tongue of some 30 per cent of Ukrainians.
Senior Svoboda politicians, acting with complete impunity, forced their way into the office of the Director of Ukrainian state television, assaulted him, forcing him to resign under duress. They filmed his ordeal and posted the footage on YouTube.
Ukraine’s Communist Party (KPU) – with 32 MPs – was expelled from parliament amid fascist demands for it to be outlawed completely. It has already been banned in some localities. KPU offices have been ransacked and burned by fascist mobs and its activists murdered. Party leader Petro Symonenko narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on May 15th 2014.
Western governments and the EU openly backed Maidan protests in November 2013 to February 2014. US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Senator John McCain demanded regime change. Nuland boasted that the US spent $5 billion ‘promoting democracy’ in Ukraine and handed out biscuits while McCain met Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok for a friendly chat nearby.
Ukraine sits on one of Europe’s largest shale gas deposits. Last month, Hunter Biden – son of US Vice President Joe Biden – shamelessly accepted a directorship of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest private oil and gas company. Two weeks earlier his father visited the country for high-level meetings.
This AGM instructs the Council of Executives to submit a contemporary motion to this year’s TUC Conference committing the British trade union and labour movement to solidarity with those including trade unionists organising against fascist reaction in Ukraine and defending citizens of Eastern Ukraine against the appalling and ferocious military bombardment and assault on their cities.
This AGM agrees to affiliate RMT to the British campaign ‘Solidarity with the Anti-fascist Resistance in Ukraine’ (SARU), founded at a public meeting in London in June 2014 supported by prominent socialist and labour movement representatives and the ‘Stop the War’ coalition.
We agree to circulate information updates and affiliation details to all branches and regional councils. SARU’s stated aims are as follows:
• We are against the UK and Western governments’ backing for the far-right regime in Kiev.
• We oppose the planned NATO exercises in Ukraine.
• We demand that the killers of 42 people at the House of Trade Unions in Odessa on May 2nd be brought to justice.
• We are against attacks on democratic rights and the repression of left-wing organisations.
• We support the antifascist resistance in Ukraine.
RMT has a proud anti-fascist history. A plaque at Unity House honours the 200 NUR and NUS members who volunteered for the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Anti-fascists are once again crying out for international solidarity. Ukrainian fascism must be fiercely resisted.
Never again means never again! No pasaran!