Ukraine/Russia: War and Sanctions are Hitting Hard, But Not the Oligarchs (On Either Side)

In the early days of the war, mass media triumphantly displayed the "scalps" taken from the enemy. In this case they were the temporarily seized luxury mega-yachts and the equally luxurious properties of Russian oligarchs. Thus began the hack journalists’ crescendo of patriotism in support of the imperialist front in which they willingly participate. Here they are being true to themselves and to their role as permanent and effective dis-informers on behalf of both their own bourgeoisie and North American imperialism. The "seizure" of some symbols of the shameless wealth of Russian billionaires is supposed to show that in a democracy, such as we have in the West, regardless of who you are, it is necessary to defend the values ​​of peace and, indeed ... democracy. In short, the ministry of propaganda is blowing its trumpets full blast to enhance its basic task: of deceiving, distorting, concealing; in short, shaping the mindset – of the working class above all – to prepare us not only for the sacrifices we are already making, but probably for harsher ones yet to come and possibly the worst of all, namely a nuclear war.

Of course, not having access to your own yacht is a "nuisance", but for millions of workers in the belligerent countries, war and sanctions have far more "annoying" consequences, certainly worse than finding that your "boat", moored in some port on the Costa Smeralda, is locked up. For these workers, in addition to the blood shed by those under the bombs and machine gun fire, the clash between the two imperialist gangs means a decisive worsening of every aspect of working conditions, so much so as to jeopardise their survival. But all this goes unmentioned, or only mentioned in a few "newspapers", often online, which have very little chance of undermining the official media barrage. Let’s be clear, even these "platforms" certainly do not express a communist point of view and, indeed, it may be that they are financed by bigwigs of the world bourgeoisie who support "democratic journalism", in order to demonstrate the magnanimity of bourgeois democracy and benefits of class collaboration. However, leaving aside their reformism, they can give us a glimpse of the workers’ world that is not always easy to find. For example, there is an article on the Open Democracy website of 6 April about migrant workers in Russia, coming from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, and in particular from Kyrgyzstan. They are overwhelmed by the storm of the economic recession caused by the war and its related Western sanctions. To be sure, it is not only the most oppressed layer of wage earners who have to fight for survival as a result of the war unleashed by "their" masters, but the entire working class is the first to pay for the consequences of any inter-bourgeois confrontation. Like anywhere else, immigrants in Russia always do the most poorly paid, most precarious jobs, where bosses' arrogance allows them to quietly bypass the weak legal and trade union barriers which are supposed to “protect” the workforce. With the slowdown or closure of the activities of numerous companies (for example, multinationals in the service sector), with the devaluation of the rouble, many workers, particularly those employed in services, can no longer meet their own daily expenses, much less send money home, so they are returning to their countries, to the poverty they left behind, but at least they survive. It is a real tragedy, taking into account that emigrants' remittances constituted a third of the GDP of Kyrgyzstan and 27% of Tajikistan in 2020. In the former, a 33% decline in GDP is now expected this year, so much so that the government plans to loosen political-economic relations with Russia and strengthen or link them with other partners. If this were the case, it would be a gain for NATO, but the fact remains that a war fought in Europe has very heavy effects which are felt even by Central Asian workers, further confirming, if it were ever needed, that the whole world is indeed wrapped up in the coils of capital. In these tragic moments it is clearer than ever that all reference to specific national interests – which there are, of course – to justify the war, is no longer credible: it is like a load of rusty scrap metal which you handle at risk of getting tetanus.

If things are going badly for the Russian workers who provide surplus value for their capitalists (as well as men for their war), Ukrainian workers are even worse off and not just for the obvious war reasons. Ukrainian bosses, using the conflict as an excuse, have accelerated and approved new laws that legalise even worse working conditions than those to which even Asian migrants must submit. By enacting them the Rada (parliament) has put a seal of legality on the tyranny of the bosses. The proposal to rewrite the labour law was already in circulation by the end of 2019 and was carried out by the Servant of the People party of the "Blessed" Zelensky, under the spiritual guidance of no less than the British Foreign Office, as well as the example of the US legislation which inspired it. In short, full-scale imperialist cooperation: first to pave the way for future investments, attracted by the unconditional exploitation of a workforce that has the additional advantage, for foreign capital, of being in a geopolitical area close to home and reliable (unlike China); and then — via the massive deployment of missiles and instruments — collusion over death and killing in general.

The new law is underpinned by the basic criterion of "discretionary work", namely the almost complete freedom of employers to fire employees, to circumvent or cancel national employment contracts, to increase the weekly working hours up to 60, to employ anyone "at their discretion", including even women and children, in dangerous and very tiring sectors such as mines and so on. In short, a leap back of two hundred years, so much so that the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation (ILO) itself has "rebuked" Zelensky, politely informing him that he is trampling on a 1935 global agreement on the work of women and children.

But if the information is correct, the above "Blessed One" is not alone, in escalating the war against the working class. His neighbour, Lukashenko, has also taken roughly the same measures, but since he is now in the opposing imperialist camp the EU last year excluded Belarus "from the EU system of tariff preferences due to violation of ILO principles". Even if, as communists, we only expect the worst atrocities from the bourgeoisie, we can never accustom our stomach to such repugnant hypocrisies, just as we will never tire of denouncing the role of trade unionism, which disarms the class, anaesthetises it and hands it over, objectively, to its exploiters. In fact, faced with the social massacre being prepared by the new law, one trade unionist complained (nothing new under the sun) that the government has gone ahead without consulting the unions, like previous governments: "Only this self-styled government has behaved like a fraudster. If there is a need to change labour laws you have to sit down at a table in a civil manner and agree on how."

Unfortunately, "civilisation" is for the bourgeoisie a very flexible concept, which, in no way excludes blood, sweat, and tears.

Battaglia Comunista
19 April 2022
Sunday, May 15, 2022


"Europe's anti-Russian virtue signaling and harsh language are nothing more than a facade as the number of European companies opening accounts with Gazprombank JSC has doubled as President Vladimir Putin demands rubles for natural gas.

Bloomberg reports a person close to Gazprombank said twenty European companies had opened accounts with the private-owned Russian bank to swap euros for rubles to purchase natgas. Another 14 companies are requesting paperwork to facilitate transactions in rubles.

European gas buyers quietly paid for supplies in rubles, and the list continues to grow -- despite being in breach of Brussels sanctions.

"Under the new mechanism, clients have to open two accounts: one in foreign currency and one in rubles in Gazprombank," the person said.

This comes as deadlines for April supplies are near for major European buyers. The person said the payment structure involves European clients paying foreign currency to Gazprombank, then the funds automatically convert to rubles and won't involve Russia's central bank, which is under EU sanctions. " At Least 20 European Gas Buyers Open 'Rubles-For-Gas' Account With Gazprombank | ZeroHedge