A Report on Socio-Economic Unrest in Ukraine

We reproduce the following article in solidarity with Assembly, an anarchist group based in Kharkiv which has been reporting on workers’ struggles in Ukraine on both sides of the front line (see: assembly.org.ua). In a recent interview, they said of themselves: “we give useful information for workers in their daily confrontation with bosses or officials, and our position with the condemnation of both warring states … is quite close to those who have nothing to defend in this bleak hole with no clear future.” They also criticise those anarchists who in the face of imperialist war “immediately merged with the ruling class in a single nationalist impulse” (see: umanitanova.org).
Despite our political differences, it is clear that Assembly tries to chart an internationalist course in the most difficult of circumstances. Such critical voices are important as they demonstrate that class war does not stop, even under imperialist war. They also give lie to the claims of certain anarchists in the West who have made “listening to voices from Ukraine” synonymous with the defence of the Ukrainian state. The current crisis, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, is leading to more and more direct attacks on the working class across the globe. If workers are to resist this drive, they need to recognise they have more in common with each other than with their ruling classes. In the words of Assembly, “no war but the social war!”

The current month began with the incident on the first evening of autumn, when residents of the Kiev outskirts of Sofiyivska Borshchagovka blocked the street due to water cuts to 60 houses. The water supply was stopped due to debt of several million hryvnias, the local sewage pumping station was cutted. The management company, which regularly collected money from consumers, did bot transfer them to energy companies since the fall of last year, and then went bankrupt. After two days without water, a crowd of people blocked the busy road with chanting "Water! Water!" This has not happened in a long time! At 23:00, the protesters were forced to disperse because of the curfew. But at 00:07, the water supply to the houses resumed. The next day, a meeting of all representatives was announced to discuss the problem.

In our Kharkiv, the city leadership left the employees of the municipal electric transport without money. Workers of public utilities risk their lives every day under endless Russian rockets, but today the wage arrears are two months, and the wages were reduced to the minimum. The situation escalated to the point that yesterday morning the drivers of trolleybuses and buses refused to go on the routes. Tram drivers have similar problems but worked. The service personnel of the depots silently sabotages the work for a long time. One of the protesters tells anonymously:

Everyone understands that in wartime conditions there can be repressions. In peacetime, we would have stood for a long time. If it were in some shabby Europe, there would not only be a strike, but the entire city leadership would be taken out along with chairs. We hope for maximum coverage of this issue. They can punish by handing out subpoenas. There is a reservation from mobilization, but not everyone has.

The transfer of funds for salaries from the capital's treasury is expected until September 16, otherwise the workers threaten to strike indefinitely.

In Zaporozhye, residents demand to stop construction and return the square to the city community. Works began a year ago, the builders began to cut down trees in the green zone. Residents then demanded an expert examination, and construction was frozen, but resumed about two weeks ago. During the work, the underground heating cable was damaged. On August 26, locals went to the site and interfered with the works; the builders called the police. On the same day, representatives of the district administration came to a meeting with the population, promising to check the legal grounds for the ongoing construction.

SEE ALSO. Survival through solidarity. A few stories from the occupied South of Ukraine.

In Mariupol, controlled by the Russians and their "DPR" proxies since May, as you can see in the title photo, some food riot happened over the lack of humanitarian aid from the International Red Cross. The videos of a loud outrage appeared on August 30 from Gurov Park. Among the ruins of this ghost city, half of the population still remains - about 200 thousand people - and no one knows how they will survive the winter without job and heating. Although the having of employment also does not mean its payment. As we informed earlier, a month ago, the workers of the water utility went on strike there, and only after that Russian authorities began to pay the earned money.

On the evening of September 7, about 150 protesters gathered at the police station on Morskaya Street in the center of the Crimean town of Yalta, blocking traffic along it. They expressed indignation at the fact that the cops released "as a witness" one of the participants in the cruel murder, closely affiliated with paramilitary power structures.

As reported, early in the morning of the previous day, 34-year-old Sergei Sukhov from Gaspra was taken to the hospital with 36 stab wounds. He died later. The attack on him was carried out by Kirill Gontarenko - a platoon commander in the "Crimea People's Militia" veterans union's special company from Alupka, who recently returned from Ukraine (he also is the founder of the shooting club with a retired lieutenant colonel of the Security Service of Ukraine) - together with his buddy Vladimir Kikavets. The last one is a former member of the local pro-Russian "self-defense" and fought in the "DPR" battalion of deceased Motorola. They drove up to a cafe in a car with Z-inscription, brutally beat Sukhov, and then threw him into the trunk...

SEE ALSO. Prison Peninsula. About Guerrilla Attacks in Occupied Crimea.

Initially, the police detained only Kikavets on charges of murder, while Gontarenko was interrogated as a witness and released. His release caused an outburst of rage: people suspected that such a condescending attitude towards the thug was because of his association with repressive and criminal structures. The protesters demanded to restore justice and punish all those responsible. As it became known later, Gontarenko was detained too. From the same source, the mentioned village of Gaspra is being included in the social resistance reports not for the first time: at the end of 2020, the builders smashed the school there, for the repair of which they were not paid.

On the other side of the front line, in Western Ukraine, took place a prison revolt. On July 25, at 2 am, the cops received a message that in the Politska Correctional Colony of the Rivne region, convicts had staged a riot and were destroying property. They barricaded themselves in the residential area of ​​the facility and did not allow the staff, broke windows and damaged furniture in the residential barracks, set fire to the quarantine room and the dining room. According to the main regional police department, the initiators were convicts evacuated from the Zaporozhye region. It is known that 75 prisoners rebelled. The alarm raised 100 employees of the prison and 40 policemen. The rebellion was crushed. Officially, there were no casualties.

As we already wrote, a profitable business has been operating in the colony for years: workshops and manufactories where gates, fences, various metal structures, containers, and even bus stops are produced. They also specialize in natural stone products, for example, they make paving stones; and a sewing shop. The war did not stop production. The convicts complained about slave working conditions: they sewed from 08:00 to 00:30. During the shift, it was necessary to chop 80 kg of stone. Those who did not fulfill the norm, and this is the majority of workers, earn a mere pittance.

Autumn is just beginning - and it already promises to be hot not only by hostilities.

Afterwards, we recommend you to read this little analysis of how the relocation of enterprises to the West of Ukraine can strengthen the labor struggle there.

And besides, appreciate such a story of capitalist cunning - how a Moscow-based design firm Genpro is looking for remote workers in Ukraine to pay wages five times less, and later, probably, also join the rebuilding of destroyed cities.

No war but the social war!

Saturday, September 10, 2022