UKRAINE GET IT
IF YOU REALLY WANT
A special report from SchNEWS Ukraine correspondent
Ever since the elections in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands people,
particularly in the capital, Kiev, have been out on the streets
for ten nights running. Some of them are living on the streets,
expecting a long stand-off with the authorities and, with the temperature
about -10oC, people have been living in tent camps in the centre
of Kiev (the biggest camp has about 500 tents with more than 5000
people staying in them). Strikes have closed down universities,
offices and factories: sometimes with their bosses, sometimes against
the bosss will.
In the Western media the whole event was portrayed first as the
action of opposition parties with popular support after the opposition
officially declared defeat in the presidential elections. But soon
the mood changed, and instead of revolution, TV-screens
started to show the countrys territory split into orange
and blue parts, while headlines spoke about a divided
Ukraine, and insisted that opposition leader Victor Yuschenkos
demand to stage another round of elections is the major hope of
crowds on the streets.
This isnt a blatant lie but its not exactly
true. Not all the people on the streets are active opposition supporters
a lot of them just several weeks ago had no interest in party
politics at all. The decision taken by opposition leader, Yuschenko
to demand a new round of elections was a huge disappointment for
many orange people, most of whom dont use the
word elections, talking instead of revolution
or uprising. There is no such thing as divided
Ukraine or regional conflict. Its not about
east vs. west its about people vs. corrupt,
For protesters its not just a fight between two political
leaders, but a struggle to overthrow the authoritarian system created
and strengthened in Ukraine over the last 10 years. Yanukovych
prime-minister at the time of the elections and presidential candidate
- was picked as a candidate by the current president, Mr. Kuchma,
in return for guarantees to the president and his allies of immunity
from prosecution for all his crimes, committed while in power, as
well as protection of their assets gained through criminal privatisation.
Yanukovychs pro-Russian position made him popular in his
home region of Donetsk, but the rest of the country rejects his
kowtowing to Putins Russia. His government acted in line with
a doctrine of liberal imperialism, formulated by Russias
tycoons several years ago.
Yuschenko is regarded as a pro-western politician, with informal
support from the US and EU, western values and a wife whos
a US citizen. It doesnt mean the country will be cut-off from
Russia he likes to remind people that while he was prime
minister (about four years ago) trade with Russia was much
more active than now. But politically hes an openly pro-Western
politician. Some of his supporters are NGOs and organisations financed
by the west - but to say that the events are a coup initiated or
provoked by the US or EU, would be to simplify things.
Mr Yuschenko became the first prime-minister to create the conditions
where people started to get their salaries and pensions paid after
a long period of economic chaos. Meanwhile, he managed not to take
(or was not given) any IMF loans. The most attractive part of his
programme for his supporters are rights and freedoms. He promises
to lift media censorship, installed by the current authorities,
encourage democratic freedoms and encourage greater economic transparency.
Now, its nothing new for politicians to promise this sort
of thing, but hell have to answer to his loyal and active
supporters anger if he lets them down after they took action to
The Futures Orange
The majority went to the streets not to bring Yuschenko to
power, but to prevent Yanukovych from seizing it. The feeling from
the people is: With Yuschenko well be in opposition;
with Yanukovych, therell be no opposition.
This expression of people power hasnt been seen for many
years in Ukraine. Busy with their own physical survival, the majority
were always regarded as apathetic, cynical about politics, and unable
to trust each other. Thats why this peaceful uprising,
when millions flooded the streets within hours shocked everybody.
The momentum of the orange revolution was so powerful
that it looked like the government would fall within days.
After the first days of total paralysis, with the opposition insisting
on a transfer of power, and more and more local councils switching
sides, negotiations started. These were initiated at round
table talks organised by, among others, the EU Commissioner
Javier Solana. The talks led to nothing, apart from giving the authorities
time to mobilise, gather supporters, and finally, to turn the image
of the conflict from people vs. authorities into east
vs. west in an attempt to absolve themselves from any political
or criminal responsibility.
The usual development of professional political leaders betraying
their people looks likely to repeat itself again. After realising
that the negotiations were a waste of time, the opposition pulled
out, only to be pressured into negotiations again by EU (and personally
by Mr. Solana who desperately tried to prevent any revolutionary
developments) the next day. The result was a dubious agreement,
consisting of some conditions to be met by the opposition and none,
apart from not using force, by the authorities. The decision about
the elections was transferred to the Supreme Court.
However, while the party politics go on, in the street the best
initiatives are being organised by organisations and networks, who
make up the non-party opposition - networks of internet-activists
and street volunteers - some self-organised and militant, but restricting
themselves to using non-violent means.
This is the main result of this orange revolution -
the biggest example of non-violent self-organisation in Ukraine
in a century. Whoever comes to power will now face a different people,
a people who are no longer apathetic about the corruption of the
party parliamentary system. They have realised that they can defend
their rights together, and the old consensus we cant
change anything now rings hollow. So in the short term, if
they manage to get rid of censorship, systematic police brutality,
corruption and state ordered killings, that in itself will be a
victory. But in the long run, something new has been born. Call
it civil society or autonomous networks of resistance,
whatever its called, it will influence future events and,
hopefully set an example to people everywhere.
* President Kuchma is notorious for his stifling of opposition,
murder of journalists and bleeding the economy dry while lining
the pockets of himself and his cronies.
* For a direct action/anarchist take on events see http://eng.maidanua.org
CRAP MURDER OF THE WEEK
For singing a song
On the 19th November on Palm Island, a community just off the east
coast Queensland, Australia an Aboriginal called Cameron Doomagee
was arrested for singing a song on a street. One a half hours later
he was dead.
A state of emergency has been declared with over 200 police officers
sent to the island to suppress the community after the coroners
autopsy report found the death to be an accident, caused by falling
over. To follow developments see http://melbourne.indymedia.org
Organising a social forum is always a big thing. Organising a social
forum for thousands of f**k the system types in a country
where public meetings are banned, non-government newspapers are
bombed and hundreds of pro-democracy activists murdered is nothing
short of a miracle. This miracle happened thanks to the crazy grassroots
forces determined to host the Zimbabwe Social Forum. Crazy
because at the moment the paranoid Zanu PF regime is trying to ban
all political NGOs, lock up journalists and generally get into the
rhythm of good ol repression ahead of the Presidential elections.
So the ZSF was denied permission to go ahead. But, after
weeks of court challenges and determination, ZSF happened, running
from 28th to 30th October under the slogan: A Peoples
Forum Against Poverty, Sexism and All Forms of Oppression.
Five different themes were tackled. The National Constitutional
Assembly group talked about doing away with the current constitution
to achieve social justice; the Debt and Development team decided
that repaying debt was bollocks and that pressing for debt cancellation
was vital. The HIV/AIDS tent urged the need for free anti-retroviral
drugs, while the Young Workers group decided that if we destroy
capitalism, then we would also be attacking the foundations of ZANU
PF and all the forces of oppression Residents Associations
from across the country were pissed off about the non-existent drinking
water and electricity. Loads of single issues came together to attack
The Freedom Youth Camp was loud, self-organised and rebellious.
Debates ranged from the never-ending student repression under the
Zanu regime to sexism and gender, anti-corporate music and ghetto
youths visions of community democracy via direct action, Like
most social forums, the ZSF ended in a huge revolutionary piss-up.
There are lessons from the ZSF for both the Zimbabwean and the
global anti-capitalist movement. Those pissed off with the Elitist
Social Forum (sorry - European Social Forum) can learn from the
horizontal process of the ZSF. Since the first ZSF in 2003 the forum
has been run by all those participating. The ZSF National Council
is a consensus-based collective open to all, making it participatory
and transparent. ZSF is also avowedly anti-capitalist - so no corporate
bollocks at the forum! Now the Zimbabwean movement must avoid mere
summit-hopping and strengthen the local networks, coordinating actions
and uniting single issues into a tidal wave of anti-capitalism.
And this all seems to be beginning as ZSF forces plan marches and
actions for World Aids Day. Fleets of anti-capitalist buses leave
soon afterwards for the Africa Social Forum in Zambia, carrying
forward the freedom message.
A new independent radical bookshop is about to open in Manchester.
As well as providing a radical library The Basement
will have a campaign info space, an exhibition space, free internet
use and a vegan café.
The opening party will happening next Sunday (12th) 11am-7.30,
where political cartoonist Polyp will be speaking and therell
be a screening of the film Camp X Ray. Once open hours will be 11-8
everyday (except Monday), food served 12-4. 24 Lever St (off Piccadilly
Gardens) 0161 237 1832 email@example.com
SchNEWS in Brief
- Tresspass Stroll against Brighton Councils idea
to permanently close the Black Rock Undercliff Walk, it is believed
ASDA want to close the path, so that they can expand their store.
Meet 11am sharp this Sunday, ASDA Car Park, Brighton Marina.
- Can Iraqi Resistance defeat US Imperialism? Talk on Monday
(6th) at the Mad Hatter Café Western Rd (Corner of Montpelier
Road), Brighton. 7:30 pm
- Hacklabs - building autonomous labs against capitalism.
Info talk next Thursday (9th) at Brightons Cowley Club 6pm
- Demonstrations against the proposed Newhaven Incinerator,
Tue 7th County hall, Lewes, 9.30am and Wed 8th Hove Town Hall
3.30pm 01273 300116
- Workers at the Tricolan clothing factory in Naoussa,
Greece have occupied their factory for over a month following
the closure by its owner. www.thessaloniki.indymedia.org/?lang=en
- Open discussion on the impact of flexible labour contracts,
temp agencies and casualisation and collective resistance,
Dec 11th, RampARTS Social Centre, 15-17 Rampart Street, Off Commercial
Road E1. 10am - 6am (+ Food, DJs, Cheap Bar til late)
- An activist from Voices in the Wilderness has received
bail conditions banning him from the whole Congestion Charging
Zone of London! He can catch the tube or bus but not set foot
on the ground in Central London!
- In the US Greenpeace have been banned from taking any
direct action against Exxon-Mobil for the next seven years!
- Activists targeted the Icelandic Embassy last week, protesting
against the construction of the Karanjukur dam, which will
wreck Icelandic wilderness. The activists were arrested, and held
overnight, but managed to rattle diplomats and get the issue onto
Icelandic TV. The system of nine dams is being built just to supply
electricity for an aluminium smelter planned by US company Alcoa.
Hit The Roads
Another victory against the Neo-Labour road building scheme this
week as Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced that the
A303 dual carriageway would not now go through the Blackwood Hills,
near Yeovil, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Environmental groups had a preference for the A358 to be dualled,
as this would cause significantly less damage to the countryside.
Apparently a major deciding factor was to avoid the kind of protests
that have dogged other road schemes.
Business leaders condemned the decision, saying that it was a black
day for Devon and Cornwall, but we reckon it was probably
just a bad day for their profits!
- Sherwood Forest protest camp in, Nottinghamshire has been served
with new eviction papers. The site is now on amber alert
and volunteers are urgently needed to go on the telephone tree.
07891 986 208
- Furious residents campaigning to save trees on Lincolns
historic hill occupied trees being felled illegally by developers.
Last week residents occupied a private meeting between the developers
and the council, taking back democracy the direct way! firstname.lastname@example.org
- Faslane Peace Camp Needs You to take direct action against the
UKs nuclear weapons. They need volunteers to help with actions
against the nuclear base, where weapons that violate anti-nuclear
treaties are kept. Everyone is welcome if you are prepared to
chip in with tasks like cooking and chopping wood, and want to
get involved with lock-ons and blockades. Even just a day or two
a month can make a really big difference. 01436 820901 or e-mail
Soft Drinks, Hard Bastards
Over 1000 people marched to the Coca-Cola factory in Mehdiganj,
in India last week, demanding its closure. The demo was the end
of a 10 day, 250 km march from Ballia, another bottling facility,
bringing attention to Coca-Colas negative impacts on communities
across India (SchNEWS 474).
The peaceful marchers were met at the bottling facility by armed
police. Speakers at the rally denounced Coca-Colas illegal
practices in India and internationally.
Marchers then went to the factory gates, near the site of the rally,
where police reacted violently with no warning. They baton-charged
and beat the marchers, then chased onlookers in surrounding fields
to give them a beating too. Over 350 were arrested, and 100 injured.
While shocking, the violent attack on the peaceful demonstration
against Coca-Cola is not surprising. Coca-Cola operates with impunity,
and violence is an inherent part of how Coca-Cola does business
the world over, said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource
Center. Images and film from the rally also available by contacting
Send a FREE FAX to Neville Isdell, CEO of Coca-Cola in Atlanta,
US demanding they stop the violence and address the problems created
by Coca-Cola in India. www.indiaresource.org/action/faxcoke.php
Off His EDS
Blunkett launched his new ID card crusade this week, at the same
time as computer failures were casting doubts over whether such
a scheme is even workable.
Civil servants in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) had
to write out thousands of giro cheques and process benefit claims
by hand, after a software failure left them without computers. This
has been described as the biggest government computer failure yet,
but its by no means the first.
Electronic Data Systems (EDS), the firm responsible for the software
has a ten year contract with the government, worth £2bn. Many
might question whether this is value for money considering theyve
created chaos at the Child Support Agency and the National Air Traffic
Control System, and been sacked by the Inland Revenue Service. So
guess what EDS is trying to get its useless mitts on now? Yep the
biometric ID card scheme.
* People who refuse to register with the national ID database will
be fined £2,500. If you fail to update details when you move
home itll cost you £1,000 www.defy-id.org.uk
* 30,000 civil servant jobs are due to be axed at the DWP - to
make way for more er, IT modernisation!
Anarchists!! Abandon your principles! For one day only uphold
the law! Citizens Arrest a hunter on February 19th- Toffbusters!
On February 19th 2005, the first Saturday after the Hunting Ban
comes into force, the self- proclaimed Toffbusters! are urging radicals
to don wellies and perform citizens arrests of hunters. Toffbusters!
reckon its ..an unparalleled opportunity to return class
warfare to the political centre stage
The Countryside Alliance
and their inbred toff followers have ruled the roost for years,
but are now squealing like stuck pigs. So, ready with yer
best coppers patter? Altogether now: Excuse me sir,
is that a horn in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see animals
violently disembowelled?. South West: email@example.com,
SchNEWS warns all readers, that standing around in sub zero
temperatures will turn you blue even if you were once orange...
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