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IW 02

Russia

The Ukraine: Crisis of the mafias and the fight among the imperialist powers

 

The convulsive process of restoration of capitalism in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe found a new manifestation in the huge political crisis that Ukraine has just experienced.

Two pro-restoration gangs

From the internal point of view, the crisis has its basis in the mafioso distribution of State property which was carried out by the administrations which followed one another following the country's Declaration of Independence in 1991. On both sides of the confrontation are to be found cliques which have benefited, in an unequal manner of course, from the mafioso privatization of big industry and natural resources. In the official camp figured those groups that had come out on top in the distribution, cornering the metal industry, the coal mines and even the most of the media. Generally speaking, these cliques have 'paid' less than half the value of the patrimony of the auctioned companies, thanks to either direct award or the unscrupulous management of the bids. In the opposition band naturally were to be found those jostled out of their position, and particularly the sectors which had participated most intensely in the deals related to the route of Russian gas pipelines through the Ukraine for internal consumption and export to Europe. At no time did the crisis escape beyond the limits marked by these two groups of pro-restoration interests. The popular Yuschenko, who finally won the presidency, is a former president of the Central Bank, and his running mate, Timoshenko, was the main participant in the gas deals.

This fight for the redistribution of the privatized properties makes the Ukraine similar to Russia, where Putin is heading a redistribution of the privatized companies, particularly in the oil industry, but not at all not limited to it. This analogy stays intact, even if ideologically the Russian and Ukrainian process are divergent, the first pro-state ownership and the second liberal, and even if both occupied opposite sides in the crisis.

Inter-imperialist clashes

From the international point of view, the Ukrainian crisis is linked to the 'liberal' coups, equally supported in popular mobilizations similar to the one which took place in Georgia a year ago, where the new government is even planning for the dissolution of the Central Bank and all legislation protecting jobs. But on a much higher scale compared to what happened in Georgia, the Ukrainian crisis has implicated the participation of all the major powers and even those of the Baltic countries and Poland. This international intervention has two dimensions: the economic and the strategic. The economic dimension brings Germany, the US and Russia into confrontation. While Germany and Russia demand that Ukraine be the route for Russian gas to reach Europe, the US favors oil pipelines originating in Central Asia and with the Black Sea and Caspio Sea as their destination, this despite the fact that Russia and Germany face each other in rival trenches of the crisis, and also that Germany shared with the US support for the opposition candidate Yuschenko. The Ukraine is a master key in the series of "corridors" (railroad, roads, gas pipelines, oil pipelines) that the EU is building in the direction of the Caucasus and in the Southern Russia, generally.

From the strategic point of view, the outcome of the Ukrainian crisis has accelerated the entrance of the Ukraine into NATO - a long-standing objective of imperialism, particularly US imperialism. US military bases have already been put in place in several former Soviet republics of central Asia, especially in Uzbekistan, and this happens with the direct support of Putin's government. With these authorizations the Russian bureaucracy intended to obtain US support in the war against Chechnya and even to maintain its influence in Georgia and in the neighboring countries. The question of NATO is aimed, in a decisive aspect, at putting an end to the formal independence (technology) of the Russian military and space industry, which is the only thing keeping the Russian pro-restorationists from Russia itself entering NATO. The ascent of Yuschenko ensures the entrance of the Ukraine into NATO, precisely the objective taken upon itself by the coalition formed in the region by the US five years ago, between Ukraine, Uzbeskistan, Azerbaijan, Moldavia and Tajekistan. As can be seen, the road towards NATO had already been taken by the defeated regime. The European "corridors" and NATO constitute the great design for the large scale penetration of international capital inside the former Soviet Union.

A deal which announces new crises

The crisis did not give rise to either a popular uprising or a civil war, because all the fractions in struggle had negotiated an 'ordered' way out. The decisions of the Supreme Court of the previous government in favor of the demands for new elections by the opposition candidate Yuschenko, and even later the turnaround of the Electoral Commission which had organized the fraud which was contested, reflected, together with the changing of sides of the deputies of the RADA (Parliament), the outline of a political agreement among the big thieves of industry and the faction which had disputed hegemony with them. Yuschenko keeps on affirming that "he will review" the privatizations of the last few years, but in the framework of the old regimen which stays in place, while the hoarders of those privatized companies have already said that they agree with a "renegotiation" of the conditions under which they were carried out.

The most important point of the pacted solution has been pointed out in an article that the new president, Yuschenko, wrote for the Financial Times. He said there, without subterfuges, that he "will ensure" respect for all interests linked to the gas deals, that is to say, for the state Russian conglomerate Gazprom, for its German partners and for the US. The Ukraine will be, from now on, the terrain of an almost unprecedented struggle between German and US capital, as shown by the attitude, also unprecedented, of the Deutsche Bank in organizing an international consortium in order to finance the purchase of the Russian oil company Yukos, controlled by US capital, by Gazprom, a partner of German capital.

All the international press has coincided on pointing to Putin as the big loser in the crisis, because he had supported the official fraction which had to leave the government. The expectation that the Ukrainian events could produce a liberal 'revival' in Russia also points in that direction. These are conjectures based on the supposition that the Ukraine, and in this case all the former worker States, have started along the path of a rectilinear ascent towards a 'market economy'. It is most probable that the opposite occurs and that with the development of the world crisis the pro-restoration 'liberal' economies require a pro-state ownership and 'despotic' reorientation. It is unquestionable that Putin's attempt will go from one failure to another, but he will sink as a consequence of his own insurmountable contradictions, of the explosiveness of the social crisis generated by the capitalist restoration, the world crisis and the rebellions in Russia.

The question of the people's rebellion

The Ukraine provided a very important innovation among the so-called 'democratic revolutions' that are supported by imperialism and are run by a fraction of the local pro-restoration forces, namely, that this popular movement which played the role of caboose of the train of those interests, did not have in the Ukraine the homogeneity of previous experiences in Eastern Europe, and recently in Georgia. It is true that within it was dominated by the ONG's financed by Soros, which had already shown their teeth in Yugoslavia and Serbia (the Otpor of the Balkans paved the way for the PORA in the Ukraine), and even traditionalist fascist currents of Western Ukraine. But inside the movement there stood out (it actually failed to stand out) a left-wing youth movement which regrettably has not overcome the counterrevolutionary characterization of the 'democratic revolution'. The hate of the masses towards the 'pro- Sukarno' 'pro- Berlusconi' or Ukrainian 'pro-Menem' forces was channeled, due to this immaturity, by the ascendant fraction of imperialism and the domestic interests of the capitalist restoration.

However, things are not as they were before, and the Ukraine may have been the first link of a big turn in the orientation of the people's rebellions against the 'post-communist' governments.

 

MARCEL ETIENNE