Yesterday a strike broke out at mines in the Luhansk region owned by Rinat Akhmetov an Oligarch and Ukraine’s richest man
Striking miners protest at company offices, 22 April 2014
According to this report from the website of the Russian Socialist Movement, two thousand miners besieged the mine administration demanding higher wages. Is what is happening in Krasnodon a sign that the orientation of the [South East] Ukrainian protests are changing?
Andrey Ishchenko, a member of the socialist group 'Left Opposition', coordinator of the Defence Committee of Workers in Odessa, comments:
Up until now it has been difficult to call the protests going on in the south east class protest. They have been dominated by Russian nationalist slogans and reactionary-abstract ideas . Now the situation could change radically.
In my opinion, the pro-Russian vector protests south eastern Ukraine is starting to deflate, and there are objective reasons for this. Initially, the main goal of the protesters was to join Russian. All the talk about a referendum and the federalization [of Ukraine] against the background of a Russian flag was, of course, nothing more than an attempt to give some semblance of legitimacy protests.
Now, however, many participants of the Anti-Maidan [protests] have become clear about the true role of Russia: it intervenes in the situation to maintain the protests just enough to reach its own geopolitical objectives. Its activities in the south east are to serve the purpose of bargaining with the West and to put pressure on and weaken the authorities in Kiev.
Few now believe in accession to Russia, and inside the pro-Russian protest this has exhausted itself. Lacking a goal and or purpose, it is gradually fading. But at the same time, Ukraine is threatened by an economic collapse.
The protesters, now disappointed in not only the Kiev authorities but also Putin's Russia, are increasingly turning to their pressing problems: the rate of currency, utility bills, prices in supermarkets and of fuel.
This is agitating to more than language problems or questions of geopolitics. Hopefully, now the protest will be gradually filled with new meaning. These are not the empty chants of 'Glory to Ukraine – Glory to Russia'.
Alastair Stephens has been a socialist his whole adult life and has been active in Unison and the TGWU. He studied Russian at Portsmouth, Middle East Politics at SOAS and writes regularly for the Counterfire website.