EDITOR’S NOTE: LABOR TODAY sends you the official statement of the WFTU AFFILIATE in Russia. Given the effective US shut down of information from Russia, we are pleased to make this available. Please circulate.
The tragic situation in Ukraine did not arise all by itself. The 2014 coup d’état was carried out by Western-led radical nationalists. The ensuing extrajudicial repression and massacres of dissidents (the burning of Anti-Maidan supporters in 2014 in Odessa, the murder of political opponents) became common practice. The disagreeing regions were subjected to exemplary suppression with the help of nationalist battalions formed from the followers of Hitler and Bandera. The weakness of State power and radical violence led the Republic of Crimea to secede from Ukraine, and set Donbass and Lugansk at ready to defend their rights within the united Ukraine.
However, the Minsk Agreements, which ensured peace and unity in the country, signed among others by the Ukrainian authorities, and the formula for their implementation proposed by the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier were effectively rejected by the Ukrainian leadership under the pressure of radicals. This led to a military operation against Donetsk and Lugansk peoples’ republics shamefacedly called “antiterrorist”. During eight years, the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk have been shelled hundreds of times with the use of artillery, mortars and aircraft. Over the years, between 13,000 and 50,000 people, including women, the elderly and children, were estimated to have died. Unfortunately, these victims “went unnoticed” by both the world community and by the residents of other regions of Ukraine. There were no protests or sanctions imposed against the authorities killing their own people. They didn’t want to negotiate, they just decided to break them by military force. It is not by accident that over 800,000 residents of the DPR and LPR, whom the Ukrainian authorities call terrorists, have since acquired Russian citizenship. At the same time, there was an escalation of violence. The use of the Russian language, spoken by the majority of the population, was effectively banned in Ukraine.
The newly elected president Vladimir Zelensky came to power under the slogan of normalising the situation in the south-east of the country. As a result, he failed to implement international Minsk Agreements while the shelling only increased in intensity. It went as far as his statements on the return of nuclear status to Ukraine, which implied the deployment of nuclear weapons on its territory, directed towards Russia.
The direct and clear military threat to the State, the need to protect Russian citizens, including those living in Donbass, failure of the Ukrainian leadership to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict, provocative statements and actions by the leadership of Ukraine and a number of Western countries have led to today’s situation.
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia supports the steps taken by President Vladimir Putin, the political and military leadership of Russia. We are confident that the military phase of the peacekeeping operation will end and that political solutions will be found to put an end to the conflict. Only in conditions of peace, solidarity and democracy will the workers of Ukraine, the DPR, the LPR and the Russian Federation, united by their trade unions, be able to successfully defend their right to decent work.
Today, Russia is in a difficult situation. The external sanctions imposed by foreign States on industries and banks cannot but affect the economy and the living standards of its people.
Serious steps must be taken to mitigate the external impact. Firstly, we must jointly prevent negative consequences for the Russian production sector because that’s what provides the strength of our country. In addition, measures are needed to protect workers and the general public from the social risks carried by the sanctions. This means that owners should be limited in their ability to shut down businesses and carry out layoffs. Coordinated wage growth measures are needed to offset inflation and price increases. The growth of tariffs for housing, utilities and public transport, must be stopped. The prices of basic commodities must be placed under strict State control. Those enterprises whose owners prove to be unable to provide sustainable work and social guarantees to workers should pass into State ownership and be nationalised.