A message from Dnipro: track down the war criminals

January 17, 2023

These facebook posts by ANATOLY DUBOVIK in Dnipro are translated and reproduced here with his permission

From Monday. Official information on the morning of 16 January on the results of the Russian nazis’ destruction of a residential apartment block in Dnipro: 35 dead, 75 wounded, 39 rescued. Another 35 have not yet been found – so the death toll could be doubled.

Rescue work continues.

Among the dead is a well known person: Mikhail Korenovsky, the veteran Ukrainian boxing trainer and trainer of the Dnepropetrovsk regional team. His wife and two children were away from home at the time of the blast, and survived.

A flat in the bombed apartment building

People are saying that in this photograph is the remains of the Korenovskys’ flat. Whether it is or not, the photo will go down in history.

From Saturday. Now, at 19.50, rescue teams and people from the area are working at the destroyed building, dismantling the ruins, dragging out the dead, wounded and survivors. Officially at 18.0 they announced there were five dead and 39 in hospital. Those are the living and the dead that they were able to pull out. Among the wounded are seven children, including a three year old. Cries can be heard from the ruins: there are people in there. And it will be minus four degrees tonight.

Gennady Korban, one of the city’s leaders, a big businessman, and – let’s say it like this – someone who had a very specific reputation back in the 1990s and 2000s, published the following statement on his facebook feed:

Dear friends, we all know that in Dnipro today the Rashists committed a war crime. These Rashists are not nameless. Every war criminal has a name, rank and place of deployment.

Today’s attack was undertaken by the 52nd guards heavy bomber airborne regiment based at Shaikovka. TU-22M3 [a missile-carrying bomber]. V/Ch 33310 [military unit]. Call sign of the commanding officer 42492. The flight left from somewhere near Kursk and landed at Ryazan. Kh-22 rocket.

This is the bastard who fired a rocket at a residential block. As a result, children and adults were killed. The number of victims is not yet known.

The name and address in the Russian federation of this war criminal must be ascertained, for him to be brought to justice. The first person who provides verifiable details will receive $US 25,000 from me, with anonymity guaranteed.

For the first time in my life, I wish Korban success in implementing his plan.

Krivoi Rog. This evening rockets were fired into residential areas. Six housing blocks are damaged. There have been some deaths.

All the Russian nazis will be killed.

From Sunday. And this is about Mr [Oleksiy] Arestovich. On his live stream with [Russian lawyer turned you tube publicist Mark] Feygin, Arestovich, the adviser to the office of the president and lieutenant-colonel (or is it, colonel), commented on the day’s events. He shot his mouth off, talking as though the nazis’ rocket that destroyed the apartment block in Dnipro had been shot down by Ukraine’s air defence, and, after that, the damaged rocket, or bits of it, fell on the building.

I do not have military experience. But I have just lived for nearly 11 months either not far from the front, or very close to the front, but in any case in a city that has been subject to numerous rocket attacks. During that time, almost a year, I have learned a little about how to work out what is happening.

In order to bring down an enemy rocket, you need to fire your own rocket to intercept it – a minimum of one, but several is better, more effective. Every launch of an air defence rocket is accompanied by its own particular sound, which to an observer – me, for example – sounds very like an explosion.

I recall that once, last summer, six Russian rockets were fired at Dnipro. I heard 14 explosions. That is, six hits by rockets, and eight air defence rocket launches.

Now, yesterday, when the missile strike took place, I was outside, in the courtyard of our building. I heard the explosion very clearly. It was one explosion.

ONE.

Nobody shot anything down. The Ukrainian air defence was unable to stop the incoming rocket. That can happen: for example, a winged missile can fly very low, and it is very hard to hit it. And it was one of these, a Kh-22 supersonic winged missile, that was fired at Dnipro.

I don’t know why or for what purpose the official representative of the Ukrainian authorities Mr Arestovich lied on air. But he lied.

It would be interesting to hear the opinion of others in Dnipro. My daughter, who lives not far from where the missile hit, talked to me yesterday about an explosion. Not explosions. Aleskandr Pavelko yesterday in comments also mentioned just one, very loud, explosion. Did anyone hear any more explosions?

[In the comments on this post, several Dnipro residents said that they had heard just one explosion. One person said there was an explosion that may have been air defence, but only 2 seconds before the main explosion. SP.]

□ Anatoly Dubovik is an anarchist since 1989, and a historian of the anarchist movement.  

More from Anatoly Dubovik on People & Nature:

□ One day in the life of Dnipro (March 2022)

□ Russian soldiers killed that family, just because (April 2022)


Russia: the time for protest has gone, it’s time for resistance

January 17, 2023

A column by ARMEN ARAMYAN, editor of Doxa, published by DOXA on 13 January in Russian.  

For many years the Russian opposition propagandised a particular manner of protest: clean, peaceful protest of the urban class, not dirtied with violence or even any pretension to violence. I was politicised at that time. I am 25, and I first went to a street demonstration when I was 17, in the second year of study at university. And I learned the lessons conscientiously: when somebody urges people to free a demonstrator who is being detained – that’s a provocation. If someone proposes to stay put on a square and not leave, or to occupy a government building – that’s a provocateur, and that person should be paid no heed.

We are better than them, because we do not use violence, and they do. Let everyone see us and our principles as unarmed, peaceful protesters, who are beaten by cosmonauts in full combat gear. Then they will understand what is going on. Why go on a demonstration? To express our opinion, to show that we are here. And if there are enough of us, that will produce a split in the elite.

A fire at a military recruitment centre in Nizhnevartovsk in May last year. Photo from Libcom

Evidently, this strategy didn’t work. Whether it worked at one time is probably not so important now. I am convinced, by my own life experience, that it has failed. A year and a half ago, I recorded an inoffensive video to support student protests – and for that got a year’s house arrest. [Reported here, SP.] And in that year, the Russian authorities succeeded in destroying the remains of the electoral system, and invading Ukraine. No peaceful protest could stop them.

During that time, as the anti-Putin opposition de-escalated protests and adapted to new prohibitions – you need to give advance notice about a demo? OK. You need to set up metal detectors on site? Very good – the authorities, by contrast, escalated the conflict with society. They pursued ever-more-contrived legal cases – for actions ranging from throwing a plastic cup at a cop, to liking stuff or joking on twitter.

We have been retreating tactically for a long time, and finally wound up on the edge of a precipice – in a situation where not to protest would be immoral, but where, at the same time, the most inoffensive action could result in the most serious sanctions. The neurosis in which a large part of Russian society now finds itself – all those arguments about who is more ethically immaculate: those who have left, those who have stayed, those who have half-left or one-quarter-stayed; who has the moral right to speak about something and who doesn’t – all this is a result of living in a paradox. 

For the first few weeks after the invasion, this logic of conflict – that the opposition de-escalates and the state escalates – reached its limits. Peaceful protests came to an end. Resistance didn’t stop: several hundred people, at a minimum, set fire to military recruitment offices or dismantled railways on which the Russian army was sending arms, and soldiers, to the front.

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Ukraine: bogus ‘anti-imperialism’ serves the Kremlin

September 28, 2022

I gave a talk at an on-line event on the war in Ukraine, arranged by the Future of the Left group on Monday. The meeting was shorter than planned, due to technical problems. Only two of the advertised speakers made it: Richard Sakwa, emeritus professor of Russian and European politics at Kent university, and me. Sakwa focused on the western powers’ failure to uphold principles of sovereign internationalism in the post-cold-war period, and concluded by opposing military aid to Ukraine. Against that, I put the case for supporting Ukrainian resistance as a matter of internationalist principle. I said that I think such discussions should continue. Here’s a recording of the session. Simon Pirani.

Here is a text, based on my talk. It is aimed mainly at the bogus “anti imperialism” widespread in the left, and among Future of the Left’s supporters, rather than at anything Sakwa said.

Thanks for inviting me to join the panel. It’s worth reflecting on what good panels like this, or gatherings like this, can possibly do. As a socialist, I believe that effective change is caused by the labour movement and social movements acting independently of the state. So I will say what I think the labour movement could or should do, and what people here could or should do, rather than declaiming principles with no reference to implementation. 

My main point is that we should build solidarity with Ukrainian resistance to Russian aggression. That is rejected by some people in the labour movement, and I think we have to find ways of discussing these differences on life and death issues.

Character of the Russian war  

Russia is a weakened empire desperately trying to restore its imperial status. It emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union as an economically subordinate power, supplying the world capitalist economy with raw materials and pumping oligarchs’ wealth into the world financial system. Under Putin, since 2000, it has sought to make up for economic weakness by military means.

In the second Chechen war, Russia pulverised Chechnya and its population, rather than allow aspirations for national autonomy or independence to take root. Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, and intervened in Syria in 2015, to support a dictator who drowned citizens in blood rather than allow them any democratic freedoms.

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Ukraine: the ‘Russian world’ is militarising children

July 12, 2022

Thousands of children, some as young as eight, are being recruited to “military-patriotic clubs” in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, a report published this month shows.

“The Kremlin intends to bring up a generation hostile to Ukraine and its people, making it always possible to provoke social-political conflicts, that can grown over into military ones”, concludes the report by the Eastern Human Rights Group.

Children at Yunarmia oath ceremony in Sevastopol, Crimea, 25 October 2019. Photo from sevzakon.ru

The report, “Militarisation of Children in Occupied Donbass”,[1] details the clubs’ activity in the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, in the year leading up to Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine in February.

The Young Guard Youth Army (Molodaya gvardiya Yunarmiya) is the largest such club, with 5000 members in Luhansk. The Donetsk Youth Army claims a membership of 2500, between the ages of 8 and 35, grouped in more than 100 local organisations.

The Youth Army’s activities include: survival training in extreme conditions; field exercises including orienteering; physical training; arms training; and military tactics.

In both Donetsk and Luhansk, the Youth Army and other clubs were set up on the authorities’ initiative. In Luhansk, they are supplemented by cadet classes and corps in schools, in which more than 1600 children were registered as of December last year. Their curriculum includes physical and military training.

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Russia: a new wave of anti-war protest

May 20, 2022

Three months into Russia’s assault on Ukraine, PAVEL LISYANSKY reports that anti-war protesters, pushed back in March by a fierce legal clampdown, are finding ways to make their voices heard

While the Russian media claims wholesale popular approval of the Kremlin’s military aggression, Russians are being arrested for protesting peacefully in the country’s urban centres.

Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine has now entered its third month. The level of protest among the local population in Russian regions is increasing, due to several factors.

Leyla Sayfutdinova mounted a one-person picket against the war with her mouth sewn shut. See also “About the photo”, below

Because of the sanctions policy, global brands are leaving Russia and, at the same time, large employers are closing production facilities, thereby reducing jobs in the regions and draining tax revenues to regional budgets.

The regions of Russia have already received Cargo 200 [military code for the transportation of soldiers’ dead bodies] from Ukraine, which increases local people’s urge to protest. But the main political point is that these events sharpen the confrontation between regional elites and the federal centre of the Russian Federation. [Note. The Russian Federation is made up of 85 administrative units (regions, republics and autonomous territories), which are constantly in battle with the central government over shares of budgets, degree of local autonomy, etc.]

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Russian soldiers killed that family, just … because

April 7, 2022

By ANATOLY DUBOVIK in Dnipro, eastern Ukraine

On social media people are arguing about the reasons for the massacres at Bucha, Irpen and other places in Kyiv region. They are not asking why, so much as “for what reason”, with what aim? I have my opinion, as follows.

At the beginning of March, I heard a woman, who had been able to get out of occupied Melitopol with her family, talk about it. I’ll tell the story, as I remember it – so it’s not a documented record, of course, but my re-telling, albeit directly from the witness. As far as I understood, she lived somewhere in the suburbs of the city, in a private house.

The Russian army arrived in Melitopol on 26 February. There was no battle for the city. For several days we sat at home and watched an endless stream of Russian military vehicles. It was too frightening to go out – and there was no reason to: the Russians had looted all the shops on the first day.

And then [so, on 1 or 2 March, AD] our neighbours for some reason set out for their allotment, to plant something. One of the military vehicles stopped. Two Russian soldiers got out and killed the whole family, our neighbours. Husband, wife and two children. Then the soldiers got back into their vehicle and left.

After this we had no doubt. We collected all the things we could, and half an hour later left the city in our car. It took 24 hours to get to Zaporozhya [it is a 133 kilometre journey, AD]. There were Russian checkpoints all along the way. We were constantly stopped, they examined the car, and searched us. But all the same, we made it.

What are the explanations? Why, for what reason, was that family killed?

This was right at the start. The Russians who killed that family had only been on Ukrainian territory for a day or two. Melitopol was already in the rear, from their standpoint. So it’s highly unlikely that these soldiers had been in a firefight or lost close colleagues. Furthermore, there was practically no battle for Melitopol: the Ukrainian army had left the city. So it was not revenge.

Refugees in Lviv

And it did not seem like they were carrying out orders, either. In the case of an order to “kill civilians”, even “under such-and-such circumstances”, things would not have been limited to killing one family, who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. This was not carrying out an order; it was the “living creativity of the Russian masses”.

The murdered parents, of course, could have had pro-Ukrainian views. Or they could even have been signed up to a territorial defence unit. But none of this was known to the Russians who shot them. It was not even known to their neighbours. What’s more: underaged children, murdered together with their parents, could not possibly have been in a territorial defence unit.

Moreover, this was not the result of a breach of curfew rules or anything of that kind. These people were literally in front of their home, in their own country, in broad daylight, no kind of threat to anyone at all.

But they were killed.

Isn’t it really obvious, that these murders had no purpose whatever? That the Russians killed that family not “for a reason”, but just … because.

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UK trade unions make ‘solidarity with Ukraine’ call

April 7, 2022

UK trade unions will demonstrate in London on Saturday, calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

“We send solidarity to the trade unionists of Ukraine who have been engaged in humanitarian assistance and resistance to the invasion”, the organisers say. “We will support in whatever way we can the brave people demonstrating in Russia for an end to the war.

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“We call on the UK government to welcome refugees seeking to come to the UK without imposing any restrictions.”

The demonstration, which assembles at Parliament Square in London at 12.0 noon, is backed by the GMB general union, one of the UK’s largest, as well as unions representing civil servants (PCS), rail workers (ASLEF), communication workers (CWU), bakers and food workers (BFAWU) and mine workers (NUM).

The three main Ukrainian union federations, and two rail workers’ unions, have also declared support for the event.

The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine has appealed to trades unionists internationally to call on governments to send military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

“The bombing of hospitals and homes, executions, atrocities and rapes are part of Russian inhumane tactics”, Mykhailo Volynets, the confederation’s chair, wrote. “Russian forces continue to purposefully destroy the people of Ukraine and do not stop even at the time of the negotiation talks.

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Solidarity appeal for Ukrainian victims of Russian army abductions

April 4, 2022

Local councillors in the UK have launched an appeal demanding “an end to the use of kidnapping, arbitrary imprisonment and other violence” against elected officials, journalists, civic activists and others in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

The statement condemns “attempts by the Russian army and security services to destroy elected local government structures and replace them with their own appointees”.

Demonstration against the Russian occupation in Kherson, Sunday 3 April

The appeal was drafted after mayors and elected officials in Enerhodar, Melitopol, Kherson, Berdyansk and other towns in south-eastern Ukraine were abducted, often in the course of Russian army attempts to force local administrations to collaborate.

The abductions in the occupied areas are part of the same terror campaign whose cutting edge – summary executions, mass graves and wholesale terror against civilians – has been exposed in Bucha, Irpin and other areas near Kyiv from which the Russian forces withdrew last week.

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Ukraine: filtration in Russian-occupied areas is “a way of terrorising civil society”

April 4, 2022

Some insights into the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, where “people’s republics” were set up by Russian-supported armed militia in 2014, are provided in these excerpts from an interview with PAVEL LISYANSKY of the Eastern Human Rights Group. It was published on 25 March by Tribun, a Luhansk-based news group

Q: Do you think that the Kremlin’s aims have changed in the month since the invasion started?

PL: I am convinced that Putin’s aims remain the same. He wants to destroy Ukraine, having split it into pieces. Now, for example, he is trying to set up a “Kherson people’s republic”, which he would then recognise in future. Then, I reckon, they will try to set up something like a “union of people’s republics”. Putin will not touch the territories that border Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, for the simple reason that the Russian federation needs an external enemy in the shape of the regions that stay within Ukraine. Putin’s main aim is that the Ukraine of 2014-2022 – the free and independent Ukraine – should disappear.

Q: You have spoken before about the danger of the Russian federation issuing passports to Ukrainians. How actively is this policy being pursued now?

PL: It’s more operational than ever. Now that the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” have been recognised by Russia, no-one now has to travel to Rostov region [of southern Russia, to apply for a passport]. “Migration departments” have been set up in the occupied territories for passports to be issued. And now they [the Russian authorities] are increasing the numbers on account of the areas of Luhansk and Donetsk they have recently seized [i.e. areas that remained under Ukrainian government control between 2014 and 2022].

Demonstrators gathering in Enerhodar. Zaporizhiya region, on Saturday 2 April to protest at the Russian occupation. After this photo was taken they were violently dispersed by the occupation forces

And the approach has changed. Now those who refuse [a passport] are intimidated on account of it being war time, and threatened with legal cases for “collaboration with Ukraine”. A little more than a million such passports have now been issued.

Q: Now the Russians are “evacuating” citizens of towns they have occupied in Starobelsk and Svatovo. What are their aims?

PL: They need to create a “picture” for domestic consumption in the Russian federation, showing that “our brave army is saving peaceful civilians”. Unfortunately there are cases where they have evacuated people from Rubezhny and Svatovo to Rostov region. Where they go from there, we don’t know. Communication breaks down.

I suspect that our citizens could be sent, for example, to Vorkuta [a mining town north of the Arctic circle] or to the Far East [of Russia]. Remember that the Russian federation has a big problem of a great deal of territory that is sparsely populated. This is one way of trying to address it, where the “fellow countryman” programme of the Russian foreign affairs ministry failed. No-one really wants to move to those places voluntarily.

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Russians revolt against Putin’s war

February 28, 2022

The stream of protest against Russia’s war on Ukraine has turned into a river. Demonstrations in every major Russian city have been broken up by the police, with more than 4000 arrests, but people have returned to the streets again and again. There were anti-war demonstrations in the Belarussian capital, Minsk, yesterday, the first street actions since the 2020 crackdown.

Trafalgar Square, London, Sunday: “Russians against war” at a demonstration called by the Ukrainian community

Tens of thousands of Russians have signed letters against the war by professional and civic associations – that’s what this post focuses on. There is a list, summarised from an article yesterday on The Insider, and the texts of letters by medical staff, teachers and local government officials.

The Insider’s introduction stated: “Professional associations in Russia, and also representatives of civil society – municipal deputies, NGOs, human rights defenders – are publishing open letters and petitions against the war in Ukraine. Some of them have been signed by dozens of people, some by thousands.

“The examples included here have been signed by more than 60,000 people – and that does not include the anti-war petition started by the human rights defender Lev Ponomarev on Change.org, which was signed by 880,000 people in three days.” [English text of petition here.]

If you are reading this in the UK, or wherever, and you believe in building international solidarity against war, and you work in any of the professions mentioned – you know what to do. Get in touch with your Russian colleagues today.

Professional associations

Animators. “We are convinced, that war can bring nothing but death, hurt and destruction.” Signed by more than 390.

Architects and town planners. “War can not be an instrument of politics in the 21st century.” Signed by more than 5000.

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