Friday, May 16, 2014

Workers in Ukraine unite with oligarchs to battle Russia

In an unlikely alliance of workers and capitalist billionaires, Russian separatists have been driven from the eastern Ukraine city of Mariupol.

Other oligarchs, including the nation’s leading agriculturist and the top banker, also are supporting the new government.

 If history repeats itself, just as the downfall of the Soviet regime began in neighboring Poland’s Lenin shipyards in 1980, the Russian effort to seize or subjugate Ukraine will be stopped by the very workers communism is supposed to represent.

Ukrainian steelworkers who work for Rinat Akhmetov, a billionaire and the country’s wealthiest man, joined the fight first. Akhmetov had held back from getting involved in the fighting until this week, when he sent his men out into the streets in hard-hat patrols. There wore no camouflage or ski masks.

 On Thursday, in a televised address, Akhmetov said, “I strongly believe that Donbass (eastern Ukraine) can be happy only in [a] united Ukraine.”

 Akhmetov is believed to employ 280,000 in the eastern Ukraine metal industry.

 The Toronto Globe and Mail said the workers also fanned out in Donetsk, capital of the new so-called people’s republic, and three other cities. Some miners joined the patrols.

 Barricades and tires have been removed from many areas.

 Numerous polls have shown the steelworkers will have the support of the majority of the population, who wish for Ukraine to remain an independent country and not a vassel of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 At the same time, in another sign that Putin may have opened Pandora’s box, the Russian economy was staggering.

 The stock market is down and the ruble has tanked.

 European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has said that estimates of $63 billion in foreign money leaving Russia are vastly understated, and could be as high as $220 billion. In all of 2013, only $63 million was withdrawn. Even domestic investment has fallen.

 Some leading investors, under pressure from Washington and Europe, have pulled out of economic forum in Russia.

 The New York Times spoke with the workers. Aleksei Gorlov, a steelworker, told the Times: “We have to bring order to the city. “People organize themselves,” he said. “In times of troubles, that is how it works.”

 Steel executive Yuri Ryzhenkov, CEO of Akhmetov’s Metinvest, said Russian separatists initially balked at the patrols but then pulled back.

 The Donetsk People’s Republic understands if they attack unarmed local people, they will lose all support here,” he said.


New York Times

Toronto Globe and Mail


Financial Times

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