Moscow's war in Ukraine
unpopular inside Russia
BY JOHN STUDER
The Sept. 5 cease-fire between Kiev and Moscow in parts of eastern Ukraine occupied by Russian troops and separatist paramilitary units continues to hold. At the same time, some 1,000 Russian troops remain in eastern Ukraine and there has been sporadic fighting around both the Ukrainian-government held airport in Donetsk and approaches to the city of Mariupol.
Most people in Ukraine, including in the east, are staunchly opposed to the Russian government-backed separatists or a return to economic and political domination by Moscow.
Moscow's intervention in Ukraine is also unpopular in Russia. A recent poll by the pro-Kremlin Fund of Social Opinions reported that only 5 percent of people in Russia support Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Recently there has been an uptick in strikes and other labor actions in Russia. Miners, metal workers and municipal and state workers have launched spontaneous strikes, mainly seeking unpaid wages. Members of the Interregional Union of Health Workers in the city of Ufa declared a hunger strike Sept. 9 to protest low pay. "There are now slightly more than one new strike every working day," the Moscow Center for Social-Labor Rights reported Sept. 8.
Attempting to reinforce the shaky truce, the Ukrainian government voted to defer a trade pact with the European Union until the beginning of 2016. President Petro Poroshenko also introduced draft laws that would grant amnesty to most separatist combatants and special self-governance status for occupied districts in Donbass for a three-year period.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told a conference in Kiev Sept. 13 that the government's most important achievement over the last six months was adoption of two "austerity" packages, cutting public spending by more than 10 percent, hiking housing bills and taxes, and looking to sell state-owned coal mines to private interests.
Meanwhile, Washington and other imperialist governments have moved to impose more sanctions on Russian energy firms, cutting off aid to new oil and gas exploration. The imperialist sanctions are exacerbating an economic crisis that has come down hardest on working people. The ruble fell to an all-time low against the dollar Sept. 16. That day Opel car company, the European arm of General Motors, laid off 500 workers and cut production in its St. Petersburg plant from two shifts to one.