Women’s Rally. The First Mass Social Protest in Ukraine 2023

The following is taken from a report by the Ukrainian anarchist group Assembly. It first appeared on the libcom site.

In the first half of yesterday, April 22, Liberation Square in Kryvyi Rih, or Krivoy Rog – Zelensky’s hometown – was flooded with wives and mothers of soldiers chanting “Shame!” and demanding that the unit’s commander Yuri Sinkovsky come out to them. Their relatives from the 129th Separate Territorial Defence Brigade are fighting at the front in the Donetsk region. Territorial defence  squads were initially created on a voluntary basis to perform auxiliary tasks, such as patrolling the streets and serving at checkpoints, but last summer they began to be thrown into the hottest spots of Donbass. This immediately started to cause various conflicts with their command.

During the month, family members of the personnel reported on social networks about the lack of support for the brigade there. In particular, according to the wives, the fighters were on the front line without water, food, ammunition, they even bought body armour there at their own expense and drove their own cars instead of armoured vehicles. They also wanted to know why the injured and the dead are not being evacuated, speaking about the poor and untimely treatment of the wounded.

Hundreds of protesters blocked the road traffic. Victoria Tretyak, a representative of the City Defence Council, suggested that the protesters apply to the military prosecutor’s office with a collective statement that the property transferred from the Council did not reach the servicemen. Neither she nor another deputy chief of the Defence Council, Alexander Piskun, was able to answer a single question. As well as the representative from the brigade commander who arrived at the rally.

The demonstrators decided to prepare a list of questions for the command of the 129th brigade and the Defence Council to answer online.

This is only the largest example of such actions in Ukraine since last month. So, earlier in April, the wives and mothers of the soldiers sent to the front gathered in front of the enlistment centre in Ivano-Frankivsk. They tried to call the leadership of the National Guard’s military unit 1241 to find out why the commanders sent the soldiers to the front without weapons, support, equipment. From their words, only 25 out of 300 people remained in two days. However, the leadership of the unit did not want to answer and hung up. The soldiers claimed that they did not want to go to certain death and there is an intention to judge the survivors for this. In Odessa, especially known for the brutality of enlistment officers who grab guys right on the streets and lock them up in recruiting centres, where they undergo a symbolic medical examination and immediately go to training, there was a protest against the forcible retention of conscripts in the enlistment office of the Suvorovsky district. The women who came for their husbands called the police, who arrived at the facility and accepted statements about the kidnapping. The intervention made it possible to stop the detention. It is especially interesting that in this case the cops took the side of the people, although usually they, on the contrary, help to load the guys into the enlistment car by force. Perhaps this is just the beginning of the big processes ahead?

In addition, you are welcome to learn from this recent material how the general mobilisation continuously strengthens social control and competition among the workers of Ukraine.

Also we can add our recent report how the residents of Kharkiv came out against plans to demolish several historic residential buildings for commercial development.

Original libcom article appears here:https://libcom.org/article/rally-soldiers-women-first-mass-social-protest-ukraine-2023

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