The autumn rise of social struggle across Ukraine

The following is from the Ukrainian anarchist group Assembly:

While Western countries were celebrating the 105th anniversary of the end of the First World War, another trench meat grinder is leading to an increase in protest activity in Ukraine. The Assembly’s recent overview of combative sabotage in recent months is available in a separate canvas, now let’s talk about less disruptive things.

On October 27, in Kyiv, Odessa, Poltava and 10 other cities of the country, rallies were held by female relatives of mobilized soldiers demanding their demobilization. Most of these servicemen have been at the front since the start of hostilities in February 2022 and are in poor physical and moral condition. The title photo shows this event in Kyiv (Kiev) on the central Independence Square. On November 12, the same actions were announced already in 20 cities and towns of Ukraine; our correspondent exclusively covered it in Kharkov. However, many of those who do not want to fight are in no hurry to support these actions, fearing that the need to replace soldiers sent home will provide another reason for increasing conscription. The issue is now under consideration by the authorities.

Residents of Sosnivka in the Lviv region spoke out against the decision to send criminal prisoners to work at the coal mine located on the territory of this town. “The absurdity of this question is that miners who have a specialty, who have experience working in mines, are not exempt from mobilization, they are sent to the trenches. And these are strangers, convicted people. We don’t know under what articles they were convicted. We don’t know what to expect from those people,” said Vera Bogdanova from Sosnivka. The mine employs 300 people, 87 of them directly extract coal. Three dozen miners were mobilized. The enterprise decided to employ 10 convicts to work night shifts. In mid-October, residents of the town came to express their protest at the Chervonograd City Council. They prepared a draft decision: to contact the government and the president to check the legality of the prisoners’ stay at the mine. However, there were not enough votes at the session.

On October 14, dozens of residents of the Ovruch territorial community (Zhitomir region) gathered at an unauthorized rally in front of the city council, demanding an explanation from the local authorities regarding the cancellation of payments that are due to victims of the Chernobyl accident. Authorities banned the protest, citing martial law. However, people came to the administrative building (photo below) demanding assurances that the payments would be included in the state budget and an explanation of what would be done to prevent the cancellation of these payments. The mayor of Ovruch said that an extraordinary session of the city council was held and there is a corresponding response from the deputies of the Zhytomyr region, there are appeals that will be considered during the budget commissions meeting.

On the evening of November 29, in the Luzanovka neighbourhood of Odessa, residents protested due to the lack of heat and light in their houses for four days. They blocked the street, but then dispersed due to an air alert. The cops have arrived.

In the second half of November, students of the National Aviation University in Kyiv organized spontaneous meetings due to the absence of heating in the educational buildings. “On November 20, the heating was turned on, before that it was freezing in the premises. When the heating was turned on, most of the buildings remained just as cold, because the system is old, there are leaks in many places. They also turned on the heating itself, that the radiators are barely warm, it feels like that’s just to prevent the pipe from bursting,” a student named Maxim told us.

A new rally was held on November 21. According to the administration, they already were resolving the issue, but the university’s debts complicate the process.

Bolt Food delivery service couriers go on strike every Friday. They are seeking to determine the minimum guaranteed wage, raise rates by 70% and unblock unjustly blocked colleagues.

More details about this struggle you can find in the article from CRAS-AIT. On October 20th, approximately 70% of restaurants on the left bank of the capital underwent a shutdown due to a strike!

Also at the end of October, a scandal erupted across the country with a Bolt taxi driver in Kyiv, who was banned for life from this application for dropping off two aggressive passengers who demanded to speak with them exclusively in Ukrainian. Our magazine supported the call to boycott this company, which spontaneously arose on its Instagram page. Bolt in Ukraine is known much more as a taxi than as a delivery service, so one can hope that this campaign will not only be a response to the violation of human dignity and labor rights of the driver, but will also help support the strike of couriers.

In frontline Lisichansk (a part of the Lugansk region occupied by Russia since last year), water utility workers on September 2 reportedly went on strike due to many months of salary arrears. The 80th anniversary of liberation from the Nazis was celebrated there at that time along with City Day. In early October it became known that they had been paid. Also at the end of September, it was reported about a protest by water utility workers in neighboring Rubezhnoye (Rubizhne), but we did not manage to find out the exact details: perhaps the strike was prevented by promises to pay off debts; according to another version, those who gathered for the protest dispersed after seeing a group of armed people. One way or another, at the time of our report about these conflicts, we received evidence that debts were being repaid.

And finally, an example of individual rebellion. In the same Kyiv, an unemployed drunk man smashed the screen of a PrivatBank terminal because it mistakenly transferred his money, which he wanted to send to his acquaintance, to help the army. This happened back on July 11, but the verdict became public only recently. The court fined him 51 hryvnia under the administrative article of petty hooliganism. Hooliganism is really petty, but last year it was hard to imagine such an act!

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s forum, representatives of all factions and deputy associations of the Ukrainian parliament adopted a joint declaration on the refusal of elections in Ukraine until the end of martial law. According to the Odessa historian of anarchism Vyacheslav Azarov, this will destroy the hopes of the Western allies to get a less corrupt, more transparent and accommodating government here. And now they have only two options: pour billions into supporting the Ukrainian rear and the Ukrainian Armed Forces until the latter reach the promised borders of 1991, or strangle the government by cutting funding and military supplies until they agree to negotiations or a new Maidan breaks out. The first option threatens years of weapons and financial costs that are unaffordable for the allies. The second is not only food riots in the Ukrainian rear, but also a more serious threat that the enemy will take advantage of the unrest and weakening of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, overthrow the defenses and seize a number of other regions, which threatens the ruling cabinets of the Western coalition countries with defeat in the elections. The “suitcase without a handle” dilemma…

In addition, let us remind about the recent successful campaign to save the last pine forest of Kharkov from sand mining in its place.