The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

A Corrupt and Anti-Worker Regime

Feb 6, 2023

This article is translated from the January 27 issue #2843 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

A recent wave of dismissals at the top of the Ukrainian government says a lot about the true nature of this regime that the media and Western governments present as the beacon of democracy in Eastern Europe and the defender of the interests of the Ukrainian population.

Four ministers, five regional governors, and four very senior officials have been sacked. Deputy Minister of Defense Vyacheslav Shavalov, Deputy Head of Presidential Administration Kyrylo Tymoshenko, and Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko resigned. Or rather, they were forced to resign. As a statement from the Ministry of Defense indicates about its former number two boss: he apparently left “to preserve the confidence of society and international partners”.

If the regime takes such measures, there must be an urgent need for it, at least vis-à-vis the population. Recently, media began revealing cases of deals reached by the Ministry of Defense. It bought food for soldiers at prices two to three times higher than in stores. Readers learned that the Ministry paid 17 hryvnias (42 cents) per egg, where stores charge 7 hryvnias (19 cents). Potatoes at 59 cents instead of 23 cents. In late December the media published not the unit purchase prices, but the total amount of the contracts concluded: 13 billion hryvnias (357 million dollars) for the military regions in Cherkassk, Poltava, Zhytomir, and Chernihiv only.

These are basic necessities, which the working population struggles to buy. The price differential is shocking. Every Ukrainian has one or more relatives in the army. These deals show very clearly that the top leaders are taking advantage of the war to enrich themselves as well as intermediaries and their supplier friends.

Zelensky says every day on television that the entire population is mobilized to defend the fatherland. But these revelations highlight the fact that war profiteers are active at the top of the government, including among those who organize national defense.

These people think they can get away with everything. Symonenko was supposed to enforce the law. But among other escapades, he was able to go on vacation in Spain, regardless that any trip abroad is prohibited for military-age men. And it is no surprise that he went there in the car of a businessman, with their bodyguard. In fact, it’s common knowledge that most of the oligarchs and wheeler-dealers of some importance fled for months to take shelter abroad. Symonenko, Zelensky and others were left with the job of rounding up fighters to serve as cannon fodder against the Russian army.

Shortly before these revelations and forced resignations, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Vasyl Lozynsky was ousted. He had received $400,000 to facilitate the purchase of generators, while part of the population is plunged into darkness and cold due to Russian strikes which destroyed much energy infrastructure.

Tymoshenko, the number two boss of the presidential administration, who has held power alongside Zelensky since his election in 2019, was also involved in embezzlement linked to the reconstruction of the country, a job for which he was partly responsible.

Perhaps even more than his fired comrades, this character, who is typical of the Ukrainian high bureaucracy, somehow bridges the gap between the current regime and that of before February 2022. Indeed, he was involved in a series of financial scandals both before and after the outbreak of war. But they have had no consequence so far.

The Ukrainian government is no less hostile to workers than Putin’s. The regime remains based on corruption, the wholesale plundering of state resources, and an unbounded contempt for the fate and suffering of the population.