Iraq: 15 February – CIS – Significant mass protests in Russia and the Ukraine

Moscow CWI comrades were instrumental in initiating and organising a youth march through the city centre on 15 February. In the biggest such demo for years over 300 participated, led by a mock coffin and huge banner saying "No war for oil". CWI members were prominent amongst speakers and marchers. The march called not only for an end to the war in Iraq but also Chechnya.

15 February. No to war in Iraq. cwi reports from around the world. Russia and Ukraine.

Significant mass protests in Russia and the Ukraine

At the same time, the official CP (communist party) held a picket outside the American Embassy attended by about 1,000. They mobilised on a reactionary basis amongst right wing orthodox Christians and Cossacks against the "American evil" and refused to raise the question of Chechnya.

In Kiev, in the Ukraine, CWI comrades participated in a march and concert outside the US Embassy organised by an Action Committee of representatives of all the Left parties. This was attended by about 2,000. The official slogans of the CP organisers were "No to war in Iraq" but because of their lack of internationalism and other reactionary ideas, many of their supporters chanted anti-semitic slogans. ’Rabitnichii Sprotiv’ (the CWI in the Ukraine) had about 40 on their contingent calling for an end to the Iraq war and linking it to the brutality in Chechnya. One comrade spoke at a concert afterwards and was notable for being the only speaker to put forward a position based on the interests of the working class. Rabitnichii Sprotiv also organised a picket of the UN Headquarters in the city.

In Voronezh, in Russia, CWI comrades participated in a protest under the banner of the Committee for United Action, which was set up as a result of last year’s rent rise protests. Several hundred people attended. In Nizhni Novgorod, CWI comrades involved in Attak (the broad anti-capitalist organisation) organised a smaller protest, as did comrades in Novosibirsk.

The size of these demos, although small in international terms, were big for the CIS and are significant as they indicate a growing interest in international events. Apart from the protest in Kiev, these rallies would probably not have taken place if they had not been initiated by the CWI. They also saw a large number of youth participating. During the day, over 200 CWI papers were sold and many people expressed an interest in our socialist and internationalist ideas.

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February 2003