RUSSIAN LEFTISTS IN EASTERN UKRAINE READY TO PLAY ETHNIC CARD.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 224
Ethnic Russian leftist and neonationalist groups from Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions have passed a resolution of no confidence in Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma at a conference held in Donetsk on November 30. Industrial managers, regional deputies, and representatives drawn from some 50 labor, political, and ethnic organizations held Kiev responsible for the region’s economic crisis and urged the formation of a "Working Donbass Social and Political bloc" to advance the region’s interests. The participants also called for action to maintain the position of the Russian language in the school system and public life. It also issued a strong condemnation of the government-backed effort by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchy to win independence from the Russian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchy.
On the same day, a conference of Russian citizens who reside in Crimea denounced "the Ukrainian authorities’ offensive against Russians in Ukraine and Crimea." It appealed to the Russian government to confer Russian status on Sevastopol and to hold up the completion and signing of the interstate treaty with Ukraine. (Itar-Tass, UNIAN, Interfax-Ukraine, November 30)
Russian leftist groups in eastern Ukraine have until now failed in their occasional attempts to use the ethnic card to spark a movement for autonomy from Kiev. The agenda of the Donetsk conference would seem to reflect a more serious attempt by local leftists to combine socioeconomic grievances with Russian nationalist demands in the apparent hope of starting an autonomy movement in the linguistically russified region.
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