(picture via direct-action.org.ua)
Ukrainian students are on strike against the police and for workers rights. Nick Evans reports.
Since 10am on Monday 20 January, students at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy have been on indefinite strike. This adds an important dimension to the protests against the Ukrainian government.
The “Euromaidan” protests were triggered by the decision of the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to sign up to a deal with the EU to alleviate the country’s deepening economic crisis. This refusal was seen as a response to pressure from Russia. The demonstrations have been met with violent repression.
At the same time, far right groups have been prominent in the “Euromaidan” protests, including supporters of Oleh Tyahnybok’s fascist “Svoboda” (“Freedom”) party. Fascists have attacked students and trade unionists on the demonstrations. The other opposition parties, whose leaders, Vitali Klitschko and Arseniy Yastnyuk, have appeared on platforms with Tyahnybok, and are in favour of EU-IMF engineered neoliberal structural reforms.
But students in the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy are fighting for an alternative to the two oligarchic blocs, with the repressive forces of the state lined up on one side, and far-right groups active on the other. On Monday, students called an all-out indefinite strike, and called students and workers at other universities to join them.
They are demanding the repeal of a set of anti-protest laws brought in last Friday and are calling for the liquidation of the state’s special “Berkuta” security force, which has been used against the protesters. They are also calling for the “autonomy” of the university. By this they say they mean security forces off campus and workers’ rights for university staff;the replacement of 9-month with all-year contracts; an end to budget cuts and increased workloads, and the right to strike for university workers.