‘Equating Communists and Nazis is perversion of history’
Ukraine's Communist Party has suffered a fresh blow after parliament passed a law banning communist and national socialist totalitarian regimes and the use of any of their symbols in the country. The regime that ruled the country until the early 90s is now declared 'illegal'.
RT:Does this legislation mean the effective end of the Communist Party in Ukraine?
John Foster: I’m sure it won’t mean the end of the Communist Party because it has or had a couple of years ago 100,000 members. And thousands of communists worked for the Communist Party in the last election that was held only a few months ago. And even in those circumstances when people were being attacked and offices burnt, nonetheless the Communist Party still got four percent of the vote which is hundreds of thousands of votes. So the Communist Party won’t go away but they will be working in very considerable difficulties.
RT:What will these difficulties be?
JF: The difficulties obviously will be harassment. The government has attempted to ban the Communist party all together. The legal case against them was abandoned because the judges said they had been put under undue pressure and they all resigned, that collapsed a few weeks ago. So obviously the Ukrainian Parliament went down another road and it’s now banning all the symbols of the Communist Party which will create difficulties for the Communist Party but it will also create great difficulties - and this is really a worrying path for anybody in Europe - …for the peace process and for implementing the Minsk agreement, because the Minsk agreement was based on an understanding that Ukraine should be a plural society recognizing different language groups and different perspectives. And certainly the republics in the East will find it very difficult to come to terms with the government in Kiev that is banning the symbols of the Soviet Union, of the war against the fascists and of the Communist Party which they see as an intrinsic part of their own heritage and what they have defended and which of course in a moment, in a month’s time they will be celebrating in terms of the defeat of fascism. For a government in Kiev to ban all that heritage, all that history, all that struggle will make it very difficult to carry forward the implementation of an agreement that is important for Ukraine, but very important also for the rest of Europe if the conflict that has currently been frozen is not to break out again.
RT:This bill pretty much equates Communism with Nazism treating them both with the same level of disdain. What are your thoughts on that?
JF: The reaction of a communist would be to say that the Communist Party in the period of the last war fought against fascism. The Soviet Union was instrumental in the defeat of Nazi-fascism, in the liberation of Europe, in the liberation of the extermination camps, of the Jewish people and of many other peoples who were imprisoned within them. It was a heroic fight in which 20 million people lost their lives from the Soviet Russia which of course included Ukraine at that time. And to equate that fight and those who led it and took part in it with the people who were responsible for quite inhuman levels of extermination that would have completely destroyed the democratic societies of Europe, had they been victorious to do so, I think is a total perversion of history. And of course today communists across the world - in Latin America, Cuba, Vietnam, China - are working for a different type of society. Not everybody would agree with it, but they are working for a different type of society in which it is not the monopolies and big business that control the world but it is to some extent or rather people democratically through public ownership who are able to develop the economy. And that’s the basic perspectives that the communists in Ukraine carried forward.
They were arguing prior to the coup in 2014 that what Ukraine wanted was a plural, federal, parliamentary republic that would not be dominated by oligarchs and corruption but would enable the people democratically through their own parliament to be able to determine the way forward and where the way of privatization that had been carried out and which virtually bankrupted the Ukrainian economy would be reversed and public ownership would be restored.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.