From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 37, 16 September 1946, S. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
In last week’s issue of Labor Action we discussed the latest purges in Russia and the issue of Ukrainian independence. We pointed out that the question of national rights and freedom for the Ukraine were granted the country by Lenin’s Bolshevik regime as a matter of principle, even to the point of granting the Ukraine the right to separation.
For many years now the Ukraine and its people have been subjected to oppression at the hands of a Great Russian nationalism under Stalin as severe as any they suffered under Czarist absolutism. The war and the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine merely lifted the veil which covered that country and showed that the deep nationalist aspirations of its people, which reached their highest fruition under the socialist policy of the Bolshevik regime, had burst open again during the early military defeat of the Russian armies.
That the promises of independence made by the German fascists was used solely as a propaganda measure to win support of the Ukraine in the war, goes without saying. But the fact that the Germans could successfully utilize elements of Stalin’s Ukrainian army and large sections of the population, is an indictment of Stalin’s regime and policies of national oppression which it employs.
Many readers will recall that when the United Nations was organized at San Francisco it had before it a proposal to grant Russia three votes on the ground that White Russia and the Ukraine would be represented as independent nations. At that time the only explanation given for this demand accepted at Yalta by Roosevelt and Churchill, was that it gave Stalin a larger vote in a body in which voting blocs were stacked against him.
But last week, James Reston, New York Times correspondent at the UN meeting at Lake Success, discloses that Stalin gave another reason for his demand. As he related the story, Reston writes that when Stalin first raised this question, Roosevelt said that if this demand was made, he (Roosevelt) would demand forty-eight votes for the American States. Stalin is reported to have walked around the table and confronted Roosevelt again and said, “‘for internal reasons’ he had to have two extra votes for the Ukraine and White Russia.”
Had this been reported at the time, there would have been reason for the average person not to take this seriously. But in the light of what is happening in Russia today, particularly in the Ukraine, it is obvious that in addition to the undoubted advantage it would give Russia in the Councils of the UN, Stalin needed this concession in order to strengthen his position in the Ukraine. Undoubtedly the country seethed with resentment against the Moscow regime.
All the reports on the new vast purge reveal that it is most severe in the Ukraine, not for reasons given by the regime in other parts of Stalin’s domain, but for particular reasons which have been of long standing in that country.
The October Revolution had promised the long-suffering Ukrainians a new life in a new social milieu – complete national freedom in a federation of soviet states. Special concessions were given to a country which gave birth to many national movements and many forms of the national struggle for independence. These rights, which the regime of Lenin and Trotsky gave freely, include the right to use the Ukrainian language and to develop their folk lore, theater and history. With the advent of Stalinism, the Kremlin carried on a reign of national, cultural and intellectual terror against the Ukraine. The present campaign against “bourgeois nationalism” in the Ukraine is merely a cover for imposing on it “Great Russian” nationalism.
Stalin’s demand on Roosevelt and Churchill revealed that the struggle in the Ukraine was as continuous as it was widespread. The demand for a Ukrainian vote in the UN was an attempt to show the Ukrainian masses that they were an independent nation recognized even by the powers of the world. But this formal “concession” to Ukrainian nationalism is unavailing, for the people of the Ukraine understand as well as anyone else that the votes cast in their name by Stalin’s handpicked “leaders of the nation” have nothing in common with their independence.
For the many reasons given in our article of last week the slogan: For the Independence of Ukraine remains a living and vital slogan in the interests of its people. It is a crucial issue in the struggle against Stalinism and one of the most formidable slogans in the fight for socialism.
Last updated on 28 March 2020