Kiev Is Preparing a Large-Scale Cleansing of the Mining Movement

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


All the mines of Lisichansk have been on strike for 13 days. The state of health of the miners worsens, one of them went crazy. However, the Ukrainian authorities aren’t going to make concessions – they intend to resolve the “mining issue” once and for all.

33 Ukrainian miners at the Kapustin mine of the “Lisichanskugol” enterprise on the territory of the Lugansk region under the control of Kiev refused to come to the surface – they demand the payment of salary arrears.

Despair and madness

The wages owed to miners totals 126.8 million hryvnia ($4.5 million). The families of miners remain without the means of support for months, said the head of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine Mikhail Volynets to “”.

“After all, they are utility payments, school payments, and all the rest. People are simply in despair,” stressed the trade-union leader.

According to him, later some of the miners who went on strike in the mine came to the surface because of the deterioration of their state of health, the others remained underground and went on a hunger strike. Many of them are in a serious condition, one of the strikers – a man born in 1971 – went crazy, reported Volynets.

“One person went crazy after staying underground for 7 days. [He has] two small children … And the day before yesterday, in my presence, a very sick 25-year-old guy was sent up [to the surface]. We understand that in such extreme conditions people will simply start to get diseases, which will then need long treatment,” he stated.

Mockeries of the authorities

Working in the mine indeed influences health extremely negatively. Miners are there for days. In total, at the moment, 15 miners are on strike in Lisichansk, reported Volynets.

“Because we ourselves understood that someone will die … And the decision was made – 15 other volunteers will take their place. We didn’t advertise it, you are the first to hear it,” stated Volynets to the correspondent of “”.

Besides the payment of wage arrears, the miners of “Lisichanskugol” demand the resignation of the director of the enterprise Valentin Kiselev, whose actions, in their opinion, brought the enterprise to bankruptcy. However, the authorities and Kiselev use various tricks to avoid fulfilling the demands of protesters.

“There is an impasse: the minister allowed Kiselev (the director of the enterprise) to go on holiday, when people were already sat underground. The minister himself allegedly went on sick leave … Well, they simply mock people. Everything is like that in Ukraine — there is already no governance in the state. There are just some uncontrolled movements,” said Volynets.

To resolve the “mining issue”

As the board member of the Institute of Economic and Social problems “Respublika” and the Ukrainian Helsinki Union Vladimir Chemerys noted, in turn, in an interview to the “”, the Ukrainian authorities intend to solve the problems of miners cardinally — simply by closing all state mines. Especially since the West demands this from Kiev.

“Obviously, the closure of mines is lobbied by international creditors. They aren’t interested in us having mines. Of course, they can be unprofitable, but anyway, the that is being extracted there is used in Ukraine and is cheaper than what is bought from Donbass via Russia, or from South Africa or the American state of Pennsylvania. I think that the work of the government is aimed at the closure of state mines. It follows in the footsteps of the common position of international capital: Ukraine must be a raw appendage — a source of cheap labor and also a sales market of our international partners,” assures Chemerys.

At the same time he noted that the closure of mines before the presidential and parliamentary elections that will take place in 2019 is improbable, because it will cause the electorate to be seriously discontent.

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“Of course, the closure of mines in itself will cause big public ripples. Elections approach, and one more protest isn’t needed by anybody. But anyway, it (the closure of mines) will happen after elections. And it doesn’t matter which candidates will win. All of them and practically all parties that have the chance to gain seats in parliament represent the interests of big capital, and not of the workers, peasants, and other working people,” stated the human rights activist.

It is obvious that for Kiev this is the best solution to the “mining issue”: there will be no miners — there will be nobody to strike.

Waiting for a social Maidan

According to Vladimir Chemerys, Ukraine is on the threshold of big riots, comparable to what happened in 2013-2014 in Kiev.

“I think that we in general are on the threshold of a social Maidan. After all, social problems were nearly the main pretext and the reason for all previous Maidans. But they weren’t resolved, their place was taken by other issues, and social problems weren’t resolved. That’s why sooner or later a social Maidan will take place,” assumed Chemerys.

However, the Ukrainian authorities make all efforts in order to stop this from happening. In particular, the Ukrainian media almost completely controlled by Poroshenko’s regime doesn’t report anything about the protests of miners. Moreover, they try to show the miners in a negative light.

“Yesterday there was a meeting, the day before yesterday we blocked the road. The local television was ordered to try to squash me. It is simply very ugly that journalists can afford themselves such things,” noted Mikhail Volynets.

According to Vladimir Chemerys, this is connected to the fact that Ukrainian patriots declare that all social protests are initiated by the Russian authorities.

“In Ukraine social topics are overshadowed. Among our patriots and those who call themselves anti-corrupt officials and liberals, these topics are presented as being almost initiated by the Kremlin. That’s why there is such an attitude (towards them),” believes the human rights activist.

Every additional year that the current Ukrainian authorities remain in power the conditions for most residents of the country become more and more difficult. And if miners, owing to their organisation, are still capable of defending their interests together, representatives of the majority of other professions simply leave the country, leaving for Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia to earn money. And after New Year the labor market of Germany will open for workers from the countries that aren’t EU members, and a new mass of Ukrainians will rush there. Apparently, it is precisely this that the current Ukrainian authorities, which aren’t going to deal with the problems of citizens and will simply force them out of the country, try to achieve — a manyfold smaller population will be enough to serve the interests of oligarchs.

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