Note: This text is part of the longer text NGOs and state-funded research trying to silence peace voices in Sweden.
The left has allowed itself to be silenced about the Ukrainian conflict by a state funded anarcho-syndicalist newspapers and NGOs. While the Odessa massacre sparked a wide interest in different Swedish left-wing circles, several Swedish neo-Nazi activists went to Ukraine to take part in the war against Donbass in volunteer battalions. This interest among leftists was quickly undermined and turned into passivity.
Article published in Arbetaren November, 7 2014:
“The technologists behind Putin’s propaganda war”.
Author: Egor Putilov.
In November 2014 Egor Putilov published an article in “Arbetaren” – An anarcho-syndicalist weekly newspaper – claiming that the left-wing parties Borotba in Ukraine and Left Front in Russia that had opposed Yanokovitsch and Putin in the past were run by Putin’s agents. If active members of these parties opposed the new government of Ukraine or opposed or agreed with Russian policy on Crimea they were allegedly serving the Russian interests.
The Russian political refugee Aleksey Sachnin from the Left Front was particularly attacked. He escaped Russia after the oppression of the Bolotnaja protesters. In the article by Putilov, he was portrayed as especially dangerous since he as a political refugee who allegedly had the possibility to influence the left-wing opinion in Sweden. It was claimed that Alexsey was not a trustworthy critic of Putin as he also was critical towards both the old and new government in Ukraine. He had started much of the solidarity work for the Russian left wing opposition against Putin in Sweden with the help of Ordfront – a magazine and an NGO promoting human rights and in general social justice and environmental concerns. Eventually he was accused of being a promoter of Putin’s interest together with much of the Left Front.
Also, the Swedish parliamentary left party was attacked by the articles published by Arbetaren. The Swedish left party was accused of have given aid to the left party Borotba who had members started to support separatism after one member was killed in the Odessa massacre in May 2014. The aid to Borotba had ended in 2012 long before the event on Maidan, but was anyway seen as a way to help to support the separatists in the Eastern Ukraine. The narrative was based on conflicting chronology in a world dominated by conspiracy theories and guilt by association conclusions.
The main points in the article were later published in the Aftonbladet – the largest daily newspaper in Sweden. The solidarity with the EU-critical left in Ukraine that had existed in the left party started to be more disoriented. They were then pacified with much of the rest of the left in Sweden following suit. Exceptions were the journalist Per Leander at the Trotskyist weekly Internationalen who regularly writes articles together with Sachnin and the communist weekly Proletären as well as a small association in support of Donbass which also is dominated by the Left. In the solidarity project with Bolotnaja prisoners Sachnin was replaced by Eugene Wolynsky at Ordfront, a Ukrainian left winger. This leftist firmly followed the Putilov and pro-Western discourse regarding the Ukrainian conflict. The rest of the left fell into a deep sleep.
Article published in Arbetaren February, 22 2015:
“Pseudo left controlled by Putin supports Russian Imperalism”.
Authors: Olga Lännevall, Eugene Wolynsky, Kurdo Baksi, Kent Vilhelmsson, Zurab Rtveliashvili and Philip Gatsov.
The passivity was further strengthened by yet another article in Arbetaren. It was written by Olga Lännevall who is a left party candidate and coordinator at the state-funded NGO Östgruppen för demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter (In English: The East Group for Democracy and Human Rights), Eugene Wolynsky and some others. The title of the article was symptomatic; ”Pseudo Left controlled by Putin supports Russian Imperialism”. Russia was accused of conducting a thinly veiled and increasingly aggressive propaganda war in the West with support of “pseudo-leftists” as Die Linke in Germany.
Further, the neo-nazist Right Sector was claimed to be no problem with a mere two percent in the Ukrainian electorate. This narrative based on the criticism against the role of right extremism is directed against the number of seats in the parliament and thus not based on daily fascist violence. In reality, it is the daily violence directed against all opposition activists and parties both in public and private life which is the dangerous problem with fascism in Ukraine, not the number of seats in the parliament. Whenever the pro-Right nationalism agenda is challenged or social justice demands are heard violence is easily mobilized, also inside courtrooms, to silence those seen as a threat by right wing extremists.
In this context, The left wingers in Arbetaren especially attacked Donbass solidarity groups making their voices heard in Sweden supporting “separatist organizations” who “are not recognized anywhere, the so-called people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, whose leaders are banned from the civilized world”. Such groups are allegedly spreading lies about “anti-fascist rebels” during public meetings where ”the smell of Russian money is so strong that one has to keep your nose.”