In February, 2014, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country’s capital, Kiev, having been forcibly removed from power by right-wing demonstrations backed by US and European imperialism. Yanukovych’s overthrow was the culmination of long-standing efforts on the part of the US to install a pliant regime with close ties to Washington on the borders of Russia.
The movement to bring down the elected Ukrainian government was touched off in November 2013 when Yanukovych refused at the last minute to sign an association agreement with the European Union. Utilizing amorphous anti-corruption and anti-establishment slogans, the Maidan protests garnered a measure of support from broader layers of the population, particularly in its initial stages and at later points when the government attempted to suppress them. However, at their height, the Maidan demonstrations never attracted more than 300,000 people in a country of over 45 million. As a class, the country’s workers stayed away, organizing neither mass strikes nor labor actions in support.
The political character of the Maidan movement rapidly made itself clear. Representatives from Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist and neo-fascist parties took center stage alongside the country’s super-rich. Ukrainian boxer Vitali Klitschko, with an estimated net worth of $65 million, was one of the protests’ spokespeople. Far-right battalions emblazoned with Nazi-era insignia marched in demonstrations and served as Maidan’s shock troops.
Western diplomats made public appearances at Maidan rallies and were in constant communication with opposition leaders regarding how to secure their aims. A notorious leaked tape of a phone call between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt documented Washington’s direct role in determining the constitution of the post-coup government in Kiev. In November 2013, Nuland boasted that since 1991 the US had sunk $5 billion into Ukraine in an effort to promote “civic engagement” and “democratic skills and aspirations.”
In the months leading up to and after this event, the World Socialist Web Site exposed the forces behind the “Maidan” movement, which was led by a combination of free-marketeers, ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists who exploited popular discontent with Yanukovych to install a virulently anti-Russian government with close ties to Washington and Berlin.
A line-up of pseudo-left tendencies, such as the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the US, the New Anti-capitalist Party of France (NPA), and the Russian Socialist Movement (RSM), applauded the Maidan “revolution” and claimed that it bore some sort of progressive character. Hailing the ouster of Yanukovych as a positive transformation that could be utilized by the “left” for its own purposes, they sought to cover up the fact that the real target of the coup was not the anti-democratic and corrupt practices of Yanukovych, but the working class of Ukraine, Russia and the world.