Converts in Kiev?

Now here’s a story you won’t read in the bourgeois press:

Anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the ultra-left will know that all the 57 Varieties have their ‘internationals’ with sections across the globe. In keeping with the traditions of British imperialism all these ‘internationals’ are run by command from London, with any of the foreigners who develop their own ideas quickly given the boot.

For some reason in the past Sri Lanka appeared to be a must-have section for UK Trot groups but in recent years Ukraine has become a hot-bed of Leninist activity, with many of the British sects proudly declaring their solidarity with their sections in Kiev.

Now you might ask, why would young people in a country which has yet to begin recovering from the effects of Leninism, be so keen to sign up to tiny Leninist groups which were born out of arguments in pubs in Campden in 1977?

Now we can reveal all.

In March the tiny 19th century non-Trotskyist sect known as the Socialist Party of Great Britain (those of Socialist Standard fame) announced the formation of their Ukrainian section.

But this month the SPGB admitted that the converts to their cause were not as they had at first appeared. In a statement on their website they said:

In this column in March we reported that a party had been formed in the Ukraine with the same object and declaration of principles as the other parties in the World Socialist Movement.

It now turns out that this was a hoax, part of an elaborate scam to extract money from political groups in Europe and North America to finance the activities of a Trotskyist group in the Ukraine (a sister organisation of Militant in this country in the so-called “Committee for a Workers International”).

Members of this group would contact groups in the West by email feigning agreement with their political position; if the groups from the West sent a delegation to the Ukraine to check, the Trotskyists concerned would assemble a dozen or so of their supporters, all of whom had been coached in the views of the group concerned.

Thus, our delegates who went to Kiev in November 2001 met a group of individuals who expressed socialist views and had no reason to doubt their sincerity. Any money sent went into the coffers of the Trotskyist group. At least ten groups seem to have been taken in by this scam including, besides ourselves, the SLP of America, the Socialist Studies group, and various rival Trotskyist outfits to Militant.

We know that vanguardist groups resort to underhand tactics as a matter of principle, but this is a particularly scandalous example.

The Committee for a Workers International (CWI) run by former Merseyside Militant tendency leader Peter Taafe, put a statement on a left-wing message board stating:

The CWI is taking the allegations and the evidence provided extremely seriously. It immediately launched an investigation into the allegations and has suspended the Ukrainian National Committee and the Kiev Regional Committee while the investigation is carried out. Those two committees are the national and local elected leadership bodies of Workers Resistance

Those of us who had to deal with the Militant in the 1980’s would not put such a stunt past them but it does appear as though Taafe and his crew are also victims of the scam.

The Kiev group who are acting in their name are doubling up as the Ukraine section of quite a few other Trot outfits – picking up office rent, computers, travel expenses and other cash benefits from their London ‘sister organisations’.

The International Bolshevik Tendency (yes, I know) has also been caught out by the scammers and these former Spartacist League supporters have done a bit of investigating.

The International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) is one of a number of left-wing organizations fooled by a gang of con artists in Kiev, who fraudulently posed as supporters of different international political tendencies.

On Thursday 14 August a British-based opponent organization supplied us with a photograph taken at one of their international gatherings. We knew one of the three people pictured as a British member of the opponent organization, but had taken the other two to be the leader and a senior member of our own Ukrainian group. The other organization had taken them to be the leader and a senior member of their group….

We have established, beyond any doubt, that the same collection of people presented themselves as multiple groups, each with an international affiliation. We have created a list of the players we have so far identified, with their photographs.

The full details of the very thorough ‘IBT’ investigations can be found in items on their website – I heartily recommend them for any sectologists out there.

One Ukrainian commenting on the affair in an email said that it was common knowledge among leftists in Kiev that this group has been ripping off British and US Trotskyist organisations for some time. For some reason he found it all rather amusing.

Others have also found this story funny and it has been suggested that there is a sense of historical justice in Ukrainians making a bob or two on the back of western Leninists.

We at Harry’s Place however prefer to agree with the comrades of the International Bolshevik Tendency:

We cannot allow these gangsters to discredit Trotskyism in the former Soviet Union.