Dave Crouch

Ukraine: 'Glory to the Miners'

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When Yanukovych bussed thousands of his supporters into the city, all fired up for a fight, the Yushchenko-supporting orange crowd began winning them over with flowers, kind words and kisses.

'Glory to the miners!', 'Lugansk, Donbass, come and join us!' were the chants. Yanukovych supporters began seeing through the lies they had been told and joining the revolution.

The movement also began splitting the state. Police and soldiers have come forward to pledge their support. On the main TV channels a revolt by journalists smashed through the censorship regime last week, enabling many Ukrainians to see a very different picture of what is going on.

Russia: Putin's War on Democracy

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Widely billed as 'Russia's 9/11', the Beslan hostage tragedy in September, and the downing of two passenger aircraft by Chechen suicide bombers the same month, have seen the Kremlin do its best to ape Bush and Blair's 'war on terror'.

President Vladimir Putin threatened 'pre-emptive action' against terrorist bases. His remarks raised new fears that Russia would lash out at Georgia, which it accuses of harbouring the Chechen resistance. Putin also clamped down on democracy, announcing that the elected leaders of Russia's 89 regions would now be appointed from Moscow. Local government elections will be restricted, making it almost impossible for independent candidates to stand.

Ukraine's First Casualties

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Ukraine, by far the biggest of the former Soviet satellites, continues to be rocked by a scandal over the murder of a journalist.

As in Russia, the government has encouraged brutal repression of the media - since 1991, 22 journalists have died in Ukraine because of their work.

The key case is that of Georgy Gongadze, an outspoken journalist who disappeared in Kiev four years ago in September. A few weeks later his headless corpse was found in a ditch. However, it soon emerged that a security guard had bugged the president's office. When the tapes were aired they revealed that the president, Leonid Kuchma, and his ministers had discussed 'crushing' Gongadze and getting rid of him.

Bolsheviks and Islam: Religious Rights

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Socialists can learn from how the Bolsheviks approached the Muslims of the Russian empire.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 took place in an empire that was home to 16 million Muslims - some 10 percent of the population. The collapse of Tsarism radicalised Muslims, who demanded religious freedom and national rights denied them by the tsars.

Building Blocks of Protest

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War is a key issue for the unions, but how are we going to mobilise them?

Tony Benn's call to stop the city on the day they bomb Iraq is a brilliant opportunity for activists. But it is also a serious challenge-we need to start organising now if we are going to deliver action on the day.

First and foremost, this means holding workplace meetings to discuss Bush and Blair's war drive. Union branches need to decide what action they will take on the day, whether it's calling an immediate stoppage, a 15-minute lunchtime meeting in the canteen, or gathering to spread the word about local street protests.

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