Marxist-Leninist Dreams in Novo-rossiya

Anti-Kyiv protesters in Donetsk and Lugansk have created a new state, or so they believe. Now, one new party intends to use that vehicle for a return to the Soviet command economy, as Giovanni Cadioli explains.


On May 24, 2014, representatives of the self-proclaimed and internationally unrecognised People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, established the Federal State of Novorossiya.

Ideally for these activists, such Federal State should in time come to include the whole historical region of Novorossiya, “New Russia”(excluding Crimea, annexed by Russia earlier this year). This is wishful thinking, as the separatist authorities barely control the former oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk themselves, where vicious fighting has already caused dozens of casualties on both sides and increasing destruction.

In fact, as the structure of the leadership on the separatists’side appears to be very fluid, it is not even clear whether the agreement was actually signed by the “official”representatives of the two unofficial would-like-to-be states. Neither is it clear whether the option of a Federal State is indeed what the leadership of the two proclaimed Republics really aim at.

As Kyiv’s“Anti-Terrorist Operation”continues, the main and only preoccupation of the separatists seem to try to repeal the attacks of the Ukrainian regular and paramilitary forces.

There also seems to be, however, a lively debate on what sort of state structure the two Republics or the Federal State should adopt, should they be militarily successful and should they remain, at least nominally, independent from Russia.

In this context, the“Socio-Political Movement ‘Novorossiya Party’”released a political manifesto with an economic programme that seems to be a jump into the past of several decades.

According to such programme, the “economic structure of Novorossia will be based on principles of social justice and multiculturalism”. In practical terms,“large property, industrial and financial assets will be owned by the State”, while there will be either collective or private property for small businesses. The land will be collectively owned, but “land lots, used for personal residence or individual agricultural activities”may be granted lifelong right of use, which may be inherited. As for welfare, “the State will assume the functions of assistance to the poor, the socially disadvantaged, disabled and needy undertaken with funds received from the economic activities of the state and operation of its assets”.

Generally speaking, the proceeds of business “will belong to all the people, and may be used only for the benefit of the people”.

And how about closing with one the paraphrase of one of Marxism’s most famous lines? “the remuneration of each person’s work will be based on the usefulness of his work towards society.

In fact, this text is nothing more than a few lines on the internet, written by an organisation whose affiliation to the separatist authorities in unclear and focused on a “Federal State”, the existence of which is far from proven. All of that in the general context of an ongoing civil war. Moreover, the self-proclaimed President of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, recently stated that since the Republic has adopted Russian law and since in that same law the term “nationalisation”does not actually figure at all, the issue is being debated.

It is also worth mentioning that none of the other self-proclaimed pro-Russian states in the post-Soviet space (Pridnestrovie, South Ossetia, Abkhazia) has adopted a Marxist-Leninist command economy system, or anything even vaguely resembling it.

This mysterious economic plan for the equally mysterious Federal State of Novorossiya is just another contribution to extremely heterogeneous set of ideas and people that compose the universe of pro-Russian separatism in eastern Ukraine. This includes Soviet Afghan war veterans and Chetniks from Serbia, Cossacks from Russia and Chechen fighters of the dissolved Vostok Battalion, red flags and nationalist white-gold-black tricolors, double-headed eagles and banners from the confused years of the Russian Civil War of 1918-1921.



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