What do we know about Zelensky’s government?

Yossi Schwartz, ISL the RCIT section in Israel/Occupied Palestine, 23.03.2022

A few days ago, nearly 40 European lawmakers penned a letter to the Nobel Committee urging them to extend the nomination deadline to March 31 to nominate Zelensky, who has received global fanfare for hunkering down in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv – rather than evacuating, as US officials offered – and emboldening Ukrainians to defend against the Russian onslaught.” [i]

The ruling classes of Western imperialist states and their mass media portray Zelenesky’s government as a democratic and liberal government for example Foreign Policy wrote in August 2019:

For all its faults, Ukraine today is a centrist democracy with a division of powers among more or less independent and autonomous executive, legislative, and judicial branches. These power centers play by the rules of the constitution or, at worst, invoke the constitution while hoping to justify their violations. Left- and right-wing extremists who reject the democratic rules of the game garner only a few percentage points of the popular vote—far fewer than their counterparts in Germany and France. Ukraine also has an essentially market-based, though imperfectly functioning, economy. The oligarchs still play an excessive role, but the overall system is capitalist and has points of dynamism, notably in the information technology sector, agriculture, and textiles. GDP has been growing over the last two years, despite the fact that the country is at war and managing 1.6 million internally displaced people. The fact that democratic and market institutions are already in place means that Zelensky can focus on reforming that which exists rather than losing time constructing institutions from scratch. He has also been able to generate excitement among the foreign investor community, precisely because his promises of reform rest on solid foundations. At the same time, these institutions will constrain Zelensky and complicate reforms that aim at full-scale change” [ii]

Another source wrote:

His response to the Russian invasion of his country has been widely praised, both at home and abroad. His speech to the European Parliament in early March received a standing ovation. Western press outlets have referred to him as a “hero,” as the “voice” of his nation, and as a “focal point” for democratic resistance to tyranny… Putin demonstrates a tendency toward authoritarianism in both political actions and political style. Zelenskyy, in contrast, presents a more modest and understated vision of political leadership – one more appropriate for democratic institutions, in which the leader is not thought to be morally superior to the governed. If the world is increasingly suspicious of democratic ideals and practices, then Zelenskyy might represent one of the few recent signs that those in favor of democracy have reasons for hope” [iii]

The Times of Israel wrote: “The broad strokes of Zelensky’s career are well known to those who pay attention to Ukrainian politics — or their spillover effects in American government. He’s young, funny, Jewish and committed to a strong democratic Ukraine, even at the risk of death” [iv]

In the real world, Zelensky represents the interests of some of the Ukrainian Oligarchs and he is personally corrupted. “Much discussion has focused on his connection to oligarch Kolomoisky, the owner of 1+1 Media Group, one of the largest media conglomerates in Ukraine. While Kolomoisky has been sanctioned by the US Department of State since March due to his alleged “involvement in significant corruption”, his media assets were actively used to promote Zelensky when he campaigned for the presidency” [v]

In 2019, Zelensky won a presidential election with promises to combat powerful old elites and guarantee greater equality. Many had high expectations that he would curb the oligarchs immediately after entering office. However, people’s expectations have not been met.  Indeed, during his presidency many state-owned assets have been returned to oligarch control, undermining some of the previous government’s steps“. [vi]

Zelensky and his team started promoting the idea that he was “like any other businessperson in Ukraine.” This statement was repeated by everyone on the presidential team in response to the revelations of Zelensky’s offshore holdings, suddenly exposed in the Pandora Papers. The disclosures contained in the Pandora Papers shook many societies around the globe this fall. The leaked documents were analyzed by a consortium of journalists, who found “financial secrets of 35 current and former world leaders, more than 330 politicians and public officials in 91 countries and territories, and a global lineup of fugitives, con artists and murderers.” To the surprise of the general public, Volodymyr Zelensky’s name appeared on the list of offshore company holders. The documents are testament that Zelensky and his partners (now the heads of security agencies and part of the executive branch of government) owned offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, and Belize. These companies were used to “defend his business in Ukraine,” the president explained. Before the 2019 election campaign, Zelensky had turned over control of his shares to his current chief aide and head of the country’s Security Service, but Zelensky’s family continues “receiving money from the offshore business operations.” [vii]

The image promoted by the Western imperialists of the great democrat lacks any credibility. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was corrupted. After his election in 2010, he used patronage and other instruments of state power to the advantage of his political party. The US decided to remove him from power when he rejected the European Union’s terms for an association agreement in late 2013 in favor of a Russian offer, and angry demonstrators filled Kiev’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan, as well as in other cities.

The Obama administration’s meddling in Ukraine’s politics during these demonstrations was clear. Russian intelligence intercepted and leaked to the international media a Nuland telephone call in which she and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussed in detail their preferences for specific personnel in a post‐Yanukovych government. The U.S favored candidates included Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the man who became prime minister once Yanukovych was ousted from power. During the telephone call, Nuland stated enthusiastically that “Yats is the guy” who would do the best job” [viii]

The republicans also intervened: “Sen. John McCain (R AZ), the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, went to Kyiv to show solidarity with the Euromaidan activists. McCain dined with opposition leaders, including members of the ultra-right-wing Svoboda Party, and later appeared on stage in Maidan Square during a mass rally. He stood shoulder to shoulder with Svoboda leader Oleg Tyagnibok. On February 24, 2014, the Washington Post editorial celebrated the Maidan demonstrators and their successful campaign to overthrow Yanukovych. The “moves were democratic,” the Washington Post concluded, and “Kyiv is now controlled by pro‐Western parties.” It was a grotesque distortion to portray the events in Ukraine as purely indigenous.” [ix]

Zelensky went further to consolidate a dictatorial regime during the weekend: “he suspended 11 Ukrainian political parties citing their alleged “links with Russia”. While the majority of the suspended parties were small, and some were outright insignificant, one of them, the Opposition Platform for Life, came second in the recent elections and currently holds 44 seats in the 450-seat Ukrainian Parliament… they all criticized and raised questions about pro-Western, neoliberal, and nationalist discourses, which have dominated Ukraine’s political sphere since 2014… three of the recently suspended parties participated in the parliamentary elections in 2019 and combined received about 2.7 million votes (18.3 percent) and in the most recent polls conducted before Russia’s invasion, these parties collectively scored about 16-20 percent of the vote… Other parties on Zelenskyy’s suspension list were of left-wing orientation. Some of them played an important role in Ukrainian politics in the 1990-the 2000s, such as the Socialist and Progressive Socialist parties, but by now they are all completely marginalized. Indeed, there is no political party in Ukraine today with “left” or “socialist” in its name that could secure any considerable portion of the general vote now or for the foreseeable future. Ukraine had already suspended in 2015 all of the country’s communist parties under the “decommunization” law, which was strongly criticized by the Venice Commission.  The latest round of suspensions may not be necessarily motivated by the wish to erase the left from Ukraine’s political sphere, but it certainly contributes to such an agenda” [x]

In Ukraine under Zelensky pro-Nazi movement is legally active as the Zionist politicians are aware.

Hundreds of Ukrainian nationalists held a torchlight march in the capital of Kyiv to mark the birthday of Stepan Bandera, the leader of a rebel militia that fought alongside Nazi soldiers in World War II. During World War II, Bandera led the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, whose men killed thousands of Jews and Poles, including women and children, while fighting alongside Nazi Germany against the Red Army and communists. Bandera’s supporters claim that they sided with the Nazis against the Soviet army in the belief that Adolf Hitler would grant independence to Ukraine.” [xi]

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its sixth day, a Ukrainian far-right military regiment is back in the headlines. Russian President Vladimir Putin referenced the presence of such units within the Ukrainian military as one of the reasons for launching his so-called “special military operation … to demilitarize and de-Nazify… Ukraine Azov is a far-right all-volunteer infantry military unit whose members – estimated at 900 – are ultra-nationalists and accused of harboring neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology. As a battalion, the group fought on the front lines against pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, the eastern region of Ukraine. Just before launching the invasion, Putin recognized the independence of two rebel-held regions from Donbas. In January 2018, Azov rolled out its street patrol unit called National Druzhyna to “restore” order in the capital, Kyiv. Instead, the unit carried out pogroms against the Roma community and attacked members of the LGBTQ community In June 2015, both Canada and the United States announced that their forces will not support or train the Azov regiment, citing its neo-Nazi connections. The following year, however, the US lifted the ban under pressure from the Pentagon.” [xii]

According to Freedom House’s Ukraine project director Matthew Schaaf, “numerous organized radical right-wing groups exist in Ukraine, and while the volunteer battalions may have been officially integrated into state structures, some of them have since spun off political and non-profit structures to implement their vision.” Schaaf noted that “an increase in patriotic discourse supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia has coincided with an apparent increase in both public hate speech, sometimes by public officials and magnified by the media, as well as violence towards vulnerable groups such as the LGBT community,” an observation that is supported by a recent Council of Europe study” [xiii]

On Sunday Zelensky gave a speech to the Israeli parliament. The only party that did not show up to give him political support was the Joint List. The most virulent opposition to Zelensky’s speech came from the Hadash, the Stalinist party. All the Zionist mass media attacked the Joint List for allegedly supporting Russia’s invasion. However, this is a lie. The Joint List opposes both Russia and Ukraine. Ofer Cassif of Hadash said on Twitter: “I do not take sides in unnecessary wars that harm innocent civilians, strengthen those in power, and Russian nationalists enrich the lords of war. I do not support the nationalists that persecute the communists and I do not support Putin and the Russian nationalists. No to the war, support peace” (in Hebrew).

The real problem with Hadash’s position is that it does not understand the difference between Russia which is an imperialist state and Ukraine that it is not an imperialist state, nor does it understand the difference between siding in the military front with the non- imperialist and not giving political support to the government. The revolutionary position in such a war is to side with the resistance to the imperialist invasion without giving the reactionary government of Zelensky any political support.

The difference between a military united front and political support for the reactionary government was Lenin’s tactic in September 1917.  “On 7th September, Kornilov demanded the resignation of the Cabinet and the surrender of all military and civil authority to the Commander in Chief. Kerensky responded by dismissing Kornilov from office and ordering him back to Petrograd. Kornilov sent troops under the leadership of General Aleksandr Krymov to take control of Petrograd. Kornilov believed that he was going to become the military dictator of Russia. This is known as the Kornilov Revolt. He had the open support of several Russian industrialists, headed by Aleksei Putilov, owner of the steelworks and the leading Petrograd banker. Others involved in the plot included Alexander Guchkov, a backer of an organization called the Union for Economic Revival of Russia. According to one source, these industrialists had raised 4 million rubles for Kornilov’s conspiracy. Kerensky was in danger and so he called on the Soviets and the Red Guards to protect Petrograd. The Bolsheviks, who controlled these organizations, agreed to this request, but in a speech made by Lenin, he made clear they would be fighting against Kornilov rather than for Kerensky. Within a few days, Bolsheviks had enlisted 25,000 armed recruits to defend Petrograd. While they dug trenches and fortified the city, delegations of soldiers were sent out to talk to the advancing troops. Meetings were held and Kornilov’s troops decided to refuse to attack Petrograd. General Krymov committed suicide and Kornilov was arrested and taken into custody” [xiv]

Lenin stated: “It is my conviction that those who become unprincipled are people who (like Volodarsky) slide into defencism or (like other Bolsheviks) into a bloc with the S.R.s, into supporting the Provisional Government. Their attitude is wrong and unprincipled. We shall become defencists only after the transfer of power to the proletariat, after a peace offer, after the secret treaties and ties with the banks have been broken—only afterwards. Neither the capture of Riga nor the capture of Petrograd will make us defencists. (I should very much like Volodarsky to read this.) Until then we stand for a proletarian revolution, we are against the war, and we are no defencists. Even now we must not support Kerensky’s government. This is unprincipled. We may be asked: aren’t we going to fight against Kornilov? Of course, we must! But this is not the same thing; there is a dividing line here, which is being stepped over by some Bolsheviks who fall into compromise and allow themselves to be carried away by the course of events. We shall fight, we are fighting against Kornilov, just as Kerensky’s troops do, but we do not support Kerensky. On the contrary, we expose his weakness. There is a difference. It is rather a subtle difference, but it is highly essential. And must not be forgotten. What, then, constitutes our change of tactics after the Kornilov revolt? We are changing the form of our struggle against Kerensky. Without in the least relaxing our hostility towards him, without taking back, a single word said against him, without renouncing the task of overthrowing him, we say that we must take into account the present situation. We shall not overthrow Kerensky right now. We shall approach the task of fighting against him in a different way, namely, we shall point out to the people (who are fighting against Kornilov) Kerensky’s weakness and vacillation. That has been done in the past as well. Now, however, it has become an all-important thing and this constitutes the change.” [xv]

Even if it was true that the Zelensky government is a semi-fascist which is not the case but it is a right-wing nationalist it was necessary to defend Ukraine against Russian imperialism as Trotsky explained:

I will take the most simple and obvious example. In Brazil there now reigns a semi-fascist regime that every revolutionary can only view with hatred. Let us assume, however, that on the morrow England enters into a military conflict with Brazil. I ask you on whose side of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself—in this case, I will be on the side of “fascist” Brazil against “democratic” Great Britain. Why? Because in the conflict between them it will not be a question of democracy or fascism. If England should be victorious, she will put another fascist in Rio de Janeiro and will place double chains on Brazil. If Brazil on the contrary should be victorious, it will give a mighty impulse to the national and democratic consciousness of the country and will lead to the overthrow of the Vargas dictatorship. The defeat of England will at the same time deliver a blow to British imperialism and will give an impulse to the revolutionary movement of the British proletariat. Truly, one must have an empty head to reduce world antagonisms and military conflicts to the struggle between fascism and democracy. Under all masks, one must know how to distinguish exploiters, slave-owners, and robbers!” [xvi]

Down with the Russian, US and NATO imperialism!

For a revolutionary defense of the Ukraine – No political support for the Ukrainian government!


[i] https://www.jpost.com/international/article-701975

[ii] https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/28/ukraines-democracy-is-almost-all-grown-up/

[iii] https://theconversation.com/how-zelenskyy-emerged-as-the-antithesis-of-putin-and-proved-you-dont-need-to-be-a-strongman-to-be-a-great-leader-178485

[iv] https://www.timesofisrael.com/18-things-to-know-about-jewish-defender-of-ukrainian-democracy-volodymyr-zelensky/

[v] https://emerging-europe.com/news/why-ukraines-anti-oligarch-bill-is-so-problematic/

[vi] https://emerging-europe.com/news/why-ukraines-anti-oligarch-bill-is-so-problematic/

[vii] https://www.wilsoncenter.org/blog-post/just-all-others-end-zelensky-alternative

[viii] https://www.cato.org/commentary/americas-ukraine-hypocrisy

[ix] Ibid

[x] Volodymyr Ishchenko, Research associate at the Institute of East European Studies, Freie Universität Berlin https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2022/3/21/why-did-ukraine-suspend-11-pro-russia-parties

[xi] https://www.timesofisrael.com/hundreds-of-ukrainian-nationalists-march-in-in-honor-of-nazi-collaborator/

[xii] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/1/who-are-the-azov-regiment

[xiii] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cohen-ukraine-commentary-idUSKBN1GV2TY

[xiv] https://spartacus-educational.com/RUSkornilovR.htm

[xv] Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 289-293.:

[xvi] Leon Trotsky Anti-Imperialist Struggle Is Key to Liberation An Interview with Mateo Fossa https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/09/liberation.htm

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