Boris Litvinov, the acting chairman of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine, had wanted his Communist Party to run in last Sunday's election for parliament. But the separatists' backers in Moscow had other plans.
The Communist Party was not registered in the elections for allegedly technical reasons, and in an intercepted phone call that Litvinov told The Nation was authentic, one of the Kremlin's main advisers of the seven-month-old pro-Russian uprising told him to stop fighting against this decision. Members of the two coalitions who did run said they don't plan to let communist deputies in, and Litvinov's own future position won't be clear until the parliament is announced on Monday.
“Moscow says, We gave you money, listen to what Borodai says,” Litvinov said while discussing a recently leaked phone call between him and Russian political and investment consultant Alexander Borodai, the former prime minister of the Donetsk People's Republic who reportedly remains one of the Kremlin's point men on the seven-month old uprising. “I say, What of it? We need to do what the people want to do.”
Over the course of the seven-month-old pro-Russian uprising, many separatist activists' and local citizens have called for the establishment of a social welfare state and the nationalization of key enterprises. One rogue commander of a city in the Luhansk region has even claimed to be building a Cossack socialist republic. But few reforms have actually been implemented, and the simmering conflict—shelling rocks areas along the frontline daily despite an ongoing ceasefire—and Moscow's political expediencies may prevent social programs from being realized. Communists and other iconoclastic politicians have been kept out of electoral politics. Not only are such ideological figures less pliable for the Kremlin, but Russian political and business elites are scared of the possibility of a social revolution in eastern Ukraine that could spread across the border, according to Marxist political analyst Boris Kagarlitsky.
“The social government is being destroyed in Russia. Most of the demands being voiced in Novorossiya could be brought forth in Russia as well,” Kagarlitsky said, referring to the “Novorossiya” area of southeastern Ukraine conquered by the Russian empire, which some rebels want to bring back into the fold.
“They are removing people who are not controlled by Moscow or who are more popular than the leaders now being put forward by Moscow,” Kagarlitsky said, citing an apparent assassination attempt deep within rebel territory on Pavel Gubarev, a more radical pro-Russian candidate, before the November 2 elections.