Aleksander Kononovich and Mikhail Kononovich appear for trial. (Photo: via Facebook)
Various communist and progressive youth groups have denounced the death threats and other forms of intimidation against communist youth leaders Aleksander Kononovich and his brother Mikhail Kononovich. The duo is currently under house arrest in Ukraine. Earlier this week, the Kononovich brothers, in an appeal, stated that President Volodymyr Zelensky’s regime was trying to assassinate them. They alleged that a police officer, Yevgen Kravchuk, had repeatedly come to their home and threatened to murder them. The same officer also made a Facebook post issuing a public call for their murder and revealing the address of their house. In the wake of such threats, various groups including the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), Communist Party of Greece (KKE), and Communist Youth of Greece (KNE) have reiterated the demand for the immediate release of the brothers.
According to a report by 902.gr, a KKE delegation led by MEP Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos, along with KNE leaders, will visit the Ukrainian embassy in Athens on July 6 to deliver a resolution “protesting against the ongoing threats against the lives of the two young communists.”
Following the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) arrested the Kononovich brothers, leaders of the Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine (LKSMU), from the capital Kiev on March 6, 2022, and put them in jail. The SBU accused them of being propagandists holding pro-Russian and pro-Belarusian views with the goal of destabilizing the internal situation in Ukraine and creating a “necessary information picture” for Russian and Belarusian channels. The arrest triggered widespread protests from progressive and communist groups in Europe and abroad, who denounced the move as part of the purge initiated by EU-NATO-backed Zelensky against communists, socialists, and other critics of his regime in the name of national security. Later, in July 2022, a show trial of the Kononovich brothers started in the Solomensky District Court in Kiev. The court sessions were continually delayed and postponed and the brothers were put under house arrest. July 5 marked 486 days since their arrest.
During their trial, the brothers stated that “our case is completely fabricated from start to finish. What are we charged with? Pro-Belarussian views are being charged. We are being tried for our views. What kind of democracy can we talk about?”
In its statement on July 5, WFDY said, “We reiterate our demand for their immediate release and an end to the political persecution. We call upon the anti-imperialist youth all over the world to redouble the struggle to defend the life and freedom of our comrades. Because wherever there is a case of repression, we will not leave them behind.”
Even before the war began, the post-Euromaidan regime in Ukraine had started decommunization attempts and persecution of communists. The Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU), led by Petro Symonenko, was banned from contesting elections in 2015. Its publication Rabochaya Gazeta was banned and its leaders and members faced police repression and assaults from far-right groups. Braving all these difficulties, members of the KPU and LKSMU continued to organize protests against decommunization, pro-corporate land reforms, government support to neo-Nazi groups, the rise in electricity and water prices, and NATO expansionism. They also organized campaigns calling for a peaceful resolution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The Eighth Administrative Court of Appeal in Lviv, Ukraine, on July 5, 2022, upheld the ban on the KPU and ordered the state to seize the property of the party.
Regarding the ban on KPU, Mykhail Kononovich had told Peoples Dispatch in an interview in February 2021, “I emphasize that the communist ideology, the idea, cannot be banned by any laws. So it is impossible to ban common sense and science. It is simply impossible to ban the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) because we are a party with more than a hundred years of history, a party that has an experience of subterranean struggles. We, communists, have fought and will continue to fight for the benefit of our people!”