Communists To Pour Into Lviv Next Month

KIEV, Ukraine -- The Communist Party will send more of its activists to Lviv next month, potentially risking more violence, in response to Monday’s street clashes with nationalist groups, a party official said on Thursday.

File photo of supporters of the Ukrainian Communist Party waving various communist party flags at the Lenin monument in Kiev, Ukraine.

Yevhen Tsarkov, a senior Communist Party official, said the activists will have red flags and may be joined by Communist parties from Russia and other former Soviet states.

The development is a sign that more street violence may erupt in Lviv on June 22, following the clashes on May 9 that had left two people seriously injured.

“We have seen how they have beaten up our veterans, so we will not let this happen again,” Tsarkov told Komentari newspaper.

The plans for sending more Communist activists to Lviv will most likely end up with more street violence and comes a day after President Viktor Yanukovych has announced determination to prevent any aggravation.

The Communist Party is an ally of Yanukovych’s Regions Party after they had formed a strategic alliance in March 2010.

Anatoliy Mohyliov, the Interior Affairs Minister, is due to address lawmakers on Friday over Monday’s Lviv clashes, and over the insufficient role of police to prevent them.

The clashes were apparently caused by the use of Soviet-era red flags that the Yanukovych’s Regions Party had last month agreed to hoist alongside the Ukrainian yellow-and-blue flags on May 9.

The legislation, allowing the use of the red flag, was not yet signed by Yanukovych, but his supporters had widely used them across Ukraine for the first time in many years.

The red flag is widely associated with the Soviet state that had incorporated Ukraine for most of the 20-th century before the USSR had seized to exist in 1992.

The Prosecutor General’s Office on Wednesday sent a team of investigators, including experts from the SBU security service and police, to Lviv to check what exactly had led to the clashes.

The dispute apparently erupted after a group of about 10 pro-Russian youths suddenly unwrapped a huge red flag near the monument for the fallen Soviet troops in 1941-1945 at the Hill of Glory, provoking an angry reaction from mostly a nationalist crowd.

This quickly escalated to a point that one of the pro-Russian activists pulled out a gun and shot at the crowd, seriously injuring a 23-year old Ukrainian identified by police as Oleh Kovpak, an assistant to a local lawmaker.

Another person was injured by police forces that had applied a rubber stick to the person’s head while apparently trying to calm the clashes.

The clashes triggered a diplomatic rift between Kiev and Moscow with the Russian foreign ministry urging punishment for those that had attacked people carrying the red flag.

A group representing the Russian nationalist youth organization, Russia the Young, on Wednesday marched in front of the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow, carrying slogans, such as “Yanukovych, stop the fascism!”

Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry reacted to Russia’s official pressure to investigation the clashes and to punish those responsible.

The conflict over the red flag on Wednesday has been expanding geographically with the Luhansk region, a traditionally Russian speaking region, demanding Svoboda nationalist party to be banned in Ukraine.

The Ivan-Frankivsk region in western Ukraine, however, has vowed to investigate the improper use of the red flags in the city, potentially creating another line of tensions with Moscow.

Source: Ukrainian Journal