October 23, 2015 –
Valentin Filippov, PolitNavigator –
Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski
“The events which all of Odessa is waiting for will certainly come”
Deputy Aleksey Albu is probably the youngest Odessa politician, and over the course of the Russian Spring he has stepped far beyond the regional political scale. A participant of the events on May 2, 2014, he was forced to leave the city. He is one of the organizers of the Committee for the Liberation of Odessa, an officer of the political department of the “Ghost” brigade, and now lives in the LPR, working to establish the structures of Odessa Compatriots, which unites Odessans from all countries and continents with the aim of overthrowing the neo-Nazi regime in their native city.
Aleksey Albu discussed the Minsk Agreements, the war, the role of Odessa, and hopes and plans for resistance with PolitNavigator’s Valentin Filippov.
Valentin Filippov: Greetings, Aleksey!
Aleksey Albu: Greetings.
VF: Has the heat in Lugansk already been turned on?
AA: It was already turned on on the fifteenth.
VF: And what’s the deal? There are elections in Odessa, and heating in Lugansk?
AA: It’s difficult to say. Probably because here the new government is working, and there the old one doesn’t want to work.
VF: This always surprises me. Even Romanians didn’t think about holding elections in Odessa. Or am I confusing something?
I mean the past occupation of the city.
AA: Well, it’s hard for me to make a comparison. They aren’t going to hold elections because they can’t.
VF: Well, alright. How is the Odessa diaspora?
AA: Well, I can’t say that the Odessa diaspora is really doing well, but I can’t say that it’s very bad. There are difficulties associated with the fact that people leaving for somewhere have lost practically everything: work and housing, position in society, and money. And practically everyone has to start from scratch in order to provide for themselves and their families.
But on the other hand, if we speak about Odessans which are here, then everything is ok. The process, which is now going on, is going very positively. Finally, everyone has begun to communicate with each other, uniting into one whole structure with one goal. And this is a very positive process.
VF: The Minsk Agreements, the LPR, DPR, and Kiev – do they have some kind of relationship? Odessa is not specified in them. How do Odessans react to what’s happening? How do they participate in processes?
AA: Really, there are some positive aspects associated with the fact that Odessa is not represented in these agreements, because we are virtually unencumbered by any obligations. And we can act in Odessa with the aid of those forces which remain in the city and the region.
On the other hand, there are a number of negative aspects. With Odessa not represented in these agreements, those people who are in prison in Odessa, and I’ll remind you that this is a very large number of people – it’s very difficult to help our comrades who are sitting in the Odessa solitary confinement center. But I think that we will solve this problem and that we will achieve an exchange for everyone on the list scheduled for autumn. There is an agreement on amnesty, and everyone has to be exchanged. And we’re trying to get our comrades on the exchange list.
VF: Well, here I’m looking and I see that the Ukrainian side has some kind of agreement. And they have their own understanding of captured prisoners. Who is considered a captive? Who is considered a terrorist? Who is a criminal? For example, I still haven’t figured out who the Ukrainian side considers a captive when it doesn’t recognize the opposing side as a belligerent, but considers them terrorists.
Is there some kind of logic here in general or not?
AA: Well, of course. The logic is that the face they have to show to the West, to their voters, supporters, and ultra-right nationalists is an entirely different one in each case. That is, they are between a rock and a hard place. This is not a secret to anyone.
That is, they can’t tell the West that they will ignore these agreements. And they say that they will fulfill them, and that our side and Russia are sabotaging them. And, at the same time, they can’t say to their supporters openly that they will fulfill these agreements. So, of course, the Ukrainian government is in a very difficult position.
If we’re speaking personally about me and my opinion, I believe that these agreements will be torn up. And their tearing up will be precisely the fault of the Ukrainian side. What happened in Donbass, and what happened in Ukraine is not a finished process. There will still be war. And we still have a long and bitter struggle for the liberation of our region.
VF: Well, I basically agree with you completely, but in regards to the “there will be war” and “the Minsk Agreements will be fulfilled…” – all the time I think that the Minsk Agreements were not spelled out fully. Sanctions are not prescribed for failing to comply. It’s not absolutely understood what responsibility the Ukrainian side has. What will happen? At what point can we say “that’s all guys, you didn’t do anything”? And then what will happen?
They have been proposed to extend the fulfillment of what they’ve already done. But they still refuse to do so. They say: “Yeah, no. There’s no need to renew anything. We won’t do anything.”
AA: The point is that now the Ukrainian side went to a meeting. It was demanded that elections [in the LPR and DPR] are postponed and, so to say, the ball was put in the Ukrainian side’s court. Now the LPR and DPR are awaiting the fulfillment of these agreements by Ukraine. What is to be expected in the case of a failure to comply? Well, the process of separation from Ukraine will just continue. That’s it.
VF: Well, this process of separating from Ukraine in no way solves the problem of Kharkov, Mariupol, and Odessa…
AA: I disagree, because, in fact, if there weren’t the people’s republics, how would us Odessans be able to prepare resistance in Odessa? the LPR and DPR are for us a place where we can engage in organizational work. And not only organizational work, but also “other work.” Therefore, the fact that the territories of the LPR and DPR are partially liberated is for us, undoubtedly, a huge plus..
VF: Ok. This is an unexpected question: You participated in the political life of Odessa and in elections. Despite your young age, probably more than once. Yes? Do you not feel any symptoms of withdraw? Don’t you want to do this again? Rallies, leaflets, meetings with voters. Or is this already a bit in the past, from a different, civilian life?
AA: No, why? Then they were just political process, and today they are entirely different. If earlier it was possible to express your position with the aid of rallies, leaflets, and newspapers, then today, unfortunately, we can’t express this position.
For example, I cannot come to Odessa and hold a rally because, as a minimum, it will be prohibited by the authorities, and, as a maximum, it will be dispersed by paramilitary squads, which today are at the service of the authorities….
Undoubtedly, it’s necessary to show that our resistance is not broken, that people do not accept this government, and I believe that this must continue…But [distributing leaflets] will not be an effective mechanism for the realization of those principles for which we are fighting.
Today, we must move on to an entirely different phase of the fight, and I think everyone understands what I’m talking about.
As for whether or not this is enough for me or not, I don’t know. On the one hand, of course, being a deputy had more doors open for me. There were more opportunities for movements. But living in Odessa, whether I’m a deputy or not – this is actually the same thing.
AA: We are not abandoning political struggle. The methods have just changed.
VF: Ok. Forms and methods. And how do you appraise the political struggle which is happening in Odessa today? The parties which emerged, the new political figures are different ones, and here is the most striking: if you formerly asked in general “What’s with the Khokhol” [a derogatory slang for Ukrainians – J. Arnoldski], then Odessans are now asking “What’s with Saakashvili?” …
What is your appraisal of what is happening in the Odessa regional council and the Odessa state regional administration?
AA: You can’t express what is happening there in one sentence. On the one hand, we understand that the electoral field, which was represented by the Party of Regions and pro-Russian forces which positioned themselves as pro-Russian, showed in practice that they in fact were not such…Now this is free, not filled. A vacuum has formed. And all sorts of rascals from the nationalist forces are trying to fill it somehow. But they’re not succeeding.
That is, a large part of the population of Odessa is critically disposed against the current government, as well as the future government which will come as a result of these elections. I mean the local authorities.
And actually this large part of Odessa pulled itself away from the political process which is happening today. The very problem which arose from this hasn’t been resolved. In Odessan society today, there is a bomb, and sooner or later, it will explode. And, most likely, it will explode precisely at the moment when the contradictions of the half, pro-nationalist Maidan reach their peak.
Today, they are already quarreling with each other over practically everything. Today, they stuff each other in each other’s trash cans and beat each other up on the streets. Today, there is a competition among volunteer organizations to make the other ones regret the most, waste more money, and blow up each other’s offices. But that is only today. We know that tomorrow, or maybe in a year or two, these processes will reach a point where they will start to shoot each other.
As soon as these contradictions escalate this much, we should be ready to return home.
VF: Alright, Aleksey. And what are our wishes for our fellow countrymen who remained in Odessa? Again about elections: is it right not to go, to not vote as Odessa already demonstrated twice?
AA: It’s difficult for me to give any recommendations. On the one hand, if no one goes, nothing changes. On the other hand, if everyone goes, still nothing will change. Maybe, if there are people separate from the movement Kulikovo Field, which today is running…
VF: Yes! Where are they from? What is this? Does it exist?
AA: They’re there. They are units who, for example, came to the Opposition Bloc. They are units who went to “New State,” although these are leftovers from the Communist Party of Ukraine. It is especially those who expelled all the communists that came to Kulikovo Field, who fully supported the new government. But, nevertheless, these are people. And there is the opinion that it’s necessary to go there and run for office. Maybe it makes sense to support such concrete people and personalities. But not the party as a whole.
It seems to me that it’s nonsense to say that the political situation will change in any way, especially dramatically. And all these elections do not play the same role as the events which will come some time later.
VF: Well, you know, we all believe in these events. And we are all waiting them.
AA: They will definitely come.
VF: Whoever can prepare, prepare.
AA: They will come and this doesn’t depend on any geopolitical processes. Here there are enough people who in any case will return, despite whether there are agreements or not…There are people who are just angry, who will never forgive the mass murder on May 2, their arrest in front of children, and who will never forgive the SBU busting in at night and beating up the relatives of those people who were there. Therefore, there is a certain percentage of people that will definitely be back.
Just time is needed.
As regards, as you said, my wishes for Odessans, the most important is not to get mixed up in anything. It’s not necessary now to participate in some kind of doubtful affairs. I know very many people who appeal to me and ask: “Tell us, what do we need to do? Let’s blow up something and so on.” But today this isn’t needed. Today we only need to understand who this person is, and for what he is ready. And when we will have the understanding that there are a lot of these people, then we can start something. If something is done now, then certain people will go to prison. And we will have no one to rely on upon returning.
The most important wish – take care of yourselves.
VF: In general, take care of yourself, Odessa.
AA: This is what we really need.
VF: Alright. Thanks.
AA: Thank you.