The chief-of-staff of Britain’s biggest trade union has launched a group supporting pro-Putin separatists in Ukraine.
Andrew Murray, who is one of the most powerful figures in the Unite union, spoke at the inaugural meeting of campaign group Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU), in which he branded the Western-backed Kiev government as “fascist” and derided Prince Charles for comparing Putin to Hitler.
The Mail on Sunday reports that Mr Murray, who was introduced as representing the Communist Party of Britain, rather than the Unite union, added: “We have to take a stand here in Britain, which is the main ally of the United States… which is standing with the Kiev government and backing its horrendous assault on its own people.
“We must demand that our government stops supporting EU and Nato expansion and stops supporting the Kiev government.”
After the MH17 airliner was shot down, the SARU group held a demonstration outside the Ukrainian embassy in London against “repression in Eastern Ukraine”. The SARU website said: “Protesters also spoke up against the media coverage of the downed Malaysian flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine, criticising the haste [sic] attribution of guilt to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
It also suggested that the downed airliner flew “lower than usual over the danger zone at the request of the Ukrainian dispatchers”.
Critics claim that the Unite union has a heavy influence on Labour party policy, with some claiming that Murray may even be more powerful than General Secretary Len McCluskey.
Although Murray describes himself as a critic of Putin, his biggest criticisms are reserved for Britain, America and Nato.
Gerry Gable, a long-time “anti-fascist” campaigner and former editor of far-left Searchlight magazine, hit out at SARU, calling it a “scam” and saying her turned down an invitation to speak at its launch.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “The Communist Party of Britain have been supporting this initiative to work with the ‘anti-fascists’ in Ukraine, and I’ve been saying to people, ‘Have you lost your mind?’ Putin is an absolute scumbag – you can see the way they’ve treated the media there with people getting themselves shot on their doorstep, disappeared and so on.
“The so-called Solidarity With The Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine is simply a scam.”
Mr Murray responded: “I entirely condemn the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner. It’s simply not true to say I contradict the Labour Party position on this crime, since my one speech to the SARU was made long before the airliner was shot down. Since June 2, I have spoken at no further meetings organised by SARU, nor otherwise participated in its activities.
“I support opposition to the war in Ukraine and to the Far Right in the Kiev government that includes hard-line fascists, but I have no time for Putin or his regime.
“There was no suggestion I was speaking on behalf of Unite, which has not discussed this issue.”