Rail baron Mick Lynch has sparked fury by claiming that Ukrainians ‘playing with Nazi imagery’ provoked Russia’s barbaric invasion.
The general of the RMT – who are planning train strikes this month – also claimed that ‘there were a lot of corrupt politicians in Ukraine’ and seemed to imply this was what lay behind the war on the sovereign state by Vladimir Putin.
In an interview with the New Statesman he said: ‘The EU also provoked a lot of trouble in Ukraine. It was all about being pro-EU and all the rest of it,’ he said, referring to the pro-EU demonstration which overthrew the Putin crony President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
‘There were a lot of corrupt politicians in Ukraine. And while they were doing that, there were an awful lot of people [in Ukraine] playing with Nazi imagery and going back to the [Second World] war, and all that. So, it’s not just that this stuff has sprung from one place.’
The magazine and social media users then had claimed he was using a similar tool to Kremlin propaganda which has seen Putin apologists excuse the horrific attacks on the Ukraine people.
The general secretary of the RMT Mick Lynch (pictured, last month) – who are planning train strikes this month – also claimed that ‘there were a lot of corrupt politicians in Ukraine’ and seemed to imply this was what lay behind the war on the sovereign state by Vladimir Putin
Since Russia’s shelling and constant attacks on large populated cities in Ukraine, aa total of 5,024 Ukrainians have been killed while 12 million people have fled their homes.
And social media users, including some on the left, have criticized Mr Lynch’s comments in light of the incredible aggression.
One user said: ‘It really sucks that the UK’s most impressive union is led by Putin apologists.’
Another person said: ‘Why do all the good union communicators have to be Putin enablers.’
He also came under shelling for his views on China, which recently seemed to threaten Taiwan with hostile action.
‘I don’t know if what I’m told by The Telegraph and by American policy writers [about China] is true,’ he said.
‘We were told Saddam Hussein was the greatest threat to the Western world that there had ever been … what he actually had was a very oppressive regime against his own people and a collection of pots and boilers that he’d strung together as so-called Scud missiles.
‘We were told all that by the same analysts that are telling us now that China wants to commit all of this aggression against all of these people. We should stop being so belligerent towards countries.’
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire after a bombing in Bakhmut, Ukraine, earlier this month
Human rights activist Drew Pavlou said: ‘Very sad. Personally I really like what Mick Lynch has to say about the economy and social justice.
‘But he’s got no clue when it comes to Russia and China. He even used this interview to dismiss the Uyghur Genocide. Why stop caring about injustice because its overseas?’
The Chief Executive and cofounder of Hong Kong Watch, which monitors the conditions of human rights, freedoms and rule of law in Hong Kong also came out against Mr Lynch.
Benedict Rogers said: ‘Totally appalling, sickening, wrong-headed views by Mick Lynch. Mick, it was Vladimir Putin who invaded Ukraine, NOT the EU.
‘We should always be humble and self-critical, but that should not mean appeasing brutal, genocidal dictators or surrendering to bullies.
‘Mick Lynch should focus on getting a fair deal for railway workers & getting our trains running again, not appeasing Putin or CCP.’
Children watch as workers clean up after a rocket strike on a house in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on Friday
According to the Telegraph the RMT and assistant general secretary Eddie Dempsey have spoken out previously about their sympathies for pro-Putin separatists and signed up to Stop the War who has criticized NATO on showing ‘disdain for Russian concerns’ in eastern Ukraine who have been attacking the country’s troops and civilians.
When Mr Dempsey went in 2015, he posted a picture with Aleksey Mozgovoy, leader of the pro-Russian rebels in the Luhansk People’s Republic.
Another RMT regional organiser, for South Wales and South West England, Brendan Kelly also put out pro-Putin propaganda during the war and was reported.
Mr Lynch’s comments come as there is a 24-hour walkout today by drivers’ union Aslef.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Grant Shapps revealed he had been quietly working on a multi-pronged plan to crush hard-left union barons for good.
A man pulls out bricks from a crater caused by a rocket strike on a house in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine on Friday
He is preparing to serve them with section 188 legal warnings within weeks to force through reforms including guardless trains.
And he said legislation requiring a minimum number of trains to be run in future strikes is ‘written and ready to go’ for the new prime to pass through Parliament by autumn minister.
Mr Sapps said: ‘It won’t make me at all popular with the unions, but I’m absolutely convinced passengers are on our side, they’re fed up with this and they want to see the railway service running properly.
‘We’re going to win this… I’m afraid for the unions this is their last stand. Their days of holding passengers to ransom are numbered.’
The RMT has snubbed an 8 per cent pay rise over this year and next from Network Rail, an offer Mr Shapps said was ‘very good’. Network Rail has issued the union with a section 188 warning, meaning it can begin forcing through changes without its consent.
But Mr Shapps said the notices will also start being served on behalf of 15 train operators serving most of England within weeks.