Thursday, January 29, 2015

"No Balalaika, Sputnik, Babushka"--Ukraine's High-Tech Giant Goes Under - Fort Russ

By Sergey Kirichuk

Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

They are saying that Yuzhmash will be forced into bankruptcy, and its territory will be converted into shopping mall, an entertainment center, and housing for the elite.

Dnepropetrovsk experienced a protest by workers of the legendary Yuzhmash, the largest rocket enterprise in Ukraine. The workers, who have not gotten their salaries for several months, came out in the streets without coordinating the demonstration with the “official” labor union. They say this is the first spontaneous rebellion by its workers during its entire history, since the plant had never had such problems before due to its special rocket/space profile. And the plant has a long history, its construction began already in 1944. It was initially intended to manufacture cars, but the still-rebuilding USSR was drawn into the arms race, and in 1951 it was realigned to manufacture ICBMs.

At the beginning of the 21st millennium I had an opportunity to distribute leaflets of the All-Ukrainian Labor Union at the entryway of this unique enterprise. In order to preserve secrecy, the leaflets were distributed by workers from other factories so that the management would not be able to determine who the Yuzhmash activists were. The workers took the leaflets without exceptional enthusiasm, but with demonstrative friendliness and respect. This was a generation of highly qualified workers and engineers, who understood their time was passing. They were not needed, the labor market valued merchandizers and sales managers. But it was these people, the engineers, the highly skilled workers, the scientists, who comprised the electoral nucleus of the Communist Party of Ukraine.

Leonid Kuchma worked as the general director of Yuzhmash between 1986 and 1992, so the inhabitants of the East and Center of the country placed many hopes in him. They hoped in vain that “their own” technocrat will hear them better than the “repainted” ideologue Kravchuk. Kuchma, alas, abandoned his voters but the enterprise survived in spite of the collapse of the economy, and managed to start the production of Zenit and Cyclone rockets, as the modified Soviet-era ICBMs were called. The plant also manufactured tractors, trolleybuses, and streetcars.

Complete story at - "No Balalaika, Sputnik, Babushka"--Ukraine's High-Tech Giant Goes Under - Fort Russ

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