Proletarian Revolution No. 69 carried a full report and an Open Letter concerning the international fraud perpetrated by a group of Ukrainian and Russian crooks who pretended to be socialists. These criminals, former leaders of the Ukrainian section of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), along with a co-conspirator who led the Moscow CWI affiliate, conned over a dozen groups abroad out of thousands of dollars over four years time. The CWI scam artists claimed leadership of ostensible Ukrainian groups which had political agreement with the various organizations they were defrauding. At various times they met with us and some of the others in Kiev and abroad, issued publications and discussed political views as if they were loyal comrades of each organization, all of whom have different and opposed outlooks.
Far leftists have been the victims of fraud in the past but nothing on this scale. The degree of possible involvement by secret police is unknown, although one of the major culprits accused another conspirator of such ties. Likewise, we still do not know how much of the money was pocketed by the crooks personally and how much was used to finance the work of the CWI in the former USSR countries.
The CWI itself, centered in London, has constantly sought to minimize the scandal, keeping its investigation and its conclusions off its website, and, as far as we can determine, out of its press. It has dribbled out selected information and statements, generally through third parties. On August 29, it issued a statement condemning the fraud and announcing the expulsion of some of its Ukrainian members. It never replied to our letters or to an open letter we sent demanding further information and action to be taken against the head of their Moscow group, Ilya Budraitskis, known to us as “Igor” and to others as “Ivan.” As far as we know, until the end of 2003 the CWI replied neither to us nor to the other defrauded organizations.
On December 9, the CWI wrote to the League for the Fifth International (L5I) and to the International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) enclosing a statement passed by their International Secretariat in November 2003. It announced its recognition of the complicity of Budraitskis and his admission of participation in the fraud, particularly against COFI. Whereras the other scam artists didn’t ask directly for the money they claimed to need; Budraitskis did. The CWI statement says he admits not only receiving travel expenses from us but $120, purportedly stolen from him by Russian customs officials, which he asked us for, pleading poverty. (Actually, the amount was $130, but the Ukrainians probably took a cut.) The CWI says that he has promised to pay us back for that and for his travel expenses.
Most significantly, the CWI statement reports that given Budraitskis’ admissions and his assertion that he was pressured and fooled by the Ukrainians into participating in the scam, the he would not be expelled but rather get a slap-on-the-wrist six-month suspension from leading committees of the CWI in the former Soviet Union; he would remain a member of their organization.
Budraitskis is a veteran leader, well known in Russian left circles and as a spokesman for the CWI internationally. He is evidently too valuable for the CWI to expel simply because he is a proven and admitted criminal and liar. To claim that he was a naive dupe, manipulated by the others, is a joke. And, needless to say, Budraitskis has sent us neither an apology, any money nor any promise of repayment. Likewise, even though we were singled out by the CWI as the organization affected by their comrade’s theft, the CWI chose not to reply to us or to send us their statement or any notification of Budraitskis’s promise of repayment.
It is also clear that the CWI has taken no responsibility for the stolen funds which were used, at least in part, to finance CWI activities. It has also failed to demonstrate that the fraud and thievery, which went on for four years, were limited to their Ukrainian and Russian adherents and were not known at least to CWI leaders who oversaw their work.
By its actions and inactions, the CWI proves itself a politically and morally unprincipled organization. It has failed to carry out the elementary duty of even purported Bolsheviks when faced with such a scandal. The criminal Budraitskis is an appropriate adherent and leader of this slimy outfit.