Ukraine: Nazi storm-troopers for the EU and austerity

We publish here a detailed analysis by Dmitry Kolesnik, editor of the Ukrainian left wing website Liva, about the influence and role of far right and fascist paramilitary gangs in Ukraine today.Ukraine, November 2013 – the president delays the signing of the free-trade Agreement with the EU attached with IMF demands to impose austerity measures and the next day Ukraine faced the pro-EU protests that (after gradual escalation) led to the coup and current civil war. But who played the leading role in those protests? Who was introduced to the Ukrainian government after the coup? And why too many Ukrainian citizens decided to raise the armed rebellion against new government?

Despite all the attempts to silence Ukrainian neo-fascist and far-right groups, they cannot be hidden or whitewashed totally – the reports about rioting Nazi-ultras, neo-fascist battalions and pro-government far-right gangs in modern Ukraine can be met even in mainstream media. They are too notorious and too noticeable so that to turn a blind eye on their leading role in current Ukrainian crisis. Actually, without virulent neo-Nazis the coup in February and current war in East Ukraine couldn’t happen. Some analysts consider Ukrainian neo-Nazis as mere tools of Ukrainian oligarchs, while the other analysts are more worried and state that neo-Nazis wish to seize all the power and push through their dreams about ‘united white Europe’, uniting with their western colleagues into ‘brown international’.

In February BBC report highlighted the essential ideas of those militants who acted as storm-troopers in Euromaidan: Right Sector (the coalition of neo-Nazi parties and far-right football ultras created during EuroMaidan in Kiev) representatives openly declare their affinity with ‘National-Socialist themes”, assuring that they want a society that’s just “a little bit like that under Hitler” 1. And then – in some months we found the same people fighting in the South-East Ukraine against Donbass rebels and miners. The Telegraph reports about the views of those pro-Kiev fighters sent to Donbass: “Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, proclaimed in eastern Ukraine in March, should send a shiver down Europe’s spine. Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming.The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.“Personally, I’m a Nazi,” said “Phantom”, a 23-year-old former lawyer at the ceremony wearing camouflage and holding a Kalashnikov…. Phantom said he was such a Russian but that he was opposed to Moscow supporting “terrorists” in his homeland: “I volunteered and all I demanded was a gun and the possibility to defend my country.”Asked about his Nazi sympathies, he said: “After the First World World War, Germany was a total mess and Hitler rebuilt it: he built houses and roads, put in telephone lines, and created jobs. I respect that.2

Actually such people fight for promoting oligarchic and the EU corporations’ interests in Ukraine.

For many years various kinds of far-right groups were raised, created and financed as useful tools – convenient for achieving some political or economic aims. They were used for suppressing protests, opposition or even against business competitors. However, the leaders of neo-Nazis also understand it very well and ‘suck’ different rivaling oligarchs so that to grow in numbers, train and promote their groups and parties.

When it is about international level of Ukrainian conflict – the groups stemming from the Ukrainian Nazi-collaborators’ community in the US and Canada rushed into Ukraine some 20 years ago starting to organize (with the western funds’ aid) their own net and indoctrinating children with nationalist and fascist ideas.

Ukrainian leftwing Marxist organization “Borotba” predicted about it some years ago: “So in 2012, when the first fraction of the far-right party Svoboda entered parliament supported by a number of oligarchic groups, including some close to President Yanukovych, Borotba was the first and the only political force which then predicted that, with the development of the socio-economic crisis, the oligarchy would put ultra-right ideology and organization at its service. It was at that time when we published the report, “Ukrainian oligarchy is preparing a ‘creeping’ fascist coup.”

The coup turned out not to be “creeping” but “leaping”, with cries of “whoever does not jump is with Moscow”. With oligarchic policy-makers and radical nationalists acting as a striking force, we predicted accurately. It should be noted that while our report was ignored, many thoughtlessly dismissed the prospects of a nationalist turn in Ukrainian politics.” 3

And now we see the result: masked young men armed with sticks, batons and banners of the old Ukrainian Nazi-collaborators’ movement. The ardent aggressive mob roaming the street chanting: “Ukraine is above all” (echoing the old tired slogan ‘Deutschland über alles”). Rampant crowd constantly seeks for the “enemies” whether they are ‘commies’, ‘pro-russians’, ‘agents’, ‘traitors’ – and, for sure, anybody could be randomly labeled an enemy because he/she may seem to somebody a bit ‘suspicious’. Who would stop the lynching mob? Definitely it’s not the police because it was ordered not to interfere and, furthermore, many policemen are former participants of the same neo-Nazi groups – just recently were incorporated into police forces as ‘sheer and reliable patriots’.

Ukrainian extreme nationalists, neo-Nazis, far-rights – just a year ago they all were relatively marginal forces but as soon as the issue of free-trade agreement and austerity measure became too crucial – they suddenly turned to be the masters of the streets threatening even their sponsors’ rule. And on August 17, 2014 Right Sector puts forward the ultimatum to Ukrainian president and threatens to launch armed march 4 to Kiev if their demand to ‘cleanse’ not a part but all the police forces isn’t met. For sure, this time Right Sector neo-fascists want all the power, more paid jobs in police and total impunity. You can see them not very important if you don’t notice that the public of Right Sector only in VKontakte social network – has almost half a million followers 5 and if you don’t take into account that Right Sector battalions are armed and equipped (against Donbass rebels). That’s e.g. what The Foreign Policy reports about battalion ‘Azov’ formed from these neo-Nazi militants who fight ‘for European choice’:

“Blue and yellow Ukrainian flags fly over Mariupol’s burned-out city administration building and at military checkpoints around the city, but at a sport school near a huge metallurgical plant, another symbol is just as prominent: the wolfsangel (“wolf trap”) symbol that was widely used in the Third Reich and has been adopted by neo-Nazi groups.” – reports the Foreign Policy from Ukraine.

And Oleh Odnorozhenko, deputy commander of the Azov Battalion defines Ukrainian war as the conflict of “people with a European identity fighting with Sovietness.” But the “European identity” to which Odnorozhenko aspires is one estranged from mainstream European and American liberalism. The Azov Battalion, whose emblem also includes the “Black Sun” occult symbol used by the Nazi SS, was founded by Andriy Biletsky, head of the neo-Nazi groups Social-National Assembly and Patriots of Ukraine.”

“According to Odnorozhenko, the battalion’s political platform supports the natsiokratiya, a system of government devised by the Ukrainian nationalists of the 1930s and 1940s, who fought Soviet forces but were also guilty of atrocities such as the murder of thousands of Jews and Poles. ”6

And soon the German TV shows Ukrainian Nazis fighting against Donbass industry workers and rebels: “The footage on TV station ZDF showed volunteer soldiers with swastikas and the “SS runes” of Adolph Hitler’s elite corps, NBC News reported. Videojournalists for a Norwegian broadcaster captured the video in eastern Ukraine last week.

The soldiers are reportedly members of the Azov battalion, a volunteer military force in Ukraine with nationalist tendencies. Members of the battalion, however, deny that they believe in a fascist ideology, the International Business Times reported.” 7

The western mainstream media just a year ago warned about the threat of far-right rise in Ukraine (and all over Eastern Europe), however, this time they willingly turned a blind eye to roaming neo-Nazi gangs and incorporation of the most extreme and xenophobic politicians into state apparatus and government after the victory of Maidan: ranging from Ministers of Education, Agriculture, and Ecology to Secretary of National Defense and Security Committee and General Prosecutor – all from far-right ‘Svoboda’ party 8(let alone regional administrations).

Let’s remind how the newly appointed governor of Kherson region (South Ukraine) Yuriy Odarchenko from ‘moderate’ Batkyvschina (Fatherland) party publicly glorified A.Hitler as a ‘liberator’ 9.

It’s not for the first time such extreme rightwing forces are being used in political games. One can easily remind such “pro-democracy movements” as Taliban, various jihadist groups or Latin American rightwing paramilitars. As if by a wave of wand the far-right fanatics are turned (with the help of mainstream media) into “pro-democracy fighters.”

Nevertheless, the far-right forces also quite well understand (at least their leaders) the impossibility to come to power without large sums of money poured, media promotion and ‘devil’s advocate’ who can calm the western public. For such purpose various ‘experts’ and NGOs are being mobilized and funded so that to stop criticism towards ‘convenient’ neo-Nazis or religious/nationalist extremist at certain (crucial) moments. Obviously, the western audience willingly looks through rose-colored glasses because it’s just more comfortable than to feel an anxiety. And when (despite all the precautions) some criticism is being voiced – the main tactics used – to accuse those who dares to criticize or even resist attacks of “our tamed allies”. How dare they resist when they are not ideal enough themselves? And, of course, you can always refer to Putin to discredit any kind of resistance. You can denounce any criticism as a kind of Putin’s propaganda.

Indeed, it happens not for the first time: all Hitler’s atrocities made before 1939 – were mostly called that time just ‘Soviet propaganda’, as well as atrocities made by Franco, Pinochet, Afghan jihadists in 1980-90’s… though, the list is too long. We couldn’t even imagine that in the beginning of XXI century the old classic neo-Nazis would be artificially revived, endorsed and whitewashed by media in modern Ukraine.

After the dissolution of the USSR and capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe all these countries have seen the artificial promotion of nationalist organizations that slowly created the ground (in media, schools and official institutions) for justification of pro-Nazi movements of the past. Thus, we met the restoration of revanchism – the attempts to rewrite the history of WWII and whitewash all the atrocities made by Nazi movements and Nazi-collaborators. One of the leading roles here played the US sponsored funds and various NGOs that poured large sums of money into programs promoting nationalist and even pro-Nazi views. As recently acknowledged the US State Secretary Victoria Nuland, the US poured only in Ukraine some 5 billion 10 for ‘promotion of democracy’ or as said in the interview George Soros: “Well, I set up a foundation in Ukraine before Ukraine became independent of Russia. And the foundation has been functioning ever since and played an important part in events now.” 11

During last years we have seen a number of programs taught in schools and summer camps where children were slowly but surely indoctrinated with extreme nationalist ideas presenting them as privileged on the basis of ethnic belonging; setting them against representatives of other nations or ethnic groups, and – especially – against the lefts, communists, antifascists who were permanently portrayed as “enemies”, “traitors”, “bastards with not pure blood”, “parasites” etc.

The symbols of WWII victory were constantly targeted and labeled by media.

Meanwhile, the groups of far-righters were trained, organized and equipped. First, they were used for business raiding and for intimidating competitors. Then they became the core of protest against ex-government of Yanukovich – that was triggered by NGO groups when ex-government delayed signing the free-trade agreement with EU attached with IMF austerity measures. And the far-right groups easily led it into the direction of imposing the extreme nationalist agenda. Ukraine is actually a multiethnic country with a large numbers of ethnic minorities – and the raids of far-right paramilitary groups on various cities triggered mass protests in the periphery of the country – where various opposition groups and parties were soon ousted to. The opposition to government, therefore, is no unanimous: it’s rivaling nationalisms of minorities as a kind of defense against nationalism of the titular nation; it’s the left forces that have to defend themselves against attacks of far-right; its officials and army officers of ex-government; it’s industrial workers whose resistance is inspired by the prospect of closing their enterprises and anti-workers rhetoric of petty bourgeoisie nationalists. And main source of resistance is a kind of ‘regional patriotism’ – since people of various regions (Donbass in the East, Transkarpathia in the West, Odessa in the South) now try to secede since the central government doesn’t adopt multicultural policy and tries to impose monoethnic concept and centralize the governance so that the country could be easier plundered by new officials and western corporations.

For that purpose a great many people were indoctrinated by media and NGO institutions with far-right ideas. And we should understand that such ideas of privileges based on ethnic belonging can easily lure many young people from depressed regions since they may rise their self-rating (certainly, in the expense of others) in this way. The nationalist propaganda also contributed to the process of de-humanizing workers – who were often portrayed as a kind of ‘slaves’ or ‘serfs’ that deserve their miserable fate. And the leading role in the process was played by the middle-class: a number of journalists, teachers and artists – who have been ostracizing workers and their activity for many years; who created in public consciousness the image of a worker as an alcoholic, illiterate, brutal, dirty man; a person who doesn’t care about the ‘sacred roots of the nation’ etc. At the same time we see the glorification of Nazis and Nazi-collaborators that are constantly presented as “saviors of the nation”. Thus, class and ethnic dimensions of nationalism intersect again. As writes Peter Lee: “That leader, at least for many Ukrainians of the fascist persuasion, was Stepan Bandera. The organization, his OUN-B faction. This state of affairs persists in today’s successor to the OUN-B, Pravy Sektor[Right Sector], with its fascist trappings, leader cult, and paramilitary arm. The “mainstreaming” of the second major fascist grouping, Svoboda, looks more like a strategic repackaging in order to strive for greater electoral success by hiding its fascist antecedents. So, unfortunately for apologists for the current Kyiv regime, the correct description of these two groups is not “nationalist” or “ultranationalist”; it is “fascist”… Fatally, the Ukrainian government has turned to fascist nationalism and heroes in order to forge a post-Soviet, essentially Ukrainian, identity for the post-1991 state.” 12

In times of economic crisis when ‘middle class’ or petty bourgeoisie faces the prospect of a real or potential lost of its relatively higher status and, therefore, needs to secure their positions – it often turns to totalitarianism which is (sometimes unconsciously) considered as a guarantee of status stability. Thus, it’s rather a common trend for some layers of ‘middle class’ to evolve a kind of stable ‘caste’ system. And a totalitarian state which is based on strict ideology requires institutions of indoctrination – therefore, it provides jobs, certain feeling of stability and helps to get rid of potential competitors. The system of exclusion is usually based on nationalism/racism since it effectively reduces the number of potential rivals and enforces privileges.

As recognize even Ukrainian sociologists: the part of far-right nationalists in EuroMaidan was some 25%. 13 The rest – mainly moderate nationalists and they not only tolerated neo-Nazis but actually let them (as the most determined fighters) impose far-right ideas and willingly accepted their leading role. “However, an analysis of the nature of the Maidan must consider not only the relative size of these forces but also the relationship between them and the mainstream of the movement. What is perhaps most shocking is not the presence of ultra-rightists or even their numbers but the fact that (with few exceptions) they are broadly accepted as a legitimate part of the Maidan. Opinions differ concerning the value of their contribution, but the great majority of Maidanites do not draw a sharp dividing line between themselves and the ultra-rightists…” The leading role of the far-right groups caused the adoption of their agenda even by moderate Right and mainstream politicians. “The ruling class has shifted sharply to the right. It is not just using far-right elements as shock troops. Slogans that were previously limited to far-right Banderists are now used in the press and media, including by politicians like Poroshenko. May Day marches, trade union conferences and other events are being attacked by far-right elements, including those that form part of the state apparatus. Leading oligarchs like Tymoshenko publicly thanked the perpetrators of the Odessa massacre. At the same, the media ignores the fact that the Right Sector admitted to burning the building.” 14

The fact of adoption of the far-right agenda and slogans by mainstream politicians is expressed not only in repeating by P.Poroshenko the slogans of Bandera movement but also by Prime-minister’s referring to opponents as to ‘subhumans’ 15 or by the racist statement of “Batkivshina” (Fatherland) party MP Ivan Stoiko about “our war against Mongoloid race”. 16 That’s why the arguments about little support of the far-right in Ukraine seem to be at least irrelevant: a) they are mostly based on recent presidential election results and miss the difference between presidential and parliamentary elections; b) they ignore the fact of mainstream politicians’ adoption of the far-right agenda; c) such arguments as a rule pay attention only to Svoboda and Right Sector while ignoring the result of Lyashko (more than 8%), head of the Radical Party who fights in South-East Ukraine in battalion ‘Azov’ recruited mostly from members of Right Sector – particularly of the Social-National Assembly and Patriot of Ukraine 17; d) they ignore recent polls over future parliamentary election showing that Lyashko’s Radical Party may win some 20-23% of votes 18; e) they ignore the fact that even small but armed and equipped groups of neo-Nazis when they are granted impunity for their criminal actions – may impose their rule by force. As recognizes even Amnesty International: “In the broader context of a deteriorating security situation in the east, Amnesty International has recently raised its concerns with the Ukrainian authorities about one particularly errant MP who has been “detaining” – in effect abducting – and ill-treating individuals across the region.

He’s called Oleg Lyashko, he is the leader of the pro-Ukrainian Radical Party, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament and former presidential candidate. He travels in the company of muscular armed young men in military fatigues and the ubiquitous camera to record his exploits. His website makes for some grim viewing19 – Oleg Lyashko is shown entering private and public premises, always accompanied by armed men, and subsequently abducting individuals or forcing them to carry out his instructions.

Oleg Lyashko is supposed to be a lawmaker, but he has taken the law into his own hands. “Glory to Ukraine, death to the occupiers” is his rallying cry [old Banderites’ slogan]…. Amnesty International regards the actions of Oleg Lyashko and his armed associates as a flagrant violation of international legal standards which clearly state that only competent authorities can arrest or detain people. Despite that, to date, Oleg Lyashko is enjoying complete impunity.” 20

We should also pay attention to the fact that neo-Nazis (dreaming of ‘white united Europe’) were introduced to the election list of the mainstream political parties like ‘Batkivshina’ (Fatherland) – the party of Prime-minister and the speaker of the Parliament. In the list we find the leaders of the far-right battalions and activists of the extreme nationalist organizations. Quite possibly the next Ukrainian parliament will be almost totally far-right and pro-EU – it will serve only as a puppet of the EU and US corporations, while Nazi-paramilitars will suppress any people’s protest against social cuts and price rises like they do it now. 21

Given the fact that the EU officials, the US corporations and neo-Nazi paramilitary groups are united against the peoples of Europe and other countries, therefore, the resistance against them should be united as well. And the case of Ukraine should serve as warning for other countries – when the capitalists need to impose on you austerity measures and cuts – they appeal to open neo-Nazis to crush your resistance.

Source: Anti-imperialist Camp

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