ALEX GORDON examines the terrifying resurgence of the far right in Ukraine
BELLICOSE anti-Russian rhetoric from Nato and EU leaders — prominent among them British government ministers — is leading to a resurgence of revanchist fascism in central and eastern Europe.
IMF loans ostensibly to a bankrupt Ukrainian state in fact pay private armies espousing extreme right-wing nationalism under the control of Ukrainian oligarchs.
The rapid rise of overt neonazis through Ukraine’s main political parties and the integration of known fascists into key state positions is no accident.
Reawakening and nurturing a populist Russophobic racism in Europe is integral to the US neocon strategy to isolate Russia through its so-called “pivot to Asia.”
Nato’s tactical pact with far-right parties and paramilitaries seen previously as fringe extremists echoes US foreign policy in Central and South America for decades.
Since February this year four neonazi marches have taken place in the Baltic states alone.
On February 24 2015 in the Estonian capital Tallinn, the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), which hosts an annual summer festival for Waffen-SS veterans in Sinimae, staged a torchlight parade for Estonian independence under the slogan “Estonia for Estonians.”
On March 11 in Vilnius, Lithuania, a similar march featured incessant chants of “Lietuva Lietuviams” (“Lithuania for [ethnic] Lithuanians”), with swastikas, white power symbols and a huge banner glorifying 1941 nazi puppet prime minister
Juozas Brazaitis, whose remains the state repatriated and reburied with full honours in 2012.
On March 16 in Riga, Latvia, over 1,500 marched in the 16th annual Waffen-SS festival. Latvia currently holds the presidency of the European Council of the EU.
Nevertheless, it is Ukraine which has seen the worst resurgence of fascism in Europe.
On January 1 2015 ranks of torch-bearing neonazis marched in Kiev in honour of Stepan Bandera, who murdered thousands of Ukrainian Jews and Poles during World War II.
Far-right groups Right Sector and Svoboda don’t even bother to hide their racism. Yet, as allies of the pro-EU Kiev regime they are politely ignored by Western governments and media representatives, deemed useful for crushing anti-fascist resistance in the east, which hampers attempts to bring Ukraine into Nato.
Ukraine’s entire political spectrum moved to the far right in 2014, with President Petro Poroshenko’s party (Block Poroshenko) and PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk (People’s Front) pandering to radical rightwingers in their electoral lists or standing aside for them in some constituencies.
In a sign of capitulation to far-right forces, Poroshenko declared October 14 “Day of the Defender of Ukraine” to commemorate the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which collaborated with WWII nazis and carried out atrocities against Poles and Jews. The UPA, Poroshenko declared, should be regarded as “heroes.”
While Ukraine’s former National Socialist party Svoboda lost votes, right-wing populist Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party won 1.17 million votes and gained 22 MPs, including Yury Shukhevich, grandson of UPA commander, Roman Shukhevich. Lyashko’s far-right party is now part of the five-party ruling coalition.
Two members of self-proclaimed fascist party Right Sector were also elected — leader Dmytro Yarosh and second in command Borislav Bereza. Yarosh was elected after PM Yatsenyuk’s Popular Front withdrew in his favour.
Yarosh’s far-right politics can be traced back to the 1990s when he joined fascist organisation Stepan Bandera Tryzub, which he has led since 2005.
Also elected to the Ukrainian parliament were commanders of the Aidar Battalion, accused by Amnesty International of carrying out “war crimes,” including abduction, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion and possible executions.
Immediately after the October 2014 election, a prominent member of Patriot of Ukraine and deputy commander of the Azov Battalion, Vadim Troyan, was appointed head of Kiev District Police.
Western media routinely minimises neonazis’ role in Ukrainian society and politics.
Yet there in no other country in the world do self-declared neonazis control security services and hold important positions in the Interior Ministry and parliament.
Poroshenko has even awarded Ukrainian citizenship to Belorussian neonazi Serhiy Korotkykh, a founding member of the National Socialist Society.
The lure of weapons training and funding is proving a magnet for fascists from Sweden, Russia and western Europe.
Western governments support and encourage Ukrainian nationalism and fascism, not only ignoring the power of the
Ukrainian radical right, but directly encouraging and strengthening it, in line with a long-term plan to establish Ukraine as “anti-Russia.”
Future blowback from Western promotion of Ukrainian fascism has the potential to be more dangerous than even Western governments’ folly of supporting extreme Islamists in Iraq, Libya and Syria.
- Alex Gordon is a member of the steering committee of Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine.