This month sees Ukraine gear up for its presidential elections on March the 31st. The last few weeks however, have seen a steady reemergence of open Neo-Nazism in the public sphere in Ukraine. Since the events of Euromaiden, 6 years ago, far right Fascism has become ingrained in the new Ukraine with the ever growing presence of deplorable Hitlerite figures.
The biggest trendsetter for this Fascist rebirth is the rehabilitation by the Ukrainian authorities of Nazi collaborator and anti-communist terrorist Stephen Bandera who fought against the Soviet Union as the head of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists. A notorious anti-Semite, his paramilitary the Ukrainian Insurgent Army attacked Jews at such a ferocious level that Jews actually sought the protection of the Germans. Despite this, the city of Lviv has named 2019 Stepan Bandera Year in his honour.
Last month after a riot policeman used the term “Banderite” to describe members of C14 (a Neo-Nazi paramiltary involved in numerous anti-Roma pogroms) he was tackling at a protest, the chief of the Ukrainian National Police in a Facebook post commented “I apologise. I am a Banderite, too! Glory to Ukraine!” Likewise, referring to the incident, the Kyiv chief of police stated that “Undoubtedly, this employee will be punished… In addition, some obscene vocabulary was used. We have to do something about this.”
The hostile atmosphere has not only been limited to the rehabilitation of Bandera. In scenes reminiscent of Jim Crows America, statues of Fascists and anti-Semites have been erected by the Ukrainian government in Jewish areas. One such example was the unveiling of a statue dedicated to Symon Petliura in the Jewish neighborhood of Vinnitsa. Peliura, as the President of the short-lived Ukrainian National Republic, is linked to the massacre of as many as 100,000 innocent Jews during the 1918-1920 civil war. In Babi Yar, the sight of possibly the largest two-day massacre during the Holocaust, there lays a sign commemorating Ivan Rohach. Rohach was the editor-in-chief of a radical nationalist newspaper which called for the murder of Jews at around the same time of the Babi Yar massacre, describing Jews as the “greatest enemy of the people.”
Perhaps even more disgracefully blatant, a shopping centre on Kiev’s Bandera Avenue displayed a giant Nazi swastika on a staircase hours before a torch-lit march by Ukrainian nationalists in the city centre who chanted slogans such as “Jews Out!”
In spite of all this, the nations that make up the “democratic” West have done little to stem the tide of Fascism in Ukraine. In fact, they have been highly culpable in its rise. In 2014, the European Union’s member states abstained en masse from a United Nations resolution against the ‘glorification of Nazism’. The United States and Ukraine outright rejected the resolution. In December 2014, Amnesty International accused the Dnipro-1 battalion of potential war crimes, including “using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.” Six months later, Senator John McCain visited and praised the battalion. This would not be the first association McCain would have with intolerable characters of the Ukrainian far right. In an earlier TPN article outlining how American Nazis involved in far-right violence and murder in Charlottesville were believed to have been trained in Ukraine, it was discovered that the late John McCain had shared a stage with Fascist
With the presidential election soon set to be underway, it will be of no surprise to anyone when the American Empire and its enablers fail to decry the monitoring of polls by the infamous Neo-Nazi Azov battalion and the obvious authoritarian vote rigging this practice will result in. The White House has seemingly put all its attention on the Venezuelan coup instead, decrying an improper election to have taken place there in spite of the observations by international parties. Whilst remaining ignorant of the flagrant fascistic tendencies of Ukraine, the Trump administration cannot deny its deep rooted Klanist thought. With an America enthralled by Ku Kluxim and distracted by events in Latin America and an openly Banderite Ukraine, the fears of Ukrainian Jews, progressives and communists will no doubt be further founded by this months election.
Sam Glasper is TPN’s Foreign Affairs Commentator and studies at Manchester Metropolitain University.