21 May 2013

"Russian and Soviet nationalism in Ukraine"

In the abstract of his paper "Contemporary Nationalism in Ukraine", presented at the Harriman Institute's workshop on Ukrainian and Russian nationalisms, Taras Kuzio writes:

The third section analyses Russian and Soviet nationalism in Ukraine. Skinheads and Nazi parties and movements are included in my analysis of Russian and Soviet Nationalism because they do not espouse ethnic Ukrainian nationalist ideologies but instead propagate eclectic combinations of Ukrainian state nationalism, anti-Americanism and pan-Slavism.
The combination of "Ukrainian state nationalism, anti-Americanism and pan-Slavism" is now allegedly called "Russian and Soviet Nationalism"...

So, in his paper, Kuzio writes:

A US Embassy cable reported that skinheads ‘are present in a number of oblasts including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Sumy, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Vinnytsya, Odesa, and Zhytomyr.’ In addition, ‘The Sevastopol Movement against Illegal Immigrants has a following among neo-Nazi skinheads.’
The author originally gave the reference to a wrong US Embassy cable, but I found another cable (December 2008) that does read the following:

"According to press statements by the Security Service
of Ukraine (SBU), skinhead organizations exist in the cities
of Kyiv, Sevastopol, and Yalta.   They also are present in a
number of oblasts including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Sumy,
Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Vinnytsia, Odesa, and Zhymtomyr.  In
Kyiv, rock groups such as Perun's Axe and Dozer-88 attract
skinheads with violent and anti-social music.   The
unregistered Ukrainian National-Labor Party, Blood and Honor
Ukraine, the Ukrainian Movement Against Illegal Immigration,
and the Sevastopol Movement Against Illegal Immigrants have a
following among neo-Nazi skinheads."

Incorrectly quoting this cable and talking about "a following among neo-Nazi skinheads", Kuzio singled out only the Sevastopol Movement Against Illegal Immigrants. Although he uses the present tense, this "movement" existed only in 2006-2007 and had a miniscule following. I do not remember any neo-Nazis in their midst, although the majority of them, indeed, were (pro-)Russian ultranationalists. Another cable mentions the Ukrainian Movement Against Illegal Immigration, which was "headed by Oleksander Bielov". Whether this was an epic fail of the Ukrainian Security Service or the author of the cable, I do not know, but Aleksandr Belov-Potkin was the leader of the Russian Movement Against Illegal Immigration. This is how much these cables can be trusted... The Ukrainian Movement Against Illegal Immigration still exists, although only online.

Kuzio continues:

Virtual (pan-Slavic) Ukrainian nationalist projects have included Bratstvo as one of a number of outgrowths from UNA-UNSO, and the national Bolshevik Progressive Socialist Party, who are both members of the Eurasian movement. Bratstvo joined the Highest Council of the Moscow-based International Eurasian Movement and the Highest Council of the Eurasian Youth Union.
The Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine is (or was, as I did not hear about them for a long time) definitely on the far right, but hardly "national Bolshevik". Bratstvo indeed was affiliated with the International Eurasian Movement (MED) headed by Russian fascist Aleksandr Dugin, but Bratstvo cut off all the contacts with the MED in 2007. Kuzio never mentions this, or probably just does not know.

Kuzio writes:

In 2005, the Ministry of Justice registered Patriot Ukrayiny (Patriot of Ukrayiny) as a civic organisation and it has branches in Kyiv, Poltava, and Chernihiv.
Yes, but also in Ivano-Frankivs'k, Volodymyr-Volyns'ky, Rivne, probably L'viv, Chernivtsi... But you will not hear this from Kuzio, because this is Western Ukraine, hush, hush!

Kuzio continues:

Patriot of Ukraine cooperates with the unregistered Ukrainian National-Labour Party and pro-Russian Crimean Cossack groups, most likely the reason why Svoboda, a party promoting ethnic Ukrainian nationalism, cut its ties.
By now, I've already used to the absence of relevant references. I will give two. On the "cooperation" of the Patriot of Ukraine (PoU) with "pro-Russian Crimean Cossack groups" you can read here, where the "Patriots of Ukraine" describe "the pro-Kremlin 'cossacks'" as their opponents, along with communists and "the Russian Bloc". Furthermore, the reason for the PoU's decision to cut ties with Svoboda was ideological: the PoU simply did not consider Svoboda radical enough and thought that Oleh Tyahnybok was a traitor of the cause. On the grassroots level, however, both organisations continued cooperation. And, of course, the PoU has been and still is Ukrainian, and not pro-Russian or pro-Soviet, nationalist.

Kuzio writes:

Members of the Ukrainian National-Labour Party are primarily skinheads and neo-Nazis operating in the Crimea (Simferopol), Zaporizhzhya, Kharkiv and Kherson, all in Eastern and Southern Ukraine, Kyiv, Uman, Vynnytsia, and Kirovohrad in Central Ukraine and in Galician and Rivne in Western Ukraine.
The Ukrainian National-Labour Party (UNTP) existed in 2005-2008/2009. Its leader, Yevhen Gerasymenko, went on to form the Autonomous Resistance, which cooperated closely with Svoboda, but their relations soured in April this year. Again, the UNTP always was, while the Autonomous Resistance is, pro-Ukrainian, rather than pro-Russian or pro-Soviet.

And finally:

In Sevastopol, skinheads have organised underground cells and with assistance from skinheads in Yalta, Kharkiv and St. Petersburg have undertaken violent attacks, sometimes using explosives and weapons, against non-Slavic peoples.
Here, I would quote a comment from a Sevastopol journalist:

"The source of this passage is a fake fabricated by Sevastopol police in 2001. Some senior offices wanted to get higher officers’ ranks in relation with Putin’s visit to Sevastopol and tried to fabricate criminal case against more than 70 persons as though they wanted to disrupt Putin’s visit . There was the information from press-service of Sevastopol police published in local and national papers and Kuzio quotes this information without trying to verify it.

In fact it was a fabricated case. 70 people were detained by local police but the majority of them were random persons. Only against 1 person the criminal case was brought. He was charged in keeping small amount of gunpowder and hedging-bill (“explosives and weapons” in press-service information), but the real charge was only in keeping weapons (hedging-bill) at home. During the trial there were no charges in using explosives and weapons against non-Slavic peoples and violent attacks."

Yet, Kuzio writes that, in Sevastopol, "skinheads [...] have undertaken violent attacks, sometimes using explosives and weapons, against non-Slavic people".

I rest my case (for the time being). This brief analysis of Kuzio's work reveals that  much of what he writes is either extremely outdated, wrong or simply "fixed".

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