24 January 2014

What the West should know about the Euromaidan's far right element

Many in the West, are asking questions about the involvement of the Ukrainian ultranationalists in the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv. Some allegedly left-wing web-sites, such as the World Socialist Web Site, publish blatant lies about the Euromaidan protests and the role that the far right is playing in them. These web-sites are trying to appease Russian imperialists who are doing everything they can to deprive Ukraine of its already weakened independence.

At the moment, there are two things that the West should understand about the Ukrainian ultranationalists in the context of Euromaidan.

1. As I wrote before, in the article "The Ukrainian revolution is European and national", Euromaidan is, among other things, a national revolution against the Kremlin's imperialism and a nationalist uprising against Russia's destructive influence on Ukraine. The major share of support for the Ukrainian far right comes from those citizens who do not share far right views but urge for Ukraine's true independence. This means that it will only be possible to neutralise the far right after Ukraine gains national independence. The far right is being fuelled by the constant threat to the Ukrainian statehood rather than the alleged growth of extreme right views in the Ukrainian society. As Roger Griffin wrote in his Modernism and Fascism, the rise of fascism may occur, in particular, due to  "occupation, colonization, or acts of aggression inflicted on [a society] by other societies" (p. 104). Thus, a fight against fascism in Ukraine should always be synonymous with the fight against the attempts to colonise the country. Those who separate these two issues or crack down on the Ukrainian far right without recognising the urgent need for national independence will never be successful in their attempts to neutralise the far right. Moreover, they can make the situation worse.

Ultranationalist and anarchist symbols side by side on the battlefield
2. While the Ukrainian far right has indeed endorsed and used violence against Viktor Yanukovych's corrupt authoritarian regime and the brutal police who abuse and torture protesters, they are not the only violent force of Euromaidan. They are joined by many Ukrainian left-wingers and democrats who have become radicalised as a result of the lack of progress of non-violent resistance to the country's slipping into an outright dicatorship. The majority of the protesters who take to Kyiv's dead cold streets are tired of Yanukovych's cynical disregard of their demands and outraged about the police brutality. Their radicalisation is a sad response to the regime's policies and actions which gave an impetus to a non-aggression pact between the Ukrainian far left and far right who are now on the same side of the barricades. Those commentators who associate violence at Euromaidan exclusively with the far right are downplaying the causes of the radicalisation of the Euromaidan protests and - willingly or unwillingly - exonerating Yanukovych's authoritarian regime.

See translations of this short post into German, Russian and Greek here.

23 comments:

  1. Excellent! Very brief and to-the-point, and knowledgeable. Thanks!

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  2. But how do you know, Anton, that the violent faction of the protesters is, indeed, composed of far right and "joined by many Ukrainian left-wingers and democrats"? I'm not saying this to be confrontational, I'm just interested if you (or someone else) have interviewed these people to find out about their motivations/affiliations? If so, could you link to that research.

    I think it's fine to speculate (especially on your own blog), but I think that the truth is that it's not clear who exactly these people are. It's not even possible to identify them based on the symbols they may be carrying. As a friend on the maidan pointed out, "I have seen several shields with 1488 on them but in my opinion people not from the far-right organisation (who drew them and distributed the shields) including some that are actually carrying those shields have no idea what those numbers means." But again, these are speculations and not facts based on research.

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    1. I know because I did fieldwork on Maidan ad Hrushevskoho in the recent few days.

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  3. maidantranslations.org - in here many information from the main centre of events. About all - left-wingers, democrats, far right.

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  4. Thank you Anton for your immediate and accurate reply.
    Let me explain to you the origin of my doubts.
    In the Kingdom of Spain we are on living a peaceful process towards the independence of Catalonia. We have a saying that goes "a hunchback don't see his own hump..but others'", and it perfectly fulfills when Catalans only see fascists and far-right on Spanish side, and, of course, Spaniards only see the far-right on the Catalan side.
    Another thing that puzzles me is the devotion that deserves the European Union for the people who don't suffer it, like Ukranians. Greece or Spain are devasted with uneffective austerity measures, measures avoidable only going out of the eurozone, getting rid of all these self inflicted restrictions in fiscal and monetary policies, leaving the euro, having a national currency again and a Central Bank of their own. In the other hand is corruption: Berlusconi and the spanish current government party are examples that European Union are the best parachute for corrupts: they only will fall if they are unable to inflict the fiscal punishment dictated by the Troika to their people.

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  5. very good concise analysis. thank you Anton!

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  6. People, why do you talk english?

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    1. Because this language is understood by the majority of the readers of this blog.

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  7. Who cares if they are "far-right".
    A protest is taking pace because of legitimate grievances. The fact is that no matter where the protest is (Ukraine, Syria, America, etc) it is usually the most radical of forces willing to do the toughest work.

    What does "far-right" even mean?
    Are Ukrainians who stand up for their rights "far-right"?

    I've seen commentators and posters on twitter bring up the fact that some protesters display "14/88" and Celtic cross symbols. What is wrong with the phrase "1488" or the ancient cross?
    There is nothing wrong. The only racist are those that would oppose the rights of the people of Ukrainians to exist and not want their children to have a future.

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    1. 14/88 =
      14: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteen_Words
      88: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/88_%28number%29#In_white_nationalism

      The Celtic Cross is an international symbol of white racism.

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  8. Ukraine must fight the far right. Svoboda say Ukraine is run by Moscow jewish mafia. Fight for democracy but not at the risk of replacing rat with beast

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    1. "A fight against fascism in Ukraine should always be synonymous with the fight against the attempts to colonise the country. Those who separate these two issues or crack down on the Ukrainian far right without recognising the urgent need for national independence will never be successful in their attempts to neutralise the far right. Moreover, they can make the situation worse."

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  9. Hello Anton;

    Interesting article, but I am affraid it doesn't accurately depict the picture. I personally am a foreigner residing in Ukraine married from a Ukrainian women and thankfully have 2 children, trying to teach them to love and work for this country as it was mine, I am working here , paying taxes and trying to serve this country the way I can .

    Honestly, I am worried about this situation and watching it closely as critical changes are occuring.

    At the beginning of this uprise I and my family were supporting this outcry as we were associating it to people going down the streets and asking for their basic rights and freedom.

    However the curving of this manifestation has taken dangerous path and that is worrying me deeply as the nationalist, fascist and neo-nazis are outshining the rest of the revolution whether it is with flags or slogans.

    Now everyone knows what does the 1488, white power cross mean and we are aware of their intentions toward us the non-white in case they reach power.

    Days ago I received a phone call from an ex co-worker in Kiev, telling me that things are getting worse and out of control there emphasizing the fact that foreigners are being attacked by unknown masked guys shouting slogans in Ukrainian language.

    And I guess they were targeted only because of their skin's color or the language they were speaking to each other.

    Sincerely, That is sad I don't know with whom to side anymore ? A corrupted regime bullying its people or an extremist organisation calling for annihilating us just because we don't share same roots or culture?

    I'd choose to stay neutral or maybe the less evil of two, which is Yanakovitch's government.

    Regards

    Hamed Naser

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    1. Hello Named,

      You are falling a victim of Yanukovych's propaganda.
      Please give me links to current accounts saying that:

      (1) "foreigners are being attacked by unknown masked guys shouting slogans in Ukrainian language",
      (2) "an extremist organisation [what's its name?] calling for annihilating us just because we don't share same roots or culture".

      Do I get it right that you're supporting the "government" that has already murdered and tortured to death several people of Ukrainian, Armenian, Belarusian and Russian origin?

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    2. Hello again Anton,

      Ps: I am Hamed not "Named"

      First, I 'd like to apologize for my late reply. Well as far as I know, Neo-Nazis do not believe in co-existing with other humankind not sharing same ethnic/culture/views.

      Moreover they are ready to take radical actions against anyone who objects them or even try to express his point of view that might be not similar to theirs.

      This ideology is not of my creativity, but was depicted back in the WWII. Meanwhile the entire world witnessed the genocides and atrocities that were committed by the mob with identical doctrine of the ones raising 14/88 and Celtic cross symbol.

      And that is a perilous shift when watching news of innocent people marching down the streets demanding a halt to this inhuman acts triggered by subhumans, alongside extremists who share further perverted views than the current government.

      Sir, I am not confronting you either this outcry, I perceive numerous crowds are down there ignoring or maybe unaware of the fact how dangerous can their companions be if they triumph this fight against Yanukovitch. Personally I would only be glad to see my descendants residing in a Utopia, where uncorruption, order, technology, education and civilization are the growth-core of society.

      Frankly, I partially participated in the beginning of protests by donating through activists that are responsible of the organization, hoping it to be an investment for a better life to my children.

      However, I am not supporting neither advocating this Mafioso! I acknowledge what these bandits have done to Ukraine and to what extent, they harmed it by attempting to change its identity, language and orientations .

      Yet, what to do if you are between two fires ? Definitely the less harmful would be the choice of any sane creature .

      Hamed Nasser

      Sincerely yours;

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    3. Sorry for misspelling your name, Hamed.

      I'm well aware of the dangers of fascism, and have already written widely on the issues of the Ukrainian far right.

      Linking particular symbols to the historical processes and acts may sometimes be incorrect. Many regimes committed atrocities throughout history. Mass murders took place everywhere and under different symbols. The usage of these symbols may or may not refer to these atrocities, and the people who use them may or may not be willing to repeat them.

      The ethos of contemporary Ukrainian nationalism is not fascism or Nazism, but the national liberation. True: some - usually younger - nationalist activists would consider themselves fascists and use fascist symbols, but they are a minority within Ukrainian nationalism today. Labelling all Ukrainian nationalists as "fascists" because some of them are is misleading and is used by those who want to defend their corrupt authoritarian government which is MUCH MORE extreme than even the most radical Ukrainian nationalists.

      Watch these videos:

      http://youtu.be/8eflRkjecks
      http://youtu.be/iaC_9ImEGfQ
      http://youtu.be/QU8oYETghpM

      As I am a scholar, I am very cautious about applying the term "fascism", but if I were a non-scholar, I would - after watching these videos - definitely say: "Yanukovych is a fascist, his regime is fascist".

      And could you post the links which I mentioned in the previous message? -

      Please give me links to current accounts saying that:
      (1) "foreigners are being attacked by unknown masked guys shouting slogans in Ukrainian language",
      (2) "an extremist organisation [what's its name?] calling for annihilating us just because we don't share same roots or culture".

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. I am not going to engage in a time-wasting discussion with someone who knows very little about the history of Ukraine. I am also not going to allow any links to anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

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    2. What happened here?! The discussion seemed to be pretty civil and interesting.. pity.

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  11. "They are joined by many Ukrainian left-wingers and democrats"

    Yet we see no sign of these "left-wingers" in pictures, videos and statement from Maidan and other areas of uprising. Only white power and nazi symbols, flags and slogans. How come?

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    1. There's even a picture on post, featuring a wolf's hook and an anarchist symbol side by side.

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  12. Anton, I'm a big fan of your works on obscure far-right currents - the New Right, Strasserism, the whole "neither left nor right" type of stuff. And that's exactly what surprises me about your touting this (and there are many more, in fact) photo of a "circled A" and a "wolf's hook" side by side as proof of left-wing presence in the riots. You of all people should know that there are fascist currents which self-identify as "anarchist", because they believe that they're fighting an oppressive Judeo-Muslim homo-totalitarian multicultural state or some other crazy shit like that. Fascist ideology has always been a beggar's bowl, and so are its symbols. Also, in the less politicized circles, "anarchy" has always meant "I can do what I want". Growing up in Russia, seeing a bunch of assorted "radical" symbols with opposite meanings drawn in the same toilet stall was never something out of the ordinary. When I saw a swastika and a circled A scribbled on a table in school, I never thought "the left and the right had joined forces", I thought "some dickhead's trying to be edgy". And since the overall atmosphere in the post-Soviet space is very, very right-wing and xenophobic, I'd have to presume that said dickhead was probably more to the right and just thought the circled A meant he could smoke behind the garages without his parents knowing.

    Before you accuse me of being a victim of Russian propaganda like you did with some other posters here, I have to say that I absolutely despise the way our government has treated Ukraine, and Russian chauvinism towards the country makes me puke. And it's pretty obvious to me that the pro-Russia side is engaged in a lot of propaganda trying to make it seem as if the entirety of Euromaidan is sieg heiling Nazis. But when you demand proof of Nazi skinheads attacking non-whites in Ukraine, it seems to me that you're doing the extreme opposite of what the pro-Russian propagandists are doing, you're trying to downplay the Ukrainian fascists to infinity, as if Ukrainian fascists are physically unable to take part in the riots (while in reality, they're one of the few people actually physically ABLE to engage in rioting, since their subculture entails a lot of fighting and military training - something that other political activists and especially regular apolitical people don't engage in too often). You cannot believe that where there are fascists (and there are, regardless of their quantity or role in the protest), all kinds of minorities are going to be assaulted?

    You even say stuff like "some of them may consider themselves fascist, but in reality they are fighting for national liberation". Look, I may be a cosmopolitain, but I'm not a naive hippie, and I realize that even the leftmost uprising in a country that's been subjected to years of imperialism is always going to involve a lot of nationalism. I can take being called a "moskal" and have the all the government's faults be blamed on me - that's kind of dumb, but at least it's understandable. What is not fucking understandable is trying to pass Nazi collaborators as "freedom fighters".

    Yanukovich may very well be the greater evil in this situation, but please, don't try to whitewash all of his detractors. I'm all for Ukrainian independence, but I don't really understand how wanting to leave one oppressive and paternalistic entity (Russia and Tamozhenny Soyuz) for another (the EU) automatically constitutes national liberation. It could be the driving force behind it, but the key word here is "could". In trying to disprove pro-Russian lies, don't make it seem as if Ukrainians are somehow impervious to fascist ideas.

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    1. Thank you for the comment.

      >> as proof of left-wing presence in the riots

      There are left-wingers engaged in riots, see the report here:
      http://searchlightmagazine.com/news/featured-news/the-euromaidan-revolution-of-ukraine-s-political-right-and-the-left-field-notes-from-downtown-kyiv

      >> But when you demand proof of Nazi skinheads attacking
      >> non-whites in Ukraine

      I do demand proof, because I know the statistics (http://www.eajc.org/page451), and I would have already known from my colleagues from the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, the Diversity Initiative and the No Borders project if there had been an increase - connected to Euromaidan - in the number of "foreigners being attacked by unknown masked guys shouting slogans in Ukrainian language".

      >> You cannot believe that where there are fascists (and there are,
      >> regardless of their quantity or role in the protest), all kinds of
      >> minorities are going to be assaulted?

      Euromaidan is an ethnically diverse movement, with a lot of representtives of national minorities. Have you ever heard of them as victims of racists attacks? I haven't. Quite the opposite:

      http://www.ucsj.org/2014/01/30/statement-by-leonid-finberg-on-euromaidan/
      http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1391511895

      >> You even say stuff like "some of them may consider themselves
      >> fascist, but in reality they are fighting for national liberation".

      Remind me where I said this.

      >> What is not fucking understandable is trying to pass Nazi
      >> collaborators as "freedom fighters".

      Nationalism is not a synonym of Nazism. While there is a neo-Nazi element among the "national revolutionaries", it is insignificant.

      >> I don't really understand how wanting to leave one oppressive and
      >> paternalistic entity (Russia and Tamozhenny Soyuz) for another
      >> (the EU) automatically constitutes national liberation.

      National liberation is about a nation's possibility to make its own political choices. Ukrainians have been deprived of the opportunity to make a choice which was the signing of the Association Agreemnt of the EU. The current protests are not only about the EU, they are also about the fight for true independence, when the Ukrainians, rather than the Russians, will decide their own political future.

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