The far right All-Ukrainian Union “Freedom” (Svoboda) has been making headlines since 2012 when it became the first Ukrainian far right party to enter the parliament and through 2013-2014 when it took active part in the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine and later secured a few ministerial posts in the interim government. Despite the increased media attention even internationally, Svoboda is a giant with feet of clay, ready to fall.
Writing in 2011, a year ahead of the parliamentary elections in Ukraine, I stated in one academic paper that the entrance of the far right Svoboda party to the Ukrainian parliament in 2012 would “spark negative feelings on the part of the Russian minority and contribute to the activization of pro-Russian nationalist movements that could garner support from Russia and advance separatist activities in the largely Russian-speaking regions, such as the Crimea”. Although my prediction seems to have turned out to be right, I missed an important point which lies outside conventional political science: it was not Svoboda’s electoral success in 2012 per se that later energized the pro-Russian nationalists, but rather the portrayal and representation of the Ukrainian far right in general and Svoboda in particular in the Russian media engaged in the extensive information war against Ukraine.
|Svoboda's flags at a Euromaidan protest in Kyiv, January 2013|