29 January 2010

Tymoshenko and the Ukrainian radical right

The presidential candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko's links to the Ukrainian far right are often played down. Few people seem to remember that in 1997 Dmytro Korchynsky, a former leader of the notorious extreme right-wing party UNA-UNSO, left his party and organised the so-called "Shield of Fatherland" (Щит Батьківщини) which was deemed to be a "paramilitary" wing of Tymoshenko's party "Fatherland" (Батьківщина). In 2000-2001, during the "Ukraine without Kuchma" campaign, Tymoshenko directed Korchynsky and his organisation to protect the protesters. In 2002 Korchynsky reformed the "Shield of Fatherland" into the "Brotherhood" (Братство) party which was officially registered by the Ministry of Justice in 2004.

Another former leader of the UNA-UNSO (1999-2001), Andriy Shkil, joined the parliamentary group of the Bloc of Yuliya Tymoshenko (BYuT) in 2002 and became an official member of the "Fatherland" party in 2004. Quite soon he was elected to the political council of the party.

Andriy Shkil (on the right behind the NPD flag) during the
meeting of the UNA-UNSO with the extreme right-wing
Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD)
in June 2000

Interestingly, in Lviv the editorial office of the UNA-UNSO journal Nationalist, edited by Shkil, shared the same premises with Tymoshenko's "Fatherland" party.

It was Shkil who unambiguously approved Viktor Yushchenko's "Bandera the Hero" act.

On 24 August 2008, Levko Lukyanenko, a prominent member of the BYuT parliamentary group, celebrated his 80th birthday and published a revealing article titled "Ukraine's Civilisational Choice", in the MAUP's anti-Semitic journal Personal Plus. Just an excerpt -

Do we, Ukrainians, people of the white race, want to become different from what we have been, for example, to become black, yellow or red? The cases of marriages of Ukrainian women to representatives of another races indicate that not all [Ukrainians] value their white race. Thus I state my own position: I come out wholeheartedly for the preservation of the Ukrainian people as the white race and ultimately oppose the transformation of the Ukrainian nation into a nation of some blacks, browns or of any indefinite colour.

On the very same day Tymoshenko wished Lukyanenko many happy returns of the day.

Isn't it too much for the democratic (?) and pro-European (?) presidential candidate?


  1. Ms. Tymoshenko's more of opportunist than a nationalist. So, attempts to judge her under ideological criteria brings one to irrelevant results.

    The same Mr. Korchinsky was [most likely hired by the opponents to be] a fierce opponent of the Orange revolution.

    The selection of facts might lead the reader to some kind of Tymoshenko nationalist conspiracy. Many would truly wish there was one. But a different set of facts could reveal her as a pro-Russian political figure, being equally incorrect.

    A bit over the line IMO.

  2. Populism as such is an elusive term. What is populism? Vladimir Tismaneanu defines populism as -

    a political strategy to generate mass mobilization and enthusiastic support for a leader and a party (or movement) among heterogeneous social groups by opposing the established political arrangements and pledging their fundamental regeneration, often at the expense of minority and human rights and liberties, social, economic, and political life. (http://eep.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/15/1/10)

    If you accept this definition then Tymoshenko indeed can be defined as populist. In the Europealised world, however, populism is generally associated with radical right-wing politics which, in turn, is characterised by nationalism.

    There's no "nationalist conspiracy" of course. Yet Tymoshenko's flirtation with the radical right is dampening. If she wants to position herself as a pro-European democratic politician, she must distance herself from the radical right. Yet she does everything the wrong way. This month she - trying to tempt the nationalist voters - granted Yuriy Shukhevych, R. Shukhevych's son and yet another leader of the UNA-UNSO, a 10K pension (http://podrobnosti.ua/podrobnosti/2010/01/15/658487.html). This is exactly the opposite what European democratic politicians usually do. Even European conservatives (and Tymoshenko's "Fatherland" party is a member of European People's Party) do not take such liberties.

  3. Sir, I have not mentioned populism in my post, however, you have tried to counterargument the statement I never made (I called her opportunist, not populist).

    My education also tells me that populism may well be applied across the political spectrum, regardless of left/right, liberal/conservative.

    I am sorry to find that commenting and fact selection are produced using similar criteria. I may dislike extremists just like you do, but I would prefer to use valid and relevant proofs and arguments. "Europealised world" does not sound precise for this matter.

    Your posts are reposted by decent scholars after all.

  4. Ah, sorry: I misread your comment. Opportunism, of course.

    Populism can be left-wing, liberal, etc., but in the Europeanised world it is often associated with the radical right. See -

    Anyway, Tymoshenko's links to the radical right are evident. She has been trying to attract nationalist voters all these years - and she will surely have to fulfill certain agenda when she has an opportunity. It does not matter if she is not nationalist in her heart, it is just a matter of political bargaining. Tymoshenko must distance herself from Ukrainian ultranationalism and adopt genuine democratic strategies. Any objections to this point?


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