The violence on the streets of Ukraine is far more than an expression of popular anger against a government. Instead, it is merely the latest example of the rise of the most insidious form of fascism that Europe has seen since the fall of the Third Reich.
Recent months have seen regular protests by the Ukrainian political opposition and its supporters – protests ostensibly in response to Ukrainian President Yanukovich’s refusal to sign a trade agreement with the European Union that was seen by many political observers as the first step towards European integration. The protests remained largely peaceful until January 17th when protesters armed with clubs, helmets, and improvised bombs unleashed brutal violence on the police, storming government buildings, beating anyone suspected of pro-government sympathies, and generally wreaking havoc on the streets of Kiev. But who are these violent extremists and what is their ideology?
The political formation is known as “Pravy Sektor” (Right Sector), which is essentially an umbrella organization for a number of ultra-nationalist (read fascist) right wing groups including supporters of the “Svoboda” (Freedom) Party, “Patriots of Ukraine”, “Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense” (UNA-UNSO), and “Trizub”. All of these organizations share a common ideology that is vehemently anti-Russian, anti-immigrant, and anti-Jewish among other things. In addition they share a common reverence for the so called “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists” led by Stepan Bandera, the infamous Nazi collaborators who actively fought against the Soviet Union and engaged in some of the worst atrocities committed by any side in World War II.
The West is hypocritically and underhandedly taking over the Ukraine on the cheap using “Orange Revolution/ Operation Gladio” dirty tricks, massive anti-Russian propaganda, and the organized assistance of rightwing thugs and underground agents provocateurs. Plus probably thousands of clueless people dazzled by the “Eldorado” represented by the more affluent EU zone.—Eds
While Ukrainian political forces, opposition and government, continue to negotiate, a very different battle is being waged in the streets. Using intimidation and brute force more typical of Hitler’s “Brownshirts” or Mussolini’s “Blackshirts” than a contemporary political movement, these groups have managed to turn a conflict over economic policy and the political allegiances of the country into an existential struggle for the very survival of the nation that these so called “nationalists” claim to love so dearly. The images of Kiev burning, Lviv streets filled with thugs, and other chilling examples of the chaos in the country, illustrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the political negotiation with the Maidan (Kiev’s central square and center of the protests) opposition is now no longer the central issue. Rather, it is the question of Ukrainian fascism and whether it is to be supported or rejected.
For its part, the United States has strongly come down on the side of the opposition, regardless of its political character. In early December, members of the US ruling establishment such as John McCain and Victoria Nuland were seen at Maidan lending their support to the protesters. However, as the character of the opposition has become apparent in recent days, the US and Western ruling class and its media machine have done little to condemn the fascist upsurge. Instead, their representatives have met with representatives of Right Sector and deemed them to be “no threat.” In other words, the US and its allies have given their tacit approval for the continuation and proliferation of the violence in the name of their ultimate goal: regime change.
In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists. Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States. The mujahideen of Afghanistan, which later transmogrified into Al Qaeda, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia. And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel. There is a disturbing pattern here that has never been lost on keen political observers: the United States always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.
The situation in Ukraine is deeply troubling because it represents a political conflagration that could very easily tear the country apart less than 25 years after it gained independence from the Soviet Union. However, there is another equally disturbing aspect to the rise of fascism in that country – it is not alone.
The Fascist Menace Across the Continent
Ukraine and the rise of right wing extremism there cannot be seen, let alone understood, in isolation. Rather, it must be examined as part of a growing trend throughout Europe (and indeed the world) – a trend which threatens the very foundations of democracy.
In Greece, savage austerity imposed by the troika (IMF, ECB, and European Commission) has crippled the country’s economy, leading to a depression as bad, if not worse, than the Great Depression in the United States. It is against this backdrop of economic collapse that the Golden Dawn party has grown to become the third most popular political party in the country. Espousing an ideology of hate, the Golden Dawn – in effect a Nazi party that promotes anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant, anti-women chauvinism – is a political force that the government in Athens has understood to be a serious threat to the very fabric of society. It is this threat which led the government to arrest the party’s leadership after a Golden Dawn Nazi fatally stabbed an anti-fascist rapper. Athens has launched an investigation into the party, though the results of this investigation and trial remain somewhat unclear.
What makes Golden Dawn such an insidious threat is the fact that, despite their central ideology of Nazism, their anti-EU, anti-austerity rhetoric appeals to many in the economically devastated Greece. As with many fascist movements in the 20th Century, Golden Dawn scapegoats immigrants, Muslim and African primarily, for many of the problems facing Greeks. In dire economic circumstances, such irrational hate becomes appealing; an answer to the question of how to solve society’s problems. Indeed, despite Golden Dawn’s leaders being jailed, other party members are still in parliament, still running for major offices including mayor of Athens. Though an electoral victory is unlikely, another strong showing at the polls will make the eradication of fascism in Greece that much harder.
Were this phenomenon confined to Greece and Ukraine, it would not constitute a continental trend. Sadly however, we see the rise of similar, albeit slightly less overtly fascist, political parties all over Europe. In Spain, the ruling pro-austerity People’s Party has moved to establish draconian laws restricting protest and free speech, and empowering and sanctioning repressive police tactics. In France, the National Front Party of Marine Le Pen, which vehemently scapegoats Muslim and African immigrants, won nearly twenty percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections. Similarly, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands – which promotes anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies – has grown to be the third largest in parliament. Throughout Scandinavia, ultra nationalist parties which once toiled in complete irrelevance and obscurity are now significant players in elections. These trends are worrying to say the least.
It should be noted too that, beyond Europe, there are a number of quasi-fascist political formations which are, in one way or another, supported by the United States. The right wing coups that overthrew the governments of Paraguay and Honduras were tacitly and/or overtly supported by Washington in their seemingly endless quest to suppress the Left in Latin America. Of course, one should also remember that the protest movement in Russia was spearheaded by Alexei Navalny and his nationalist followers who espouse a virulently anti-Muslim, racist ideology that views immigrants from the Russian Caucasus and former Soviet republics as beneath “European Russians”. These and other examples begin to paint a very ugly portrait of a US foreign policy that attempts to use economic hardship and political upheaval to extend US hegemony around the world.
In Ukraine, the “Right Sector” has taken the fight from the negotiating table to the streets in an attempt to fulfill the dream of Stepan Bandera – a Ukraine free of Russia, Jews, and all other “undesirables” as they see it. Buoyed by the continued support from the US and Europe, these fanatics represent a more serious threat to democracy than Yanukovich and the pro-Russian government ever could. If Europe and the United States don’t recognize this threat in its infancy, by the time they finally do, it might just be too late.
Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.com. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Media Scoundrels Target Ukraine
by Stephen Lendman
They do it in editorials. It’s in commentaries. It’s in feature op-eds. More on this below. Previous articles discussed Ukraine. It’s under attack. Western dark forces want regime change. At stake is its national sovereignty. What’s ongoing involves weakening and isolating Russia.
Western-sponsored violence continues. It erupted in November. Police showed remarkable restraint. They still do. Western officials wrongfully blame President Viktor Yanukovych government for street thug violence. So do US media scoundrels.
On January 29, Russia’s Federation Council (its upper parliamentary house) passed a resolution. It condemned Western interference in internal Ukrainian affairs. It “expressed indignation at a number of Western politicians unceremoniously interfering…and consciously provoking destabilization in the country.”
It blamed opposition groups for ongoing violence. It called them part of a “well-organized campaign to discredit and overthrow the legitimate government. Pogroms and fire-raising in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities, the storming of an administrative building, aggressive actions against law enforcement officers that have led to deaths and a significant number of injured are occurring with the approval of those who have brought people to the streets,” it said.
It expressed “confidence that the brotherly Ukrainian people and their leadership will find a way to restore peace in the country.” It’s nowhere in sight. On January 28, Ukraine’s parliament repealed its days earlier enacted anti-protest law. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned. Yanukovych accepted his resignation. He signed a decree. It dismissed his other cabinet officials. He promised other concessions. He appointed a committee to propose constitutional revisions. It didn’t help. Protests continue. Violence accompanies them. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned “fascistic youths.”
He warned against external interference. Russia “stands for a political settlement within the framework of Ukrainian law,” he said. Street thug “roughnecks” prevent it. They control areas around Kiev’s Independence Square. Barricades protect them. They occupy government buildings. They do so in all western regions of Ukraine except one. On January 28, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a press conference. He did so following a Brussels-based EU-Russia summit.
“Russia will never interfere in” internal Ukrainian affairs, he stressed. “I can only imagine how our European partners would have reacted if amid a crisis, say, in Greece or in Cyprus, our foreign minister had appeared at an anti-European rally and started making calls. We believe this is not very good in general, and, taking into consideration certain specifics of relations between Russia and Ukraine, this is simply unacceptable and impossible for us.”
Russia will fully honor its bilateral Ukrainian agreements, Putin added. He mentioned what hasn’t been explained elsewhere. He cited an unnamed religious leader. He’s a radical extremist. He called on Ukrainians to rally in Kiev. He preached insurrection. He urged Yanukovych’s ouster. He wants his legitimate government replaced. He used racial epithets. He said Russians, Jews and Blacks should be excluded from ruling Ukraine. His agenda has no place in civil society, said Putin. It shows what peaceful Ukrainians are up against.
Washington’s dirty hands are manipulating things. EU officials share blame. Hardball viciousness reflects ongoing policy. It’s longstanding Western practice. It’s ruthlessly exploitive. It operates globally. It harms ordinary people horrifically. Ukrainians supporting Yanukovych’s government have cause for concern. US media scoundrels aren’t neutral. They blame Yanukovych for street thug violence. New York Times editors pointed fingers the wrong way (as usual!).
They urged Washington to “make abundantly clear to Mr. Yanukovich and his lieutenants that they will pay a price if they try to use the talks simply to gain time, or if they order a bloody crackdown.”
Revoking visas for Ukrainian officials “was a good start,” they said. They urged additional measures. They wrongfully accused Yanukovych of “undermin(ing) his legitimacy.” He did so, they said, by rejecting an EU deal. They claimed it “could have opened the way to a brighter economic future.”
The lied saying so. Western deals are one-way. They’re all take and no give. They’re exploitive. They ignore popular interests. Ukraine dodged a bullet by rejecting what no responsible government would accept. Not according to Times editors. On January 28, they gave four former US Ukrainian ambassadors feature op-ed space. They gave none to Yanukovych supporters. John Herbst heads Washington’s National Defense University’s Center for Complex Operations. William Green Miller is a Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars senior policy scholar. Steven Pifer heads the Brookings Institution Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative. William Taylor, Jr. is United States Institute of Peace Middle East and Africa vice president.
All four groups are Western establishment (and in a larger sense, propaganda) organizations. Their views are slanted. They’re one-sided. They lack credibility. So do former US ambassadors. Rare exceptions prove the rule. They’re paid to lie. They support policies demanding rejection.
They headlined “What the West Must Do for Ukraine.” What’s responsible was excluded from their commentary. Imperial priorities were featured. International law was ignored. Things are “on the verge of spinning out of control,” they said. They pointed fingers the wrong way. They blamed “authoritarian (Yanukovych) policies.” They lied saying so. They haven’t abandoned their old ways.
“If the United States and European Union wish to encourage a peaceful resolution, they must use their leverage now,” they said. Peaceful Ukrainians deplore outside interference. They want dirty hands kept off their country. Former ambassadors wrongfully accused Yanukovych of “employ(ing) force.” He’s been remarkably restrained. Western governments attack peaceful protesters violently. They do it consistently. They use brute force. Media scoundrels ignore what demands condemnation. Yaukovych concessions are “too little, too late,” said the ambassadors. He’s gone way out of his way to be conciliatory.
Opposition thugs respond with more violence. They occupy government buildings. If something similar happened in America or EU countries, police and other security forces would intervene forcefully. They’d do it violently. In some cases perhaps with guns blazing. Injuries would follow. Maybe deaths. Mass arrests for sure. Media scoundrels would applaud supportively. So would former ambassadors. They want “coordinate(d) Western action.” Doing so ignores fundamental international law.
Nations are prohibited from interfering in the internal affairs of others. Self-defense is the only exception. Not according to former Ukrainian ambassadors. “United States and European Union officials should make clear to Mr. Yanukovych that he must refrain from the use of force and must negotiate seriously to find a resolution to the crisis. That means going beyond his latest proposals. He must offer shared control over state security organs with the opposition.” Imagine if former Russian officials demanded Washington share power with anti-government opposition independent parties.
Imagine public rage. Imagine condemnation. Imagine the harsh response. Imagine media scoundrel editorials and commentaries denouncing unacceptable meddling. Do what we say, not do, is official US policy. Former ambassadors don’t forget. “American and European officials should directly engage Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle and underscore that they need to act now to promote a settlement or face Western visa and financial sanctions,” they said.
“American and European officials…should leave Mr. Yanukovych a way out. He could still order the police to move against demonstrators.” It would “hasten his departure from office.” Responsible governments confront lawless insurrections. They’re not tolerated. They shouldn’t be. The alternative is anarchy. The worst of Ukrainian opposition elements aren’t “demonstrators.”
They’re Western manipulated provocateurs. They’re street thugs. They’re ultranationalists. They’re fascists. They’re lawless. Former ambassadors ignored what demands highlighting. They urged greater Western involvement. “Brussels needs to maintain a high-level team in Kiev for the duration of the crisis,” they said. Imagine if Russian officials said Moscow must do something similar in Washington to assure pro-Kremlin policy.
Former ambassadors want US and EU officials “visibly monitor(ing)” Kiev streets. Who gives them the right to dictate Ukraine policy? Former ambassadors want them sending Moscow a “coordinated message.” They want Putin “caution(ed).” He “should understand that rough stuff with Ukraine would cast a shadow over” February’s Sochi Winter Olympics.
They endorse hardball Western meddling. They call it the right thing to do. It bears full responsibility for inciting violence. At stake is Ukrainian sovereign independence. Former ambassadors want pro-Western governance replacing it. They want ordinary Ukrainians denied say over their own futures. They want them ruthlessly exploited. They want Ukraine’s resources stolen. They want another Western colony. They want what the vast majority of Ukrainians reject.
Why Times editors gave them feature op-ed space, they’ll have to explain. It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last. It’s longstanding Times policy. So is supporting wrong over right.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.