[Marxism] Fascism Comes to Ukraine -- From Russia

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Sat May 31 15:34:10 MDT 2014

On Sat, May 31, 2014 02:57, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Russia_Party

Thanks for including the text of this Wikipedia article, but those that
didn't go to the page itself, should do so. Especially in order to look at
this party's flag and let me know if you detect any similarity to a
well-known historical flag!

But also, that page referenced the following useful article which I hadn't
yet seen on this list (or go to this URL to access the included


Fascism Comes to Ukraine -- From Russia

By Cathy Young - May 21, 2014

Despite multiple debunkings, claims that Ukraine’s pro-Western revolution
brought about by the Maidan protests was really a fascist (if not
neo-Nazi) coup persist, and not just from the Kremlin propaganda machine
and conspiracy-minded fringe websites that seek the evil hand of American
imperialism everywhere. The other day, it turned up in a column in The
Guardian by veteran journalist John Pilger, who depicts the Kiev
leadership as a fascist junta and its supporters as homicidal thugs—and
Vladimir Putin as “the only leader to condemn the rise of fascism in
21st-century Europe.” Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount that the
Putin regime is not fighting fascism but promoting it—not just in Europe,
where it is cultivating ties with far-right movements, but in Ukraine,
where the separatist movement in the east is a nest of Kremlin-sponsored
Russian ultranationalists.

The narrative of the United States colluding with neo-Nazis in Ukraine has
a lot of currency on the left. Late last month, the subject came up
repeatedly during an appearance by Ukrainian Jewish leader Josef Zissels,
a strong Maidan supporter, at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in
New York. During the question-and-answer period, an angry man in the
audience berated Zissels for downplaying the fascist threat: “Neo-Nazis”
from the Svoboda party, he insisted, had captured key national security
posts including the ministry of defense and were certainly never going to
relinquish that power. When Zissels, clearly impatient with the topic,
pointed out that the Svoboda-affiliated defense minister was already gone
from that post, the man—who turned out to be NYU professor of politics and
veteran Marxist Bertell Ollman, armed with an article from the far-left
online magazine Counterpunch—was visibly skeptical.

But, of course, Zissels was right; Ihor Tehnyuk, the first acting minister
of defense in the interim government and a Svoboda politician, had been
dismissed on March 25 and replaced by a nonpartisan career military
officer. Even apart from being dated, the widely cited Counterpunch piece
contains several inaccuracies. It misidentifies unaffiliated Education
Minister Serhiy Kvit as a Svoboda member, describes national security
chief Andriy Parubiy as a “co-founder of Svoboda” without mentioning his
post-2004 move to moderate and even left-of-center parties, and promotes
Dmitro Yarosh, head of the paramilitary group Right Sector, to deputy
national security chief when in fact he sought that position but did not
get it.

Zissels, like most Maidan revolution supporters, believes that Ukrainian
fascism is a Russian propaganda-inflated phantom menace. (He also echoed
the view, common among Ukrainian liberals, that both Svoboda and Right
Sector were created by the pro-Russian Yanukovych regime—both as tools to
control nationalist activism and as bogeymen to scare the liberal
opposition.) Other observers, such as University of Ottawa political
scientist Ivan Katchanovski, argue that militant far-right nationalists
did play a key role in the violent turn of the protests against the
pro-Russian regime of Viktor Yanukovych in February.

Sorting out these conflicting accounts, in a situation as volatile and
chaotic as this year’s events in Ukraine, is a daunting enterprise.  Among
those interested in facts rather than propaganda wars, there is also
considerable debate about the extent to which either Svoboda or Right
Sector can be described as “fascist.” Katchanovski, who takes a fairly
harsh view of the role of right-wing nationalist groups in Ukraine, has
said that Svoboda is currently “radical nationalist” but not “fascist or
neo-Nazi” or overtly anti-Semitic. At his New York appearance, Zissels
stressed that, whatever this or that nationalist leader may personally
think of Jews, anti-Semitism is not considered acceptable rhetoric in
Ukrainian politics right now.

No less important, events since the fall of the Yanukovych regime strongly
suggest that the current influence of far-right groups is negligible.
Svoboda lawmakers were initially able to push through a bill repealing the
2012 law that guaranteed the status of Russian as the country’s second
official language—but it was promptly vetoed by acting President Oleksandr
Turchynov. Right Sector was the target of a government crackdown in late
March: Its most militant fighter, Oleksandr Muzychko, was gunned down
during a police chase, the group’s headquarters was raided in Kiev, and
the parliament voted to disarm all paramilitary units. If anything has
hindered the implementation of this decision, it is, above all, separatist
unrest in the East and the threat of a Russian invasion.

The tragic deaths of more than  40 people (mostly pro-Russia activists) in
a fire in Odessa on May 2 after a clash between pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine
demonstrators has added fuel, as it were, to the “Ukrainian Nazis”
narrative—particularly since it easily lends itself to World War II
parallels of people being burned alive by Nazis.  In his Guardian piece,
Pilger baldly accuses anyone who treats the circumstances of the fire as
“murky” of complicity in the coverup of a massacre. But in fact, the
circumstances are murky—to such an extent that even some “alternative”
media pushing the “neo-Nazi atrocity” angle have suggested that the
incident was a “false flag operation,” with the dead slaughtered inside
the building before the fire and the pro-Maidan “fascists” disguising
themselves as separatists to stage the street fight. Just why Maidan
supporters would engineer this horrific hoax to make their opponents look
sympathetic is not explained.

 Meanwhile, Pilger recycles an already discredited (and removed) Facebook
post by an “Odessa doctor” claiming that the nationalists stopped him
from helping injured people who managed to get out of the building and
chased him off with anti-Semitic threats. (Video footage shown on Russian
TV—with voice-over narration claiming that fire survivors who managed to
get out were beaten and hacked to death outside—actually shows people in
the crowd assisting a woman who climbs down a rope from a window.)

There is little doubt that the Ukrainian nationalist movement, like any
nationalism, has its ugly side—from thuggish soccer fans, implicated in
the violence in Odessa, to more sinister groups that flirt with Nazi
imagery and speak of “Ukraine for Ukrainians.” But the overwhelming
evidence is that these elements are marginal and very far from controlling
Ukraine’s agenda. If there is a “neo-Nazi junta” in power in Kiev, it
would be the first such junta in history to have the active support of the
Jewish community and give key posts to Jews.

Meanwhile, in the east of Ukraine, the separatist movement is giving key
posts in its puppet governments to people like Russian “political
consultant” Aleksandr Borodai, the new “prime minister” of the “Donetsk
People’s Republic.” Even leaving aside the fact that this new servant of
Ukrainian federalism is a Russian citizen rumored to work for Russia’s
state security agency, the FSB, Borodai has a long history of involvement
with Russian ultranationalist circles.

In the 1990s, Borodai worked for the newspaper Zavtra (“Tomorrow”), run by
the eccentric journalist and novelist Aleksandr Prokhanov—a devout
Stalinist and notorious anti-Semite whose ideology bears strong marks of
Russian fascism if not Nazism (including fascination with the idea that
Russia is the true “mystical womb” of Aryan civilization).  This week,
Prokhanov sang Borodai’s praises to Russia’s National News Service,
calling him a true “White Russian nationalist.” And Borodai’s involvement
with Russia’s nationalist lunatic fringe—which, these days, is scarily
close to the mainstream—is not limited to the past.  In December 2011, he
and Prokhanov co-founded the “patriotic” Web TV channel Den-TV (“Day”);
today, Borodai is one of the channel’s three editorial board members,
along with Prokhanov, and one of its regular hosts. Among Den-TV’s other
regulars: Konstantin Dushenov, a writer who has actually served time in a
penal colony for anti-Semitic incitement. Dushenov is the author of a
video series titled “Russia With a Knife in its Back: Jewish Fascism and
the Genocide of the Russian People,” and the publisher of a 2006 open
letter asking for a ban on all Jewish organizations in Russia.

This is just one example of the key role nationalist extremist groups from
Russia have played in separatist militancy in Eastern Ukraine. On May 7,
the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, released the audio of an
intercepted telephone conversation in which a man said to be Aleksandr
Barkashov, the leader of Russian National Unity—a paramilitary group that
can, without exaggeration, be called neo-Nazi—was instructing an organizer
of the Donetsk independence referendum, Dmitro Boitsov, on making up the
required results.

On his page on Vkontakte, the Russian version of Facebook, Barkashov
implied that the audio was fake—but on the grounds that he was actually in
Donetsk and had no need to talk to Boitsov on the phone when they could
chat “over a cup of tea.” (For good measure, he mocked the Ukrainian
security agency as “the Yid-Khokhol SBU”; khokhol is the Russian
pejorative term for Ukrainians.) However, Yuri Vendik of the BBC Russian
Service notes that a May 5 post on Barkashov’s Vkontakte page, since taken
down, recounted a phone call from “our brothers and comrades-in-arms in
Donetsk” that sounds exactly like the SBU intercept.  In any case,
Barkashov’s page fully confirms his extensive involvement in the events in
Donetsk, where he says the RNU is organizing volunteer troops to fight
“the vicious Kiev junta.”

Earlier, Russian neo-fascist guru Aleksandr Dugin (the subject of an
admiring interview published in English in 2012 on the white supremacist
website Countercurrents), was intercepted in a Skype call mentoring
another Ukrainian separatist activist, Yekaterina Gubareva, wife of
then-imprisoned Donetsk separatist leader Pavel Gubarev (formerly active
in Barkashov’s RNU).

Then there’s “the Wolves’ Hundred,” a group of Russian Cossack militiamen
fighting in Ukraine.  As Time’s Simon Schuster has pointed out, there is a
certain irony in the Cossacks parroting the Kremlin line about fighting
Ukrainian Nazis: The group’s founder, Shkuro, was a Nazi collaborator
executed by the Soviets in 1947. Have the Cossacks evolved since then?
Maybe not: In a video statement released this week, one of the group’s
leaders, the colorful “Babay” (Aleksandr Mozhaev), explained that its goal
was to destroy “the Jew-Masons,” who are “fomenting disorder all over the
world” and “causing us, the common Orthodox Christian folk, to suffer.” 
Another Cossack in Slavyansk told The Guardian’s Luke Harding that
Russians and Ukrainians were one people “before Jews like Trotsky divided

While the infamous Donetsk leaflet ordering Jews to register and pay a
special fee to the separatist “government” was almost certainly a hoax,
Russian political scientist Anton Shekhovtsov, who studies right-wing
radicalism, points out that there have been real and numerous
manifestations of anti-Semitism in the anti-Maidan movement in
southeastern Ukraine. Among them: street posters, Internet posts, and even
speeches at rallies attacking the new Kiev government as a Jewish clique
seeking to use Ukrainians to defend the interests of wealthy Jews, or
depicting the Maidan revolution as a “Zionist coup.”  The Euro-Asian
Jewish Congress notes that when pro-Russian separatists seized control of
the television station in Slavyansk on April 17, their introductory
broadcast was a video bearing the logo and Web address of the rabidly
anti-Semitic Popular Liberation Movement and promising that their
broadcasting would be a counterattack against “the Zionist zombie box.”

Of course, Moscow is not directing all these activities, but it takes full
advantage of them and manipulates militant nationalism for its own
purposes. The extent to which the Putin regime’s drive against the Maidan
revolution in Ukraine is enmeshed with extremist nationalist forces in
Russia is revealed by a startling fact: One of the two journalists
currently reporting from Ukraine for Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia’s
highest-circulation newspaper (owned by a corporation with strong
government ties), has a long history of involvement with nationalist
extremism. The journalist, Dmitry Steshin, used to write for Russkiy Obraz
(Russian Image), a magazine of the now-banned movement by the same name.
Steshin was even called as a witness in 2011 when a friend of his, fellow
Russkiy Obraz member Nikita Tikhonov, was tried (and convicted) in the
slaying of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia

Russia, fighting fascism in Ukraine? There’s a claim that gives a new
meaning to chutzpah.

Cathy Young writes a weekly column for RealClearPolitics and is also a
contributing editor at Reason magazine. She blogs at
http://cathyyoung.wordpress.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at
@CathyYoung63. She can be reached by email at CathyYoung63 at gmail.com.

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