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Business as Usual in Ukraine: Revisionist History Manifested in Government Entitlements

Jaroslav Stetsko's Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall (Nachtigall Battalion) in action in Lvov in 1941. The cadre was part of the UPA. Some "heroes!"


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COMMENT: Ukrainian president Poroshenko is leaning toward giving government entitlements to veterans of the UPA–the Nazi collaborators comprising the military wing of the OUN/B.

The UPA overlapped the Waffen SS and Gestapo and was deeply involved with ethnic cleansing liquidations of Jewish and Polish citizens of Ukraine.

After V-E Day, they comprised the core of the “fascist freedom fighter” program in Ukraine, supported by the OPC/CIA. (For more about this, see AFA #1, FTR #465, 777.)

As discussed in FTR #800, Poroshenko has basically reconstituted the old Yuschenko team, including Jaroslav Stetsko’s personal secretary, Roman Svarych. Yuschenko, in turn, manifested an OUN/B revisionist agenda, as discussed in FTR #781. Svarych was his Minister of Justice, as he was during both Tymoshenko governments.

(We have cov­ered the ascen­sion of the OUN/B heirs in the Ukraine in a num­ber of programs: FTR #‘s 777778779780781782, 783784794800803804,808, 811.)

“OUN-UPA Veterans Could Be Given Combatant Status—Poroshenko”; Interfax-Ukraine; 9/25/2014.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said it is worth considering assigning the status of combatant to veterans of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists – Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA).

“This is a very important issue and one that was raised in a very timely manner. Previously, this issue split the country and was not on the agenda… Now is the right time,” he told a press conference in Kyiv on Thursday.

The president also added that he sees OUN-UPA fighters as examples of heroism.


2 comments for “Business as Usual in Ukraine: Revisionist History Manifested in Government Entitlements”

  1. Yasha Levine has an interesting new article about the his observations on the Ukrainian front lines that makes a point that could be increasingly relevant should the far rightists in the “volunteer battalions” decide to make push for a Maidan 2.O or “campaign in Kiev” as Dmytro Yarosh put it (and reiterated recently): While the many Ukrainians view the “volunteer battalions” as super patriots, much of the regular Ukrainian military appears to see them more as battlefield liabilities that keep rushing into situations that require an eventual rescue:

    Pando Daily
    Refugees, neo-Nazis, and super patriots: Heading into the Ukrainian war zone

    By Yasha Levine
    On September 25, 2014

    CHUGUYEV, UKRAINE — It’s just before noon on August 29 when we pull into a dilapidated military depot filled with Ukrainian armor, sitting just south of Kharkov and a couple of hours north of the rebel breakaway People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk.

    I can count nine green Soviet-era APCs — the kind with six wheels, small turrets and sharp angular noses — parked between two rows of crumbling single-story garages. Two mechanics are tinkering with one of them, swearing loudly and trying to figure out how to modify a machine gun mount with a quick release latch.

    The mood here can best be described as sullen. There is a group of soldiers milling around a hundred feet away. Some are squatting in silence, others smoking and chatting. Two soldiers are complaining about poor cell reception in the war zone. “It doesn’t matter if it’s KievStar or MTS, I can’t catch a signal.”

    I’m here tagging along with a private/volunteer resupply group as it makes its weekly run from Kharkov to Ukrainian army bases in the war zone. The trip is organized by a non-profit called Peace and Order that’s backed by a group of local pro-EU minigarchs, who have taken it upon themselves to provide Ukraine’s bankrupt and moth-eaten armed forces with basic equipment and provisions.

    * * *

    I joined the Peace and Order volunteer supply trip at the end of August, just as Ukraine’s armed forces were completely collapsing from a fierce Russia-backed separatist counteroffensive. Back then, Ukraine was still several weeks away from President Poroshenko being forced into a humiliating ceasefire agreement that granted the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk Republics special autonomous status. And the foreign press was still full of rah-rah stories about the spunk and bravery of Ukraine’s volunteer battalions in their fight against Russia’s imperial aggression. But as I made my way from Kharkov in north-eastern Ukraine down to the Donetsk region not far from the fighting, I got a close look at the tense relationship between volunteer battalions and regular army forces, and the extremely fragile and fractured state of the Ukraine’s fighting force.

    What I saw there did not speak well for Ukraine’s future military operations…

    * * *

    A few weeks before I got to Kharkov, it looked like Ukraine’s armed forces were blazing and shelling their way to imminent victory against Russia-backed rebels. The country’s pols were strutting around, talking tough and making stern warnings to Vladimir Putin. But then everything changed. The rebels — fortified with volunteers and weapons pouring in from Russia — scored a series of surprise victories. In a matter of weeks they had rolled back Ukraine’s hard-fought advances, and sent a steady stream of mangled Ukrainian fighters to Kharkov’s hospitals and morgues.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, the weather had suddenly turned shitty over much of eastern Ukraine. The lack of basic things — socks, underwear, proper rain gear, and sleeping bags– wasn’t a huge deal during the summer, but soldiers were unable to cope with the freezing rain and mud.

    Since the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovich in early 2014, Ukraine has been bankrupt and insolvent. The country’s new leaders took a hardline military approach to the separatist activity in east Ukraine, but found they didn’t have the cash. The military could barely afford to keep its tanks and APCs fueled, let alone fund a protracted war against rebels and local insurgents backed by Russia. So Ukraine started brutally gutting the budget in search of funds, including getting rid of aid to single moms and people with disabilities. Starving the needy freed up about $600 million, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

    So plutocrats — who had spent decades plundering Ukraine’s wealth — suddenly got patriotic and stepped into the void.

    Plutocrats like Igor Kolomoisky, Ukraine’s third-richest oligarch. He’s worth billions, directs his Ukrainian business empire from Switzerland, and has a shark tank set up in his office like a crude bond villain. In the early days of the conflict, Kolomoisky paid for fuel, tires, and car batteries to make sure that the Ukrainian army could deploy its tanks and helis. He then started financing his own private fighting force, dishing out $10 million a month on the Dnipro Battalion, a 2000-strong private paramilitary unit lovingly known as “Kolomoisky’s Army.”

    Kolomoisky was not alone. Major and minor oligarchs all across the country joined in and began organizing efforts to equip and bankroll the military. Ukraine’s powerful diaspora pitched in with funds and international shipping from Canada and the United States. Local patriotic volunteers, many of whom had earlier been involved in organizing supplies for protesters camping out on Maidan in Kiev, got involved too and got jobs with various private supply groups across the country.

    In Kiev, Peace and Order was probably the biggest and best known volunteer supply group. It was backed by a group of local businessmen and headed by an agro multimillionaire named Vsevolod Kozhemyako. A month earlier, Kozhemyako bragged that Peace and Order had equipped entire battalions operating in the Kharkov area: “[We provided] literally everything — starting with uniforms and then bulletproof vests, knee and elbow pads, medical kits, GPS units, communication equipment, 1-km gun sights, night vision, binoculars…” The man even went down to the front himself, and posed for patriotic selfies of himself in camo hanging out with Ukraine’s freedom fighters.

    We finally get to the National Guard forward operating base, located off of Karl Marx Street in the center of town. It’s housed in a large courtyard sandwiched between a bunch of residential buildings and lots of trees. Inside the gate are a bunch of APCs, military trucks, and other light infantry armor. There are tents, an outside mess area, and a row of outdoor toilets — rickety wooden shacks placed atop holes in the ground. A rancid smell wafts in from latrines as the truck backs up into a parking space.

    A commander and a group of soldiers ambles up to help with the unloading and to see what the truck brought. “Any insulated jackets?” one of them asks, seeing a couple of bundles of camouflage uniforms in the back of the truck.

    “No. We don’t. But we’ll have to start buying up some winter clothes,” says Oleg.

    A couple of the soldiers walk away, bummed out.

    While the other soldiers help Gena and Oleg unload the truck, I talk to one of the commanders who’s standing off to the side and observing the process.

    He’s a short and squat man with dark features and jet black hair, and looks almost Mediterranean. I ask him about the volunteer battalions that are operating under the newly formed Ukrainian National Guard. He seems annoyed by my question, but politely explains that volunteer battalions are only a small part of the newly created Ukrainian National Guard.

    “There are some Maidan volunteers, but the National Guard is mostly a reorganization of Internal Troops. Here most of us are spetznaz,” he says, referring to the elite unit of the paramilitary national police force that Ukraine inherited from the Soviet Union.

    After the overthrow of President Yankukovich, many of the hardcore Ukrainian nationalists who served on the frontlines of the Maidan protests in Kiev organized themselves as volunteer battalions and joined the war effort. Some of these guys were straight up neo-Nazis, tracing their political ideology back to Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian supremacist leader who collaborated with the Nazis, fought to establish an ethnically pure Ukraine, and whose followers were responsible for liquidating Jews and Poles.

    Despite the dangerous ideology of many of these groups, plenty of Ukrainians and foreigners idealize them as the only the country’s only truly brave and selfless patriots, the only ones who dropped everything to defend their country from what they saw as a direct Russian invasion.

    But the commander has nothing good to say about them.

    The day before, a National Guard unit had come under fire by pro-Russian rebels north of Donetsk and got pinned down and surrounded. A Maidan volunteer National Guard unit was stationed at a checkpoint not far away, but they were ordered to stay put and not intervene. But the unit disobeyed, rushed in to save their comrades, and instead got decimated by rebel fire. They had to be rescued as well.

    The commander shakes his head. “Hotheads! You don’t know how to fight so sit at your block post!”

    My talk with the commander provides a bit of insight into the ongoing conflict between Ukraine’s various volunteer brigades and the regular army. Volunteer troops have been increasingly accusing regular military command of treating them as cannon fodder: Deploying them on the frontline where it’s most dangerous and then abandoning them to die. The accusations started increasing as the Ukrainian side kept losing. Two days earlier, the leader of Donbas Battalion Semen Semenchenko (who is now lobbying the USG for support in Washington D.C.) accused Ukrainian generals of betraying their country, and called on supporters to protest the inept and corrupt military command in Kiev.

    But the regular military here sees these guys a bit differently. They view them as a liability: Impulsive, poorly trained, and making life much harder for regular troops who have to bail them out all the time.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 25, 2014, 7:54 pm
  2. “Public denunciation of the role of OUN-UPA in restoring the independence of Ukraine is illegal,” the law says:

    Rada recognizes OUN and UPA members as fighters for independence of Ukraine
    Apr. 9, Verkhovna Rada recognized OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) as organizations that fought for the independence of Ukraine in the XX century, Ukrayinska Pravda reports.

    “The state acknowledges that the fighters for Ukraine’s independence played an important role in reinstating the country’s statehood declared on Aug. 24, 1991,” the law runs.

    In compliance with the law, the government will provide social guarantees and bestow honors on OUN-UPA fighters.

    “Public denunciation of the role of OUN-UPA in restoring the independence of Ukraine is illegal,” the law says.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 9, 2015, 2:12 pm

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