Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

News & Supplemental  

Nazi Militias Assume Municipal Security Duties in Ukraine

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained HERE. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by the fall of of 2017. WFMU-FM is podcasting For The Record–You can subscribe to the podcast HERE.

You can subscribe to e-mail alerts from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can subscribe to RSS feed from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can subscribe to the comments made on programs and posts–an excellent source of information in, and of, itself HERE

Ukrainian Nazis honor David Lane’s passing. Lane was a member of The Order and minted the 14 words.

COMMENT: The Kiev city government recently signed an agreement giving C14 – the militia literally named after the white supremacist ’14 words’ slogan – the right to establish a “municipal guard” to patrol the streets there. ” . . . . But connections between law enforcement agencies and extremists give Ukraine’s Western allies ample reason for concern. C14 and Kiev’s city government recently signed an agreement allowing C14 to establish a “municipal guard” to patrol the streets; three such militia-run guard forces are already registered in Kiev, and at least 21 operate in other cities. . . .”

They’re also cracking down on political activists, including LGBT and anti-war proponents.

As the article also notes, while the far-right may not be winning at the ballot box, they have powerful political protection, because of the close relationship between Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and figures like Azov leader Andriy Biletsky and Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov veteran who is now a high-ranking police official.

Avakov’s Peoples’ Party is the main partner in the parliamentary coalition led by Poroshenko’s Bloc. Should Petro Poroshenko decided to challenge Avakov and, as a result, the growing role of these neo-Nazi militias, his governing coalition might collapse. And that’s all part of why Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem isn’t just a problem of popular support for the neo-Nazi militias. 

“Commentary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem” by Josh Cohen; Reuters; 03/19/2018

As Ukraine’s struggle against Russia and its proxies continues, Kiev must also contend with a growing problem behind the front lines: far-right vigilantes who are willing to use intimidation and even violence to advance their agendas, and who often do so with the tacit approval of law enforcement agencies.

A January 28 demonstration, in Kiev, by 600 members of the so-called “National Militia,” a newly-formed ultranationalist group that vows “to use force to establish order,” illustrates this threat. While the group’s Kiev launch was peaceful, National Militia members in balaclavas stormed a city council meeting in the central Ukrainian town of Cherkasy the following day, skirmishing with deputies and forcing them to pass a new budget.

Many of the National Militia’s members come from the Azov movement, one of the 30-odd privately-funded “volunteer battalions” that, in the early days of the war, helped the regular army to defend Ukrainian territory against Russia’s separatist proxies. Although Azov usesNazi-era symbolism and recruitsneo-Nazis intoits ranks, a recent article in Foreign Affairs downplayed any risks the group might pose, pointing out that, like other volunteer militias, Azov has been “reined in” through its integration into Ukraine’s armed forces. While it’s true that private militias no longer rule the battlefront, it’s the home front that Kiev needs to worry about now.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea four years ago first exposed the decrepit condition of Ukraine’s armed forces, right-wing militias such as Azov and Right Sector stepped into the breach, fendingoff the Russian-backed separatists while Ukraine’s regular military regrouped. Though, as a result, many Ukrainians continue to regard the militias with gratitude and admiration, the more extreme among these groups promote an intolerant and illiberal ideology that will endanger Ukraine in the long term. Since the Crimean crisis, the militias have been formally integrated into Ukraine’s armed forces, but some have resisted full integration: Azov, for example, runs its own children’s training camp, and the careers section instructs recruits who wish to transfer to Azov from a regular military unit.

According to Freedom House’s Ukraine project director Matthew Schaaf, “numerous organized radical right-wing groups exist in Ukraine, and while the volunteer battalions may have been officially integrated into state structures, some of them have since spun off political and non-profit structures to implement their vision.”Schaaf noted that “an increase in patriotic discourse supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia has coincided with an apparent increase in both public hate speech, sometimes by public officials and magnified by the media, as well as violence towards vulnerable groups such as the LGBT community,” an observation that is supported by a recent Council of Europe study.

In recent months, Ukraine has experienced a wave of unchecked vigilantism. Institute Respublica, a local pro-democracy NGO, reported that activists are frequently harassed by vigilantes when holding legal meetings or rallies related to politically-controversial positions, such as the promotion of LGBT rights or opposition to the war. Azov and other militias have attacked anti-fascist demonstrations, city council meetings, media outletsart exhibitionsforeign students and Roma. Progressive activists describe a new climate of fear that they say has been intensifying ever since last year’s near-fatal stabbing of anti-war activist Stas Serhiyenko, which is believed to have been perpetrated by an extremist group named C14 (the name refers to a 14-word slogan popular among white supremacists). Brutal attacks this month on International Women’s Day marches in several Ukrainian cities prompted an unusually forceful statement from Amnesty International, which warned that “the Ukrainian state is rapidly losing its monopoly on violence.”

Ukraine is not the only country that must contend with a resurgent far right. But Kiev’s recent efforts to incorporate independent armed groups into its regular armed forces, as well as a continuing national sense of indebtedness to the militias for their defense of the homeland, make addressing the ultranationalist threat considerably more complicated than it is elsewhere. According to Schaaf and the Institute Respublica, Ukrainian extremists are rarely punished for acts of violence. In some cases — such as C14’s January attack on a remembrance gatheringfor two murdered journalists — police actually detain peaceful demonstrators instead.

To be clear, the Kremlin’s claims that Ukraine is a hornets’ nest of fascists are false: far-right parties performed poorly in Ukraine’s last parliamentary elections, and Ukrainians reactedwith alarm to the National Militia’s demonstration in Kiev. But connections between law enforcement agencies and extremists give Ukraine’s Western allies ample reason for concern. C14 and Kiev’s city government recently signed an agreement allowing C14 to establish a “municipal guard” to patrol the streets; three such militia-run guard forces are already registered in Kiev, and at least 21 operate in other cities.

In an ideal world, President Petro Poroshenko would purge the police and the interior ministry of far-right sympathizers, including Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who has close ties to Azov leader Andriy Biletsky, as well as Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov veteranwho is now a high-ranking police official. But Poroshenko would risk major repercussions if he did so; Avakov is his chief political rival, and the ministry he runs controls the police, the National Guard and several former militias.

As one Ukrainian analyst notedin December, control of these forces make Avakov extremely powerful and Poroshenko’s presidency might not be strong enough to withstand the kind of direct confrontation with Avakov that an attempt to oust him or to strike at his power base could well produce. Poroshenko has endured frequent verbal threats, including calls for revolution, from ultranationalist groups, so he may believe that he needs Avakov to keep them in check.

Avakov’s Peoples’ Party status as the main partner in Ukraine’s parliamentary coalition increases Avakov’s leverage over Poroshenko’s Bloc. An attempt to fire Avakov could imperil Poroshenko’s slim legislative majority, and lead to early parliamentary elections. Given Poroshenko’s current unpopularity, this is a scenario he will likely try to avoid.

Despite his weak position, Poroshenko still has some options for reducing the threat from the far right. Though Avakov controls the Ukraine’s police and National Guard, Poroshenko still commands Ukraine’s security and intelligence services, the SBU, and could instruct the agency to cut its ties with C14 and other extremist groups. Poroshenko should also express public support for marginalized groups like the Roma and LGBT communities, and affirm his commitment to protecting their rights.

Western diplomats and human rights organizations must urge Ukraine’s government to uphold the rule of law and to stop allowing the far right to act with impunity. International donors can help by funding more initiatives like the United States Agency for International Development’s projects supporting training for Ukrainian lawyers and human rights defenders, and improving equitable access to the judicial system for marginalized communities. . . .

 

Discussion

One comment for “Nazi Militias Assume Municipal Security Duties in Ukraine”

  1. Here’s an update on C14 and the municipal patrol duties it’s been granted in Kiev. It’s exactly the kind of update we should expect: they’re terrorizing the Roma with the full support of local authorities and the media:

    Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

    Ukrainian neo-Nazi C14 vigilantes drive out Roma families, burn their camp

    23.04.2018 | Halya Coynash

    A prominent activist from the far-right C14 organization has boasted on his Facebook page about an operation which resulted in Roma families fleeing their camp on Lysa Hora in Kyiv. Despite the fairly unveiled hints in Serhiy Mazur’s two Facebook posts, as well as clear signs that the Roma fled without taking children’s clothing, etc., the police appear to see no need to take action and merely state that they have received no complaints. It is also alarming how many Ukrainian media (such as TSN, Channel 5) have simply reported this ‘raid’ effectively in Mazur’s words, without considering what threats must have been used to ‘persuade’ around 15 families to leave their makeshift homes in such haste.

    If Mazur is telling the truth, then the measures to remove the Roma families who had reportedly come to Kyiv from Transcarpathia in search of work were the result of collaboration between C14 members of the so-called ‘Municipal Guard’ [«???????????? ?????»] and the Holosiyiv District Administration. As reported, this ‘Municipal Guard’, which is headed by Serhiy Bondar from C14, signed a memorandum of cooperation with both the Holosiyiv District Administration and the Holosiyiv National Police back in December 2017.

    In his report on 19 April and elsewhere, Mazur omits two letters in order to use a term now generally felt to be offensive when referring to Roma.

    He says that the Roma have “occupied Lysa Hora” and that there are more of them this time “and of their rubbish”.

    Together with representatives of the Holosiyiv administration, he says, they “presented an ultimatum to leave the prohibited territory of the park by TOMORROW.

    If they don’t carry out this demand, they will be asked in a different way to go. Within the framework of the law”.

    Mention of the law here seems on a par with semi-avoidance of offensive labels, and lacks any credibility. If the local administration is entitled to issue an ultimatum, it should then approach law enforcement officials if the ultimatum is ignored.

    Any ‘other’ methods hinted at in Mazur’s post are either not the business of C14 activists or are a code term for means of duress which are assuredly not lawful.

    The rest of the post is simply offensive. If, which can be disputed, it falls within the boundaries of free speech, such effective incitement to enmity and prejudice against any ethnic or other group is certainly unacceptable from top representatives of an organization which is working with a public authority.

    On 21 April, Mazur stated in a post that there were no longer any Roma (not the term he uses) on Lysa Hora.

    “Yesterday they did not carry out the demand, and only some left the camp in the park. However after convincing lawful arguments, the others also decided to leave the prohibited territory. “ The C14 activists then “cleaned up almost all the rubbish” and burned the tents.

    If the so-called “convincing arguments” had been lawful, it seems unlikely that the Roma families would have left children’s clothes and food items behind.

    Journalist Yevhen Savateyev told Hromadske Radio that “it looks as through the people who were living in this camp were forced to flee and didn’t even take most-needed items”.

    He says that there were around 15 makeshift shacks, each ‘housing’ one family.

    According to Zola Kondur from the Chirikli Roma Foundation, there has been an issue over this camp for the last four years. She says that the people living there wanted to integrate and to cooperate with the authorities, however other residents of the district demanded that the Roma not be allowed onto minibus public transport and in shops. The pretext giving was that the residents feared being infected with tuberculosis, although Kondur points out that a medical examination did not find any tuberculosis or AIDs among the inhabitants of the camp.

    She accuses the Holosiyiv District Administration of not being willing to involve the social services and does not accept that the camp, positioned deep inside the nature reserve at Lysa Hora and hard to find, was disturbing anybody.

    This was not C14’s first such ‘raid’. Mazur reported on 18 April that the previous day “good people carried out a raid of the Railway Station which had been almost totally occupied by Gy..ies”. There are the usual offensive claims about “the negative demonstrations of behaviour from the Roma” that their “walk” had supposedly curtailed. Mazur also reports that they “checked for documents and tickets. A day or two and there won’t be any of them here”, and asks why such ‘patrols’ are not carried out by the police.

    Mazur ends his post by claiming again that they are not fighting “Gy..ies”, only “the negative demonstrations of behaviour of their representatives”, and invites others to join them. He has promised other such ‘raids’ as those against the Roma on Lysa Gora.

    There are compelling grounds for demanding an investigation by the law enforcement bodies into all of these ‘raids’ by C14 vigilantes. If the methods used to disperse the camp on Lysa Hora was indeed carried out together with the Holosiyiv District Administration, an investigation would seem appropriate, as well as some serious consideration as to whether such ‘cooperation’ can be legitimately continued.

    Questionable ‘partnership’

    C14 calls itself a ‘nationalist’ organization and denies that it is neo-Nazi. Vyacheslav Likhachev, who has been monitoring far-right movements in Ukraine for well over a decade, is unconvinced. Hepoints out that the C14 activists who occupied the Kyiv City Administration building during Euromaidan covered it with neo-Nazi banners and graffiti.

    C14 activists try to present themselves as fighting ‘separatists’, ‘titushki’ or paid thugs (who worked closely with the police under the regime of Viktor Yanukovych), as well as corrupt courts, etc.

    Their rationale for determining who are ‘separatists’, or more generally who to fight, gives considerable grounds for concern.

    On 19 January 2018, C14 activists prevented the traditional remembrance gathering for Sevastopol journalist Anastasia Baburova and Russian lawyer Stanislav Markelov, murdered in Moscow in 2009 by neo-Nazi Russian nationalists. The claim that those honouring the two slain anti-fascists were ‘separatists’ was preposterous, and Volodymyr Chemerys, one of the organizers of the remembrance event, asserts that they were confronted not only by C14 thugs, but by Russian and Belarusian neo-Nazis.

    One of the most disturbing aspects of the events that day was the total failure of the Kyiv police to react adequately to the aggressive behaviour of those opposing the remembrance gathering.

    They instead detained eight people who had come to honour Baburova and Markelov. The police involved later tried to claim that there had been no detention, and that the activists had been ‘invited’ to the police station. There was no suggestion that the ‘invitation’ could have been turned down.

    The detained activists reported later that they had been ‘hunted down’ by the far-right thugs after leaving the police station. A member of the Human Rights Information Centre who spoke with them believes that the thugs could have only discovered which station the activists were being held in from the police themselves.

    C14 has been involved in attacks on activists taking part in the annual Equality March (Kyiv Pride), rights activists, on an art exhibition and even protesters with strictly socio-economic demands. Their members may have been among the 50 young far-right louts who on 26 March 2018, descended on events linked to the Kyiv Docudays Film Festival, demolishing posters promoting tolerance and diversity abd trying to stop a panel discussion on far-right movements.

    There are other reasons for concern over any cooperation by other local authorities or the police with C14. Back in December 2012 under the Viktor Yanukovych regime, Yevhen Karas and his C14 mates organized an attack on rights activists and others protesting against a repressive legislative bill which proposed the same ban on so-called ‘propaganda of homosexuality’ as was passed in neighbouring Russia. It was mainly the protesters who were detained by police.

    C14 has been involved in various acts of violence, and there are indeed reports that they attacked members of another local group on 13 December 2017, with two people from that group ending up hospitalized with gun wounds. It seems likely that the conflict was about establishing their power over a particular area.

    On 26 February 2018, C14 posted an advertisement on their Facebook page which quite openly offered their services as thugs to regular donors. This said that “C14 works for you. Help us keep afloat, and we will help you. For regular donors, we are opening a box for wishes. Which of your enemies would you like to make life difficult for? We’ll try to do that.” The organization has presumably understood that such openness rather undermines their attempts to pitch themselves as principled defenders of Ukraine, and the post is now unavailable. It can, however, be seen here, and was on the sight for several weeks. The invitation to join in C14’s ‘raids’ on Roma people at the station or in places where they are living says nothing about motives required for taking part in raids of highly-questionable legality coated in claims that incite hatred and xenophobia.

    ———-

    “Ukrainian neo-Nazi C14 vigilantes drive out Roma families, burn their camp” by Halya Coynash; Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group; 04/23/2018

    “A prominent activist from the far-right C14 organization has boasted on his Facebook page about an operation which resulted in Roma families fleeing their camp on Lysa Hora in Kyiv. Despite the fairly unveiled hints in Serhiy Mazur’s two Facebook posts, as well as clear signs that the Roma fled without taking children’s clothing, etc., the police appear to see no need to take action and merely state that they have received no complaints. It is also alarming how many Ukrainian media (such as TSN, Channel 5) have simply reported this ‘raid’ effectively in Mazur’s words, without considering what threats must have been used to ‘persuade’ around 15 families to leave their makeshift homes in such haste.

    Open boasting on Facebook about how they drove a camp of Roma out an area in Kiev, the police see no need to take action and the media report as if it’s just a normal policing operation. That’s how far the process of normalizing neo-Nazis has come in Ukraine.

    And C14 really is operating is a quasi-official capacity thanks to the “memorandum of cooperation” C14 signed with the local authorities back in December:


    If Mazur is telling the truth, then the measures to remove the Roma families who had reportedly come to Kyiv from Transcarpathia in search of work were the result of collaboration between C14 members of the so-called ‘Municipal Guard’ [«???????????? ?????»] and the Holosiyiv District Administration. As reported, this ‘Municipal Guard’, which is headed by Serhiy Bondar from C14, signed a memorandum of cooperation with both the Holosiyiv District Administration and the Holosiyiv National Police back in December 2017.

    And note how the description of this “raid” on Serhiy Mazur’s Facebook page refers to “representatives of the Holosiyiv administration” who jointly issued the ‘leave or else’ ultimatum to the Roma with C14:


    In his report on 19 April and elsewhere, Mazur omits two letters in order to use a term now generally felt to be offensive when referring to Roma.

    He says that the Roma have “occupied Lysa Hora” and that there are more of them this time “and of their rubbish”.

    Together with representatives of the Holosiyiv administration, he says, they “presented an ultimatum to leave the prohibited territory of the park by TOMORROW.

    If they don’t carry out this demand, they will be asked in a different way to go. Within the framework of the law”.

    Mention of the law here seems on a par with semi-avoidance of offensive labels, and lacks any credibility. If the local administration is entitled to issue an ultimatum, it should then approach law enforcement officials if the ultimatum is ignored.

    Any ‘other’ methods hinted at in Mazur’s post are either not the business of C14 activists or are a code term for means of duress which are assuredly not lawful.

    And in a subsequent Facebook post, after the Roma left, Mazur recounts how some people didn’t leave right away but decided to “after convincing lawful arguments”. And based on the fact that proceed to burn the tents and many of the families left children’s clothes and food behind it sounds like those “convincing lawful arguments” were the kinds of arguments that left these people fleeing for their lives:


    On 21 April, Mazur stated in a post that there were no longer any Roma (not the term he uses) on Lysa Hora.

    “Yesterday they did not carry out the demand, and only some left the camp in the park. However after convincing lawful arguments, the others also decided to leave the prohibited territory. “ The C14 activists then “cleaned up almost all the rubbish” and burned the tents.

    If the so-called “convincing arguments” had been lawful, it seems unlikely that the Roma families would have left children’s clothes and food items behind.

    Journalist Yevhen Savateyev told Hromadske Radio that “it looks as through the people who were living in this camp were forced to flee and didn’t even take most-needed items”.

    He says that there were around 15 makeshift shacks, each ‘housing’ one family.

    And as we should expect, deep and widely held anti-Roma bias is playing a role in all this, which is a reminder that C14 is choosing to target groups that many in Ukrainian society already hate, making the normalization of C14’s neo-Nazi tactics far more likely to succeed:


    According to Zola Kondur from the Chirikli Roma Foundation, there has been an issue over this camp for the last four years. She says that the people living there wanted to integrate and to cooperate with the authorities, however other residents of the district demanded that the Roma not be allowed onto minibus public transport and in shops. The pretext giving was that the residents feared being infected with tuberculosis, although Kondur points out that a medical examination did not find any tuberculosis or AIDs among the inhabitants of the camp.

    She accuses the Holosiyiv District Administration of not being willing to involve the social services and does not accept that the camp, positioned deep inside the nature reserve at Lysa Hora and hard to find, was disturbing anybody.

    And this was just one of multiple anti-Roma ‘raids’ being carried out in the area. Another such ‘raid’ took place a few days earlier:


    This was not C14’s first such ‘raid’. Mazur reported on 18 April that the previous day “good people carried out a raid of the Railway Station which had been almost totally occupied by Gy..ies”. There are the usual offensive claims about “the negative demonstrations of behaviour from the Roma” that their “walk” had supposedly curtailed. Mazur also reports that they “checked for documents and tickets. A day or two and there won’t be any of them here”, and asks why such ‘patrols’ are not carried out by the police.

    But C14 isn’t limited its focus to the Roma. They’ve also been harassing various activists, including anti-fascist activists:


    On 19 January 2018, C14 activists prevented the traditional remembrance gathering for Sevastopol journalist Anastasia Baburova and Russian lawyer Stanislav Markelov, murdered in Moscow in 2009 by neo-Nazi Russian nationalists. The claim that those honouring the two slain anti-fascists were ‘separatists’ was preposterous, and Volodymyr Chemerys, one of the organizers of the remembrance event, asserts that they were confronted not only by C14 thugs, but by Russian and Belarusian neo-Nazis.

    One of the most disturbing aspects of the events that day was the total failure of the Kyiv police to react adequately to the aggressive behaviour of those opposing the remembrance gathering.

    They instead detained eight people who had come to honour Baburova and Markelov. The police involved later tried to claim that there had been no detention, and that the activists had been ‘invited’ to the police station. There was no suggestion that the ‘invitation’ could have been turned down.

    The detained activists reported later that they had been ‘hunted down’ by the far-right thugs after leaving the police station. A member of the Human Rights Information Centre who spoke with them believes that the thugs could have only discovered which station the activists were being held in from the police themselves.

    C14 has been involved in attacks on activists taking part in the annual Equality March (Kyiv Pride), rights activists, on an art exhibition and even protesters with strictly socio-economic demands. Their members may have been among the 50 young far-right louts who on 26 March 2018, descended on events linked to the Kyiv Docudays Film Festival, demolishing posters promoting tolerance and diversity abd trying to stop a panel discussion on far-right movements.

    There are other reasons for concern over any cooperation by other local authorities or the police with C14. Back in December 2012 under the Viktor Yanukovych regime, Yevhen Karas and his C14 mates organized an attack on rights activists and others protesting against a repressive legislative bill which proposed the same ban on so-called ‘propaganda of homosexuality’ as was passed in neighbouring Russia. It was mainly the protesters who were detained by police.

    C14 has been involved in various acts of violence, and there are indeed reports that they attacked members of another local group on 13 December 2017, with two people from that group ending up hospitalized with gun wounds. It seems likely that the conflict was about establishing their power over a particular area.

    On top of that, C14 actually posted harassment-for-donations advertisement back in February. In exchange for a donation, C14 will try to make like difficult for your enemies:


    On 26 February 2018, C14 posted an advertisement on their Facebook page which quite openly offered their services as thugs to regular donors. This said that “C14 works for you. Help us keep afloat, and we will help you. For regular donors, we are opening a box for wishes. Which of your enemies would you like to make life difficult for? We’ll try to do that.” The organization has presumably understood that such openness rather undermines their attempts to pitch themselves as principled defenders of Ukraine, and the post is now unavailable. It can, however, be seen here, and was on the sight for several weeks. The invitation to join in C14’s ‘raids’ on Roma people at the station or in places where they are living says nothing about motives required for taking part in raids of highly-questionable legality coated in claims that incite hatred and xenophobia.

    And as we should expect, C14 denies being a neo-Nazi organization:


    Questionable ‘partnership’

    C14 calls itself a ‘nationalist’ organization and denies that it is neo-Nazi. Vyacheslav Likhachev, who has been monitoring far-right movements in Ukraine for well over a decade, is unconvinced. Hepoints out that the C14 activists who occupied the Kyiv City Administration building during Euromaidan covered it with neo-Nazi banners and graffiti.

    Yes, a group that literally named itself after the “14 Words” white supremacy slogan denies being neo-Nazi. Of course. Because as we’ve so often seen, the far right doesn’t just rely on physically assaulting people. There’s an assault on your sensibilties too. It’s a full-spectrum assault, and as we can see, that full-spectrum assault is rapidly becoming Ukraine’s New Normal.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 24, 2018, 2:02 pm

Post a comment