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

For The Record  

FTR #860 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 7 (All’s Well That’s Orwell, Part 3)

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 late spring of 2015. The new dri­ve (avail­able for a tax-deductible con­tri­bu­tion of $65.00 or more) con­tains FTR #850.  

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment

Intro­duc­tion: In a recent appear­ance before a Jew­ish audi­ence (while drum­ming up sup­port for the Iran nuclear deal) Pres­i­dent Oba­ma not­ed that Iran was a coun­try that denied the Holo­caust. (Some years ago, then Iran­ian pres­i­dent Achmadeni­jad host­ed a Holo­caust-denial con­fer­ence fea­tur­ing, among oth­ers, David Duke.)

Beyond Oba­ma’s rhetor­i­cal embrace, our “allies” in Ukraine, said to “share our val­ues” are engag­ing in pro­found Holo­caust revi­sion­ism with­out so much as a peep from our State Depart­ment or any oth­er sig­nif­i­cant West­ern nation.

Once again we set forth polit­i­cal devel­op­ments in Ukraine against the sce­nario pre­sent­ed in Ser­pen­t’s Walk.

In that Nazi tract, the SS go under­ground in the after­math of World War II, build up their eco­nom­ic mus­cle, buy into the opin­ion-form­ing media, infil­trate the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary, and–following a series of ter­ror­ist inci­dents in the U.S. which cause the dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law–take over the Unit­ed States.

Cen­tral to this takeover is the use of the Nazi-con­trolled opin­ion-form­ing media to fun­da­men­tal­ly revise his­to­ry in a pro-Hitler fash­ion. Just such a revi­sion is under­way in Ukraine.

(It is impos­si­ble with­in the scope of this post to cov­er our volu­mi­nous cov­er­age of the Ukraine cri­sis. Pre­vi­ous pro­grams on the sub­ject are: FTR #‘s 777778779780781782783784794, 800803804, 808811817818824826829832833837849850, 853, 857Listeners/readers are encour­aged to exam­ine these pro­grams and/or their descrip­tions in detail, in order to flesh out their under­stand­ing.)

The pro­gram details the con­ti­nu­ity between the OUN/B World War II col­lab­o­ra­tor gov­ern­ment allied with Nazi Ger­many, the Yuschenko gov­ern­ment brought to pow­er by the so-called “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion,” and the Poroshenko gov­ern­ment that devel­oped from the Maid­an coup.

With the World War II his­to­ry of Ukraine being fun­da­men­tal­ly re-writ­ten by the Orwellian “Insti­tute for Nation­al Mem­o­ry” and insti­tu­tion­al­ized by a new law that crim­i­nal­izes crit­i­cism of the OUN/B or its mil­i­tary arm the UPA, the polit­i­cal nar­ra­tive of the Third Reich is becom­ing the pre­vail­ing polit­i­cal theme in the West.

Head­ed up by an OUN/B oper­a­tive named Volodomyr Via­tro­vych, the Insti­tute for Nation­al Mem­o­ry drew heav­i­ly on the pri­vate­ly-fund­ed Cen­ter for the Study of the Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment. Financed large­ly by the Ukrain­ian dias­po­ra, the cen­ter has as its explic­it pur­pose the reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the OUN/B.

In addi­tion to the fun­da­men­tal per­ver­sion of Ukraine’s World War II his­to­ry, the Orwellian process at work in Ukraine is revis­ing the his­to­ry of some of Stephan Ban­der­a’s pre­de­ces­sors and ide­o­log­i­cal men­tors.

Both Vik­tor Yuschenko and the cur­rent pres­i­dent–Petro Poroshenko–have aid­ed in the his­tor­i­cal face-lift being giv­en to Symon Pet­lyu­ra (the man’s name has var­i­ous trans­la­tions from the Cyril­lic alpha­bet.) A blood-drenched pogromist in the worst tra­di­tions of East­ern Euro­pean anti-Semi­tism, Pet­lyu­ra’s defend­ers have used his abortive alliance with Vladimir Jabotin­sky to deflect charges of anti-Semi­tism against Pet­lyu­ra. (Jabotin­sky was head of the Betar, the most impor­tant of the fas­cist ele­ments with­in the Zion­ist move­ment.)

The pro­gram con­cludes with dis­cus­sion of the appar­ent cov­er-up by U.S. and oth­er West­ern gov­ern­ments of the shoot-down of MH-17.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • The Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion’s youth wing, look­ing very much like a “Ukrain­ian Hitler Youth.”
  • Review of the evo­lu­tion of the OUN/B milieu from World War II, through the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion and the Yush­cenko and Poroshenko regimes.
  • The role of the Ukrain­ian dias­po­ra in the his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ment of the OUN/B forces now hold­ing sway in Ukraine.
  • Review of Poroshenko’s resus­ci­ta­tion of the old Yuschenko team, includ­ing Roman Svarych, Jaroslav Stet­sko’s per­son­al sec­re­tary.
  • Review of Yuschenko and Poroshenko’s hon­or­ing of the OUN/B exe­cu­tion­ers at the site of the Babi Yar mas­sacre.
  • Review of the Yuschenko’s links to the MAUP uni­ver­si­ty milieu, the anti-Semit­ic pri­vate edu­ca­tion­al insti­tute that employs David Duke as a fac­ul­ty mem­ber.
  • Via­tro­vy­ch’s appoint­ment to head The Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry under Yuschenko and his re-appoint­ment to the same posi­tion under Poroshenko.
  • The grav­i­tas of David Duke in the polit­i­cal milieu embraced by Yuschenko and Poroshenko.

1. A recent law passed in Ukraine makes it ille­gal to crit­i­cize the Third Reich allies OUN/B and its mil­i­tary wing the UPA. That law is fol­low­ing up on the cre­ation of the Insti­tute for Nation­al Mem­o­ry, head­ed by an OUN/B agent named Volodomyr Via­tro­vych.

The his­to­ry of World War II con­tin­ues to be fun­da­men­tal­ly per­vert­ed in Ukraine, with much of West­ern jour­nal­ism and acad­e­mia fol­low­ing suit.

In the sto­ry below, note the con­ti­nu­ity between the Yuschenko and Poroshenko regimes, includ­ing the selec­tion of Via­tro­vych to head The Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry.

Note the role in Via­tro­vy­ch’s efforts played by the Ukrain­ian dias­po­ra.

“How Ukraine’s New Mem­ory Com­mis­sar Is Con­trol­ling the Nation’s Past” by Jared McBride; The Nation; 8/13/2015.

Volodymyr Via­tro­vych was the dri­ving force behind new laws that restrict free speech and reg­u­late how his­tory is writ­ten.

Since the Maid­an upris­ing and the sub­se­quent attacks on Ukraine’s sov­er­eignty and ter­ri­tory by Rus­sia and Russ­ian-backed rebels, there has been intense debate on how to inter­pret not only Ukraine’s dra­matic present, but also its com­plex and dif­fi­cult past. Against the back­ground of mil­i­tary and diplo­matic strug­gles, the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Ukraine’s his­tory is also embat­tled, espe­cially the peri­od of World War II. Russ­ian elites have labeled any­thing and every­thing they do not like about past and present Ukraine as “fas­cist.” Part­ly this is a reflex due to the mem­ory of right-wing Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism dur­ing the first half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury; part­ly this is the result of a fail­ure to find any bet­ter way to express anger at Ukraine’s turn to the West. There has been no short­age of West­ern com­men­ta­tors attack­ing this crude pro­pa­gan­da.

How­ever, among rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Kiev’s new post-rev­o­lu­tion­ary elites, unbi­ased engage­ment with Ukraine’s past has also been a chal­lenge. But while the West is pil­lo­ry­ing Russ­ian dis­tor­tions, it is much less at ease crit­i­ciz­ing Ukrain­ian ones: Few West­ern observers feel sym­pa­thy for Putin’s involve­ment in Ukraine (I myself have none). There are many, how­ever, who seem to wel­come any his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tive ruf­fling Russia’s feath­ers or appear­ing “pro-Ukrain­ian” or “nation­al” (in real­ity, quite often nation­al­ist), as the nation is fac­ing out­side aggres­sion and domes­tic cri­sis. Yet this form of “sup­port” is a disservice—to Ukraine and also to the West’s pub­lic and deci­sion-mak­ers. It is alarm­ing that some West­ern jour­nal­ists, schol­ars, and pol­i­cy-mak­ers are embrac­ing a nation­al­ist ver­sion of Ukrain­ian his­tory that res­onates only with part of Ukrain­ian soci­ety and not at all with seri­ous aca­d­e­mic dis­course in Europe and North Amer­i­ca.

Front and cen­ter in the efforts to pro­duce a nation­al­ist ver­sion of Ukrain­ian his­tory is the for­mer direc­tor of the country’s secret-police archives (SBU) and new (sic) direc­tor of the Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­ory (or UINP) under the cur­rent gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko: Volodymyr Via­tro­vych. Via­tro­vych (born 1977), from the west­ern Ukrain­ian city of Lviv, first stepped onto the nation­al scene when he was put in charge of the archive sec­tion of the new­ly cre­ated Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­ory in 2008 and then head of the SBU archives lat­er that year. In these influ­en­tial posi­tions, he helped in the effort to “exon­er­ate” a key World War II Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist leader of any com­plic­ity in the Holo­caust; pre­sented the nation­al­ist Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army as a demo­c­ra­tic orga­ni­za­tion open to Jew­ish mem­bers; and focused heav­ily on Ukrain­ian vic­tim­iza­tion dur­ing the famine of the 1930s (while, inter­est­ingly, also blam­ing Jews as per­pe­tra­tors).

Via­tro­vych has made a name for him­self as a polit­i­cal activist by instru­men­tal­iz­ing his schol­arly cre­den­tials. Both before and after his secret-ser­vice archive tenure, he was the head of the Cen­ter for the Study of the Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment (or Tsen­tr Doslidzhen’ Vyzvol’noho Rukhu, TsD­VR) in Lviv. The research cen­ter is fund­ed by pri­vate mon­ey from Ukrain­ian groups abroad that have helped shape its research agen­da. The unam­bigu­ous goal of the cen­ter is to paint the Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists, in par­tic­u­lar the OUN and UPA (two of the most impor­tant Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions from the inter­war and World War II peri­od), as “lib­er­a­tors” from Sovi­et, Pol­ish, and Ger­man oppres­sion. Rad­i­cal right-wing Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists are depict­ed as noth­ing but trag­ic free­dom fight­ers, occa­sion­ally forced to don Nazi uni­forms to strug­gle for inde­pen­dence, lib­erty, and West­ern val­ues. This is the par­ty line at the cen­ter, one large­ly shaped by Via­tro­vych.

Viatrovych’s own “schol­arly” out­put echoes the goals of his cen­ter.In a num­ber of pub­li­ca­tions he has cov­ered a laun­dry list of flash­points in 20th-cen­tu­ry Ukrain­ian his­tory, from the vicious anti-Jew­ish pogroms of World War I through Ukrain­ian-Pol­ish vio­lence dur­ing and after World War II.What uni­fies his approach is a relent­less dri­ve to excul­pate Ukraini­ans of any wrong­do­ing, no mat­ter the facts. For exam­ple, con­cern­ing Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist involve­ment in the Holo­caust, in Viatrovych’s world, col­lab­o­ra­tion nev­er hap­pened or was coerced and, at any rate, can’t be blamed on nation­al­ism; all evi­dence to the con­trary is blithe­ly assigned to Sovi­et lies. On the nation­al­ist eth­nic cleans­ing of Poles in 1943–44, Via­tro­vych lets us know that that was a sort of trag­ic but sym­met­ri­cal war­fare. And as we all know, war is cru­el and bad things hap­pen. When con­fronted with the fact that the head of UPA, Roman Shukhevych, served the Nazis until 1943 as com­man­der of a mobile police bat­tal­ion that mur­dered thou­sands of civil­ians in Belarus, Via­tro­vych respond­ed: “Is it pos­si­ble to con­sider Poles or Belaru­sians a peace­ful pop­u­la­tion, if, dur­ing the day, they work as ordi­nary vil­lagers, only to arm them­selves in the evening and attack the vil­lage?” In oth­er words, civil­ians are fair tar­gets, espe­cially for “heroes” of Ukraine in the ser­vice of Nazis.

In the aca­d­e­mic world, such tac­tics have their lim­its. But when con­fronted with sol­id archival evi­dence con­trary to his sto­ries, such as orders from OUN-UPA lead­er­ship to cleanse the Pol­ish pop­u­la­tion of Vol­hy­nia, Via­tro­vych sim­ply claims that doc­u­ments are Sovi­et forg­eries or that schol­ars chal­leng­ing him are serv­ing sin­is­ter pro­pa­ganda pur­poses. Selec­tiv­ity rules: If there is no smok­ing-gun doc­u­ment for nation­al­ist crimes, it’s excul­pa­tory; when there is no smok­ing-gun doc­u­ment for pre­med­i­tated Sovi­et geno­cide against Ukraini­ans, it’s a result of KGB cun­ning. Via­tro­vych deals with video tes­ti­mo­nial archives and the inte­gra­tion of wit­ness tes­ti­mony into his­tory with brava­do, sim­ply ignor­ing them (and espe­cially Jew­ish voic­es) alto­gether when he dis­likes what they have to tell us. This abysmal eth­i­cal and method­olog­i­cal approach has been chal­lenged by schol­ars from Poland, Scan­di­navia, Ger­many, Cana­da, and the Unit­ed States, in addi­tion to a few brave Ukrain­ian ones. These schol­ars have writ­ten exco­ri­at­ing reviews of his works. Unlike his writ­ings, these reviews were pub­lished in peer-reviewed jour­nals.

There are no career reper­cus­sions for poor schol­ar­ship when you are a polit­i­cal activist. Thanks to his cre­den­tials as “for­mer SBU archive direc­tor,” direc­tor of a promi­nent “research” insti­tute, and a brief stint as a research fel­low at the Har­vard Ukrain­ian Research Insti­tute (HURI), which show up in every bio-blurb pos­si­ble, Via­tro­vych is cit­ed fre­quently in the Ukrain­ian media. Iron­i­cally, as he has gained more neg­a­tive atten­tion from schol­ars, he has tra­versed a dif­fer­ent arc in Ukraine—increasingly trust­ed as a voice of wis­dom, a young, fresh force promis­ing to defend and pro­mote Ukraine’s his­tory, here under­stood as the glo­ri­ous record of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism. It was no sur­prise when in late 2014 Pres­i­dent Poroshenko chose him as head of the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­ory, a gov­ern­ment body orig­i­nally cre­ated by then Pres­i­dent Yushchenko to sup­port research and forge a nation­al mem­ory pol­i­cy.

Via­tro­vych wast­ed lit­tle time after this appoint­ment. He became the dri­ving force behind the so-called de-com­mu­niza­tion laws that were put on the books this spring. In real­ity, these laws reg­u­late how his­tory should be writ­ten and place restric­tions on free speech, and thus are deeply at odds with Kiev’s claims to West­ern val­ues. Law No. 2538–1, “On the legal sta­tus and hon­or­ing of fight­ers for Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence in the 20th cen­tury,” states that “the pub­lic denial of…the just cause of the fight­ers for Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence in the 20th cen­tury insults the dig­nity of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple and is ille­gal.” The fight­ers for Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence explic­itly include the World War II nation­al­ists of the OUN and UPA.In essence, this law makes it at least very risky to crit­i­cize them or point out the crimes in which they par­tic­i­pated. As with sim­i­lar Putin­ist leg­is­la­tion in Russia—namely Arti­cle 354.1, which crim­i­nal­izes any devi­a­tions from the Kremlin’s ver­sion of World War II and was passed by the Russ­ian Duma in 2014—the very vague­ness of phras­ing is a handy weapon of poten­tial repres­sion: it is a dis­turb­ing mys­tery how the state or oth­er accusers are going to deter­mine who insult­ed the dig­nity of vio­lent eth­nic cleansers and hap­py author­i­tar­i­ans or how the courts are going to pros­e­cute those guilty of such thought crimes. Law No. 2540, “On access to the archives of repres­sive orga­ni­za­tions of the com­mu­nist total­i­tar­ian regime from 1917–1991,” puts all secret-police archives under the con­trol of the Nation­al Mem­ory Insti­tute in Kiev, head­ed by Via­tro­vych.

These new laws have been crit­i­cized in a num­ber of jour­nals and mag­a­zines. Why they are deeply flawed should be obvi­ous to any­body com­mit­ted to even ele­men­tary prin­ci­ples of free speech and democ­racy. The reac­tion to the laws was pre­dictable: first, there was a response from the West­ern aca­d­e­mic com­mu­nity. Sev­enty lead­ing schol­ars, includ­ing some from East­ern Europe, signed an open let­ter protest­ing the laws. Oth­er orga­ni­za­tions, such as the Orga­ni­za­tion for Secu­rity and Coop­er­a­tion in Europe, the Kharkiv Human Rights Pro­tec­tion Group, and the Unit­ed States Holo­caust Memo­r­ial Muse­um warned of their dan­gers. For­eign media out­lets also took notice. Yet, despite the out­cry, except for a few arti­cles by West­ern schol­ars, there has been lit­tle dis­cus­sion of Viatrovych’s per­sonal role in mak­ing the laws or the larg­er back­drop of aggres­sive his­tory pol­i­tics, going back to 2005.

A few of the most promi­nent Ukrain­ian intel­lec­tu­als pro­vided com­men­tary that half-heart­ed­ly con­demned a crack­down on free speech, but they focused on ques­tion­ing the atti­tude of West­ern schol­ars protest­ing against the laws. Oth­er Ukrain­ian com­men­ta­tors have pro­vided rather mut­ed crit­i­cism of the laws, less because of the politi­ciza­tion of his­tory and more due to issues of finan­cial and pri­vacy con­cerns. Only a few Ukrain­ian com­men­ta­tors did con­demn the laws on prin­ci­pled grounds relat­ed to aca­d­e­mic free­dom and his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism.

Sad­ly, the Ukrain­ian-dias­po­ra schol­arly com­mu­nity in North Amer­ica has often sup­ported these restric­tive laws. Regard­ing Via­tro­vych, they see no prob­lem with hav­ing a par­ti­san polit­i­cal activist in charge of the country’s secret-police archives; rather the for­eign schol­ars and their “insen­si­tive research” agen­das that dis­cuss the dark spots of Ukraine’s his­tory are the real prob­lem for Ukraine. In a recent round­table inter­view with two well-known schol­ars and one mem­ber of the Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity, West­ern schol­ars were described as “neo-Sovi­et” and their response as “qua­si-hys­ter­i­cal.” In a mis­placed “post-colo­nial” twist, the “pro­pri­ety or author­ity of for­eign­ers to instruct Ukraine’s elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives as to whom they wish to acknowl­edge or memo­ri­al­ize and why” was ques­tioned. The laws were praised as the answer to out­side tam­per­ing in Ukraine’s his­tory. On the issue of free speech, there was hedg­ing. In an Orwellian key, Alexan­der Motyl, a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist at Rut­gers Uni­ver­si­ty-Newark, went as far as to com­pare Ukraine’s his­tory reg­u­la­tion laws to civ­il rights laws, women’s rights, and laws pro­tect­ing the gay com­mu­nity in the Unit­ed States. This is not the first time Motyl’s analo­gies to US his­tory have caused shock in var­i­ous schol­arly com­mu­ni­ties.

There has been lit­tle con­tro­versy in the West about putting Ukraine’s secret-police archives in Viatrovych’s hands: the respons­es from Ukrain­ian intel­li­gentsia have ranged from joy to mut­ed con­cerns about pri­vacy issues. Motyl excit­edly called the archives law a “coup for free­dom and justice”—unsurprisingly, giv­en that he is per­haps the only schol­ar to have praised Viatrovych’s recent book. Out­side of per­cep­tive pieces in Ukrain­ian by Vasyl Rasevych, a his­to­rian and writer, and Stanislav Ser­hi­ienko, an activist and writer, about the dan­gers of archive tam­per­ing, few com­menters, includ­ing those in the West, seem to wor­ry about the poten­tial manip­u­la­tion of the archives. The dialec­tics of nation­al lib­er­al­ism aside, Motyl’s term “coup” is an appo­site Freudi­an slip. We might ask our­selves why a nation’s most polit­i­cally sen­si­tive doc­u­ment col­lec­tion should be entrust­ed with a polit­i­cal activist inter­ested in one and only one ver­sion of the past, rather than putting them under the aus­pices of the cen­tral state archive admin­is­tra­tion. A while ago, when a Com­mu­nist was direc­tor of Ukraine’s archival admin­is­tra­tion, West­ern observers were wor­ried. The fail­ure to wor­ry when a nation­al­ist defend­ing the record of right-wing author­i­tar­i­ans takes over the nation­al mem­ory project and the secret-police files is dis­turb­ing.

If the response from the dias­po­ra-ori­ent­ed schol­arly com­mu­nity to the laws and Viatrovych’s appoint­ment has been scan­dalous, the naïveté with which some West­ern observers have embraced the nation­al­ist nar­ra­tive is even more trou­bling. Fol­low­ing the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion, Via­tro­vych is now cit­ed as a voice of knowl­edge in the Ukrain­ian and West­ern media. The Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor has quot­ed him in an arti­cle about Ukraine’s past, where he explained that to dis­pel “myths” Ukraine should “cre­ate an open, nation­al dia­logue.” With no acknowl­edg­ment (or, prob­a­bly, knowl­edge) of Viatrovych’s back­ground as a myth-mak­er-in-chief him­self, the arti­cle uncrit­i­cally presents him as a voice for the future.

Even more egre­gious was the arti­cle “Is There a Future for Ukraine?” by Peter Pomer­ant­sev, a jour­nal­ist and pro­ducer who writes fre­quently on Rus­sia, which appeared in The Atlantic in July 2014. Pomer­ant­sev inter­viewed and pro­filed Via­tro­vych as a car­rier of hope for Ukraine’s future. Pomer­ant­sev has man­aged to rec­og­nize in Via­tro­vych “a lib­eral nation­al­ist,” work­ing to “cre­ate a Ukrain­ian identity”—strange praise for a man claim­ing to be a schol­ar, a pro­fes­sion usu­ally engaged in open-end­ed inquiry, not iden­tity build­ing. Pomer­ant­sev tells his read­ers that Via­tro­vych is “best known for his work on refor­mat­ting Ukraine’s rela­tion­ship to the Sec­ond World War,” which is both an under­state­ment and a hor­ri­bly reveal­ing choice of terms. In his most­ly uncrit­i­cal por­trayal, he writes that Via­tro­vych “believes he can help bridge these divi­sions [in Ukrain­ian soci­ety] and cre­ate a sto­ry that is at once nation­al­ist and inte­gra­tionist.” When asked about a pos­i­tive uni­fy­ing mes­sage, Via­tro­vych mat­ter-of-fact­ly tells him that Rus­sians want “tyran­ny” and Ukraini­ans want “free­dom.” Pomer­ant­sev swal­lows this big­oted state­ment of frank stereo­type about large pop­u­la­tions with no response, since com­pared to the overt­ly racist Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist he inter­viewed in the first part of the same arti­cle, Via­tro­vych comes across as less bru­tal. But per­haps also because “we” in the West now con­sider it good form to cut a Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist more slack than a Russ­ian. . . .


2. In FTR #781, we not­ed that Vik­tor Yuschenko–married to top OUN/B offi­cial and Rea­gan Deputy Direc­tor of Pres­i­den­tial Liai­son Yka­te­ri­na Chumachenko–institutionalized the Ban­dera polit­i­cal cadre, rewrit­ing Ukrain­ian World War II his­to­ry and paving the way for the rise of Swo­bo­da and Pravy Sek­tor.

Note, again, that Via­tro­vych was appoint­ed to head the Insti­tute of Nation­al mem­o­ry by Yuschenko and re-appoint­ed to the same posi­tion by Poroshenko.

We review the fact that the “new” Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko has recon­sti­tut­ed the old Yuschenko team, includ­ing Amer­i­can-born Roman Zvarych (“Svarych”), Yuschenko’s Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and the per­son­al sec­re­tary to OUN/B leader Yaroslav Stet­sko in the ear­ly 1980’s.

Stet­sko was the World War II head of the Ukrain­ian Nazi satel­lite state and head­ed the Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations and its pri­ma­ry ele­ment, the OUN/B. Stet­sko was an adher­ent to Nazi eth­nic cleans­ing doc­trine, prac­tic­ing it vig­or­ous­ly against eth­nic Poles, eth­nic Rus­sians and Jews dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

“Ukraine’s New Pres­i­dent Poroshenko Leads Old Team”; Deutsche Welle; 6/7/2014.

. . . . But a close look at his team quick­ly shows that Poroshenko has sur­round­ed him­self with offi­cials from the Yushchenko era.

For exam­ple, Poroshenko’s elec­tion cam­paign was planned by Ihor Hryniv. The 53-year-old mem­ber of par­lia­ment and for­mer direc­tor of the Kyiv Insti­tute for Strate­gic Stud­ies was once Yushchenko’s advis­er. He lat­er rep­re­sent­ed his par­ty “Nasha Ukraina” (Our Ukraine) in par­lia­ment.

The 43-year-old for­eign pol­i­cy expert and diplo­mat Valeri Chaly was also part of Yushchenko’s team. Dur­ing Poroshenko’s elec­tion cam­paign Chaly was in charge of for­eign pol­i­cy issues. The 60-year-old Roman Svarych is also back in pol­i­tics: Yushchenko’s for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter now con­sults with Poroshenko on legal issues. [Svarych was the per­son­al sec­re­tary to OUN/B leader Yaroslav Stet­sko in the ear­ly 1980’s–D.E.]

Else­where in the coun­try the pic­ture is the same. Vik­tor Balo­ha, for exam­ple, was the head of Yushchenko’s sec­re­tari­at dur­ing his pres­i­den­cy. He head­ed Poroshenko’s elec­tion cam­paign in the west­ern Ukrain­ian province of Tran­scarpathia. . . .

3. Flesh­ing out dis­cus­sion of the devel­op­ment of Via­tro­vych and the Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry, we review how Vik­tor Yuschenko set the stage for what the Poroshenko gov­ern­ment is doing. Note that Yuschenko’s wife was a key UCCA oper­a­tive Yka­te­ri­na Chumachenko/Yuschenko, who had been Ronald Rea­gan’s Deputy Direc­tor of Pub­lic Liai­son.

Yuschenko’s min­is­ter of jus­tice (the equiv­a­lent of the U.S. Attor­ney Gen­er­al) was Roman Svarych, Jaroslav Stet­sko’s per­son­al sec­re­tary in the ear­ly 1980’s.

“The Return of the Ukrain­ian Far Right: The Case of VO Svo­bo­da,” by Per Anders Rudling;  Ana­lyz­ing Fas­cist Dis­course: Euro­pean Fas­cism in Talk and Text edit­ed by Ruth Wodak and John E. Richard­son;  Rout­ledge [Lon­don and New York] 2013; pp. 228–255, more.

Note that this book is in Google Books.

. . . . . Swept to pow­er by the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, the third pres­i­dent of Ukraine,Viktor Yushchenko (2005–2010), put in sub­stan­tial efforts into the pro­duc­tion of his­tor­i­cal myths. He tasked a set of nation­al­is­ti­cal­ly mind­ed his­to­ri­ans to pro­duce and dis­sem­i­nate an edi­fy­ing nation­al his­to­ry as well as a new set of nation­al heroes. . . . .

. . . . . The OUN wings dis­agreed on strat­e­gy and ide­ol­o­gy but shared a com­mit­ment to the man­u­fac­ture of a his­tor­i­cal past based on vic­tim­iza­tion and hero­ism. The émi­grés devel­oped an entire lit­er­a­ture that denied the OUN’s fas­cism, its col­lab­o­ra­tion with Nazi Ger­many, and its par­tic­i­pa­tion in atroc­i­ties, instead pre­sent­ing the orga­ni­za­tion as com­posed of democ­rats and plu­ral­ists who had res­cued Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust. The dias­po­ra nar­ra­tive was con­tra­dic­to­ry, com­bin­ing cel­e­bra­tions of the sup­pos­ed­ly anti-Nazi resis­tance strug­gle of the OUN-UPA with cel­e­bra­tions of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien, a Ukrain­ian col­lab­o­ra­tionist for­ma­tion estab­lished by Hein­rich Himm­ler in 1943 (Rudling, 2011a, 2011c, 2012a). Thus, Ukrain­ian Waf­fen SS vet­er­ans could cel­e­brate the UPA as “anti-Nazi resis­tance fighters” while belong­ing to the same war vet­er­ans’ orga­ni­za­tions (Bairak, 1978). Unlike their coun­ter­parts in some oth­er post-Sovi­et states, Ukrain­ian “nation­al­iz­ing” his­to­ri­ans did not have to invent new nation­al­ist myths but re-import­ed a nar­ra­tive devel­oped by the émi­grés (Dietsch, 2006: 111–146; Rudling, 2011a: 751–753). . . . .


As pres­i­dent, Yushchenko ini­ti­at­ed sub­stan­tial gov­ern­ment pro­pa­gan­da ini­tia­tives. In July 2005, he estab­lished an Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ryassigned the archives of the for­mer KGB (now the SBU, Sluzh­ba Bezpe­ki Ukrainy, the Ukrain­ian Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice) for­mal pro­pa­gan­dis­tic duties and sup­port­ed the cre­ation of a “Muse­um of Sovi­et Occu­pa­tion” in Kyiv (Jilge, 2008: 174). Yushchenko appoint­ed the young activist Volodymyr V’’iatrovych (b. 1977) direc­tor of the SBU archives. V’’iatrovych com­bined his posi­tion as gov­ern­ment-appoint­ed mem­o­ry man­ag­er with ultra-nation­al­ist activism; he was simul­ta­ne­ous­ly direc­tor of an OUN(b) front orga­ni­za­tion, the Cen­ter for the Study for the Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment. State insti­tu­tions dis­sem­i­nat­ed a san­i­tized, edi­fy­ing­ly patri­ot­ic ver­sion of the his­to­ry of the “Ukrain­ian nation­al lib­er­a­tion move­ment,” the lead­ers of which were pre­sent­ed in icono­graph­ic form as hero­ic and saint­ly figures, mar­tyrs of the nation (Rasevych, 2010; Rudling, 2011c: 26–33, 2012b).

Yushchenko’s myth­mak­ing had two cen­tral com­po­nents. The first was the pre­sen­ta­tion of the 1932–1933 famine as “the geno­cide of the Ukrain­ian nation,” a delib­er­ate attempt to exter­mi­nate the Ukraini­ans which, his myth-mak­ers claimed, result­ed in the death of 10 mil­lion peo­ple in the repub­lic.

The oth­er com­po­nent was a hero­ic cult of the OUN(b), the UPA and their lead­ers. The “mem­o­ry man­agers” jux­ta­posed the geno­ci­dal Sovi­et rule with the self-sac­rifi­cial hero­ism of the OUN-UPA, pro­duc­ing a tele­o­log­i­cal nar­ra­tive of suf­fer­ing (the famine) and resis­tance (the OUN-UPA) lead­ing to redemp­tion (inde­pen­dence, 1991). Curi­ous­ly, Yushchenko’s legit­imiz­ing his­to­ri­ans pre­sent­ed their instru­men­tal­ized use of his­to­ry as “truth,” which they jux­ta­posed to “Sovi­et myths.” Wil­fried Jilge, a his­to­ri­an at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leipzig, writes that “[i]t takes place by means of dis­course, rit­u­als, and sym­bols and uses the past to pro­vide legit­imiza­tion and to mobi­lize the pop­u­la­tion for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es.

. . . A recon­struct­ed his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry is cre­at­ed as ‘true mem­o­ry’ and then con­trast­ed with ‘false Sovi­et his­to­ry’ ”(Jilge, 2007:104–105). Thus, Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, SBU direc­tor under Yushchenko, described the task of his agency as being to dis­sem­i­nate “the his­tor­i­cal truth of the past of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple,” to “lib­er­ate Ukrain­ian his­to­ry from lies and fal­sifi­ca­tions and to work with truth­ful doc­u­ments only” (Jilge, 2008:179). Ignor­ing the OUN’s anti­semitism, deny­ing its par­tic­i­pa­tion in anti- Jew­ish vio­lence, and over­look­ing its fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy, Naly­vaichenko and his agency pre­sent­ed the OUN as democ­rats, plu­ral­ists, even right­eous res­cuers of Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust.

The hege­mon­ic nation­al­ist nar­ra­tive is reflect­ed also in acad­e­mia, where the line between “legit­i­mate” schol­ar­ship and ultra-nation­al­ist pro­pa­gan­da often is blurred. Main­stream book­stores often car­ry Holo­caust denial and anti­se­mit­ic lit­er­a­ture, some of which finds its way into the aca­d­e­m­ic main­stream (Rudling, 2006). So too, for instance, can aca­d­e­m­ic works on World War II by rep­utable his­to­ri­ans inte­grate the works of Holo­caust deniers and cite the for­mer KKK Grand Wiz­ard David Duke as a “expert” on the “Jew­ish Ques­tion.” . . . .

. . . . The cul­mi­na­tion of Yushchenko’s Geschicht­spoli­tik was his des­ig­na­tion, a few days before leav­ing office, of Ban­dera as a hero of Ukraine. Again, there was lit­tle protest from intel­lec­tu­als who iden­ti­fy them­selves as lib­er­als. . . . .

. . . . On June 30, 2011, the 70th anniver­sary of the Ger­man inva­sion and Stetsko’s “renew­al of Ukrain­ian state­hood” was re-enact­ed in Lviv as a pop­u­lar fes­ti­val, where par­ents with small chil­dren waved flags to re-enac­tors in SS uni­forms. . . .

. . . . . Iron­i­cal­ly, the pre­sen­ta­tion of the OUN as resis­tance fight­ers against Nazi Ger­many coex­ists with an elab­o­rate cult of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien (Rudling, 2012a). Lviv streets have been renamed after Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors like Roman Shukhevych and Volodymyr Kubi­jovyc. In the Lviv city hall, Svo­bo­da is cur­rent­ly work­ing to have the Lviv air­port renamed after Ban­dera. Svo­bo­da deputy Iuryi Mykahl’chyshyn stat­ed, “We should have the air­port named after Stepan Ban­dera. I don’t want to point any fin­gers. . . . But we will have a Ban­dera air­port, a Ban­dera sta­di­um, and the entire city will be car­ry­ing Bandera’s name, because he is its most liv­ing symbol”(“U L’vovi budut’ sta­dion,” 2012). In the fall of 2011, Svo­bo­da deputies in a munic­i­pal­i­ty in the Lviv dis­trict renamed a street from the Sovi­et-era name Peace Street (Vulyt­sia Myru ) to instead car­ry the name of the Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion, a Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist for­ma­tion involved in the mass mur­der of Jews in 1941, argu­ing that “ ‘Peace’ is a holdover from Sovi­et stereotypes”(“Vulytsiu myru,” 2011). . . .

. . . . Svoboda’s claims to the OUN lega­cy are based upon ide­o­log­i­cal con­ti­nu­ity, as well as orga­ni­za­tion and polit­i­cal cul­ture (Shekhovtsov, 2011b:13–14). Pre­sent­ing Svo­bo­da as the suc­ces­sor of Dontsov and the OUN, Tiah­ny­bok regards Svo­bo­da as “an Order-par­ty which con­sti­tutes the true elite of the nation” (Tiah­ny­bok, 2011). Like those of many oth­er far-right move­ments, Svoboda’s offi­cial pol­i­cy doc­u­ments are rel­a­tive­ly cau­tious and dif­fer from its dai­ly activ­i­ties and inter­nal jar­gon, which are much more rad­i­cal and racist (Olszan´ski, 2011). Svo­bo­da sub­scribes to the OUN tra­di­tion of nation­al seg­re­ga­tion and demands the re-intro­duc­tion of the Sovi­et “nation­al­i­ty” cat­e­go­ry into Ukrain­ian pass­ports. “We are not Amer­i­ca, a mish­mash of all sorts of peo­ple,” the Svo­bo­da web­site states. “The Ukrain­ian needs to stay Ukrain­ian, the Pole—Polish, the Gagauz—Gagauz, the Uzbek—Uzbek” (“Hrafa ‘natsional’nost’v pas­porti,” 2005). Svoboda’s ultra-nation­al­ism is sup­ple­ment­ed with more tra­di­tion­al “white racism” (Shekhovtsov, 2011b: 15). . . . .

. . . . Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry is inte­gral to Svo­bo­da Weltan­schau­ung, par­tic­u­lar­ly con­spir­a­cies with anti-Semit­ic under­tones. In August 2011, in an appar­ent attempt to dis­tance them­selves from the Nor­we­gian ter­ror­ist Anders Behring Breivik, Svo­bo­da claimed that he was a Jew­ish Mason (Red­kole­hi­ia cha­so-pysu “Svo­bo­da,” 2011). In Sep­tem­ber 2011, Svo­bo­da activists mobi­lized from sev­er­al parts of Ukraine to orga­nize ral­lies against Hasidic pil­grims to Uman.

Fol­low­ing vio­lent clash­es, the police detained more than 50 Svo­bo­da activists, armed with gas can­is­ters, smoke bombs and cat­a­pults. The Cherkasy branch of Svo­bo­da crit­i­cized the police for their alleged fail­ure “to stop and avert aggres­sion by Hasidic Jews to Ukraini­ans” (“Uman: Righ-twing activists detained,” 2011).Svoboda’s anti-Russ­ian and anti-Jew­ish rhetoric is accom­pa­nied by an anti-Pol­ish mes­sage. Svo­bo­da main­tains that Poland has played a neg­a­tive his­tor­i­cal role in Ukrain­ian lands. The par­ty demands an offi­cial apol­o­gy from Poland for five hun­dred years of Pol­o­niza­tion, from the 15th to the 20th cen­turies, and indem­ni­ties for “the Pol­ish ter­ror and occu­pa­tion of Ukrain­ian lands in the 20th cen­tu­ry” (“Zaia­va VO ‘Svo­bo­da’ shchodoproia­viv ukrain­o­fo­bii,” 2010). Focus­ing on divi­sive and sen­si­tive issues, Svo­bo­da provoca­tive­ly denies any involve­ment of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien in atroc­i­ties against the Pol­ish minor­i­ty in Gali­cia. For instance, on the site of Huta Pieni­ac­ka, Svo­bo­da has placed a huge bill­board deny­ing the con­clu­sion of both Pol­ish and Ukrain­ian his­tor­i­cal com­mis­sions that the fourth police reg­i­ment, which was lat­er adjoined to the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien, burnt this Pol­ish vil­lage and slaugh­tered most of its res­i­dents on Feb­ru­ary 28, 1944. . . .

. . . . Svo­bo­da is a mem­ber of the so-called Alliance of Euro­pean Nation­al Move­ments, a net­work which includes theBri­tish Nation­al Par­ty, Nation­aldemokra­ter­na of Swe­den, the Front Nation­al in France, Fiamma Tri­col­ore in Italy, the Bel­gian Nation­al Front, and the Hun­gar­i­an Job­bik (Umland, 2011). This seem­ing­ly unlike­ly coop­er­a­tion is part­ly facil­i­tat­ed by a joint fas­ci­na­tion with eth­nic puri­ty, inspired by Alain de Benoit, the ide­o­logue of the French Nou­velle Droit. De Benoit fears the dis­ap­pear­ance of plu­ral­ism and the reduc­tion of all cul­tures into a world civ­i­liza­tion and argues that each eth­nos should be allowed to devel­op inde­pen­dent­ly on its giv­en ter­ri­to­ry, with­out the admix­ture of oth­er cul­tures. Nation­aldemokra­ter­na, their Swedish sis­ter par­ty, advo­cates a form of eth­nic seg­re­ga­tion, which they refer to as “ethno­plu­ral­ism” (Dahl, 1999: 68, 136).

Svo­bo­da has opened an office in Toron­to, which has been vis­it­ed by sev­er­al of its lead­ing figures (“Diial’nist Kanads’koho pred­stavnyt­st­va ‘Svo-body,’ ” 2009). In Cana­da, in May 2010, Tiah­ny­bok received the gold­en cross “for his ser­vice to Ukraine” from the Broth­er­hood of the Vet­er­ans of the First Ukrain­ian Divi­sion of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Army, as the vet­er­ans of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien call them­selves (“Esesovt­sy nagradil lid­er­aukrain­skikh nat­sion­al­is­tov,” 2010). Fol­low­ing the con­vic­tion and sen­tenc­ing of the death camp guard John Dem­jan­juk to five years of jail for his role as an acces­so­ry to the mur­der of 27,900 peo­ple at the Sobibór death camp,Tiahnybok trav­eled to Ger­many and met up with Demjanjuk’s lawyer, Ulrich Busch, pre­sent­ing the death camp guard as a hero, a vic­tim of per­se­cu­tion, who is “fight­ing for truth” (“Oleh Tiah­ny­bok iz dvo­den­nym vizy­tomvid­vi­dav Nimechynu,” 2010). 10

Tiahnybok’s hero­iza­tion of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien and oth­er Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors is accom­pa­nied by ide­o­log­i­cal claims that the OUN-UPA con­duct­ed an anti-Nazi resis­tance strug­gle against Hitler.

Yurii Mykhal’chyshyn (b. 1982), Tiahnybok’s advis­er on ide­o­log­i­cal mat­ters, Svoboda’s top name in the elec­tion to the Lviv city coun­cil and its can­di­date for may­or in 2010, rep­re­sents a more rad­i­cal cur­rent in the move­ment. Proud­ly con­fess­ing him­self part of the fas­cist tra­di­tion, Mykhal’chyshyn rel­ish­es the harsh­ness, extrem­ism and uncom­pro­mis­ing rad­i­cal­ism of his idols of the 1930s and 1940s. Con­stant­ly reit­er­at­ing that “We con­sid­er tol­er­ance a crime” and that “We val­ue the truth of the spir­it and blood over-all suc­cess and wealth” (Nasha Vatra , n.d.), Mykhal’chyshyn takes pride in the label “extrem­ist,” which he proud­ly shares with “Stepan Bandera,who cre­at­ed an under­ground ter­ror­ist-rev­o­lu­tion­ary army, the shad­ow of which still stirs up hor­ri­ble fear in the hearts of the ene­mies of our Nation”(Mykhal’chyshyn, “Ori­en­tyry”, n.d.). Mykhal’chyshyn serves as a link between VO Svo­bo­da and the so-called autonomous nation­al­ists. Mir­ror­ing the “autonomous anar­chists” of the extreme left, which they resem­ble in terms of dress code, lifestyle, aes­thet­ics, sym­bol­ism and orga­ni­za­tion, the “autonomous nation­al­ists” attract par­tic­u­lar­ly mil­i­tant and extreme­ly vio­lent “event-ori­ent­ed” young fas­cists. Mykhal’chyshyn has com­bined the attrib­ut­es of var­i­ous stands of the extra-par­lia­men­tary extreme right: Doc Martens shoes, buzz cuts and bomber jack­ets are in the tra­di­tion of the skin­heads, while the night­ly torch­light parades under black ban­ners with SS sym­bols resem­ble the polit­i­cal rit­u­als and Aufmärsche in Nazi Ger­many. The glo­rifi­ca­tion of street vio­lence is a key com­po­nent of this polit­i­cal sub­cul­ture: in an extra ses­sion with the Lviv region­al Rada in front of the Ban­dera memo­r­i­al in Lviv, Mykhal’chyshyn boast­ed that “Our Ban­derite army will cross the Dnipro and throw that blue-ass gang, which today usurps the pow­er, out of Ukraine. . . . That will make those Asi­at­ic dogs shut their ugly mouths.”

While hard­ly a typ­i­cal man of the belles-let­tres , Mykhal’chyshyn, is actu­al­ly a stu­dent of fas­cism. . . . His inter­est is not exclu­sive­ly aca­d­e­m­ic; under the pseu­do­nym Nachti­gall 88, Mykhal’chyshyn pro­motes fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy with the pur­pose of pro­mot­ing a fas­cist trans­for­ma­tion of soci­ety in Web forums linked to Svo­bo­da and “autonomous nation­al­ists.” In 2005, he orga­nized a polit­i­cal think tank, orig­i­nal­ly called “the Joseph Goebbels Polit­i­cal Research Cen­ter” but lat­er re-named after the Ger­man con­ser­v­a­tive rev­o­lu­tion­ary Ernst Jünger. (Olszan´ski, 2011).

Explic­it­ly endors­ing Hamas, Mykhal’chyshyn regards the Holo­caust as “a bright episode in Euro­pean civ­i­liza­tion” which “strong­ly warms the hearts of the Pales­tin­ian pop­u­la­tion. . . . They hope it will be all repeat­ed” (“Mikhal’chyshyn schi­taet Kholokost,” 2011; “Ukrain­skii nat­sist,” 2011).

We rec­og­nize the heavy empha­sis on heroes and hero­ism from the nar­ra­tive of the émi­gré OUN and from Yushchenko’s legit­imiz­ing his­to­ri­ans. The dif­fer­ence is that, unlike these two influences, Mykhal’chyshyn does not deny Ban­dera and Stets’ko’s fas­cism. On the con­trary, their fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy con­sti­tutes the basis for his admi­ra­tion. . . .

. . . . While he is no longer a seri­ous polit­i­cal play­er, Yushchenko left behind a lega­cy of myths which helped legit­imized Svoboda’s ide­ol­o­gy. Svoboda’s appro­pri­a­tion of many rit­u­als in hon­our of “nation­al heroes” from more mod­er­ate nation­al­ists is but one expres­sion of its increased polit­i­cal strength in post-Yushchenko West­ern Ukraine. . . .

. . . . On April 28, 2011, Svo­bo­da cel­e­brat­ed the 68th anniver­sary of the estab­lish­ment of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien. Octo­ge­nar­i­an Waf­fen SS vet­er­ans were treat­ed as heroes in a mass ral­ly, orga­nized by Svo­bo­da and the “autonomous nation­al­ists.” Near­ly 700 par­tic­i­pants (the orga­niz­ers claimed 2,000) marched down the streets of Lviv, from the mas­sive socialist–realist style Ban­dera mon­u­ment, to Prospekt Svo­body, the main street, shout­ing slo­gans like “One race, one nation, one father­land!,” . . . .

. . . . The pro­ces­sion was led by Mykhal’chyshyn . . . .

4. Part of the his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism under­way in Ukraine is the polit­i­cal reha­bil­i­ta­tion of Syme­on Pet­lyu­ra, a blood-drenched pogromist and one of the ear­ly fig­ures in the polit­i­cal move­ment that was to crys­tal­lize as the OUN/B.

“Ukrain­ian Regime of Yuschenko Reha­bil­i­tates Symon Pet­lyu­ra” by Felx Kreisel; mit.edu; 6/08/2006.

Yushchenko’s gov­ern­ment announced that dur­ing the eight­i­eth anniver­sary year since his death the gov­ern­ment will put a mon­u­ment to Symon Pet­lyu­ra, the Chief Ata­man of the Ukrain­ian People’s Repub­lic. Dur­ing the week around this anniver­sary (Pet­lyu­ra died in Paris on May 25th, 1926) there took place in Kiev a series of events to com­mem­o­rate his life, in which the Pres­i­dent of Ukraine, Yushchenko and mem­bers of his cab­i­net took part: a film was shown at the Nation­al Opera, an exhib­it was dis­played at the Nation­al Muse­um of Ukrain­ian His­to­ry, a requiem ser­vice was staged at the St. Basil Cathe­dral, and so on.

Symon Pet­lyu­ra began his polit­i­cal activ­i­ty in the ranks of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary social­ist move­ment in the Ukrain­ian Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty. In order to com­bat Bol­she­vism, he threw over his demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples in favor of a per­son­al dic­ta­tor­ship and col­lud­ed in a series of deals with ene­mies of his own peo­ple: with Ger­many, with Russ­ian monar­chists, with the Entente, with the reac­tionary Pol­ish regime of Pil­sud­sky. In the West, Pet­lyu­ra is best known for pre­sid­ing over the bloody Jew­ish pogroms of 1919—1920. . . .

. . . . 80 years ago, on May 25, 1926, on a street in Paris a 40-year old Ukrain­ian Jew Shalom Schwartzbard approached a mid­dle-aged per­son and asked in Ukrain­ian whether he was Mr. Pet­lyu­ra. Upon receiv­ing con­fir­ma­tion, Schwartzbard shot Pet­lyu­ra point blanc a num­ber of times, ecsta­t­i­cal­ly shout­ing: “This is for the pogroms, this is for the mur­ders, this is for your vic­tims”, and killed the Chief Ata­man of the Ukrain­ian nation­al gov­ern­ment dur­ing the years 1919–1920. Schwartzbard did not try to flee, and when a police­man ran over he sur­ren­dered his weapon to him, say­ing, “You can arrest me, I killed an exe­cu­tion­er”.

The death of Pet­lyu­ra became an instant sen­sa­tion on the front pages of Europe and Amer­i­ca, but lead­ing Sovi­et news­pa­pers did not report any details of this assas­si­na­tion, and only gave brief inside page reports on the fact of Petlyura’s death. Pub­lic opin­ion was on the side of the Jew­ish avenger, Schwartzbard, whose per­son­al sto­ry aroused sym­pa­thy and fel­low feel­ings among both Jew­ish and non-Jew­ish mass­es. . . . .

5. Petro Poroshenko has also giv­en momen­tum to the reha­bil­i­ta­tion of Symon Pet­lyu­ra, who helped craft the polit­i­cal tem­plate for con­tem­po­rary Ukrain­ian ultra-nation­al­ist pol­i­tics.

“Ukraine: Why Ban­dera Have the Largest Geo-Polit­i­cal Voice in EU” by George Elia­son; OpEdNews.com; 8/1/2014.

*“Ban­dera” here is used as a gener­ic term for the fol­low­ers of Stephan Ban­dera and their institutions–D.E.

 . . . . Simon Petliu­ra was one of the orig­i­nal lead­ers of the Haps­burg coun­tries to sign onto Prometheanism. But even as the rec­og­nized dic­ta­tor of Ukraine he was forced to move the gov­ern­ment into exile. The only accept­able form of gov­ern­ment to a Ukrain­ian is the Gali­cian (West Ukraine) mod­el of extreme ultra-nation­al­ism. Petliu­ra is revered as a hero in West­ern Ukraine and a butch­er every­where else for his pogroms, tor­ture, and mur­der. . . .

. . . . When Symon Petliu­ra (pres­i­dent of the gov­ern­ment in exile) was assas­si­nat­ed in 1926, Andrii Livyt­sky took over. In 1945 Livyt­sky reac­ti­vat­ed the Gov­ern­ment-in-exile of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Repub­lic and invit­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the new emi­gra­tion to join it. In 1946 he instruct­ed Isaak Mazepa to unite all polit­i­cal par­ties around the state cen­ter of the UNR, and that union even­tu­al­ly result­ed in the orga­ni­za­tion of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Coun­cil (1947).

In 1945, at the found­ing of the Unit­ed Nations, the Ukrain­ian Sovi­et Social­ist Repub­lic was giv­en found­ing mem­ber sta­tus. Even­tu­al­ly through the work of the ABN, UNC, and many oth­er Ban­dera (include all cap­tive nation coun­tries under ABN), the UNC stepped into this posi­tion unof­fi­cial­ly. Even­tu­al­ly all fac­tions of the Ukrain­ian Dias­po­ra would coa­lesce around the UNC and the gov­ern­ment in exile of Ukraine. By the 1980’s the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Repub­lic gov­ern­ment in exile became the only rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a free Ukraine for Europe, the West, and its allies. . . .

. . . . That was what Maid­an was about. When Poroshenko gave his inau­gural address he paid homage to this fact. He said that the wars of 1917–1920 had final­ly been won. This was acknowl­edged by his elec­tion. This new Ukraine was now under the laws and tra­di­tions of 1920’s Ukraine as demand­ed by Syme­on Petliu­ra. This was final­ly the Ukraine they had been wait­ing for. . . .

6. The Wikipedia entry on the Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists notes the Nazi-style anti-Semi­tism char­ac­ter­iz­ing the Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists, but mis­tak­en­ly rel­e­gates that to the past by not­ing their endorse­ment of Vladimir (“Ze’ev”) Jabotin­sky. Jabotin­sky was the leader of the Betar, an explic­it­ly fas­cist ele­ment with­in the Zion­ist move­ment.

The Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists was led and assem­bled by the above-men­tioned Roman Svarych and Sla­va Statsko, Jaroslav Stet­sko’s wid­ow.

“Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists”; Wikipedia.com.

The Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (Ukrain­ian: Конгрес українських націоналістів Konhres Ukrayin­skykh Nat­sion­al­is­tiv) is a far-right polit­i­cal par­ty in Ukraine. It was found­ed on Octo­ber 18, 1992 and reg­is­tered with the Min­istry of Jus­tice on Jan­u­ary 26, 1993.[2] The par­ty leader from its for­ma­tion and until her death in 2003 was Yarosla­va Stet­sko (peo­ple’s deputy of three VR con­ven­tions).

The par­ty was set up late 1992 by émi­grés of OUN‑B[3] on the ini­tia­tive of Sla­va Stet­sko and Roman Zvarych.[4] It was reg­is­tered on 26 Jan­u­ary 1993 by the Ukrain­ian Min­istry of Jus­tice and was the 11th polit­i­cal par­ty in Ukraine that was offi­cial­ly registered.[1]

Dur­ing the 1998 par­lia­men­tary elec­tion the par­ty was part (togeth­er with Ukrain­ian Con­ser­v­a­tive Repub­li­can Par­ty and Ukrain­ian Repub­li­can Party[5]) of the Elec­tion Bloc “Nation­al Front”[2][5] (Ukrain­ian: Виборчий блок партій «Національний фронт») which won 2,71%[2] of the nation­al votes and 6 (sin­gle-man­date con­stituen­cy) seats.[5][6]

At the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions on 30 March 2002, the par­ty was part of the Vik­tor Yushchenko Bloc Our Ukraine.[2] For­mer par­ty leader Olek­siy Ivchenko was the head of Nafto­gas of Ukraine under the Yekha­nurov Gov­ern­ment. He was elect­ed as the par­ty leader on the sev­enth con­ven­tion of the par­ty on April 13, 2003.

Dur­ing the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions on 26 March 2006, the par­ty was part of the Our Ukraine alliance.[2] Roman Zvarych was Min­is­ter of Jus­tice in the First Tymoshenko Gov­ern­ment and Sec­ond Tymoshenko Government[7] and in the Alliance of Nation­al Uni­ty.[8][9] . . . .

. . . . In their fight against “cos­mopoli­tanism”, par­ty mem­bers have in the past espoused in what was seen as anti-Semit­ic views. In 2005 the offi­cial organ of the par­ty, news­pa­per “The Nation and Pow­er”, pub­lished an arti­cle which said: “The tit­u­lar nation in Ukraine (eth­nic Ukraini­ans) will dis­ap­pear in 2006.... After the 2006 elec­tion, Ukraini­ans will dance around the Jews.”.[18] In his speech at the open­ing of the Holodomor Memo­r­i­al in Novem­ber 2007, the Head of the par­ty in Zapor­izhia Oblast Tym­chi­na stat­ed: “Our time has come, and the Dnieper will soon be red with the blood of Kikes (slur for Jews) and Moskals (slur for Russians).”[19]

The Kom­m­er­sant news­pa­per on 26 Jan­u­ary 2010 quot­ed the head of the Kiev city orga­ni­za­tion Yuri Shep­etyuk say­ing: “There is no anti-Semi­tism in Ukraine. The Jews them­selves orga­nize var­i­ous provo­ca­tions, and then talk about the per­se­cu­tion in their address, to get even more fund­ing from abroad”. Kom­m­er­sant notes: “How­ev­er, he (Yuri Shep­etyuk) did not spec­i­fy what provo­ca­tions were staged in Ukraine by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Jew­ish community.”[20]

How­ev­er, as of recent­ly the offi­cial web­site the par­ty appears to express sup­port for Zion­ism and Israel (although not the Israeli gov­ern­ment, for pros­e­cut­ing Dem­jan­juk), and regards Ze’ev Jabotin­sky as a hero . . . .

7.Vladimir Jabotin­sky at one point attempt­ed to form an alliance with Symon Pet­lyu­ra, there­by pro­vid­ing the con­tem­po­rary revi­sion­ists in Ukraine with a per­fect pro­pa­gan­da vehi­cle with which to claim that Pet­lyu­ra was­n’t anti-Semit­ic.

“Jabotin­sky’s Embar­rass­ing Offer” by Shlo­mo Avineri; Haaretz; 7/19/2009.

Last week, Haaretz report­ed that Kiev plans to name a major street after Symon Petliu­ra, who head­ed the short-lived Ukrain­ian state that was found­ed after World War I. In Ukrain­ian eyes, Petliu­ra is one of the found­ing fathers of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism, much like the leader of the 17th-cen­tu­ry Cos­sack rebel­lion, Bohdan Khmel­nyt­sky. In the Jew­ish nar­ra­tive, Petliu­ra is iden­ti­fied with pogroms in which tens of thou­sands of Jews were slaugh­tered.

In 1926, Petliu­ra was assas­si­nat­ed in Paris by Sholom Schwartzbard, who was seek­ing to avenge the mur­der of his fam­i­ly. Schwartzbard was acquit­ted in court and lat­er passed away in South Africa. For years, he served as a sym­bol of Jew­ish pride among right-wing Zion­ists, and in 1967 his body was exhumed and trans­port­ed to Israel for rebur­ial in an offi­cial state cer­e­mo­ny ini­ti­at­ed by Men­achem Begin.

Petli­u­ra’s name is bare­ly known today in Israel, yet before the Nazis’ rise to pow­er it rep­re­sent­ed mur­der­ous anti-Semi­tism. The pogroms in Ukraine were one of the fac­tors that pushed Jews into the ranks of the Red Army, which waged war against Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism. Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists, on the oth­er hand, viewed Schwartzbard’s act as part of a Jew­ish-Bol­she­vist con­spir­a­cy.

What is less known is that after the fall of Petli­u­ra’s regime, none oth­er than Ze’ev Jabotin­sky signed an agree­ment with him in 1921. This is a com­pli­cat­ed and embar­rass­ing episode that sent huge shock­waves through the Zion­ist move­ment, of which Jabotin­sky was then a leader.

After inde­pen­dent Ukraine was defeat­ed by the Red Army, Petliu­ra found refuge in Poland, which had fought against Sovi­et Rus­sia. He planned to return to Ukraine at the head of an army of exiled expa­tri­ates. Jabotin­sky sug­gest­ed that Petliu­ra enlist units of Jew­ish sol­diers. Clear­ly Jabotin­sky’s rabid anti-Com­mu­nism was one rea­son behind the pro­pos­al. Pub­licly, he ratio­nal­ized the offer by claim­ing that the Jew­ish divi­sions in Petli­u­ra’s army would defend the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion from pos­si­ble pogroms. The sug­ges­tion allowed Petliu­ra to claim that he was not anti-Semit­ic, and that the pogroms were sim­ply “unfor­tu­nate” events that had occurred in the heat of bat­tle. . . .

8a. We review an arti­cle not­ing that cur­rent Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Poroshenko and for­mer pres­i­dent Yuschenko vis­it­ed the site of the Babi Yar mas­sacre and placed wreaths hon­or­ing the OUN/B, whose ranks sup­plied the bulk of the exe­cu­tion­ers for the mas­sacre.

“Ukraine: World War II Fias­co Leads to Pub­lic Rela­tions Dis­as­ter and Thorny Rela­tions for Kiev  and For­eign Dias­po­ra” by Nicholas Kozloff; The World Post; 6/29/2015.

For Kiev, win­ning the pub­lic rela­tions war against Vladimir Putin would seem to be a no-brain­er. For a year now, the Krem­lin has con­duct­ed a thin­ly-dis­guised war of aggres­sion in east­ern Ukraine result­ing in the deaths of thou­sands. Yet Kiev seems intent on squan­der­ing any inter­na­tion­al pub­lic sup­port it might have had amidst a bizarre crack­down on free speech and cen­sor­ship of con­tro­ver­sial his­tor­i­cal debates. Through its crack­down, Ukraine has actu­al­ly played into Putin’s pro­pa­gan­da war and facil­i­tat­ed Rus­si­a’s PR efforts.

At issue is Ukraine’s con­tentious World War II past, some of which isn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly flat­ter­ing. With the sup­port of Nazi Ger­many, mili­tias affil­i­at­ed with the extrem­ist Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN) alleged­ly com­mit­ted a pogrom in the west­ern city of Lviv. Writ­ing in the Lon­don Inde­pen­dent, jour­nal­ist Patrick Cock­burn notes that while “Ukrain­ian politi­cians and his­to­ri­ans have denied com­plic­i­ty... sur­viv­ing Jew­ish vic­tims, oth­er wit­ness­es and con­tem­po­rary pho­tographs prove that Ukrain­ian mili­ti­a­men and mobs of sup­port­ers car­ried out the pogrom, though the Ger­mans over­saw it and com­mit­ted many of the mur­ders.”

One schol­ar, John Paul Him­ka, has con­clud­ed that the pogrom was most­ly con­duct­ed by the OUN under Ger­man super­vi­sion. Accord­ing to Him­ka, the OUN sought to demon­strate to the Nazis “that it shared their anti-Jew­ish per­spec­tives and that it was wor­thy to be entrust­ed with the for­ma­tion of a Ukrain­ian state.” . . . . the OUN fought the Sovi­ets and strived for an inde­pen­dent Ukraine, many [of its] lead­ers were influ­enced and trained by Nazi Ger­many. Indeed, the OUN could be char­ac­ter­ized as a far right ter­ror­ist group which hoped to con­sol­i­date an eth­ni­cal­ly homoge­nous Ukraine and a total­i­tar­i­an, one par­ty state.

Wartime Con­tro­ver­sy

“The truth is that the offi­cial pol­i­cy of the OUN was open­ly anti-Semit­ic, includ­ing approval for Nazi-style Jew­ish exter­mi­na­tion,” writes Eduard Dolinksy of the Ukrain­ian Jew­ish Com­mit­tee. Dolinksy adds that it was only at the end of the war, when it became clear that Ger­many would be defeat­ed, that the Ukrain­ian right changed its posi­tion. The OUN in fact played an impor­tant role in pogroms which spread across West­ern Ukraine in the sum­mer of 1941, result­ing in the deaths of tens of thou­sands of Jews. After the Nazis dis­solved the mili­tias, many mem­bers linked up with the Ukrain­ian police and helped car­ry out the Holo­caust through­out West­ern Ukraine.

Then, for good mea­sure, the OUN assumed con­trol over the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army or UPA in 1943. . . . The Times of Israel notes “accord­ing to some his­tor­i­cal accounts the group mur­dered thou­sands of Jews in the 1940s” [oth­er his­to­ri­ans, as well as sup­port­ers of the UPA, dis­pute this, claim­ing there were many Jews who them­selves served in the ranks of the orga­ni­za­tion]. A recent arti­cle by Reuters claims the UPA shut­tled vic­tims into labor camps where they were sub­se­quent­ly exe­cut­ed. Fur­ther­more, it is claimed the UPA was also guilty of con­duct­ing eth­nic cleans­ing of Poles in 1943–44. The mas­sacres in East­ern Gali­cia, which formed part of an over­all UPA strat­e­gy aimed at cre­at­ing a homoge­nous Ukrain­ian state, result­ed in the deaths of 100,000 peo­ple.

Crim­i­nal­iz­ing Dis­sent

Amidst esca­lat­ing war in the east, Ukraine des­per­ate­ly needs allies and pop­u­lar for­eign sup­port. Giv­en the des­per­ate stakes, one would think that Kiev would come to terms with some of the unsa­vory aspects of its World War II past. Yet strange­ly, polit­i­cal elites are run­ning hard in the oppo­site direc­tion in an effort to cod­dle the extrem­ist right. At issue is a high­ly con­tro­ver­sial law recent­ly signed by Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko which hon­ors the OUN and UPA.

Under the new law, it would be a crime to ques­tion the likes of the UPA. Specif­i­cal­ly, leg­is­la­tion stip­u­lates that Ukraini­ans and even for­eign­ers [includ­ing Americans?–D.E.] who “pub­licly insult” the mem­o­ry of wartime par­ti­sans “will be held to account in accor­dance with Ukrain­ian law.” The bill does not spec­i­fy the penal­ty for ques­tion­ing Ukraine’s wartime past, nor does the state explain which body will enforce the leg­is­la­tion. On the oth­er hand, it is pos­si­ble that any pri­vate indi­vid­ual could bring a case to court.

Though cer­tain­ly dis­tress­ing, Kiev’s approval of the ret­ro­grade law comes as lit­tle sur­prise. For­mer Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yushchenko, in fact, hon­ored Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists at a memo­r­i­al in Babi Yar, where the most hor­rif­ic mas­sacre of Jews took place through­out the Holo­caust. Not stop­ping there, Yushchenko then bestowed the high­est gov­ern­ment hon­or on none oth­er than Stepan Ban­dera, a leader of the OUN.

Reha­bil­i­tat­ing Extrem­ist Right

Per­haps, Yushchenko’s efforts helped to reha­bil­i­tate Ban­dera and oth­ers in the minds of many. As recent­ly as 2013, rad­i­cal nation­al­ists were vis­i­bly active dur­ing Ukraine’s Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion. Indeed, right­ists bran­dished a host of OUN and UPA flags on Maid­an square while belt­ing out par­ti­san wartime songs [for a fuller dis­cus­sion of such curi­ous right­ist sym­bol­ism, see my ear­li­er arti­cle here]. If any­thing, the UPA’s pop­u­lar­i­ty has soared omi­nous­ly since the Maid­an.

Even more dis­turbing­ly, a num­ber of OUN-UPA apol­o­gists cur­rent­ly hold impor­tant gov­ern­ment posi­tions in Kiev, and Poroshenko has done noth­ing to con­front the rad­i­cal right. In fact, the Pres­i­dent has gone out of his way to fol­low in the foot­steps of his reac­tionary pre­de­ces­sor Yushchenko by once again lay­ing a wreath in hon­or of the OUN at Babi Yar. In addi­tion, Poroshenko has labeled the UPA as “defend­ers of the father­land” and estab­lished an offi­cial hol­i­day in hon­or of the par­ti­sans.

Need­less to say, Putin and Russ­ian media have made a lot of hay out of Kiev’s back­ward pol­i­tics and the emer­gence of so-called fas­cist hard­lin­ers. But while the new laws have raised a pre­dictable response from Rus­sia, the leg­is­la­tion has also report­ed­ly led to hack­les in Poland. Szczepan Siekier­ka, a leader of a civic orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to the mem­o­ry of Poles killed by Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists, is par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cerned. Speak­ing with the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor, Siekier­ka remarked “it’s hard to see rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and for­give­ness when the Ukraini­ans treat the UPA crim­i­nals and Ban­dera like nation­al heroes. Accept­ing one extrem­ism now will lead to the accep­tance of oth­er extrem­isms in future.”

Kiev Draws Inter­na­tion­al Fire

Pre­dictably, Kiev’s new leg­is­la­tion has drawn inter­na­tion­al fire from a vari­ety of quar­ters. The U.S. Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Muse­um has protest­ed the new leg­is­la­tion, not­ing “as Ukraine advances on the dif­fi­cult road to full democ­ra­cy, we strong­ly urge the nation’s gov­ern­ment to refrain from any mea­sure that pre­empts or cen­sors dis­cus­sion or politi­cizes the study of his­to­ry.” The Orga­ni­za­tion for Secu­ri­ty and Coop­er­a­tion in Europe (OSCE) has echoed such sen­ti­ments, not­ing that “broad­ly and vague­ly defined lan­guage that restricts indi­vid­u­als from express­ing views on past events and peo­ple, could eas­i­ly lead to sup­pres­sion of polit­i­cal, provoca­tive and crit­i­cal speech, espe­cial­ly in the media.”

Per­haps, the new leg­is­la­tion could even harm Ukraine’s bid to join the Euro­pean Union. Dolin­sky writes “mod­ern Ukraini­ans need to real­ize and com­pre­hend this dif­fi­cult and trag­ic his­to­ry in order to become a tru­ly Euro­pean nation. Such laws as that recent­ly signed by Pres­i­dent Poroshenko can only harm the Ukrain­ian peo­ple.” For their part, some schol­ars have expressed grave dis­may over devel­op­ments in Kiev. Recent­ly, a group of forty his­to­ri­ans from west­ern uni­ver­si­ties even signed an open let­ter of protest.

Still oth­ers wor­ry about the chill­ing effect upon schol­ar­ship. Writ­ing in the His­to­ry News Net­work, aca­d­e­m­ic experts declare that “the dan­ger is that a pro­hi­bi­tion on ‘insult­ing’ the ‘fight­ers’ or ques­tion­ing the legit­i­ma­cy of their ‘strug­gle’ is tan­ta­mount to a ban on crit­i­cal research. The law does not spec­i­fy what con­sti­tutes ‘insult­ing’, rais­ing the ques­tion as to what schol­ars of mod­ern Ukrain­ian his­to­ry are allowed to write and say, and what they are not.”

The Search For Ukrain­ian Iden­ti­ty

Con­tro­ver­sy swirling around the his­toric role of the OUN and UPA high­lights Ukrain­ian soul search­ing and the quest for a mod­ern nation­al iden­ti­ty. Though Ukraine has its right wing agi­ta­tors and even main­stream apol­o­gists, the coun­try has by and large prac­ticed tol­er­ance and inclu­sive­ness since gain­ing inde­pen­dence in 1991. Unfor­tu­nate­ly how­ev­er, back­ward leg­is­la­tion may serve to obscure such his­to­ry. Accord­ing to the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor, recent polit­i­cal con­tro­ver­sy demon­strates that “the debate over Ukrain­ian fas­cist his­to­ry isn’t sim­ply a he-said-she-said between Moscow and Kiev, but a deep­er prob­lem of how to square Ukraine’s some­times sor­did past with its efforts to find a mod­ern iden­ti­ty.”

While the recent World War II flak pos­es thorny ques­tions for many in Ukraine prop­er, the imbroglio may prompt some soul search­ing with­in the wider for­eign Dias­po­ra, too. In the wider met­ro­pol­i­tan New York area, the Ukrain­ian com­mu­ni­ty num­bers more than 100,000 peo­ple. In Man­hat­tan’s East Vil­lage, some­times known as “Lit­tle Ukraine,” locals expressed oppo­si­tion to Russ­ian influ­ence while hold­ing fundrais­ers in sup­port of Maid­an protest. Though the East Vil­lage has become gen­tri­fied in recent years, the neigh­bor­hood still sports land­marks such as the Asso­ci­a­tion of Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­cans; the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Home; the Vesel­ka restau­rant; a Ukrain­ian Church, and the local Ukrain­ian Muse­um.

In the wake of Maid­an protests in Kiev, Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­cans took to the Brook­lyn Bridge in sup­port of demon­stra­tions back home and even sang the nation­al anthem on the sub­way. Indeed, Euro­Maid­an encour­aged the growth of civic pride and patri­o­tism, with many bran­dish­ing Ukrain­ian flags and embrac­ing native folk­lore, crafts, music and food. The Krem­lin’s sub­se­quent annex­a­tion of Crimea unit­ed Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­cans like nev­er before in oppo­si­tion to Russ­ian aggres­sion. Along Sec­ond Avenue in the East Vil­lage, local res­i­dents set up an improved shrine hon­or­ing the Euro­Maid­an move­ment with signs attack­ing Wash­ing­ton for not stand­ing shoul­der to shoul­der with Kiev.

Tack­ling Dif­fi­cult Ques­tions

Unit­ing the Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty against exter­nal threats is one thing, but look­ing inward and try­ing to define the new soul of a nation is quite anoth­er. Per­haps, as Kiev’s polit­i­cal class increas­ing­ly moves to cod­dle extrem­ist con­stituen­cies, the for­eign Ukrain­ian com­mu­ni­ty will under­take seri­ous reflec­tion. Hope­ful­ly, the wider Dias­po­ra will not only con­demn right wing pol­i­tics and leg­is­la­tion but also build upon and expand mod­ern con­cepts of Ukrain­ian iden­ti­ty. Rather than appease World War II apol­o­gists, Ukraine should rec­og­nize the his­toric role of Jews in the coun­try. Today, many are sore­ly under-informed about such con­tri­bu­tions and may not even be aware of such lit­er­ary giants as Shalom Ale­ichem, for exam­ple.

In New York mean­while, the expat com­mu­ni­ty seems to fol­low famil­iar scripts. At the Ukrain­ian Muse­um, which sup­port­ed the Euro­Maid­an move­ment by dis­play­ing patri­ot­ic posters in win­dows, cura­tors have by and large played it safe by push­ing rather nar­row def­i­n­i­tions of Ukrain­ian iden­ti­ty. Rather than tack­le the tan­gled his­to­ry of Ukrain­ian-Jew­ish rela­tions, for exam­ple, the muse­um tends to con­cen­trate on folk art and themes such as his­toric Ukrain­ian resis­tance to Russ­ian expan­sion­ism. At the height of the Euro­Maid­an move­ment, one exhib­it dis­played — appar­ent­ly with­out irony — a pho­to of a col­or­ful “Cos­sack” pro­test­er on the Maid­an [need­less to say, many Jews of Ukrain­ian ances­try may have fear­ful asso­ci­a­tions of such Cos­sack his­to­ry]. On their way out, patrons may pur­chase kitschy folk­loric items in the muse­um gift shop.

Just a few blocks south of the East Vil­lage lies the Low­er East Side, a neigh­bor­hood which absorbed waves of Jew­ish immi­grants in the late nine­teenth and ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. Many of the immi­grants hailed from Czarist Rus­sia, pri­or to mod­ern Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence. Lat­er, many of the Jew­ish arrivals moved out of the Low­er East Side and assim­i­lat­ed into the wider cul­ture. Arguably, how­ev­er, many of the immi­grants’ descen­dants could be con­sid­ered just as Ukrain­ian as more recent arrivals in the East Vil­lage. To be sure, mem­o­ry or asso­ci­a­tions of Ukraine may seem quite dis­tant and abstract to the great grand­chil­dren of Low­er East Side migrants. On the oth­er hand, it is not unheard of for Amer­i­cans of Ital­ian or Irish descent, for exam­ple, to express sym­pa­thet­ic eth­nic ties to the moth­er coun­try. Maybe it is time for Ukraine to take a hard look in the mir­ror and ask itself why Jew­ish descen­dants are not clam­or­ing for the same.

8b. The largest uni­ver­si­ty in Ukraine is con­trolled by the MAUP orga­ni­za­tion, an insti­tu­tion­al dis­sem­i­na­tor of anti-Semit­ic doc­trine. David Duke teach­es at the insti­tu­tion. For­mer pres­i­dent Yuschenko is on the advi­so­ry board, as was Leonid Kravchuk, anoth­er pres­i­dent of Ukraine.

Orga­nized Anti-Semi­tism in Con­tem­po­rary Ukraine: Struc­ture, Influ­ence and Ide­ol­o­gy” by Pers Anders Rudling; Cana­di­an Slavon­ic Papers; Vol. 48, No. 1/2 (March-June 2006): pp. 81–118.

ABSTRACT: In the wake of the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, Ukraine has wit­nessed a sub­stan­tial growth in orga­nized anti-Semi­tism. Cen­tral to this devel­op­ment is an orga­ni­za­tion, known as the Inter­re­gion­al Acad­e­my of Human Resources, bet­ter known by its Ukrain­ian acronym MAUP. It oper­ates a well-con­nect­ed polit­i­cal net­work that reach­es the very top of the Ukrain­ian soci­ety. MAUP is the largest pri­vate uni­ver­si­ty in Ukraine, with 57,000 stu­dents at 24 region­al cam­pus­es. MAUP is con­nect­ed to the KKK; David Duke is teach­ing cours­es in his­to­ry and inter­na­tion­al rela­tions at the uni­ver­si­ty. Fund­ed by Sau­di Ara­bia, Libya and Iran, MAUP’s print­ing house pub­lish­es about 85% of the anti-Semit­ic lit­er­a­ture in Ukraine. Until very recent­ly, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Yushchenko and For­eign Min­is­ter Tara­siuk served on its board; for­mer Pres­i­dent Kravchuk still does. This paper is a study of anti-Semi­tism in Ukraine, of its intel­lec­tu­al roots, influ­ence and strength. It traces the Sovi­et, Chris­t­ian, Ger­man and racist polit­i­cal tra­di­tions and out­lines the polit­i­cal ambi­tions of orga­nized anti-Semi­tism in post-Orange Rev­o­lu­tion Ukraine.

9. The most vis­i­ble and best-pub­li­cized of the Nazi fight­ing for­ma­tions in Ukraine is the Azov bat­tal­ion. We now learn that Azov is train­ing a “youth cadre”–including chil­dren as young as six.

We don’t think it is much of a reach to see their “young ‘uns” as what might be accu­rate­ly viewed as a Ukrain­ian Hitler Youth.

“Shock­ing Pic­tures from Inside Neo-Nazi Mil­i­tary Camp Reveal Recruits as Young as Six Are Being Taught How to Fire Weapons (Even Though There’s a Cease­fire)” by Stephen Cock­roft; Dai­ly Mail; 8/12/2015.

They’re the ultra-Nation­al­ist swasti­ka-lov­ing bat­tal­ion which is open­ly against the cease­fire agreed with pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists

Now extrem­ists from the Azov unit, a far-right neo-Nazi mili­tia defend­ing the port city of Mar­i­upol in south­east­ern Ukraine, are teach­ing chil­dren as young as six how to fire guns in an attempt to entice them into the coun­try’s bloody con­flict.

Dis­turb­ing pic­tures have emerged from a mil­i­tary sum­mer camp held on the out­skirts of Kiev which show mem­bers of the vol­un­tary group teach­ing so-called ‘Azovets’ how to behave as young fight­ers.

The chil­dren — which include girls and boys, some as young as six — are seen load­ing their guns, before tak­ing part in exer­cis­es in which they crawl along the ground and fire at the ene­my.

The camp comes under the com­mand of Andriy Bilet­sky, who once admit­ted that the bat­tal­ion ‘do not like cease­fire at all’. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolf­san­gel (Wolf’s Hook) sym­bol on their ban­ner and sev­er­al mem­bers are white suprema­cists or anti-Semi­tes.

The con­flict broke out in April last year, when sep­a­ratists rebelled in east­ern Ukraine against the rule of Kiev’s new West­ern-look­ing gov­ern­ment.

Since April 2014, more than 6,500 peo­ple have been killed in the war-torn coun­try with experts warn­ing the cri­sis could car­ry on for years, despite a peace deal being bro­kered in the Belarus cap­i­tal Min­sk in Feb­ru­ary.

10. Some of the key con­sid­er­a­tions con­cern­ing the shoot­down of Malaysian Air­lines flight MH-17 are detailed in a recent post in Con­sor­tium News.  The author cor­rect­ly points out that it is high­ly unlike­ly that infor­ma­tion in the hands of U.S. intel­li­gence ana­lysts con­forms to the claims sup­pos­ed­ly but­tressed by social media. Those dubi­ous asser­tions are the only “doc­u­men­ta­tion” that the West has been able to gen­er­ate about the down­ing of the plane.

“Pro­pa­gan­da, Intel­li­gence and MH-17” by Ray McGov­ern; Con­sor­tium News; 8/17/2015.

Dur­ing a recent inter­view, I was asked to express my con­clu­sions about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Air­lines Flight 17 over Ukraine, prompt­ing me to take anoth­er hard look at Offi­cial Washington’s dubi­ous claims – point­ing the fin­ger of blame at east­ern Ukrain­ian rebels and Moscow – based on shaky evi­dence regard­ing who was respon­si­ble for this ter­ri­ble tragedy.

Unlike seri­ous pro­fes­sion­al inves­tiga­tive reporters, intel­li­gence ana­lysts often are required by pol­i­cy­mak­ers to reach rapid judg­ments with­out the twin lux­u­ries of enough time and con­clu­sive evi­dence. Hav­ing spent almost 30 years in the busi­ness of intel­li­gence analy­sis, I have faced that uncom­fort­able chal­lenge more times than I wish to remem­ber.

So, I know what it feels like to con­front issues of con­sid­er­able con­se­quence like the shoot-down of MH-17 and the killing of 298 pas­sen­gers and crew amid intense pres­sure to chore­o­graph the judg­ments to the pro­pa­gan­dis­tic music favored by senior offi­cials who want the U.S. “ene­my” – in this case, nuclear-armed Rus­sia and its West­ern-demo­nized Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin – to some­how be respon­si­ble. In such sit­u­a­tions, the eas­i­est and safest (career-wise) move is to twirl your analy­sis to the pre­ferred tune or at least sit this jig out.

But the trust-us-it-was-Putin marathon dance has now run for 13 months – and it’s get­ting tire­some to hear the P.R. peo­ple in the office of Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence James Clap­per still claim­ing that the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty has not revised or updat­ed its analy­sis of the inci­dent since July 22, 2014, just five days after the crash.

Back then, Clapper’s office, try­ing to back up Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry’s anti-Russ­ian rush to judg­ment, cit­ed very sketchy evi­dence – in both sens­es of the word – drawn heav­i­ly from “social media” accounts. Obvi­ous­ly, the high-priced and high-cal­iber U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty has learned much more about this very sen­si­tive case since that time, but the admin­is­tra­tion won’t tell the Amer­i­can peo­ple and the world. The DNI’s office still refers inquir­ing reporters back to the out­dat­ed report from more than a year ago.

None of this behav­ior would make much sense if the lat­er U.S. intel­li­gence data sup­port­ed the hasty fin­ger-point­ing toward Putin and the rebels. If more sol­id and per­sua­sive intel­li­gence cor­rob­o­rat­ed those ini­tial assump­tions, you’d think U.S. gov­ern­ment offi­cials would be falling over them­selves to leak the evi­dence and declare “we told you so.” And the DNI office’s claim that it doesn’t want to prej­u­dice the MH-17 inves­ti­ga­tion doesn’t hold water either – since the ini­tial rush to judg­ment did exact­ly that.

So, despite the dis­com­fort attached to mak­ing judg­ments with lit­tle reli­able evi­dence – and at the risk of sound­ing like for­mer Defense Sec­re­tary Don­ald Rums­feld – it seems high time to address what we know, what we don’t know, and why it may be that we don’t know what we don’t know.

Those caveats notwith­stand­ing I would say it is a safe bet that the hard tech­ni­cal intel­li­gence evi­dence upon which pro­fes­sion­al intel­li­gence ana­lysts pre­fer to rely does not sup­port Sec­re­tary of State Kerry’s unseem­ly rush to judg­ment in blam­ing the Russ­ian side just three days after the shoot-down.

‘An Extra­or­di­nary Tool’?

When the tragedy occurred U.S. intel­li­gence col­lec­tion assets were focused laser-like on the Ukraine-Rus­sia bor­der region where the pas­sen­ger plane crashed. Besides col­lec­tion from over­head imagery and sen­sors, U.S. intel­li­gence pre­sum­ably would have elec­tron­ic inter­cepts of com­mu­ni­ca­tions as well as infor­ma­tion from human sources inside many of the var­i­ous fac­tions.

That would mean that hun­dreds of intel­li­gence ana­lysts are like­ly to have pre­cise knowl­edge regard­ing how MH-17 was shot down and by whom. Though there may be some dif­fer­ence of opin­ion among ana­lysts about how to read the evi­dence – as there often is – it is out of the ques­tion that the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty would with­hold this data from Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, Sec­re­tary of State Ker­ry and oth­er top offi­cials.

Thus, it is a vir­tu­al cer­tain­ty that the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion has far more con­clu­sive evi­dence than the “social media” cit­ed by Ker­ry in cast­ing sus­pi­cions on the rebels and Moscow when he made the rounds of Sun­day talk shows just three days after the crash. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Ker­ry told David Gre­go­ry that “social media” is an “extra­or­di­nary tool.” The ques­tion is, a tool for what?

The DNI report two days lat­er rehashed many of the “social media” ref­er­ences that Ker­ry cit­ed and added some cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence about Rus­sia pro­vid­ing oth­er forms of mil­i­tary equip­ment to the rebels. But the DNI report con­tains no men­tion of Rus­sia sup­ply­ing a Buk anti-air­craft mis­sile sys­tem that Ker­ry and the DNI cit­ed as the sus­pect­ed weapon that downed the plane.

So, why does the admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ue refus­ing to go beyond such dubi­ous sources and shaky infor­ma­tion in attribut­ing blame for the shoot-down? Why not fill in the many blanks with actu­al and hard U.S. intel­li­gence data that would have been avail­able and exam­ined over the fol­low­ing days and weeks? Did the Rus­sians sup­ply a Buk or oth­er mis­sile bat­tery that would be capa­ble of hit­ting MH-17 fly­ing at 33,000 feet? Yes or no.

If not sup­plied by the Rus­sians, did the rebels cap­ture a Buk or sim­i­lar mis­sile bat­tery from the Ukraini­ans who had them in their own inven­to­ry? Or did some ele­ment of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment – pos­si­bly asso­ci­at­ed with one of Ukraine’s cor­rupt oli­garchs – fire the mis­sile, either mis­tak­ing the Malaysian plane for a Russ­ian one or cal­cu­lat­ing how the tragedy could be played for pro­pa­gan­da pur­pos­es? Or was it some oth­er sin­is­ter motive?

With­out doubt, the U.S. gov­ern­ment has evi­dence that could sup­port or refute any one of those pos­si­bil­i­ties, but it won’t tell you even in some declas­si­fied sum­ma­ry form. Why? Is it some­how unpa­tri­ot­ic to spec­u­late that John Ker­ry, with his check­ered rep­u­ta­tion for truth-telling regard­ing Syr­ia and oth­er for­eign crises, chose right off the bat to turn the MH-17 tragedy to Washington’s pro­pa­gan­da advan­tage, an exer­cise in “soft pow­er” to throw Putin on the defen­sive and ral­ly Europe behind U.S. eco­nom­ic sanc­tions to pun­ish Rus­sia for sup­port­ing eth­nic Rus­sians in Crimea and east­ern Ukraine resist­ing the new U.S.-arranged polit­i­cal order in Kiev?

By tak­ing a leaf out of the Bush-Cheney-Tony-Blair play­book, Ker­ry could “fix the intel­li­gence around the pol­i­cy” of Putin-bash­ing. Giv­en the anti-Putin bias ram­pant in the main­stream West­ern media, that wouldn’t be a hard sell. And, it wasn’t. The “main­stream” stenographers/journalists quick­ly accept­ed that “social media” was indeed a dandy source to rely on – and have nev­er pressed the U.S. gov­ern­ment to release any of its intel­li­gence data.

Yet, in the imme­di­ate after­math of the MH-17 shoot-down, there were signs that hon­est intel­li­gence ana­lysts were not com­fort­able let­ting them­selves be used as they and oth­er col­leagues had been before the inva­sion of Iraq in 2003.

To but­tress Kerry’s shaky case, DNI Clap­per arranged a flim­sy “Gov­ern­ment Assess­ment” – repris­ing many of Kerry’s ref­er­ences to “social media” – that was briefed to a few hand-picked Estab­lish­ment reporters two days after Ker­ry starred on Sun­day TV. The lit­tle-noticed dis­tinc­tion was that this report was not the cus­tom­ary “Intel­li­gence Assess­ment” (the genre that has been de rigueur in such cir­cum­stances in the past).

The key dif­fer­ence between the tra­di­tion­al “Intel­li­gence Assess­ment” and this rel­a­tive­ly new cre­ation, a “Gov­ern­ment Assess­ment,” is that the lat­ter genre is put togeth­er by senior White House bureau­crats or oth­er polit­i­cal appointees, not senior intel­li­gence ana­lysts. Anoth­er sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence is that an “Intel­li­gence Assess­ment” often includes alter­na­tive views, either in the text or in foot­notes, detail­ing dis­agree­ments among intel­li­gence ana­lysts, thus reveal­ing where the case may be weak or in dis­pute.

The absence of an “Intel­li­gence Assess­ment” sug­gest­ed that hon­est intel­li­gence ana­lysts were resist­ing a knee-jerk indict­ment of Rus­sia – just as they did after the first time Ker­ry pulled this “Gov­ern­ment Assess­ment” arrow out of his quiver try­ing to stick the blame for an Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack out­side Dam­as­cus on the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment.

Ker­ry cit­ed this pseu­do-intel­li­gence prod­uct, which con­tained not a sin­gle ver­i­fi­able fact, to take the Unit­ed States to the brink of war against Pres­i­dent Bashar al-Assad’s mil­i­tary, a fate­ful deci­sion that was only head­ed off at the last minute after Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma was made aware of grave doubts among U.S. intel­li­gence ana­lysts about who­dunit. Kerry’s sarin case has since col­lapsed. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Col­laps­ing Syr­ia-Sarin Case.”]

The sarin and MH-17 cas­es reveal the con­tin­u­ing strug­gles between oppor­tunis­tic polit­i­cal oper­a­tives and pro­fes­sion­al intel­li­gence ana­lysts over how to deal with geopo­lit­i­cal infor­ma­tion that can either inform U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy objec­tive­ly or be exploit­ed to advance some pro­pa­gan­da agen­da. Clear­ly, this strug­gle did not end after CIA ana­lysts were pres­sured into giv­ing Pres­i­dent George W. Bush the fraud­u­lent – not “mis­tak­en” – evi­dence that he used to make the case for invad­ing Iraq in 2003.

But so soon after that dis­grace­ful episode, the White House and State Depart­ment run the risk that some hon­est intel­li­gence ana­lysts would blow the whis­tle, espe­cial­ly giv­en the dan­ger­ous­ly blasé atti­tude in Estab­lish­ment Wash­ing­ton toward the dan­gers of esca­lat­ing the Ukraine con­fronta­tion with nuclear-armed Rus­sia. Giv­en the very high stakes, per­haps an intel­li­gence pro­fes­sion­al or two will sum­mon the courage to step up to this chal­lenge.

Falling in Line

For now, the rest of us are told to be sat­is­fied with the Sun­day media cir­cus orches­trat­ed by Ker­ry on July 20, 2014, with the able assis­tance of eager-to-please pun­dits. A review of the tran­scripts of the CBS, NBC, and ABC Sun­day fol­lies reveals a remark­able – if not unprece­dent­ed — con­sis­ten­cy in approach by CBS’s Bob Schi­ef­fer, NBC’s David Gre­go­ry (ably egged on by Andrea Mitchell), and ABC’s George Stephanopou­los, all of whom hewed faith­ful­ly to a script appar­ent­ly giv­en them with two main talk­ing points: (1) blame Putin; and (2) frame the shoot-down as a “wake-up call” (Ker­ry used the words repeat­ed­ly) for Euro­pean gov­ern­ments to impose tight eco­nom­ic sanc­tions on Rus­sia.

If the U.S. government’s hope was that the com­bi­na­tion of Kerry’s hasty judg­ment and the DNI’s sup­port­ive “Gov­ern­ment Assess­ment” would pin the P.R. blame for MH-17 on Putin and Rus­sia, the gam­bit clear­ly worked. The U.S. had imposed seri­ous eco­nom­ic sanc­tions on Rus­sia the day before the shoot-down – but the Euro­peans were hes­i­tant. Yet, in the MH-17 after­math, both U.S. and Euro­pean media were filled with out­rage against Putin for sup­pos­ed­ly mur­der­ing 298 inno­cents.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel and oth­er Euro­pean lead­ers, who had been resist­ing impos­ing strong eco­nom­ic sanc­tions because of Germany’s and the Euro­pean Union’s lucra­tive trade with Rus­sia, let them­selves be bull­dozed, just two weeks after the shoot-down, into going along with mutu­al­ly harm­ful sanc­tions that have hurt Rus­sia but also have shak­en the EU’s frag­ile eco­nom­ic recov­ery.

Thus start­ed a new, nox­ious phase in the bur­geon­ing con­fronta­tion between Rus­sia and the West, a cri­sis that was orig­i­nal­ly pre­cip­i­tat­ed by a West­ern-orches­trat­ed coup d’état in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, oust­ing Ukraine’s elect­ed Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych and touch­ing off the cur­rent civ­il war that has wit­nessed some of the worst blood­shed inside Europe in decades..

It may seem odd that those Euro­pean lead­ers allowed them­selves to be snook­ered so swift­ly. Did their own intel­li­gence ser­vices not cau­tion them against acqui­esc­ing over “intel­li­gence” from social media? But the tidal wave of anti-Putin fury in the MH-17 after­math was hard if not impos­si­ble for any West­ern politi­cian to resist.

Just One Spe­cif­ic Ques­tion?

Yet, can the U.S. con­ceal­ment of its MH-17 intel­li­gence con­tin­ue indef­i­nite­ly? Some points beg for answers. For instance, besides describ­ing social media as “an extra­or­di­nary tool,” Ker­ry told David Gre­go­ry on July 20, 2014: “We picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the tra­jec­to­ry. We know where it came from. We know the tim­ing. And it was exact­ly at the time that this air­craft dis­ap­peared from the radar.”

Odd that nei­ther Gre­go­ry nor oth­er “main­stream” stenog­ra­phers have thought to ask Ker­ry, then or since, to share what he says he “knows” with the Amer­i­can peo­ple and the world – if only out of, well, a decent respect for the opin­ions of mankind. If Ker­ry has sources beyond “social media” for what he claims to “know” and they sup­port his instant claims of Russ­ian cul­pa­bil­i­ty, then the impor­tance of his accu­sa­tions dic­tates that he describe exact­ly what he pre­tends to know and how. But Ker­ry has been silent on this top­ic.

If, on the oth­er hand, the real intel­li­gence does not sup­port the brief that Ker­ry argued right after the shoot-down, well, the truth will ulti­mate­ly be hard to sup­press. Angela Merkel and oth­er lead­ers with dam­aged trade ties with Rus­sia may ulti­mate­ly demand an expla­na­tion. Can it be that it will take cur­rent Euro­pean lead­ers a cou­ple of years to real­ize they’ve been had — again?

The U.S. gov­ern­ment also is like­ly to face grow­ing pub­lic skep­ti­cism for using social media to pin the blame on Moscow for the down­ing of MH-17 – not only to jus­ti­fy impos­ing eco­nom­ic sanc­tions, but also to stoke increased hos­til­i­ty toward Rus­sia.

The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and the main­stream media may try to pre­tend that no doubt exists – that the “group think” on Russia’s guilt is iron­clad. And it seems like­ly that the offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tions now being con­duct­ed by the U.S.-propped-up gov­ern­ment in Ukraine and oth­er close U.S. allies will strug­gle to build a cir­cum­stan­tial case keep­ing the Putin-did-it nar­ra­tive alive.

But chick­ens have a way of com­ing home to roost.



4 comments for “FTR #860 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 7 (All’s Well That’s Orwell, Part 3)”

  1. The Kyiv post has more on the Azov sum­mer camp for kids:

    Kyiv Post
    Azov fight­ers give mil­i­tary train­ing to chil­dren, fos­ter patri­o­tism at Kyiv sum­mer camp

    Aug. 29, 2015, 6:18 p.m. | Pho­to — by Faina Nakonech­naya, Volodymyr Petrov

    The kids are argu­ing about who gets which wood­en gun.

    “That’s my gun,” says one young boy loud­ly. He likes it because it fits nice­ly into his small hands.

    “That’s a new Amer­i­can ver­sion of the rifle,” says an old­er boy, knowl­edge­ably. “I like it bet­ter as well.”

    Once the argu­ment is set­tled, the kids run off to play at being sol­diers.

    It’s a scene that one could see on play­grounds and at sum­mer camps for kids all over the world.

    But this par­tic­u­lar camp is run by the Azov Bat­tal­ion found­ed by law­mak­er Andriy Bilet­sky, its for­mer com­man­der. Locat­ed in the wood­ed area of Kyiv’s Pushcha Vodyt­sya dis­trict, kids at this sum­mer camp aren’t just play­ing sol­diers – they’re get­ting actu­al mil­i­tary train­ing from sol­diers who have fought on the front line in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

    Named Azovets, the camp has been the sub­ject of neg­a­tive cov­er­age in the Russ­ian media, pro-Rus­sia web­sites and even U.K. tabloid The Dai­ly Mail.

    “Neo-Nazi sum­mer camp: Ukrain­ian kids taught to shoot AKs by Azov bat­tal­ion mem­bers (PHOTOS),” reads Krem­lin-con­trolled RT’s head­line for its sto­ry about the camp.

    “Shock­ing pic­tures from inside neo-Nazi mil­i­tary camp reveal recruits as young as SIX are being taught how to fire weapons (even though there’s a cease­fire),” reads the head­line in the Dai­ly Mail’s sen­sa­tion­al­ized and inac­cu­rate arti­cle.

    The Azovets sum­mer camp accepts chil­dren of Azov Bat­tal­ion mem­bers, as well as kids from Kyiv’s near­by Obolon dis­trict and fur­ther afield. It opened on June 22, runs week­long pro­grams of activ­i­ties for groups of 30 to 40 kids. Offi­cial­ly, it is for chil­dren aged from nine to 18, but there are kids as young as sev­en there. A few of the kids had already attend­ed it for sev­er­al weeks in a row.

    What makes the camp most con­tro­ver­sial is that it’s run by Azov fight­ers, some of whom have been labeled as far-right sup­port­ers and neo-Nazis. Crit­ics say the battalion’s sym­bol is an invert­ed Wolf­san­gel that has oblique but uncom­fort­able asso­ci­a­tions with Nazism.

    In pre­vi­ous inter­views with Ukrain­ian media, Bilet­sky says the sym­bol­ism is mis­un­der­stood. The let­ters “N” and “I” make up Azov’s insignia, which he says stand for “nation­al idea.”

    Bilet­sky found­ed a neo-Nazi group in Ukraine called the Social-Nation­al Assem­bly, and there cer­tain­ly are neo-Nazis among the battalion’s ranks, some sport­ing Nazi tat­toos. Some media have report­ed that up to 20 per­cent of Azov’s fight­ers are neo-Nazis, though the battalion’s press offi­cers are always at pains to empha­size that Azov, as a mil­i­tary for­ma­tion, does not share the ide­ol­o­gy of its founder Bilet­sky, or indeed have any ide­ol­o­gy oth­er than fer­vent patri­o­tism.

    One of its most famous for­eign mem­bers, a Swedish sniper called Mikael Skillt, has admit­ted his past far-right lean­ings, although he says he has since reject­ed neo-Nazi ide­ol­o­gy. But oth­ers in the bat­tal­ion haven’t.

    When the Kyiv Post vis­it­ed the Azovets camp on Aug. 19 the kids were busy with a range of activ­i­ties, includ­ing strip­ping down and assem­bling AK-47 assault rifles, tar­get prac­tice (with air guns), tack­ling assault cours­es, and prac­tic­ing com­bat pos­es and patrolling. They also take part in var­i­ous sports and games, do rap­pelling and climb­ing, and prac­tice oth­er more tra­di­tion­al scout­ing and wood­craft skills like tying knots.

    “I’ve been here only for three days, but I’ve real­ized that it’s not a camp where you just play games. We’re get­ting mil­i­tary train­ing here,” one of the kids at the camp told the Kyiv Post.

    Out in the for­est next to the camp, a group of kids was get­ting some weapons safe­ty advice from an Azov train­er.

    “Do you know what would hap­pen if you kept your fin­gers on the trig­ger? If it were a real gun, you could kill your com­rades. So, don’t do it!” the train­er barks.

    “Yes sir!” the kids answer.

    The chil­dren then prac­tice med­ical­ly evac­u­at­ing wound­ed sol­diers from the bat­tle­field.

    The mil­i­taris­tic atmos­phere at the camp, includ­ing strict dis­ci­pline, has plain­ly influ­enced some of the chil­dren.

    “I got my hair cut real­ly short yes­ter­day,” says one boy. “Just because I want it. I look more like a sol­dier now.”

    Two old­er kids, who, like many of the chil­dren at the camp, have tak­en noms de guerre (Medic and Physi­cist) in imi­ta­tion of Ukraine’s real sol­diers, said they now want­ed to join the Azov Bat­tal­ion.

    “I want to defend my home­land. There are com­rades who sup­port my idea. I think that if it’s nec­es­sary, I will fight,” 17-year old Physi­cist told the Kyiv Post.

    The chil­dren at the camp are orga­nized into four groups, depend­ing on their age, with each group over­seen by a train­er and care­giv­er. The camp’s day starts ear­ly, at 7 a.m. sharp, and ends at 11 p.m. The chil­dren sleep in tents.

    Access to Azov’s own web­site and sup­port­ing web­sites was closed off to the pub­lic last Sep­tem­ber when the bat­tal­ion was inte­grat­ed into the Nation­al Guard of Ukraine, but the camp has a page on the Russ­ian social net­work Vkon­tak­te (https://vk.com/tabir.azovec) where it is pro­mot­ed, and where peo­ple can apply to become vol­un­teers, or con­tact the camp to send their chil­dren there.

    “The Mis­sion of the Camp: To form the Ukrain­ian of a new era – a patri­ot, who is ready to active­ly par­tic­i­pate in build­ing and defend­ing Ukraine,” the page’s descrip­tion reads.

    It then goes on to describe the range of activ­i­ties at the camp, which include “inter­ac­tive lec­tures and films on his­tor­i­cal and mil­i­tary-patri­ot­ic themes, which explain to chil­dren in sim­ple terms the impor­tance of the home­land and its place in the sys­tem of human val­ues.”


    The mil­i­tary-patri­ot­ic songs that the chil­dren sing every day as a part of the camp’s pro­gram do seem to be one of the more pop­u­lar activ­i­ties for the kids. Late at night, sit­ting around a blaz­ing camp­fire, they belt out their favorites – patri­ot­ic songs dat­ing back to Ukraine’s pre­vi­ous strug­gles for inde­pen­dence in the ear­ly- to mid-20th cen­tu­ry.

    The Kyiv Post lis­tened to the words of one of the songs. Its lyrics were about Ukrain­ian sol­diers defeat­ing their ene­mies. Today that ene­my is Rus­sia. A boy who sits on a log soft­ly whis­pers: “I want that this war will end and we will kill all the Rus­sians.”

    Azov spokesman Stepan Badai said that the chil­dren are not taught songs that call for the killing of Rus­sians or any­body else. “The chil­dren some­times change lyrics when they sing, but they are taught tra­di­tion­al folk or patri­ot­ic songs,” Badai said by phone.

    The evening sin­ga­longs are one of Sofia’s favorite activ­i­ties too.

    “Many of the songs are about the invin­ci­bil­i­ty of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple. I like those that have words about peo­ple who fight to the death – these are the real patri­ots of their home­land,” she said.

    “I’ve been here only for three days, but I’ve real­ized that it’s not a camp where you just play games. We’re get­ting mil­i­tary train­ing here”
    That kind of puts Dis­ma­Land in per­spec­tive.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 2, 2015, 9:25 am
  2. A new book was just pub­lished exam­in­ing the life of Stepan Ban­dera. It sounds like a must-read book, espe­cial­ly for the con­tem­po­rary fans of Stepan Ban­dera:


    Who Was Stepan Ban­dera?
    Lion­ized as a nation­al­ist hero in Ukraine, Stepan Ban­dera was a Nazi sym­pa­thiz­er who left behind a hor­rif­ic lega­cy.

    by Daniel Lazare


    When West­ern jour­nal­ists trav­eled to Kiev in late 2013 to cov­er the Euro­maid­an protests, they encoun­tered a his­tor­i­cal fig­ure few rec­og­nized. It was Stepan Ban­dera, whose youth­ful black-and-white image was seem­ing­ly every­where — on bar­ri­cades, over the entrance to Kiev’s city hall, and on the plac­ards held by demon­stra­tors call­ing for the over­throw of then-pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych.

    Ban­dera was evi­dent­ly a nation­al­ist of some sort and high­ly con­tro­ver­sial, but why? The Rus­sians said he was a fas­cist and an anti­semite, but West­ern media were quick to dis­re­gard that as Moscow pro­pa­gan­da. So they hedged.

    The Wash­ing­ton Post wrote that Ban­dera had entered into a “tac­ti­cal rela­tion­ship with Nazi Ger­many” and that his fol­low­ers “were accused of com­mit­ting atroc­i­ties against Poles and Jews,” while the New York Times wrote that he had been “vil­i­fied by Moscow as a pro-Nazi trai­tor,” a charge seen as unfair “in the eyes of many his­to­ri­ans and cer­tain­ly to west­ern Ukraini­ans.” For­eign Pol­i­cy dis­missed Ban­dera as “Moscow’s favorite bogey­man . . . a metonym for all bad Ukrain­ian things.”

    Who­ev­er Ban­dera was, all were in agree­ment that he couldn’t have been as nasty as Putin said he was. But thanks to Grze­gorz Rossolinski-Liebe’s Stepan Ban­dera: The Life and After­life of a Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist, it now seems clear: those ter­ri­ble Rus­sians were right.

    Ban­dera was indeed as nox­ious as any per­son­al­i­ty thrown up by the hell­ish 1930s and ’40s. The son of a nation­al­ist-mind­ed Greek Catholic priest, Ban­dera was the sort of self-pun­ish­ing fanat­ic who sticks pins under his fin­ger­nails to pre­pare him­self for tor­ture at the hands of his ene­mies. As a uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent in Lviv, he is said to have moved on to burn­ing him­self with an oil lamp, slam­ming a door on his fin­gers, and whip­ping him­self with a belt. “Admit, Stepan!” he would cry out. “No, I don’t admit!”

    A priest who heard his con­fes­sion described him as “an über­men­sch . . . who placed Ukraine above all,” while a fol­low­er said he was the sort of per­son who “could hyp­no­tize a man. Every­thing that he said was inter­est­ing. You could not stop lis­ten­ing to him.”

    Enlist­ing in the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN) at age twen­ty, he used his grow­ing influ­ence to steer an already-vio­lent group in an even more extreme direc­tion. In 1933, he orga­nized an attack on the Sovi­et con­sul in Lviv, which only man­aged to kill an office sec­re­tary. A year lat­er, he direct­ed the assas­si­na­tion of the Pol­ish min­is­ter of the inte­ri­or. He ordered the exe­cu­tion of a pair of alleged inform­ers and was respon­si­ble for oth­er deaths as well as the OUN took to rob­bing banks, post offices, police sta­tions, and pri­vate house­holds in search of funds.

    What sent Ban­dera off in such a vio­lent direc­tion? Rossolinski-Liebe’s mas­sive new study takes us through the times and the pol­i­tics that cap­tured Bandera’s imag­i­na­tion. Gali­cia had been part of Aus­tro-Hun­gary pri­or to the war. But where­as the Pol­ish-con­trolled west­ern half was incor­po­rat­ed into the new­ly estab­lished Repub­lic of Poland in 1918, the Ukrain­ian-dom­i­nat­ed east­ern por­tion, where Ban­dera was born in 1909, was not absorbed until 1921, fol­low­ing the Polish–Soviet War and a brief peri­od of inde­pen­dence.

    It was a poor fit from the start. Bit­ter at being deprived of a state of their own, Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists refused to rec­og­nize the takeover and, in 1922, respond­ed with a cam­paign of arson attacks on some 2,200 Pol­ish-owned farms. The gov­ern­ment in War­saw replied with repres­sion and cul­tur­al war­fare. It brought in Pol­ish farm­ers, many of them war vet­er­ans, to set­tle the dis­trict and rad­i­cal­ly change the demo­graph­ics of the coun­try­side. It closed down Ukrain­ian schools and even tried to ban the term “Ukrain­ian,” insist­ing that stu­dents employ the some­what more vague “Ruthen­ian” instead.

    When the OUN launched anoth­er arson and sab­o­tage cam­paign in sum­mer 1930, War­saw resort­ed to mass arrest. By late 1938, as many as 30,000 Ukraini­ans were lan­guish­ing in Pol­ish jails. Soon, Pol­ish politi­cians were talk­ing about the “exter­mi­na­tion” of the Ukraini­ans while a Ger­man jour­nal­ist who trav­eled through east­ern Gali­cia in ear­ly 1939 report­ed that local Ukraini­ans were call­ing for “Uncle Führer” to step in and impose a solu­tion of his own on the Poles.

    The con­flict in the Pol­ish-Ukrain­ian bor­der­lands exem­pli­fied the ugly eth­nic wars that were erupt­ing through­out east­ern Europe as a new world war approached. Con­ceiv­ably, Ban­dera might have respond­ed to the grow­ing dis­or­der by mov­ing to the polit­i­cal left. Pre­vi­ous­ly, lib­er­al Bol­she­vik cul­tur­al poli­cies in the Ukrain­ian Sovi­et Social­ist Repub­lic, had caused a surge in pro-Com­mu­nist sen­ti­ment in the neigh­bor­ing Pol­ish province of Vol­hy­nia.

    But a num­ber of fac­tors got in the way: his father’s posi­tion in the church, the fact that Gali­cia, unlike for­mer­ly Russ­ian Vol­hy­nia, was an ex-Hab­s­burg pos­ses­sion and hence ori­ent­ed toward Aus­tria and Ger­many, and, of course, Stalin’s dis­as­trous col­lec­tiviza­tion poli­cies, which, by the ear­ly ’30s, had com­plete­ly destroyed the Sovi­et Ukraine as any sort of mod­el worth emu­lat­ing.

    Con­se­quent­ly, Ban­dera respond­ed by mov­ing ever far­ther to the right. In high school, he read Myko­la Mikhnovs’kyi, a mil­i­tant nation­al­ist who had died in 1924 and preached a unit­ed Ukraine stretch­ing “from the Carpathi­an Moun­tains to the Cau­ca­sus,” one that would be free of “Rus­sians, Poles, Mag­yars, Roma­ni­ans, and Jews.” Entry into the OUN a few years lat­er exposed him to the teach­ings of Dmytro Dontsov, the group’s “spir­i­tu­al father,” anoth­er ultra-right­ist who trans­lat­ed Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Mussolini’s La Dot­t­ri­na Del Fas­cis­mo and taught that ethics should be sub­or­di­nate to the nation­al strug­gle.

    Entry into the OUN also plunged him into a milieu marked by grow­ing anti­semitism. Anti-Jew­ish hatred had been deeply bound up with the con­cept of Ukrain­ian nation­hood since at least the sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry when thou­sands of Ukrain­ian peas­ants, mad­dened by the exac­tions of the Pol­ish land­lords and their Jew­ish estate man­agers, engaged in a vicious blood­let­ting under the lead­er­ship of a minor noble­man named Bohdan Khmel­nyt­sky.

    Ukraine was the scene of even more grue­some pogroms dur­ing the Russ­ian Civ­il War. But anti­se­mit­ic pas­sions rose a fur­ther notch in 1926 when a Jew­ish anar­chist named Sholom Schwartzbard assas­si­nat­ed the exiled Ukrain­ian leader Symon Petliu­ra in Paris.

    “I have killed a great assas­sin,” declared Schwartzbard, who had lost four­teen fam­i­ly mem­bers in the pogroms that swept through the Ukraine when Petliu­ra head­ed up a short-lived anti-Bol­she­vik repub­lic in 1919–1920, on sur­ren­der­ing to the police. But after hear­ing tes­ti­mo­ny from sur­vivors about impaled babies, chil­dren cast into flames, and oth­er anti-Jew­ish atroc­i­ties, a French jury acquit­ted him in just thir­ty-five min­utes.

    The ver­dict caused a sen­sa­tion, not least on the Ukrain­ian right. Dontsov denounced Schwartzbard as “an agent of Russ­ian impe­ri­al­ism,” declar­ing:

    Jews are guilty, ter­ri­bly guilty, because they helped con­sol­i­date Russ­ian rule in Ukraine, but “the Jew is not guilty of every­thing.” Russ­ian impe­ri­al­ism is guilty of every­thing. Only when Rus­sia falls in Ukraine will we be able to set­tle the Jew­ish ques­tion in our coun­try in a way that suits the inter­est of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple.

    While the Bol­she­viks were the main ene­my, Jews were their for­ward strik­ing force, so the most effec­tive way of coun­ter­ing one was by thor­ough­ly elim­i­nat­ing the oth­er. In 1935, OUN mem­bers smashed win­dows in Jew­ish hous­es and then, a year lat­er, burned around a hun­dred Jew­ish fam­i­lies out of their homes in the town of Kostopil in what is now west­ern Ukraine. They marked the tenth anniver­sary of Petliura’s assas­si­na­tion by dis­trib­ut­ing leaflets with the mes­sage: “Atten­tion, kill and beat the Jews for our Ukrain­ian leader Symon Petliu­ra, the Jews should be removed from Ukraine, long live the Ukrain­ian state.”

    By this point, Ban­dera was already in jail serv­ing a life sen­tence fol­low­ing a pair of high­ly pub­li­cized mur­der tri­als in which he taunt­ed the court by giv­ing the fas­cist salute and cry­ing out, Sla­va Ukraïni – “Glo­ry to Ukraine.” But he was able to escape fol­low­ing the Ger­man takeover of west­ern Poland begin­ning on Sep­tem­ber 1, 1939 and make his way to Lviv, the cap­i­tal of east­ern Gali­cia.

    But the Sovi­et incur­sion on Sep­tem­ber 17 sent him flee­ing in the oppo­site direc­tion. Even­tu­al­ly, he and the rest of the OUN lead­er­ship set­tled in Ger­man-con­trolled Cra­cow, about two hun­dred miles to the west, where they set about prepar­ing the orga­ni­za­tion for fur­ther bat­tles still to come.

    The Nazi inva­sion of the Sovi­et Union, which the OUN lead­er­ship seems to have got­ten wind of months ahead of time, was the moment they had been wait­ing for. Not only did it promise to free the Ukraine from Sovi­et con­trol, but it also held out the prospect of uni­fy­ing all Ukraini­ans in a sin­gle state. The dream of a greater Ukraine would thus be real­ized.

    A month ear­li­er, Ban­dera and his chief lieu­tenants — Stepan Lenkavs’kyi, Stepan Shukhevych, and Iaroslav Stets’ko — had put the fin­ish­ing touch­es on an inter­nal par­ty doc­u­ment enti­tled “The Strug­gle and Activ­i­ties of the OUN in Wartime,” a to-do list for when the Wehrma­cht crossed the Sovi­et bor­der.

    It called on mem­bers to take advan­tage of the “favor­able sit­u­a­tion” posed by a “war between Moscow and oth­er states” to cre­ate a nation­al rev­o­lu­tion that would draw up all Ukraine in its vor­tex. It con­ceived of rev­o­lu­tion as a great purifi­ca­tion process in which “Mus­covites, Poles, and Jews” would be “destroyed . . . in par­tic­u­lar those who pro­tect the [Sovi­et] regime.” Although the OUN regard­ed the Nazis as allies, the doc­u­ment stressed that OUN activists should com­mence the rev­o­lu­tion as soon as pos­si­ble so as present the Wehrma­cht with a fait accom­pli:

    We treat the com­ing Ger­man army as the army of allies. We try before their com­ing to put life in order, on our own as it should be. We inform them that the Ukrain­ian author­i­ty is already estab­lished, it is under the con­trol of the OUN under the lead­er­ship of Stepan Ban­dera; all mat­ters are reg­u­lat­ed by the OUN and the local author­i­ties are ready to estab­lish friend­ly rela­tions with the army, in order to fight togeth­er against Moscow.

    The doc­u­ment con­tin­ued that “it is per­mis­si­ble to liq­ui­date unde­sir­able Poles . . . NKVD peo­ple, inform­ers, provo­ca­teurs . . . all impor­tant Ukraini­ans who, in the crit­i­cal time, would try to make ‘their pol­i­tics’ and there­by threat­en the deci­sive mind-set of the Ukrain­ian nation,” adding that only one par­ty would be per­mit­ted under the new order — the OUN.

    Although Ban­dera and his fol­low­ers would lat­er try to paint the alliance with the Third Reich as no more than “tac­ti­cal,” an attempt to pit one total­i­tar­i­an state against anoth­er, it was in fact deep-root­ed and ide­o­log­i­cal. Ban­dera envi­sioned the Ukraine as a clas­sic one-par­ty state with him­self in the role of führer, or provid­nyk, and expect­ed that a new Ukraine would take its place under the Nazi umbrel­la, much as Jozef Tiso’s new fas­cist regime had in Slo­va­kia or Ante Pavelic’s in Croa­t­ia.

    Cer­tain high-rank­ing Nazis thought along sim­i­lar lines, most notably Alfred Rosen­berg, the new­ly appoint­ed Reich min­is­ter for the occu­pied east­ern ter­ri­to­ries. But Hitler was obvi­ous­ly of a dif­fer­ent mind. He saw Slavs as “an infe­ri­or race,” inca­pable of orga­niz­ing a state, and viewed Ukraini­ans in par­tic­u­lar as “just as lazy, dis­or­ga­nized, and nihilis­tic-Asi­at­ic as the Greater Rus­sians.”

    Instead of a part­ner, he saw them as an obsta­cle. Obsessed with the British naval block­ade of World War I, which had caused as many as 750,000 deaths from star­va­tion and dis­ease, he was deter­mined to block any sim­i­lar effort by the Allies by expro­pri­at­ing east­ern grain sup­plies on an unprece­dent­ed scale. Hence the impor­tance of the Ukraine, the great gra­nary on the Black Sea. “I need the Ukraine in order that no one is able to starve us again like in the last war,” he declared in August 1939. Grain seizures on such a scale would mean con­demn­ing vast num­bers to star­va­tion, twen­ty-five mil­lion or more in all.

    Yet not only did the Nazis not care, but anni­hi­la­tion on such a scale accord­ed per­fect­ly with their plans for a racial makeover of what they viewed as the east­ern fron­tier. The result was the famous Gen­er­alplan Ost, the great Nazi blue­print that called for killing or expelling up to 80 per­cent of the Slav­ic pop­u­la­tion and its replace­ment by Volks­deutsche, set­tlers from old Ger­many, and Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans.

    Plain­ly, there was no room in such a scheme for a self-gov­ern­ing Ukraine. When Stets’ko announced the for­ma­tion of a Ukrain­ian state “under the lead­er­ship of Stepan Ban­dera” in Lviv just eight days after the Nazi inva­sion, a cou­ple of Ger­man offi­cers warned him that the ques­tion of Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence was up to Hitler alone. Nazi offi­cials gave Ban­dera the same mes­sage a few days lat­er at a meet­ing in Cra­cow.

    Sub­se­quent­ly, they escort­ed both Ban­dera and Stets’ko to Berlin and placed them under house arrest. When Hitler decid­ed on July 19, 1941 to par­ti­tion the Ukraine by incor­po­rat­ing east­ern Gali­cia into the “Gen­er­al Gov­ern­ment,” as Nazi-ruled Poland was known, OUN mem­bers were stunned.

    Instead of uni­fy­ing the Ukraine, the Nazis were dis­mem­ber­ing it. When graf­fi­ti appeared declar­ing, “Away with for­eign author­i­ty! Long live Stepan Ban­dera,” the Nazis respond­ed by shoot­ing a num­ber of OUN mem­bers and, by Decem­ber 1941, plac­ing some 1,500 under arrest.

    Still, as Rossolin­s­ki-Liebe shows, Ban­dera and his fol­low­ers con­tin­ued to long for an Axis vic­to­ry. As strained as rela­tions with the Nazis might be, there could be no talk of neu­tral­i­ty in the epic strug­gle between Moscow and Berlin.

    In a let­ter to Alfred Rosen­berg in August 1941, Ban­dera offered to meet Ger­man objec­tions by recon­sid­er­ing the ques­tion of Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence. On Decem­ber 9, he sent him anoth­er let­ter plead­ing for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion: “Ger­man and Ukrain­ian inter­ests in East­ern Europe are iden­ti­cal. For both sides, it is a vital neces­si­ty to con­sol­i­date (nor­mal­ize) Ukraine in the best and fastest way and to include it in the Euro­pean spir­i­tu­al, eco­nom­ic, and polit­i­cal sys­tem.”

    Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism, he went on, had tak­en shape “in a spir­it sim­i­lar to the Nation­al Social­ist ideas” and was need­ed to “spir­i­tu­al­ly cure the Ukrain­ian youth” who had been poi­soned by their upbring­ing under the Sovi­ets. Although the Ger­mans were in no mood to lis­ten, their atti­tude changed once their for­tunes began to shift. Des­per­ate for man­pow­er fol­low­ing their defeat at Stal­in­grad, they agreed to the for­ma­tion of a Ukrain­ian divi­sion in the Waf­fen-SS, known the Gal­izien, which would even­tu­al­ly grow to 14,000 mem­bers.

    Rather than dis­band­ing the OUN, the Nazis had mean­while revamped it as a Ger­man-run police force. The OUN had played a lead­ing role in the anti-Jew­ish pogroms that broke out in Lviv and dozens of oth­er Ukrain­ian cities on the heels of the Ger­man inva­sion, and now they served the Nazis by patrolling the ghet­toes and assist­ing in depor­ta­tions, raids, and shoot­ings.

    But begin­ning in ear­ly 1943, OUN mem­bers desert­ed the police en masse in order to form a mili­tia of their own that would even­tu­al­ly call itself the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (Ukraïns’ka Povstans’ka Armi­ia, or UPA). Tak­ing advan­tage of the chaos behind Ger­man lines, their first major act was an eth­nic cleans­ing cam­paign aimed at dri­ving Poles out of east­ern Gali­cia and Vol­hy­nia. “When it comes to the Pol­ish ques­tion, this is not a mil­i­tary but a minor­i­ty ques­tion,” a Pol­ish under­ground source quot­ed a UPA leader as say­ing. “We will solve it as Hitler solved the Jew­ish ques­tion.”

    Cit­ing the Pol­ish his­to­ri­an Greze­gorz Moty­ka, Rossolin­s­ki-Liebe says that the UPA killed close to 100,000 Poles between 1943 and 1945 and that Ortho­dox priests blessed the axes, pitch­forks, scythes, sick­les, knives, and sticks that the peas­ants it mobi­lized used to fin­ish them off.

    Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, UPA attacks on Jews con­tin­ued at such a fero­cious lev­el that Jews actu­al­ly sought the pro­tec­tion of the Ger­mans. “The Ban­derite bands and the local nation­al­ists raid­ed every night, dec­i­mat­ing the Jews,” a sur­vivor tes­ti­fied in 1948. “Jews shel­tered in the camps where Ger­mans were sta­tioned, fear­ing an attack by Ban­derites. Some Ger­man sol­diers were brought to pro­tect the camps and there­by also the Jews.”

    Rossolin­s­ki-Liebe car­ries the sto­ry of Ban­dera and his move­ment through the Nazi defeat when the Gal­izien divi­sion fought along­side the retreat­ing Wehrma­cht and then into the post­war peri­od when those left behind in the Ukraine mount­ed a des­per­ate rear­guard resis­tance against the encroach­ing Sovi­ets.

    This war-after-the-war was a dead­ly seri­ous affair in which OUN fight­ers killed not only inform­ers, col­lab­o­ra­tors, and east­ern Ukraini­ans trans­ferred to Gali­cia and Vol­hy­nia to work as teach­ers or admin­is­tra­tors, but their fam­i­lies as well. “Soon the Bol­she­viks will con­duct the grain levy,” they warned on one occa­sion. “Any­one among you who brings grain to the col­lec­tion points will be killed like a dog, and your entire fam­i­ly butchered.”

    Muti­lat­ed corpses appeared with signs pro­claim­ing, “For col­lab­o­ra­tion with the NKVD.” Accord­ing to a 1973 KGB report, more than 30,000 peo­ple fell vic­tim to the OUN before the Sovi­ets man­aged to wipe out resis­tance in 1950, includ­ing some 15,000 peas­ants and col­lec­tive-farm work­ers and more than 8,000 sol­diers, mili­tia mem­bers, and secu­ri­ty per­son­nel.

    Even giv­en the bar­bar­i­ty of the times, the group’s actions stood out.

    Stepan Ban­dera is an impor­tant book that com­bines biog­ra­phy and soci­ol­o­gy as it lays out the sto­ry of an impor­tant rad­i­cal nation­al­ist and the orga­ni­za­tion he led. But what makes it so rel­e­vant, of course, is the OUN’s pow­er­ful resur­gence since the 1991.

    Although West­ern intel­li­gence eager­ly embraced Ban­dera and his sup­port­ers as the Cold War began to stir — “Ukrain­ian emi­gra­tion in the ter­ri­to­ry of Ger­many, Aus­tria, France, Italy, in the great­est major­i­ty is a healthy, uncom­pro­mis­ing ele­ment in the fight against the Bol­she­viks,” a US Army intel­li­gence agent not­ed in 1947 — the movement’s long-term prospects did not seem to be very promis­ing, espe­cial­ly after a Sovi­et agent man­aged to slip through Bandera’s secu­ri­ty ring in Munich in 1959 and kill him with a blast from a cyanide spray gun.

    With that, the Ban­derites seemed to be going the way of all oth­er “cap­tive nations,” far-right exiles who gath­ered from time to time to sing the old songs but who oth­er­wise seemed to be relics from a bygone era.

    What saved them, of course, was the Sovi­et col­lapse. OUN vet­er­ans has­tened back at the first oppor­tu­ni­ty. Stets’ko had died in Munich in 1986, but his wid­ow, Iarosla­va, returned in his place, accord­ing to Rossolin­s­ki-Liebe, found­ing a far-right par­ty called the Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists and win­ning a spot in par­lia­ment. Iurii Shukhevych, the son of the exiled UPA leader Roman Shukhevych, estab­lished anoth­er ultra-right group call­ing itself the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Assem­bly. Even Bandera’s grand­son, Stephen, made an appear­ance, tour­ing Ukraine as he unveiled mon­u­ments, attend­ed ral­lies, and praised his grand­fa­ther as the “sym­bol of the Ukrain­ian nation.”

    A home­grown group of Ban­derites mean­while formed the Social-Nation­al Par­ty of Ukraine, lat­er known as Svo­bo­da. In a 2004 speech, their leader, the charis­mat­ic Oleh Tiah­ny­bok, paid trib­ute to the fight­ers of the UPA:

    The ene­my came and took their Ukraine. But they were not afraid; like­wise we must not be afraid. They hung their machine guns on their necks and went into the woods. They fought against the Rus­sians, Ger­mans, Jews, and oth­er scum who want­ed to take away our Ukrain­ian state! And there­fore our task — for every one of you, the young, the old, the gray-head­ed and the youth­ful — is to defend our native land!

    Except for the omis­sion of the Poles, the speech was an indi­ca­tion of how lit­tle things had changed. The move­ment was as xeno­pho­bic, anti­se­mit­ic, and obsessed with vio­lence as ever, except that now, for the first time in half a cen­tu­ry, thou­sands of peo­ple were lis­ten­ing to what it had to say.

    One might think that the lib­er­al West would want noth­ing to do with such ele­ments, but the response was no less unscrupu­lous than it was dur­ing the open­ing years of the Cold War. Because the ban­derivt­si were anti-Russ­ian, they had to be demo­c­ra­t­ic. Because they were demo­c­ra­t­ic, their ultra-right trap­pings had to be incon­se­quen­tial.

    The Ban­dera por­traits that were increas­ing­ly promi­nent as the Euro­maid­an protests turned more and more vio­lent, the wolf­san­gel that was for­mer­ly a sym­bol of the SS but was now tak­en up by the Azov Bat­tal­ion and oth­er mili­tias, the old OUN war cry of “Glo­ry to Ukraine, glo­ry to the heroes” that was now ubiq­ui­tous among anti-Yanukovych pro­test­ers — all had to be ignored, dis­count­ed, or white­washed.


    “Although Ban­dera and his fol­low­ers would lat­er try to paint the alliance with the Third Reich as no more than “tac­ti­cal,” an attempt to pit one total­i­tar­i­an state against anoth­er, it was in fact deep-root­ed and ide­o­log­i­cal. Ban­dera envi­sioned the Ukraine as a clas­sic one-par­ty state with him­self in the role of führer, or provid­nyk, and expect­ed that a new Ukraine would take its place under the Nazi umbrel­la, much as Jozef Tiso’s new fas­cist regime had in Slo­va­kia or Ante Pavelic’s in Croa­t­ia.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 26, 2015, 10:28 am
  3. “Fire­works are expect­ed when Ukraine takes its seat along­side per­ma­nent mem­ber Rus­sia”:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press
    Ukraine to Sit Along­side Rus­sia on UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil

    By edith m. led­er­er

    UNITED NATIONS — Oct 15, 2015, 4:01 PM ET

    Ukraine won a seat on the U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil on Thurs­day and imme­di­ate­ly promised to use the plat­form to wage a polit­i­cal bat­tle against Rus­sia for annex­ing Crimea and sup­port­ing east­ern Ukrain­ian sep­a­ratists.

    The 193-mem­ber Gen­er­al Assem­bly also elect­ed four oth­er coun­tries — Egypt, Japan, Sene­gal and Uruguay — to the U.N.‘s most pow­er­ful body. All five coun­tries were unop­posed in their bids for the non-per­ma­nent seats and will start their two-year terms on Jan. 1.

    Fire­works are expect­ed when Ukraine takes its seat along­side per­ma­nent mem­ber Rus­sia.

    Ukraine’s For­eign Min­is­ter Pavlo Klimkin called the elec­tion a very impor­tant day for Ukraine and the Unit­ed Nations in its strug­gle for peace “under Russ­ian aggres­sion — and fight­ing against Russ­ian aggres­sions.” He said the coun­try is proud of the 177 votes it received, call­ing the strong sup­port “a sign of world sol­i­dar­i­ty with Ukraine.”

    Klimkin was in New York ear­li­er this week meet­ing with U.N. ambas­sadors and let­ting the world know that rela­tions with Rus­sia will be any­thing but con­cil­ia­to­ry.

    “Elec­tion to the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil is of spe­cial impor­tance for us as a back­drop of the ongo­ing Russ­ian aggres­sion,” Klimkin told reporters on Tues­day. “For the first time, we have an absolute­ly unique and unimag­in­able sit­u­a­tion ... that a per­ma­nent mem­ber of the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil is an aggres­sor in Ukraine, wag­ing a hybrid war against Ukraine.”

    In an inter­view with The Asso­ci­at­ed Press after Thurs­day’s vote, Klimkin stressed that “the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil is not just about set­tling scores.”

    It’s about pro­mot­ing the U.N. Char­ter and its com­mit­ments to peace, sov­er­eign­ty and human rights, he said, and Ukraine is ready to work with oth­er coun­cil mem­bers “to bring sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty” in Africa, the Mid­dle East and else­where.

    But Ukraine remains com­mit­ted in its fight “against Russ­ian aggres­sion and show­ing that Rus­sia is behind what is going on in entire of Don­bas,” the east­ern region con­trolled by pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists, Klimkin stressed.

    He said Ukraine will make the case that Russ­ian troops, mer­ce­nar­ies and weapons must leave the coun­try’s east, that Ukraine must regain full con­trol of its bor­der with Rus­sia, and that the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, the U.N., and human rights mon­i­tors must have full access to the region.

    Ukraine will also be work­ing to keep up “polit­i­cal pres­sure on Rus­sia to rec­og­nize that the Crimea is ille­gal­ly occu­pied,” to strength­en U.S. and Euro­pean sanc­tions, and to get human rights mon­i­tors into Crimea, Klimkin said.

    “We need strong sup­port of the whole inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to sort out the Crimean issue because the Crimea is Ukrain­ian and will be Ukrain­ian,” he said.

    Klimkin pre­dict­ed that “the Crimea will get back to Ukraine far ear­li­er than many believe,” argu­ing that no one in the world can feel safe with Rus­sia break­ing inter­na­tion­al laws and rules which “is dis­rupt­ing the whole world sys­tem.”

    Rus­sia had qui­et­ly cam­paigned against Ukraine’s bid, accord­ing to diplo­mats who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because dis­cus­sions have been pri­vate.

    In Thurs­day’s Coun­cil elec­tion, Sene­gal was the top vote-get­ter with 187 votes, fol­lowed by Uruguay with 185, Japan with 184 and Egypt with 179.

    The new coun­cil could also see clash­es between Japan and rival Chi­na, also a per­ma­nent mem­ber, as well as with Rus­sia. Japan has ter­ri­to­r­i­al dis­putes with both coun­tries.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 15, 2015, 1:20 pm
  4. The new may­or of the Ukrain­ian city of Kono­top appears to have a thing for numerol­o­gy. Specif­i­cal­ly, Nazi numerol­o­gy. Yes, the new may­or is a mem­ber of Svo­bo­da:

    Jerusalem Post
    Local Jews in shock after Ukrain­ian city of Kono­top elects neo-Nazi may­or

    * Anti-gov­ern­ment pro­test­ers accuse Israel of seek­ing to col­o­nize the Ukraine
    * Ukraini­ans erect mon­u­ment to ‘nation­al heroes’ who killed Uman’s Jews in 18th cen­tu­ry


    12/21/2015 17:41

    Vio­lence from Svo­bo­da par­ty activists a con­cern for some in small north­ern city.
    Svo­bo­da ukraine

    Two months after local elec­tions were held across Ukraine, res­i­dents of the small north­ern city of Kono­top are express­ing shock and dis­may over the behav­ior of new­ly cho­sen May­or Artem Semenikhin of the neo-Nazi Svo­bo­da par­ty.

    Accord­ing to reports, Semenikhin dri­ves around in a car bear­ing the num­ber 14/88, a numero­log­i­cal ref­er­ence to the phras­es “we must secure the exis­tence of our peo­ple and a future for white chil­dren” and “Heil Hitler”; replaced the pic­ture of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko in his office with a por­trait of Ukrain­ian nation­al leader and Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor Stepan Ban­dera; and refused to fly the city’s offi­cial flag at the open­ing meet­ing of the city coun­cil because he object­ed to the star of David embla­zoned on it. The flag also fea­tures a Mus­lim cres­cent and a cross.

    Svo­bo­da, known as the Social-Nation­al Par­ty of Ukraine until 2004, has been accused of being a neo-Nazi par­ty by Ukrain­ian Jews and while par­ty lead­ers have a his­to­ry of mak­ing anti-Semit­ic remarks, their rhetoric has toned down con­sid­er­ably over the past years as they attempt­ed to go main­stream.

    While it man­aged to enter main­stream pol­i­tics and gain 36 out of 450 seats in the Rada, Ukraine’s par­lia­ment, the party’s sup­port seemed to evap­o­rate fol­low­ing the 2014 Ukrain­ian rev­o­lu­tion, in which it played a cen­tral role. It cur­rent­ly holds six seats in the leg­is­la­ture.

    The par­ty man­aged to improve its stand­ing dur­ing recent munic­i­pal elec­tions, how­ev­er, obtain­ing some 10 per­cent of the vote in Kiev and gar­ner­ing sec­ond place in the west­ern city of Lviv. For the most part, how­ev­er, Svo­bo­da is far from the major wor­ry for Ukrain­ian Jews that it was only two years ago.

    “It is a sad, but a real­i­ty when anti-Semi­tes are being elect­ed in local gov­ern­ing bod­ies, even may­ors pro­mot­ing hate and intol­er­ance.

    Kono­top is a clear case,” said Eduard Dolin­sky of the Ukrain­ian Jew­ish Com­mit­tee.

    For the Jews of Kono­top, how­ev­er, wor­ries per­sist, with Ilya Bezruchko, the Ukrain­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the US-based Nation­al Coali­tion Sup­port­ing Eurasian Jew­ry, say­ing he believed res­i­dents, who gen­er­al­ly get along well with local Jews, vot­ed for Semenikhin because he pro­ject­ed an image of some­one who could bring change and reform a cor­rupt sys­tem.

    How­ev­er, Semenikhin him­self has a his­to­ry of fraud, hav­ing been arrest­ed for pos­ing as an elec­tric­i­ty com­pa­ny work­er in order to extract pay­ments from busi­ness­es in Kiev in 2012, Bezruchko charged.

    Bezruchko, whose late grand­fa­ther was the head of the com­mu­ni­ty and whose moth­er cur­rent­ly works for the city coun­cil, said Semenikhin and his assis­tant have left angry com­ments on his Face­book page in response to crit­i­cal arti­cles that the Jew­ish activist had post­ed on his blog.

    He claimed that some­one close to the may­or claimed that he would be hos­pi­tal­ized if he returned to the city from Kiev, where he cur­rent­ly lives, and that the may­or him­self post­ed to say that his moth­er was cor­rupt and should be fired from her job.

    “The reac­tion of [the] com­mu­ni­ty is shock. Peo­ple are shocked it could hap­pen in [a] city and nobody believed it could hap­pen here but it hap­pened some­how,” com­mu­ni­ty activist Igor Nechayev told The Jerusalem Post by phone Mon­day.

    While there have been a cou­ple of instances of anti-Semit­ic graf­fi­ti over the past decade and one occa­sion­al­ly hears ref­er­ences to con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries iden­ti­fy­ing Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal lead­ers as Jews, for the most part, rela­tions between the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty and their non-Jew­ish neigh­bors are cor­dial, he said.

    How­ev­er, while the may­or attempts to make sure his state­ments nev­er cross over into out­right anti-Semi­tism, many things he says can be inter­pret­ed in such a way, he con­tin­ued. As an exam­ple, he referred to a recent state­ment by Semenikhin in which the may­or refused to apol­o­gize for anti-Jew­ish actions tak­en by far-right nation­al­ists in World War II, inti­mat­ing that it was because those respon­si­ble for the Holodomor famine of the 1930s were large­ly Jew­ish.

    The Holodomor was a man­made famine that came about dur­ing the col­lec­tiviza­tion of agri­cul­ture in the Sovi­et Union and which led to the starv­ing deaths of mil­lions. Ukraini­ans con­sid­er it a geno­cide.

    “The com­mu­ni­ty is dis­cussing the sit­u­a­tion and they under­stand that the may­or is bal­anc­ing between anti-Semi­tism— – he isn’t cross­ing a red­line with state­ments but say­ing bor­der things that can be under­stood as anti-Semit­ic,” he explained.


    Speak­ing to the Post, Vyach­eslav Likhachev, an anti-Semi­tism researcher affil­i­at­ed with the Vaad of Ukraine and the Euro-Asian Jew­ish Con­gress, said “Ukraini­ans are afraid of the Russ­ian threat, not the threat of nation­al rad­i­cal­ism,” and that “Semenikhin has suc­cess­ful­ly cre­at­ed him­self an image of a defend­er of Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence, and vot­ers were able to sup­port him, not pay­ing atten­tion to the rad­i­cal­ism of his views.

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Likhachev said the cur­rent Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tion does not allow to for­bid those with right-wing views to take part in the elec­tion, or to remove them from the elect­ed posi­tions.

    “The spe­cial anti-com­mu­nist and anti-Nazi law says about ban­ning the sym­bols of the Nation­al Social­ist (Nazi) of the total­i­tar­i­an regime, which includes sym­bols of the Nazi Par­ty and the state sym­bols of the Third Reich only,” he said. It is impos­si­ble to inter­pret­ed in legal terms sym­bols like 14/88.”

    “Accord­ing to reports, Semenikhin dri­ves around in a car bear­ing the num­ber 14/88, a numero­log­i­cal ref­er­ence to the phras­es “we must secure the exis­tence of our peo­ple and a future for white chil­dren” and “Heil Hitler”...”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 22, 2015, 7:56 pm

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