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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment .
Introduction: Continuing coverage of the re-emergence of fascism in Ukraine, this program highlights the Orwellian aspects of governance in Ukraine and the coverage of events there by the world’s media. Ukraine recently held a nation-wide minute of silence  for Symon Petliura (as with other Ukrainian names, the spelling of his name is subject to varying transliteration.) In the immediate post-World War I period, Petliura’s armies butchered some 50,000 Jews.
Also stunning, though predictable under the circumstances, is the Poroshenko government’s renaming of streets for Nazi collaborators Stephan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych. This has received scant, and altogether slanted coverage in the West, with Bandera’s well-documented alliance with Hitler being nuanced as “Kremlin propaganda.” 
Looming large in the background of the wholesale revisionism going on in Ukraine are the activities of Volodomyr Viatrovych  and his “Institute of National Memory.”
One of the perceived journalistic counter-weights to the rampant anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi revisionism dominating Ukraine is the Jewish heritage of the new prime minister Volodymir Groysman. We note that Groysman’s law degree  was from MAUP university, the wellspring  of Ukrainian anti-Semitism and an institution that featured David Duke as a faculty member.
Next, we examine some of the “shared values” that the Ukrainian government has with the West. Much has been made of this illusory resonance in the wake of the Maidan coup.
In addition to barring U.N. observers  from investigating torture that was apparently committed in Ukraine’s civil war, a website closely connected to the government has published the names and addresses  of journalists who reported from the ethnic-Russian rebel-held East. Those journalists were branded as “terrorists,” a label that should be alarming in light of the murder of a journalist who had been sympathetic to the cause of the rebels.
Turning to the subject of the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17, we note that observers are viewing much of the evidence  in the case with a jaundiced eye, because of the fact that the SBU (Ukrainian intelligence) was run by Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, closely allied with Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), one of the OUN/B heirs that assumed power after the Maidan coup. This taints the investigation, in the eyes of many.
The New York Times continues its grotesquely slanted  coverage of the downing of MH-17, publishing an apparently fraudulent story about alleged Russian falsification of Buk missile launchers in Ukraine. The Dutch intelligence service noted that only the Ukrainian military–not the ethnic Russian rebels in the East–possessed missiles capable of shooting down the plane.
The program concludes with updates on the punisher battalions. These fascist fighting formations are actually used by the Ukrainian government to circumvent the Minsk II accords .
We end the program with a very revealing story. Claiming that Congressman John Convers (D‑MI) is a “Kremlin dupe” for portraying the openly Nazi Azov Battalion as fascist, we note that the official spokesman  for the Azov Battalion is Roman Zvarych. Zvarych was the personal secretary for Jaroslav Stetsko in the early 1980s. Stetsko was the head of Ukraine’s World War II collaborationist government and the architect of bloody Nazi-style ethnic cleansing programs in Ukraine.
Program Highlights Include:
- Former SBU head Nalyvaichenko’s trafficking in stolen art.
- Review  of Svarych’s prominent role in post Cold War Ukraine.
- An unsuccessful attempt to re-brand  the Babi Yar Ravine–site of a major World War II massacre–as a non-specific memorial to human suffering.
- Review of the Orwellian re-writing  of Ukrainian World War II history by Volodomyr Viatrovych.
1. Ukraine observed a minute of silence in honor of Symon Petliura, whose troops killed 50,00 Jews in the immediate post World War I period.
Country for the first time observes a minute of silence in memory of Symon Petliura, a 1920s statesman killed by a Russia-born Jew
Amid a divisive debate in Ukraine on state honors for nationalists viewed as responsible for anti-Semitic pogroms, the country for the first time observed a minute of silence in memory of Symon Petliura, a 1920s statesman blamed for the murder of 50,000 Jewish compatriots.
The minute was observed on May 25, the 90th anniversary of Petliura’s assassination in Paris. National television channels interrupted their programs and broadcast the image of a burning candle for 60 seconds, Ukraine’s Federal News Agency reported.
A French court acquitted Sholom Schwartzbard, a Russia-born Jew, of the murder even though he admitted to it after the court found that Petliura had been involved in, or knew of, pogroms by members of his militia fighting for Ukrainian independence from Russia in the years 1917–1921. Fifteen of Schwartzbard’s relatives perished in the pogroms.
Separately, the director of Ukraine’s Institute of National Remembrance, Vladimir Vyatrovich, said in a statement on Monday that Kiev will soon name a street for two other Ukrainian nationalists — Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych — who are widely believed to be responsible for lethal violence against Jews. . . .
2a. Notice the wording of this article about the renaming of a street in honor of Stephan Bandera. The story presents Bandera’s well-documented collaboration with the Third Reich is an oblique, almost speculative context!
Ukraine’s capital Kiev on Thursday renamed its Soviet-era Moscow Avenue after a Russian hate figure accused by the Kremlin of siding with the Nazis during World War II.
Kiev’s local council decided that one of the bustling city’s main northern arteries will now honour Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera. . . .
. . . . Moscow accuses Bandera and his OUN fighters of siding with the Nazis once they invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.
Historians think Bandera believed that Hitler would grant Ukraine independence or at least partial autonomy once the Nazis conquered Moscow.
Bandera declared independence days after the Nazis moved into Ukraine — a decision that proved nearly fatal because the German Gestapo almost immediately detained him and put him in a concentration camp.
He was released once it became clear that the Nazi were going to lose World War II. . . .
2b. International outcry has rolled back plans to skew the history of the Babi Yar massacre during World War II. A famous Holocaust mass killing, the Babi Yar massacre was to be mis-represented
The Ukrainian government is facing allegations of historical revisionism after announcing plans to revamp the Babi Yar massacre site to turn it into a generic symbol of human suffering rather than a quintessential emblem of the Holocaust.
In preparation for September’s 75th anniversary of the massacre at the ravine in Kiev where more than 33,000 Jews were murdered in a two-day period in 1941, a government- backed design competition invited architectural proposals to resolve what it sees as a “problem” of a “discrepancy between the world’s view and Jewry’s exclusive view of Babi Yar as a symbol of the Holocaust.” . . .
3. A degree of official “celebration/relief” has been expressed over the naming of Petro Poroshenko’s protege Volodymir Groysman as Prime Minister of Ukraine. Part of the official sigh of relief concerns the fact that Groysman is Jewish, as is Poroshenko.
Poroshenko’s Jewish affiliation has done nothing  to attenuate his collaboration with the OUN/B heirs who came to power in Ukraine.
In addition to being a crony of Poroshenko, Groysman has a “law degree” from MAUP. In addition to being a diploma mill, of sorts, MAUP is the point of origin of the bulk of anti-Semitic literature in Ukraine. Among its faculty members is David Duke. Former president Viktor Yuschenko  was on its board of directors.
Last week’s resignation of Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and seemingly unexpected promotion of the Speaker of the Parliament Volodymir Groysman to lead the Cabinet puzzled only those who do not closely follow Ukrainian politics.
Right after his candidacy was announced, the persona of Mr. Groysman—who is virtually unknown outside of Ukraine—got under the magnifying glass the country’s friends and foes. And the more observers dug into his past, the less hopeful they were about “the path of change” that the Maidan revolution had tried to put the country on.
In May of 2014, right before the first post-Maidan presidential elections in Ukraine, Germany’s DerSpiegel magazine wrote  that those wanting to understand Petro Poroshenko should visit Vinnitsa, a provincial capital of 370,000 inhabitants, 124 miles from Kiev.
Vinnitsa is a hub of the chocolate business of the Ukrainian President, and he used to represent the town in the Supreme Rada, the Ukrainian parliament. Here, the Ukrainian billionaire president has two ROSHEN candy factories, the back-bone of his chocolate empire. Vinnitsa is his home turf.
Mr. Groysman, 38, was born and raised in Vinnitsa. Fifteen years ago, he was taken under Mr. Poroshenko’s protective wing, and on multiple occasions proved himself the loyal vicegerent of the powerful oligarch. They’ve had a long history together—and shared political and economic interests in their shared hometown of Vinnitsa. . . .
. . . . In 2003, a coveted diploma of a lawyer from the so-called Inter-Regional Academy of Personnel Management (MAUP) appeared in the portfolio of the ambitious Vinnitsa politician. After Mr. Groysman’s recent appointment to the position of the Prime Minister, Vitaly Kupriy, the Ukrainian Parliament deputy, accused him of buying his lawyer’s diploma for “lard.” (The expression comes from a Ukrainian village folk character coming to Kiev with his backpack full of home-salted lard hoping with this simple-minded bribe to get accepted into the university.)
“Judging by the documents, Groysman studied at the Academy only for 1.5 years [instead of usual 4–5]. This doesn’t look right. It looks like [his diploma] was bought for ‘lard’,” he said.
As far as his formal education is concerned—it doesn’t really matter if Mr. Groysman ever stepped into the doors of this “Academy” with or without lard—the institution’s reputation is highly bizarre. In 2005, for example, MAUP became world-famous for inviting American Ku Klux Klansman David Duke to give lectures there; Mr. Duke later received  his PhD degree in history from this “Academy.” . . . .
. . . . Since 2011, the biggest dancing waters show in Europe, with installed fountains that shoot water 229 feet into the air, is in Vinnitsa. It is called Fountain Roshen on Roshen quay, named after Petro Poroshenko’s candy conglomerate. The artificial water geysers are accompanied by a music-and-laser show that resemble the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Tourists from all over Ukraine come to see what is considered one of the 10 most impressive water shows in the world. It was built by a German company and cost 1.5 million euros, which was was donated by Petro Poroshenko.
4. Note that Groysman’s apparently bogus law degree came from MAUP University, an epicenter of Ukrainian anti-Semitism. Note, also, that the above-mentioned Viktor Yuschenko was on its board of directors
“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.
5. Where there’s smoke, there’s probably fire. Or maybe torture :
The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) has suspended its visit to Ukraine after being denied access to places in several parts of the country where it suspects people are being deprived of their liberty by the Security Service of Ukraine, the SBU.
“This denial of access is in breach of Ukraine’s obligations as a State party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. It has meant that we have not been able to visit some places where we have heard numerous and serious allegations that people have been detained and where torture or ill-treatment may have occurred,” said Sir Malcolm Evans, head of the four-member delegation.
The delegation concluded that the integrity of the visit, which began on 19 May and was due to end on 26 May, had been compromised to such an extent that it had to be suspended as the SPT mandate could not be fully carried out.
Under the Optional Protocol (OPCAT), the SPT is mandated to visit all States parties and can make unannounced visits to any places of detention. This is only the second time the SPT has halted a mission – such suspensions are made in cases where a lack of cooperation by the State party prevents the SPT from fulfilling its OPCAT-mandated duties.
“The SPT expects Ukraine to abide by its international obligations under the Optional Protocol, which it ratified in 2006. We also hope that the Government of Ukraine will enter into a constructive dialogue with us to enable the SPT to resume its visit in the near future and so work together to establish effective safeguards against the risk of torture and ill-treatment in places where people are deprived of their liberty,” said Sir Malcolm.
The focus of the SPT’s visit was to evaluate how its recommendations made after its first visit in 2011 had been implemented. The work of the SPT, which is composed of independent experts, is guided by the principles of confidentiality and cooperation.
6a. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko–the Pravy Sektor-linked former chief of the Ukrainian intelligence service–appears to have skewed the evidence in the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. Not surprisingly, Nalyvaichenko has been implicated in the smuggling of antiquities.
The reliability of evidence in the investigation of the crash last year of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine is at issue because of the sinister role of the Ukrainian secret service SBU in corruption and crime scandals.
Criminal law experts predict problems for criminal proceedings against the murderers of the passengers who died in the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 now that it appears that everything is false with the intelligence work that delivered all kinds of material evidence. The Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) is set to ask questions about this in today’s parliamentary session.
“The ‘noise’ is guaranteed to play a role in any legal case,” said law professor Theo de Roos. “That goes for the defense but also for the judges who will examine evidence very critically. The public prosecution department should be looking now rather than later at the integrity of the evidence.”
It was the SBU that provided the wiretapped telephone conversations between pro-Russian [sic] rebels in the war zone just before and after the Malaysian Airlines Boeing was shot down from the sky. The Ukrainian security forces had also a big role in securing human remains, debris and rocket parts in the disaster area.
But the same SBU also appears in numerous criminal affairs. Several informants in the scandal of the paintings stolen from the West Frisian Museum in Hoorn, Holland in 2005 indicate former SBU head Valentyn Nalyvaichenko of this year is a mastermind in the stolen art trade. Nalyvaichenko was fired in June of this year.
Last year, the name of the former SBU chief was linked to large-scale smuggling of antiques discovered by Finnish police.
The ongoing investigation into corrupt Limburg policeman Mark M is also linked to Ukraine. A justice in Brabant recently requested assistance from Kiev. According to investigation sources, Mark M. kept a network in Ukraine of ‘gangsters and members of the secret service’. This past summer alone, 22 members of the SBU disappeared behind bars because of corruption and criminal practices.
The CDA calls the SBU scandals a great risk for the criminal investigation into the MH17 case and wants documents and explanations from Justice Minister Ard van der Steur.
“There is little actual evidence [in the investigation],” says Christian Democrat parliamentarian Pieter Omtzigt. “What there is may have been compromised to some extent. The evidence was collected way too late at the scene of the crash and now appears to have been collected by dishonest people.”
The CDA wants to know why satellite and radar data of Ukrainians, Russians and Americans is lacking from the report of the Dutch Safety Board into the crash of the MH17. “It appears this has still not been discussed with Ukrainian air traffic control.”
Dutch police say cooperation with Ukrainian researchers is “good” and all the submitted evidence “has been critically examined”. Professor of international law Geert-Jan Knoops, however, feels that more research into the reliability of evidence is needed.
“The prosecution has the duty to exclude any evidence in a scenario where evidence has been tampered with. That means, for example, it must closely examine how the SBU selected wir4tapped phone calls and who was involved in that selection.”
6b. In a story on his Consortium News website, Robert Parry has noted that The New York Times published a blatant forgery purporting to demonstrate that Russia had altered a photograph showing Ukrainian disposition of BUK missile batteries. The same article notes that the Dutch intelligence service stated that the only anti-aircraft missiles capable of bringing down MH-17 belonged to the Ukrainian government.
Forensic experts are challenging an amateur report – touted in The New York Times – that claimed Russia faked satellite imagery of Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile batteries in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, the day that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot out of the sky killing 298 people.
In a Twitter exchange , Dr. Neal Krawetz, founder of the FotoForensics digital image analytical tool, wrote: “‘Bad analysis’ is an understatement. This ‘report’ is outright fraud.”
Another computer imaging expert, Masami Kuramoto, wrote, “This is either amateur hour or supposed to deceive audiences without tech background,” to which Krawetz responded: “Why ‘or’? Amateur hour AND deceptive.”
On Saturday, The New York Times, which usually disdains Internet reports even from qualified experts, chose to highlight the report  by arms control researchers at armscontrolwonk.com who appear to have little expertise in the field of forensic photographic analysis.
The Times article  suggested that the Russians were falsely claiming that the Ukrainian military had Buk missile systems in eastern Ukraine on the day that MH-17 was shot down. But the presence of Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile batteries in the area has been confirmed by Western intelligence, including a report issued last October on the findings of the Dutch intelligence agency which had access to NATO’s satellite and other data collection.
Indeed, the Netherlands’ Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) concluded that the only anti-aircraft weapons in eastern Ukraine capable of bringing down MH-17 at 33,000 feet belonged to the Ukrainian government, not the ethnic Russian rebels. MIVD made that assessment in the context of explaining why commercial aircraft continued to fly over the eastern Ukrainian battle zone in summer 2014. (The MH-17 flight had originated in Amsterdam and carried many Dutch citizens, explaining why the Netherlands took the lead in the investigation.)
MIVD said that based on “state secret” information, it was known that Ukraine possessed some older but “powerful anti-aircraft systems” and “a number of these systems were located in the eastern part of the country.” MIVD added that the rebels lacked that capacity:
“Prior to the crash, the MIVD knew that, in addition to light aircraft artillery, the Separatists also possessed short-range portable air defence systems (man-portable air-defence systems; MANPADS) and that they possibly possessed short-range vehicle-borne air-defence systems. Both types of systems are considered surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). Due to their limited range they do not constitute a danger to civil aviation at cruising altitude.”
I know that I have cited this section of the Dutch report before but I repeat it because The New York Times, The Washington Post and other leading U.S. news organizations have ignored these findings, presumably because they don’t advance the desired propaganda theme blaming the Russians for the tragedy. . . . .
7. New York Times journalist Andrew E. Kramer was listed as a “terrorist” journalist by the government of Ukraine, presumably for reporting on the civil war in Ukraine, presumably for reporting on events in the Russian separatist areas.
I have had guns pointed at me, slept in a shipping container and walked past the corpses of shelling victims since the separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine  began two years ago. But I had never been blacklisted as a terrorist before.
So when my name recently appeared on a “terrorist” list of journalists published by a website with close ties to the Ukrainian government, I viewed it with a mix of trepidation and sarcasm.
Trepidation because it suggested powerful people in Ukraine, a democracy that aspires to the free flow of information, were going after me and others on the list for simply doing our jobs: reporting both sides of the war, including the pro-Russian rebel side.
And sarcasm because, this being Ukraine, the list was not likely to have much credibility elsewhere. I have not, for example, had any trouble flying after appearing on what may be the world’s first list of terrorist journalists.
It is also not a secret that I and other reporters have reported from rebel territory; our publications and broadcast outlets regularly use our names and note where we are.
The list, published by a Ukrainian nationalist website called Myrotvorets, or the Peacemaker, appeared to have been born out of a simmering frustration.
Hard-liners in Ukraine have been furious at the foreign press for some time now, arguing that any coverage of the rebels from their home base in the east played into Russia ’s powerful propaganda machine. Russia has portrayed residents in the breakaway regions as victims of an unjustified Ukrainian military assault by a Western-backed “fascist” government in Kiev.
The list is a compilation of reporters and others who applied for press passes to work in territory controlled by the Donetsk People’s Republic, Ukraine’s main enemy in the two-year-old war in the east. Applying for accreditation from Russian-backed rebels, according to the website, was enough to be branded a “terrorist accomplice.” . . . .
. . . . Groups supporting journalists quickly condemned the publication of the names — and in some cases home addresses — for seeming to invite violence against reporters.
A pro-Russian commentator living in Kiev, Oles Buzina, whose home address was publicized in a Myrotvorets post last year, was shot and killed on a street not far from his home days later.
But this time, the site was publishing names and contact details for 5,412 journalists, drivers, fixers, soundmen and translators. Not all of us can be rubbed out. . . .
8a. Vice News has a new piece of reporting from Donetsk about the experiences of some of the foreign mercenaries who have joined up with a Right Sector battalion. As the article makes clear, one of the aspects of Right Sector that the Kiev government finds most useful in the current situation where the Minsk II agreement is supposed to minimize hostilitiesw is that the “out of control” volunteer battalions like Right Sector are basically allowed to violate the Minsk II agreement as much as they want. The government just has to make sure the battalions are able to illegally acquire weapons and operate with impunity.
Another thing the article makes clear is that, like most articles that talk about Right Sector’s ideology and ambitions, once Right Sector is done fighting in the Donbas, they’re still planning on marching on Kiev :
When Ben Fischer stepped out of his jeep at the barracks of the Voloveka Tactical Group, in Donetsk, Ukraine, last May, he was a mercenary arriving to work on his third continent in as many years. The scene at the headquarters of a rogue unit within the rogue Ukrainian nationalist group known as Right Sector wavered between utter chaos and manic discipline. Stray dogs powdered with anthracitic dust ambled around anti-tank obstacles. Anti-aircraft artillery bristled from the beds of rusted-out pickup trucks. Some groups of Ukrainians were cleaning weaponry. Others were chopping wood. Others were doing push-ups. Many were drunk. A great red banner hung along the side of the barracks facing east: DEATH TO YOU KREMLIN INVADERS.
In a barren plain of coal pits and black sludge, Fischer found what he had come for: an experience full of violence and adventure. What the Islamic State is for disenchanted young Westerners of an Islamist bent, Right Sector has become for young Europeans and American right-wingers with an antique passion for nationalism—any nationalism except for Russia’s, that is. Right Sector is committed to ejecting Russian separatists from Ukrainian soil. Only three months before Fischer arrived at the Voloveka barracks, Ukraine, Russia, and Western leaders had signed a ceasefire agreement known as Minsk II. Major engagements had become rare. European officials had begun making routine inspections of frontline equipment. But a shadow conflict still churned onward in the East, one that Kiev covertly outsourced to the very nationalist groups it once publicly disavowed. The Voloveka, a Right Sector contingent consisting of 27 men, had established a forward base six miles from the border of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. By the time Fischer arrived, it had become an anarchic force that answered to no authority but itself.
Fischer has a wiry black beard he twirls with calloused fingertips. Two swords tattooed on his right shoulder converge at a battle helmet. MOLON LABE—ancient Greek for “Come and take them,” King Leonidas’s reply to the Persian demand for the Spartan weapons at Thermopylae—is emblazoned on his right forearm. His mother, a Tunisian, emigrated to Austria 30 years ago, where she met his father, an engineer, in a skiing village outside Innsbruck. Fischer was sent off to a vocational school in Bregenz at 14. His junior year, he forged his parents’ signatures in order to enlist early in the Austrian Armed Forces. “Austrians lead indoor lives,” he told me. “It’s the indoor life of the postman, or the mayor, or the teacher. Arguments are indoors. Feelings are indoors. And the one thing I knew, from very early on, was that I couldn’t be indoors.” The Austrian army did not give Fischer his interesting life. For six months, he drove a van around Prishtina, where his comrades gave out food packages and taught Kosovars how to hold guns. Fischer decided to take an indefinite sick leave; six months later, he was on the Red Sea, where he’d found work running security detail on a container ship. On his first stop in Mogadishu, port authorities disbanded his unlicensed crew. With a small layoff payment, he bought a ticket to Marseille, where the French Foreign Legion turned him down. The next months, he worked as a bouncer in Vienna.
In September 2014, Fischer took the train from Vienna to Kiev, where the Ukrainian army was leading major offensives to reclaim the Donbas. At Maidan Square, he found a recruiter for Azov, a white-supremacist battalion and one of the few volunteer militias then accepting foreign volunteers. Almost as soon as he entered, an Azov commander who thought he looked too Arab threw him out. Fischer transferred to the Donbas Battalion—”a bunch of alcoholics and PTSDs”—but saw little fighting when he bussed out to Donetsk; the first Minsk Protocol, which brokered a ceasefire, was signed just two days after he arrived.
Looking for his next move, Fischer used Facebook to contact an American who had joined the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. A Dutch-Kurdish motorcycle gang eventually brought the two to the front lines near Kirkuk, where they saw spurts of action against ISIS. “I liked the Kurds and respect their fight, but those people have a problem: They’re convinced everyone is out to betray them,” he said. The Kurds did everything they could to break up groups of foreign fighters, to get non-practicing Muslims to pray with them, to pry foreign volunteers away from their smartphones. Fischer’s commander was “brainwashed.” An interview he gave to a local news channel made its way to Austrian television, and his parents sent him alarmed emails, which he ignored. One night, in an encampment near Mosul, an American Black Hawk helicopter landed. A soldier emerged and told the Kurds to disband foreigners from their ranks or risk losing American cooperation. Compared with the others, the foreigners were much more active on social media. They risked spilling operational secrets and increasing tensions with Turkey.
Back in Austria, Fischer learned that he had been put on a terror watch list for having fought with Kurdish guerrillas associated with the PKK. The government told him to stay in the country, but he left for Tunisia, where his mother’s family still lived. “There’s no war in Tunisia,” he said. “Nobody fu cks with you. You can relax.” In Sousse, he received a Facebook message from Alex Kirschbaum, an Austrian army comrade he hadn’t seen since Kosovo. “Alex wrote me saying that he’d just deserted the army,” Fischer said. “He couldn’t stand Austria anymore. He was going to Ukraine.” The next day, Fischer began making his way back to Kiev. “You start out on this life out of a kind of pride, refusing to be like your peers,” he told me. “But you stick with it because there comes a time when you can’t turn back and accept that the only possible existence is a civilian one.”
Kirschbaum greeted Fischer when he arrived at the barracks. “Sure, we’d been friends in Austria, had gone for beers together, but to see him out here, in the middle of fu cking Donetsk—wow,” Kirschbaum said. Kirschbaum has a slim build and a scraggy black beard. His eyes are dark brown chestnuts that glower passionately whenever he discusses weaponry. For Kirschbaum and Fischer both, Ukraine became an outlet for nationalism that they consider in desperately short supply elsewhere in Europe. “In Austria, our counterfascism units are larger than our counterterrorism ones,” Kirschbaum told me. Austria, he said, was a “neutered” nation. The only nationalists it produced were soccer hooligans and Eurovision fanatics. But the Right Sectorites didn’t watch soccer or Eurovision. In that convenient formulation of genuine patriots and nationalist extremists, they claimed to despise their government but love their country. Neither Fischer nor Kirschbaum remarked how strange it was that they had effectively transferred their national passion from one nation to another.
According to Right Sector, the Maidan revolution remains unfinished. It’s illegal for the group to use guns, but the Voloveka and units like it will not lay them down until Ukraine is a sovereign state. By this, the men mean a Ukraine that’s completely independent from both Russia—a “Putinist empire”—and the European Union—land of “liberal homo-dictatorships.” “The world must know that Ukraine is not its to use,” Prut, a Right Sector commander in Mukachevo, told me. (The Ukrainian fighters in the Voloveka are known exclusively by their noms de guerre.) For their model Ukraine, some Right Sectorites point to the centuries of rugged Cossack rule. Others cite the West Ukrainian People’s Republic carved out by Stepan Bandera, the hero of the Ukrainian resistance against the Soviets. Bandera’s brief collaboration with the Nazis has led some members of Right Sector to meld their nationalism with a thin understanding of Nazism. Several I met did the Sieg Heil and praised Hitler. A few admitted that they did this because they knew Putin hated it, and they were willing to go to any length to aggravate him.
The Right Sectorites claim to be fighting on behalf of a vast and ignorant Ukrainian population that will welcome liberation when it comes but who lack the courage to achieve it. The organization coalesced in early 2014 out of a handful of far-right political parties and Maidan self-defense units. It claims to be neither racist nor xenophobic because it understands Ukrainian nationalism in “civic, not ethnic terms.” Government institutions should be strong. National borders must be upheld. Those who think in like-minded ways, even if not Ukrainian, are encouraged to join. Dmitry Yarosh, Right Sector’s founder, is a former foreign-language teacher from central Ukraine. Nearly half of all members identify as Russian speakers.
Right Sector is a ramshackle organization. None of its more than 10,000 members carries a party ID, attends regular meetings, or recruits in any systematic way. Right Sector’s politically minded members strain to control its military branch of perhaps 3,000 fighters. Most have spent weeks training at Right Sector camps, where they are taught the rudiments of street fighting and get bused to demonstrations against the Kiev government, Russian national holidays, and gays. Right Sector fighters fall into 26 divisions. One is assigned to each Ukrainian oblast or province; two additional battalions stand guard on the front lines. None takes orders from a centralized command. They rarely exchange weaponry or government contacts.
Two years of infighting and government crackdown have fragmented Right Sector further into dozens of small units, most of which operate with little awareness of one another. The Voloveka Tactical Group—named after a Right Sectorite who was killed by a land mine in Donetsk—was one of these. At war with eastern Ukraine, Kiev, and a half of Right Sector that submitted to government oversight last November, its fighters lived in a cement-block building that had housed coal miners before the war. The men of the Voloveka arrived one day last autumn and evicted them at gunpoint. They dug a moat around the building’s perimeter and a pit for holding captives. They erected a barbed-wire fence. They laid land mines and anti-tank obstacles in the vegetable gardens. On the roof, they mounted black and red flags, the symbol of Ukrainian resistance under German occupation, and upside-down Ukrainian flags, the standard symbol of the briefly realized 1918 Independent Republic of Ukraine. At one point, they confiscated a yellow bus from the local elementary school to make weekly trips to the front lines, where the Right Sectorites spent several days firing RPGs at the separatist-held Donetsk airport. On the small dirt road leading to the barracks were two wooden guard towers. A guard was kept at all hours. The residents of Novogrodovka, the closest village, were known to be in regular communication with battalions in the Donbas. An attack could be expected anytime.
Command of the Voloveka fell to Simeon, the first civilian to steal a machine gun from a police officer at the Maidan and fire back. He was a household name in Ukraine and a legend within Right Sector. After Maidan, he’d survived the disastrous encirclement of the Ukrainian army at Ilovaisk. He’d been among the kyborgs, the vastly outnumbered Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers, including Right Sector members, who defended Donetsk airport from rebel besiegers in the days before Minsk II was signed. Simeon was an artist with a weapon called the TOW, a missile latched to a two-mile-long wire that he guided into enemy territory with a pair of small steering wheels. In late 2015, the Ukrainian state declared him a terrorist. His face was put on notice boards throughout Kiev. The Right Sectorites had converted his home in Ivano-Frankivsk into an armory. They placed Claymore mines on the underside of his porch, and they instructed his teenage son to activate the devices if the police arrived.
Simeon’s presence in the barracks was outsized. His drinking sessions began shortly after he emerged each morning from his drab cement room, decorated with a few family photos and several Russian army helmets on the walls. “Brothers!” he would cry in a faux-American accent. He possessed no civilian clothes; his fatigues had become so matted with dried mud and engine grease they had hardened into the consistency of cardboard. For Simeon, the war in Donetsk was less about fighting the Russians than it was about proving something to Ukrainians back in Kiev. “Sixty percent of Ukraine wants to join Europe,” he told me one night while he was on guard duty. The occasional crack of artillery came from the east. “Their biggest concern is whether or not their WiFi works. Another twenty percent, well, these are pro-Russian trash. To them, the Soviet Union was a good thing. These types aren’t as big a problem as you might think. They can be killed. We in Right Sector are part of that remaining twenty percent that believes we have to take matters into our own hands in Ukraine. We can only fix our country when we fix ourselves individually.”
Despite Simeon’s admonishment of the lack of commitment among his countrymen to the cause of their nation, most Ukrainians in the Voloveka did not have a strong grasp of Right Sector’s politics. Many had been declared terrorists by the state and stayed in the Voloveka barracks mostly out of a refusal to face trial in Kiev. Colibian, the assistant commander, was the only Ukrainian making significant sacrifices to be in Novogrodovka; in Kiev, he owned a car dealership.
Lunch in the Voloveka usually consisted of fist-size chunks of raw pig fat. Potatoes were served for dinner; body bags of them lay in a heap below a stairwell. Every provision—coats, gauze, jugs of water—came from volunteers in Kiev or was “requisitioned” from locals. Stolen coal and wood were mixed with trash in a furnace that spewed thick clouds of poisonous exhaust. It settled on the skin in mole-like clumps. The Voloveka paid for its cigarettes and internet by baking this coal-trash concoction into bricks and selling them throughout the rest of Ukraine.
Every human impulse was exaggerated in the Voloveka. When keys were misplaced, doors were blown in with TNT. Walnuts were cracked open with grenades. Stray cats chased one another down the hallways of the barracks, most of which were lined with 60-pound bombs typically used for destroying bridges. The Right Sectorites liked to evict the cats by throwing them from the second-floor balcony with the motion of a shot-putter. They fell to the earth with a terrifying cry. A few weeks before I’d arrived, a Ukrainian named Geronimo beheaded a cat after he caught it peeing on his bed. Fearing a PTSD outbreak, Simeon attempted—unsuccessfully—to take away everyone’s guns. The Voloveka also had a dog, Fly, whose original owner had died from the blast of a land mine. Fly trembled in strange, berserk motions every time a soldier cocked a gun.
The members of the Voloveka frequently boasted that they possessed enough explosives to eradicate a small Ukrainian oblast. The battalion had smuggled in all of it—the six armor-plated trucks, the helmets and medical kits, the hundreds of boxes of ammunition—tirelessly, illegally, from every reach of Ukraine. The men used donations from the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada “for medical supplies” to purchase Kalashnikovs off Chechen arms dealers in Vienna, which were smuggled through the Carpathian Mountains by members of the Voloveka who caravanned out to western Ukraine every few months in battalion pickup trucks. They also claimed many guns off dead separatists. One afternoon, Fischer took me to the company armory—six windowless nooks on the second floor. The air was heavy with the waft of cat urine. Anti-aircraft missiles and RPGs lay haphazardly stacked everywhere like planks of wood. Fischer grabbed two rusty black mortars out of a moldy cardboard box. “A war museum in Lviv gave these to us,” he said, flipping them lightly between his palms. “Red Army issues from the Second World War. A lot of Ukrainian battlefield reenactors admire the work we’re doing out here. They send us these antiques all the time,” he said, tossing them back into the box. “The only problem with them is that they can easily detonate if you drive over a bump too quickly in the bus.”
At any moment the SBU—the Security Service of Ukraine—could have come and arrested every member of the Voloveka, whose presence on the front lines was illegal. But the Right Sectorites assured me this would never happen. When they needed help pursuing trucks they suspected of smuggling supplies into Donetsk, the SBU called the barracks for reinforcements. Most of the oblast was pro-Russian, so to help give the impression of occupation, local authorities encouraged Right Sector to drive its vehicles slowly through nearby villages and walk their streets with glocks in hand. (Though the residents of Novogrodovka despised Right Sector, they weren’t too proud to come to the barracks at night begging for food, which was always given. The drunk ones often fell into the moat.)
The Ukrainian army was also technically obliged to arrest Right Sector members on sight at the front lines, but it didn’t. During the night, officers sympathetic to Right Sector’s cause filled the Voloveka’s school bus with rockets and other large-caliber guns forbidden by European monitors. Right Sector was the Ukrainian army’s way of getting around Minsk II while still hitting back at separatists who refused to allow international organizations anywhere near their trenches: Right Sector, Ukraine told inspectors, was out of its control. The local police also wouldn’t arrest any members of the Voloveka, to whom they outsourced their terrorism. Of course, when asked about their connection with Right Sector, Ukraine’s SBU, army, and police vigorously disavow it. But what I saw on the front lines was nothing short of active cooperation. The fighters of the Voloveka, for their part, were contemptuous of any cooperation with Kiev. But the fight could only turn against Ukraine once the more immediate threat in the Donbas had been destroyed.
Several weeks before I visited the Voloveka, a man had been picked up wandering the streets of Novogrodovka at night, drunk. Police confiscated his phone and found photos of him posing in front of Donetsk tanks on VK, a popular social network among Russian speakers. They brought him to the Right Sectorites, who locked him in a standing-room-only shower stall. The lights stayed on for a week. They beat him with a sock stuffed with sharpened rocks. They stripped him of his clothes and made him clean the barracks on his knees. An interrogation session involving repeated threats of deportation to Guantánamo Bay revealed only that the man came from a local village and apparently knew nothing about rebel troop movements. After a week, the police picked him back up and brought him to Kiev—presumably for a jail sentence, though no one could tell me what actually happened to him. “It is a pity to have to beat these people,” Kirschbaum said. “But I’d have more sympathy for them if we got any sort of similar treatment in Donetsk. Right Sector members captured there get their noses and ears cut off.”
A loud noise shook the front entrance of the barracks one night. It was followed by a string of murderous groans. “Separatists!” someone screamed. Fischer extinguished a cigarette, then whipped an RPG off the wall and slung it on his right shoulder in a single uninterrupted motion. Lang burst out of the room with a pair of grenades cocked in his hands. Out in the hallway, a dozen startled Ukrainians stood in a heavily armed throng. One was peering through a sniper scope.
At the doorway, as a haze of grenade smoke slowly dissipated away, we saw Simeon lying in a lake of bubbling blood. Purple-black strings—his intestines—were on the walls. A de-fingered palm of a left hand teetered off a nearby pile of tires. Exiting the barracks for Novogrodovka, where he planned to toss a few grenades in the town square to celebrate the two-year anniversary of his entry in the war, Simeon had slipped on the staircase and accidently detonated himself. Turning his head toward us, he let out a few last breaths, then died.
The next night, we held a funeral for Simeon. His mother, son, and wife arrived by car from Ivano-Frankivsk. Two Right Sectorites briskly escorted them to a side door, away from the entranceway in which Simeon had been dematerialized. “Two land mines exploded under Simeon as he charged toward the Donetsk airport,” Colibian, who had been declared the Voloveka’s new commander that morning, told Simeon’s family. They cried. “After this, it took machine-gun fire to bring him down. We recovered him, brought him back to our trench. He was still breathing. He refused to die.” Colibian placed his right hand on the shoulder of Simeon’s mother. Most of the onlooking Right Sectorites were drunk. What remained of Simeon’s trunk of vodka had been finished off that afternoon.
8b. It is not surprising that Kristofer Harrison (the author of an apologia for the Nazi Azov Battalion  in Ukraine) is a former Defense Department and State Department advisor to George W. Bush. Noteworthy in his propaganda piece dismissing Representative John Conyers (D‑MI) as “the Kremlin’s Man in Congress” and discounting anyone else discussing the ascension of the OUN/B fascists in Ukraine in a similar vein is the identity of his source for assurances that Azov is not a Nazi unit.The Azov’s spokesman is Roman Zvarych, the personal secretary  to Jaroslav Stetsko in the 1980’s. Stetsko was the head of the World War II OUN/B government that collaborated with the Nazis!
After emigrating to Ukraine in the early ’90’s Zvarych and forming the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists with Slava Stetsko (Jaroslav’s widow) Zvarych became: Justice Minister (the equivalent of Attorney General of the United States) under the governments of Viktor Yuschenko and both Yulia Timoshenko governments. He has been serving as an adviser to president Poroshenko.
(It is impossible within the scope of this post to cover our voluminous coverage of the Ukraine crisis. Previous programs on the subject include: FTR #‘s 777 , 778 , 779 , 780 , 781 , 782 , 783 , 784 , 794 , 800 , 803 , 804 , 808 , 811 , 817 , 818 , 824 , 826 ,
829 , 832 , 833 , 837 , 849 , 850 , 853 , 857 , 860 , 872 , 875 , 876 , 877 , 893 , 907,  911 . Listeners/readers are encouraged to examine these programs and/or their descriptions in detail, in order to flesh out their understanding.)
. . . .The Azov’s spokesman, Roman Zvarych, told me that the battalion has a selective screening program that accepts only 50 out of almost 300 recruits each month. He says they have a thorough background check and reject members for various reasons, including having fascist leanings. . . .
. . . . Rep. Conyers played an important role in helping the Russian Nazi meme evolve from the stuff of conspiracy theorists, kooks and fellow-travelers into something the mainstream press happily prints. Rep. Conyers took to the floor of the House to submit his amendment and label the unit, “The repulsive Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion.” From there, the Daily Beast ran a story  titled “Is America Training Neonazis in Ukraine?” using Conyers’ bill as factual support. The day after the amendment’s passage, Leonoid Bershidsky ran a Bloomberg View article  titled “Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis Won’t Get U.S. Money.” Even the Canadians have been affected. On June 16th, the National Post ran a story  titled “Fears that Canadian Mission in Ukraine May Unintentionally Help Neonazi Groups.”. . . .