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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    By Yasha Levine
    On Sep­tem­ber 25, 2014

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

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

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

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


    * * *

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

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

    * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    A cou­ple of the sol­diers walk away, bummed out.

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

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

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

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

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

    But the com­man­der has noth­ing good to say about them.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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