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globalpost.com | 02Apr2012 | Michael Goldfarb

Ukraine's nationalist party embraces Nazi ideology

Meet Svoboda, an up-and-coming party in Ukraine. It's nationalist, pro-Nazi, and poised for the parliament.

L'VIV, Ukraine -- In this great city of western Ukraine, the worst of the European experience is creeping back into democratic politics.

[W.Z. As the comments to the Kyiv Post posting of this article (appended below) indicate, the mindset of Michael Goldfarb can be ascertained at:
One wonders if he is related to the Nazi collaborator Avraham Goldfarb, who identified a 1951 picture of John Demjanjuk as being "Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka" to Israeli investigator Miriam Radiwker on 09May1976, when she presented him a suggestive series of photographs of Ukrainians. The surname Goldfarb appears to be synonymous with Ukrainophobia.]

In L’viv, it comes under the guise of Svoboda, a party calling for a Ukraine that is “one race, one nation, one Fatherland.” Originally known as the Social-National Party, it is rooted in Nazi collaboration.  [Note the immediate demonization of a political party dedicated to the independence of Ukraine and the wellbeing of Ukrainian citizens.]

This wasn't supposed to happen. In 2004, following a disputed national election, the Orange Revolution, a peaceful campaign of protest, swept a coalition of moderate nationalist politicians into power. They quickly fell out among themselves. A blizzard of allegations of corruption swirled around them. One of the original leaders of the Orange Revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko, is in prison, convicted of "abuse of office,” although rights groups say her incarceration is politically motivated.

From journalists, cab drivers and young entrepreneurs, to peasant women who run market stalls to supplement their state pension by selling homemade cheese and pickles, everyone says the same thing: the politicians of all parties are only in it for themselves, grabbing every penny they can. Meanwhile, Svoboda has grown in popularity. Young people are drawn to the nationalist rhetoric, and older supporters are more used to life under the kind of authoritarian views it holds. [People are drawn to it, because they promote Ukraine's independence, decry Russification and its policies promote the wellbeing of Ukrainian citizens.]

Svoboda is now the largest party on L'viv city council and in the regional council. It has taken power in other major urban centers of western Ukraine, like Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk. Come this October, when the country holds elections, Svoboda is expected to make the jump to the next level and win seats in the Verkhovna Rada, the national parliament, for the first time.

Besides disappointment with the main democratic parties and endemic corruption around the country, Svoboda's rise underscores a swell of anti-Semitism in a part of the world where the Holocaust was at its fiercest and there are virtually no Jews left. [Except for Pinchuk, Poroshenko, Medvedchuk, Zviahilsky, Turchynov, etc., etc.] It is a symptom of an ultra-nationalism all along the eastern borders of Europe. This extreme form of racially based nationalism links Soviet Communism and Jewishness together. [The majority of Jews in Ukraine supported the Bolsheviks following the 1917 Russian Revolution.] The patriotic fight against the former leads to Nazi-glorification and an excusing of local fighters roles in helping to murder Jews during the Holocaust. [Pure demagoguery!]

Svoboda’s success so far has been built on a skilled public-relations campaign, complete with videos re-enacting Nazi propaganda tropes like torchlight parades and speeches that echo Hitler. Svoboda also honors Ukraine veterans who fought with the Nazis in a unit known as the Waffen SS-Galicia against the Soviet Army and the threat of what they refer to as “Jew Communism.” [Demonization of the Halychyna (Galicia) Division.]

They deal in gesture politics, changing the name of Peace Street, in an outlying district of L'viv to Nachtigall Street, in honor of a Ukrainian group that was implicated in a massacre of the city's Jews after the Nazis arrived in June and July 1941. [Disinformation.] Svoboda's reason: "Peace Street is a holdover from Soviet stereotypes." Their political demonstrations frequently turn violent. Last September in Uman, Hasidic Jews on annual pilgrimage were confronted by Svoboda activists. The two groups were separated by police. The Svoboda contingent then attacked the cops. Dozens were arrested.

Last month, German historian Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe [a protoge of John-Paul Himka and the nest of Ukrainophobic vipers at the Univeresity of Alberta], was forced to cancel lectures around Ukraine after receiving calls from people threatening to harm him, as well as being followed by hundreds of Svoboda supporters wherever he went. His crime: lecturing on Stepan Bandera, leader of an ultra-nationalist group during World War II, a fascist responsible for many atrocities against non-ethnic Ukrainians. For Svoboda, Bandera is a hero.

[W.Z. Pure disinformation. Stepan Bandera was elected leader of the OUN(b) faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in late April 1941. Much to the displeasure of Adolf Hitler, he announced Ukraine's independence on 30Jun1941, shortly after which he was arrested and incarcerated in German concentration camps for the duration of the war. Two of his brothers died in Auschwitz. Some Nazi collaborator!]

The person organizing the demonstrations and making the firebrand speeches is Yuri Michalchyshyn. At 29, he is barely old enough to remember the bad old days when Ukraine was under Soviet rule. He speaks a romantic nationalist [patriotic] language rarely spoken by mainstream western politicians. "A nation is an organic thing, historically defined. A wave of passionate energy which unites past, present and future generations," Michalchyshn said, seated in the office of Iryna Sekh, his party's leader at the regional council. "The Ukrainian nation is the current territory of the Ukraine reinforced by language and recent history of social and national struggle."

Svoboda's racial theorizing is built on sand, since most people who live in the region have mixed blood. "Ethnically, Ukraine doesn't exist," according to Ukrainian historian Andriy Kozitzky. The western part of the country nestled up against Poland and Hungary is a mix of many groups: Russian, Ukrainians, Armenians. That’s irrelevant to Svoboda followers. Mychalchyshyn said: "We are against diversity.” In his writings, he says, "We consider tolerance a crime."

The young ideologue promises a parliament composed of Ukrainians voted for by Ukrainians. Minorities will be given seats based on their proportion of the population. But they won't be able to vote. His supporters also like his promise to get Ukraine's nuclear weapons back. When the Soviet Union collapsed the nuclear weapons based in Ukraine were returned to Russia or were decommissioned. "It's a mentality," said Mridula Ghosh, a sociologist who works for the East European Development Institute in Kiev. "Svoboda is anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic." [Demonization demagoguery!]

It would be comforting to write Svoboda off as a morbid symptom of a country moving away from 70 years of the bloodiest conflicts in European history and Yuri Michalchyshyn as a young loudmouth. That is difficult to do. The party speaks directly to its constituents' fears about Russia and its anger about corruption in the national government. Svoboda has also tapped into fervent anti-Russian sentiment in Ukraine, which persists even among those who don’t agree with Nazi ideology. During World War II, Ukraine was overrun by the Soviets as they pushed into Europe. Amid that turmoil, Bandera emerged as a controversial figure to lead a violent Ukrainian independence fight against the Soviets. [Bandera was incarcerated in German concentration camps.]

In 1943, the Nazis established a Ukrainian division of their feared SS, known as the Waffen SS-Galicia, as the western part of the country was known as the time. Bandera’s men first collaborated with the Nazis against the Soviets, and then later waged a sporadic guerilla war against the USSR. But his group also launched a campaign of ethnic cleansing in western Ukraine against Polish villagers, beginning in 1943. Priests were beheaded and crucified, men were disemboweled, women gang-raped. Families were locked into wooden barns and the buildings set on fire.

The terror worked. The area was ethnically cleansed as Poles fled the region. Cementing his hero status for Svoboda adherents, Bandera was later assassinated by the KGB. In 2010, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko named Bandera a hero of the Ukraine. A year later, his successor Viktor Yanukovych, who is perceived to have close ties to the Kremlin, revoked the honor, underscoring the concern many Ukrainians have about Russian interference in their government.

Even for nationalists who don’t agree with Nazi ideology, Bandera remains an inspiration.

Historians of World War II say the lines between the Waffen SS-Galicia and the various partisan groups associated with Bandera are blurred, and that all groups can be implicated in the massacres. [Pure demagoguery. Goldfarb's excuse for making blanket accusations.]

Not everyone in L'viv buys the Svoboda line. Last May, at Victory Day celebrations marking the defeat of the Nazis, a near riot broke out when Sekh, the Svoboda regional leader, and a group of supporters turned up. Police had to separate Sekh and her young acolytes from those who had turned up to simply mark the defeat of the Nazis. "We were afraid there would be Red flags. We were protecting our history and culture." There was much pushing, shoving and fist-fighting with the police in the middle. With a touch of the melodramatic, Sekh says she spent the next few months carrying her pajamas and toothrush with her everywhere because she expected to be arrested for instigating a riot. Charges were never filed against her.

Nationalism still appeals to Ukrainians such as Myroslav Marynovych, a 63-year-old vice-rector at the Greek Catholic University. After World War II, Marynovych spent years in a Soviet gulag for demanding the right to discuss Ukrainian national history. There, he met several men who had fought with Bandera’s group and the Waffen-SS Galicia. He said that he doesn’t agree with nationalist extremism, but that in the circumstances of World War II he can't condemn it completely.

“I defend their patriotism, but not their methods," he said. Meanwhile, he tries to influence debate via his position at the university, taking part in acts of reconciliation with the tiny Jewish community that remains in L'viv and, as in his dissident days, writing letters to the editor of Svoboda-supporting newspapers. Most recently, he challenged an article they published written by a Holocaust denier.

[W.Z.  Note that Michael Goldfarb never even mentions Oleh Tyahnybok as the leader of the Svoboda party. He does not mention Roman Shukhevych, the leader of UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army), which was specifically created to fight the German occupation and later fought against the Russian occupation until the mid-1950's. He does not mention the Holodomor.]

At the L'viv headquarters of Viktor Yanukovych's ruling "Party of Regions," they acknowledge their policies are a hard sell to the voters.

The local deputy leader Laura Arzumanivna Arzumanyan, of Armenian heritage, is philosophical. It's all part of the scientific processes of history. "The fact that Svoboda appeared is something that had to happen," Arzumanyan said.

"Let me ask you, how old is America?" she answers her own question, "200 years old. You are a very old country. We are only 20 years old. You had Ku Klux Klan. You passed through that time. This is something we must go through.”

COMMENTS: (from Kyiv Post)

Eckard von Goeden | 02Apr2012 at 21:00
A very very good article on a sad aspect of Eastern Europe.
Thank you Mr Goldfarb.

figures ....haters like to | 02Apr2012 at 21:22
encourage each other....notice how they deny Russification and Holodomor

Z | 02Apr2012 at 20:02
Readers should check out the Ukrainophobic Michael Goldfarb on his websites

To Mr. Goldfarb any patriotic Ukrainian action seeking to establish and maintain an independent Ukraine is an “embrace of Nazi ideology”. He is parroting the anti-Ukrainian positions of the KGB and Zionists. A dangerous individual indeed.

XY | 02Apr2012  at 20:46
That is all you have to say ?
A little bit poor...

THAT says it ALL | 02Apr2012 at 21:25
how much time & effort are hate mongers like Goldfart, von Goeden,Himka,heh,heh,heh:Dupa worth???

carl | 02Apr2012 at 19:37
A nonsense story there are no pro nazi parties in Ukraine. Regions is best choice for Ukraine but Svoboda should be allowed to exist.The question is who is bested suited to address economic and social problems facing Ukraine answer -- Regions. So in October cast your vote for Regionnaires.

who writes this biased garbage? | 02Apr2012 at 19:36
Why its GOLDFART!...best friend of Ukraine's billionaire Oligarchs!!!
He sees NOTHING wrong with Ukraine being ruled by NON UKRAINIAN criminals exploiting every last drop of sweat from the exploited nation while committing anti-Ukrainian Russification genocide! No he has never seen THAT as an issue to be exposed. Fair and balanced "propaganda" journalism???? You decide!
Every country even Israel is a BELL SHAPED CURVE with political extremists at each end ...so why should Ukraine be different???

David | 02Apr2012 at 17:33
The Dictator Viktor has set the scene for a Fascist Ukraine! Viktor and his corrupt children will go the same way as all tyrants do! Time will tell if he will be the first not to meet his demise for his crimes against his own people!