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Ukraine’s Far-Right Deconstructed

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The current volatile situation in Ukraine demands clarity with respect to the main forces that brought it about.  The MSM invariably dismisses any suggestion that these right-wing organizations have an unsavory past. And yet, we're not talking about a bunch of skinheads eager for action who have taken Adolf Hitler as their inspiration; these men have kept alive a hundred year Ukrainian independence movement that allied itself with the Third Reich, with whose worldview it shared.[tag]

The new Interior Minister of the Ukrainian government is Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector.  Here are some excerpts from a review he gave during the Maidan to Mustafa Nayyem and Oksana Kovalenko, two Ukrainian journalists:  (click here).

"I'm the founder and leader of the all-Ukrainian organization Stepan Bandera Trident since 1994, holding various positions from commander to chief inspector. Trident is like an order of knights, propagandizing Stepan Bandera's Ukrainian nationalist ideology, promoting patriotism among Ukrainian youth, and defending the honor and dignity of the Ukrainian nation by all means available. It created Right Sector to coordinate the actions of various revolutionary groups. 

Training takes place at camps throughout Ukraine: Besides military training, we organize events aimed at the de-communization and decolonization of Ukraine."

Do you coordinate your activities with opposition forces?

"Aside from Self Defense (Samooborona), which we formally belong to with over 1,500 people, for the most part, we have no relations with them because they don't recognize us."

Who was this Ukrainian hero, Stepan Bandera? Quoting from Wikipedia:

"Stepan Bandera joined Ukrainian nationalist organizations as a youth. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was created in 1929 in Western Ukraine (which at the time was part of Poland).  Bandera became head of the national executive in Galicia in 1933, and expanded its network in Western Ukraine against both Poland and the Soviet Union.  He was arrested in Lviv in 1934, accused of plotting to assassinate the Polish minister of internal affairs. He was convicted of terrorism but his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he was freed in 1939, either by Ukrainians, Poles ] or Germans, moving to German-occupied Krakow.

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In 1940, the OUN split into two factions. The Melnyk faction (OUN-M), preached a more conservative approach to nation-building, while the Bandera faction (OUN-B) supported a revolutionary approach and sought German military support. In November 1939 about 800 Ukrainian nationalists began training in German military camps, and Bandera tried twice to send directives to Lviv to prepare an uprising.  

OUN-B recruited in Western Ukraine through "Mobile Groups' totaling about 7,000. The intermittently close relationships between Bandera, the OUN and Nazi Germany have been described by historians as "ambivalent, tactical and opportunistic, with both sides trying to exploit the other unsuccessfully." OUN received 2.5 million marks for subversive activities inside the USSR and Gestapo and Abwehr officials protected its followers.

With the arrival of Nazi troops in Ukraine, on June 30, 1941, Bandera and the OUN-B declared an independent Ukrainian State, stating that it would "work closely with the National-Socialist Greater Germany , under the leadership of its leader Adolf Hitler which is forming a new order in Europe and the world and is helping the Ukrainian People to free itself from Moscovite occupation ." 

In 1941 relations between Nazi Germany and the OUN-B soured, Bandera and the Ukrainian president, Yaroslav Stetsko, were arrested and taken to Berlin.  The ambivalent nature of the Nazi/Bandera relationship was illustrated by the fact that after a brief say in a concen-tration camp the Ukrainians were returned to Berlin, where they organized terrorist and intelligence activities behind Soviet lines, with air-lifted arms and equipment.

Unlike competing other nationalist movements in Austria , Russia , Poland and Romania, Ukrainian nationalism saw Russians and Poles as the chief enemy, with Jews playing only a secondary role. It claimed that the Soviet Union diverted Ukrainian discontent away from Communism by exploiting anti-Jewish sentiment. In May 1941 the Bandera leadership actively supported the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the western Ukraine. Under a Minority Policy it ordered: "Russians, Poles, Jews who are hostile to us must be exterminated: deport them to their own lands and destroy their intelligentsia in positions of power ... Jews must be isolated, removed from government positions in order to prevent sabotage; those deemed indispensable may only work with an overseer... Jewish assimilation is not possible." A militia was to "help remove the Jews and protect the population", and leaflets called for the "destruction of Russians, Poles, Hungarians and Jewry". In 1941-1942, OUN members took part in anti-Jewish actions, convincing  German intelligence that Ukrainian nationa-lists would opportunistically either kill Jews or help them. How-ever, 'token Jews' took part in the movement and according to a Berlin security report in 1942,  some, probably doctors or skilled workers, were provided with forged passports. When Bandera was in conflict with the Germans, the leadership urged its members to "liquidate signs of harmful foreign influence, particularly the German racist concepts and practices." 

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So much for the twentieth century.  Several upheavals later, in October 2007, the city of Lviv established the Stepan Bandera Prize and erected a statue that triggered a debate about his role. (Two previously erected statues having been sabotaged, the current one is guarded 24/7.)  In 2009 his 100th birthday was celebrated in several Ukrainian cities and a Bandera postal stamp was issued. This year, his 105th birthday was celebrated by a torchlight procession of 15,000 people in the centre of Kiev and thousands more rallied near his statue in Lviv.The march was supported by the Svoboda party and members of Yulia Timoshenko's Fatherland party.

A region by region  survey of  Ukrainian  attitudes towards Bandera's OUN conducted in 2009 produced very mixed results, with "very positive' ranging from 37% in Western Ukraine  to 1% in Eastern Ukraine.

Against this background, it should come as no surprise that the government concocted by Victoria Nuland should have obe-diently awarded six major ministries to the Banderist Svoboda Party, naming as Secretary of Security and National Defense co-founder Andriy Parubiy, whose masked Right Sector thugs battled riot police in Maidan. In the interview quoted above, Yarosh, now Parubiy's deputy responsible for internal security, revealed that Right Sector members trained for the uprising for more than two years. The other Svoboda ministers include Oleksandr Sych, a parliamentarian best known for his attempts to ban abortions in Ukraine, including after rape, as deputy prime minister for economic affairs. Svoboda also got Education, Ecology and Agriculture, while Oleh Makhnitsky was named prosecutor-general.

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Born in Philadelphia, I spent most of my adolescent and adult years in Europe, resulting over time in several unique books. 

CUBA: Diary of a Revolution, Inside the Cuban Revolution with Fidel, Raul, Che, and Celia Sanchez

Lunch with Fellini, Dinner with Fidel: An Illustrated Personal Journey from the Cold War to the Arab Spring

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