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Ukraine's Neo-Nazi Imperative

By       Message Robert Parry     Permalink
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Cross-posted from Consortium News

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof.
New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof.
(image by New York Times)
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After the Feb. 22 coup in Ukraine -- spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias -- European and U.S. diplomats pushed for a quick formation of a new government out of fear that otherwise these far-right ultra-nationalists would be left in total control, one of those diplomats told me.

The comment again underscores the inconvenient truth of what happened in Ukraine: neo-Nazis were at the forefront of the Kiev coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, a reality that the U.S. government and news media have been relentlessly trying to cover up.

Although real-time reports from the scene in February chronicled armed and organized militias associated with the neo-Nazi Svoboda party and the Right Sektor attacking police with firebombs and light weapons, that information soon became a threat to the Western propaganda theme that Yanukovych fled simply because peaceful protesters occupied the Maidan square.

So, the more troubling history soon disappeared into the memory hole, dismissed as "Russian propaganda." The focus of the biased U.S. news media is now on the anti-Kiev militants in the Russian-ethnic areas of eastern Ukraine who have rejected the authority of the coup regime and are insisting on regional autonomy.

The new drumbeat in the U.S. press is that those militants must disarm in line with last week's agreement in Geneva involving the United States, European Union, Russia and the "transitional" Ukrainian government. As for those inconvenient neo-Nazi militias, they have been incorporated into a paramilitary "National Guard" and deployed to the east to conduct an "anti-terrorist" campaign against the eastern Ukrainian protesters, ethnic Russians whom the neo-Nazis despise.

The new role for the neo-Nazi militias was announced last week by Andriy Parubiy, head of the Ukrainian National Security Council, who declared on Twitter, "Reserve unit of National Guard formed #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning."

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Parubiy is himself a well-known neo-Nazi, who founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991. The party blended radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Parubiy also formed a paramilitary spinoff, the Patriots of Ukraine, and defended the awarding of the title, "Hero of Ukraine," to World War II Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose own paramilitary forces exterminated thousands of Jews and Poles in pursuit of a racially pure Ukraine.

In the hasty structuring of the post-coup government in February, part of the compromise with the ascendant neo-Nazis was to give them control of four ministries, including Parubiy in the key position heading national security. To give him loyal and motivated forces to strike at the pro-Russian east, he incorporated many of the storm troopers from his Maidan force into the National Guard.

Leaving Out the History

Yet, how is Parubiy described in the U.S. mainstream media? On Sunday, Washington Post correspondent Kathy Lally, who has been one of the most biased journalists covering the Ukraine crisis, wrote a front-page article about the state of Ukraine's military in which she relied on Parubiy for a key part of her story.

Lally simply identified him as "secretary of the National Security and Defense Council," without explaining Parubiy's extreme-right politics or the illegitimate way that he got his position. Lally then let him assert that Russia is "intent on making the government fail and seeing it replaced by one deferring to Moscow."

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But Lally is far from alone in representing the deeply prejudiced "group think" of the U.S. press corps regarding Ukraine. Often the only way that American readers can get any sense of the key role played by the neo-Nazis is in the repeated denials of that reality.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof returned to his family's ancestral home in Karapchiv in western Ukraine to interview some of its residents and present their views as the true voice of the people.

"To understand why Ukrainians are risking war with Russia to try to pluck themselves from Moscow's grip, I came to this village where my father grew up," he wrote. "Even here in the village, Ukrainians watch Russian television and loathe the propaganda portraying them as neo-Nazi thugs rampaging against Russian speakers.

"'If you listen to them, we all carry assault rifles; we're all beating people,' Ilya Moskal, a history teacher, said contemptuously."

Of course, Moskal's description is hyperbole. The Russian media is not making those claims, although it has noted, for instance, that the neo-Nazi militias -- now reformulated as "National Guard" units -- did kill three eastern Ukrainian protesters last week, deaths announced by the Kiev government.

But Kristof doesn't stop there in his nostalgia for his father's old home town, which he depicts as a noble place where everyone loves the music of Taylor Swift and dreams of their place in a prosperous Europe -- if only President Barack Obama would send them weapons to kill Russians (or go "bear-hunting" as Kristof cutely wrote in a previous column).

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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