Reprinted from Consortium News
Last February, when ethnic Russian rebels were closing in on the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, the New York Times rhapsodically described the heroes defending the city and indeed Western civilization -- the courageous Azov battalion facing down barbarians at the gate. What the Times didn't tell its readers was that these "heroes" were Nazis, some of them even wearing Swastikas and SS symbols.
The long Times article by Rick Lyman fit with the sorry performance of America's "paper of record" as it has descended into outright propaganda -- hiding the dark side of the post-coup regime in Kiev. But what makes Lyman's sadly typical story noteworthy today is that the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has just voted unanimously to bar U.S. assistance going to the Azov battalion because of its Nazi ties.
And it wasn't like the Times didn't have space to mention the Nazi taint. The article provided much color and detail -- quoting an Azov leader prominently -- but just couldn't find room to mention the inconvenient truth about how these Nazis had played a key role in the ongoing civil war on the U.S. side. The Times simply referred to Azov as a "volunteer unit."
Yet, on June 10, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act -- from Reps. John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan, and Ted Yoho, R-Florida -- that would block U.S. training of the Azov battalion and would prevent transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to fighters in Iraq and Ukraine.
"I am grateful that the House of Representatives unanimously passed my amendments last night to ensure that our military does not train members of the repulsive neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, along with my measures to keep the dangerous and easily trafficked MANPADs out of these unstable regions," said Conyers on Thursday.
He described Ukraine's Azov Battalion as a 1,000-man volunteer militia of the Ukrainian National Guard that Foreign Policy Magazine has characterized as "openly neo-Nazi" and "fascist." And Azov is not some obscure force. Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who oversees Ukraine's armed militias, announced that Azov troops would be among the first units to be trained by the 300 U.S. military advisers who have been dispatched to Ukraine in a training mission codenamed "Fearless Guardian."
On Friday, a Bloomberg News article by Leonid Bershidsky noted that...
"it's easy to see why ... Conyers ... would have a problem with the military unit commanded by Ukrainian legislator Andriy Biletsky: Conyers is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Biletsky is a white supremacist. ...
"Biletsky had run Patriot of Ukraine [the precursor of the Azov battalion] since 2005. In a 2010 interview he described the organization as nationalist 'storm troops' ... The group's ideology was 'social nationalism' -- a term Biletsky, a historian, knew would deceive no one. ...- Advertisement -
"In 2007, Biletsky railed against a government decision to introduce fines for racist remarks: 'So why the 'Negro-love' on a legislative level? They want to break everyone who has risen to defend themselves, their family, their right to be masters of their own land! They want to destroy the Nation's biological resistance to everything alien and do to us what happened to Old Europe, where the immigrant hordes are a nightmare for the French, Germans and Belgians, where cities are "blackening" fast and crime and the drug trade are invading even the remotest corners.'"
The Bloomberg article continued...
"Biletsky landed in prison in 2011, after his organization took part in a series of shootouts and fights. Following Ukraine's so-called revolution of dignity last year, he was freed as a political prisoner; right-wing organizations, with their paramilitary training, played an important part in the violent phase of the uprising against former President Viktor Yanukovych. The new authorities -- which included the ultra-nationalist party Svoboda -- wanted to show their gratitude.
"The war in the east gave Biletsky's storm troopers a chance at a higher status than they could ever have hoped to achieve. They fought fiercely, and last fall, the 400-strong Azov Battalion became part of the National Guard, receiving permission to expand to 2,000 fighters and gaining access to heavy weaponry. So what if some of its members had Nazi symbols tattooed on their bodies and the unit's banner bore the Wolfsangel, used widely by the Nazis during World War II?
"In an interview with Ukraine's Focus magazine last September, Avakov, responsible for the National Guard, was protective of his heroes. He said of the Wolfsangel: 'In many European cities it is part of the city emblem. Yes, most of the guys who assembled in Azov have a particular worldview. But who told you you could judge them? Don't forget what the Azov Battalion did for the country. Remember the liberation of Mariupol, the fighting at Ilovaysk, the latest attacks near the Sea of Azov. May God allow anyone who criticizes them to do 10 percent of what they've done. And anyone who's going to tell me that these guys preach Nazi views, wear the swastika and so on, are bare-faced liars and fools.'"
Though the House vote on June 10 may have shined a spotlight into this dark corner of the U.S.-embraced Kiev regime, the reality has been well-known for many months -- though played down in most of the Western news media, often dismissed as "Russian propaganda."
Even the Times has included at least one brief reference to this reality, though buried deep inside an article. On Aug. 10, 2014, a Times' article mentioned the Nazi taint of the Azov battalion in the last three paragraphs of a lengthy story on another topic.