Are Nazi’s in power in Ukraine?

This article is a translation of "Zijn in Oekraïne nazi’s aan de macht?"

One of the hot issues in the crisis in Ukraine is the question whether the uprising on Maidan square has been hijacked by neo-Nazi’s. On this theme the BBC has produced a remarkable report. Remarkable, because on the whole the BBC is very partisan. Every time it strays from the official line (e.g. in 2003 when it disclosed that the ‘dossier’ on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was fake), there is a ferocious response from the government. So you would expect that a BBC report on Ukraine would not mention that Nazi’s are fighting against the breakaway provinces in the east, but David Stern, the BBC journalist, provides evidence of the contrary. 

On the picture above, downloaded by Stern from Poroshenko’s own website (and meanwhile removed), we see the president patting a neo-Nazi from Belarus, Serhiy Korotkykh, on the back while expressing his gratitude for his contribution to ‘the struggle’.

According to Stern there is every reason for vigilance. Korotkykh is one of the founding members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Society (NSS) in Russia, established to prepare for the impending ‘race war’.

It is shocking that media here continue to refer to ‘the Right’, ‘nationalists’, etc. whereas we are talking about real murderers and racists, of whom there are plenty in eastern Europe. In previous blogs on Ukraine I have written enough about the followers of Bandera, Right Sector, Svoboda, and other neo-Nazi groups.

In addition many regular (regular far right, that is) politicians give support to prominent commanders of e.g. the Azov battalion, whilst an Azov member has even become police chief of the Kiev region (Korotkykh too is a member of the Azov battalion). Stern concludes that the Ukrainian public is not being informed, or hardly so, about this sort of connections of their leading politicians.

At the other extreme we have the official Russian position, which speaks of the ‘fascist junta’ in Kiev. But if that would be accurate, why has the vote for neo-Nazi lists remained below the 5 percent threshold in every election? Certainly Stern points out that if they had been unified, they would have entered parliament, but even then as a marginal group.

Meanwhile the positions adopted by non-Nazi politicians have in many cases been fairly indistinguishable from those of the real fascists. What about the plan of prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk last September to build a wall between Ukraine and Russia of some 2000 kilometers long, at the nimble cost of half a billion US dollars? In addition Newsweek reported a few days ago that the same Yatsenyuk will propose to double the defence budget for 2015 to $3.2 billion, 5 percent of GNP. Of course since the public purse is empty and the country broke, the question arises where the money to raise an army of 250,000 men will be coming from.

Are fascists in power in Kiev?

I think we should instead see it as follows: NATO and the EU have helped an extremely anti-Russian regime to power, built around opportunistic oligarchs like Poroshenko (once co-founder of the party of Yanukowych), plus Yatsenyuk and other politicians connected to oligarchs. These people require the support of neo-Nazi elements to keep the fight against the rebellion in the east going—and prevent that that the fascists will turn on them. This regime then promises, to quote the Belgian writer, Tom Lanoye, ‘that the losers of capitalism can be tomorrow’s winners’. That is the neoliberal political manifesto in a nutshell.

The Russian position that fascists are really in power in Kiev cannot be upheld and therefore involuntarily works to prove the opposite.

According to yesterday’s Independent the Russian position on neo-fascism is in fact rather doubtful to say the least. Putin has expressed concern about the continuing virulence of the nazi virus in the EU countries, but the Front National of Marine Le Pen, who in the last one and a half year has visited Moscow twice, has secured a € 9 million loan from First Czech-Russian Bank, the first instalment of a larger loan totalling €40 million. Now that the traditional bank of the FN, Société Générale, appears to be unwilling to bankroll the party, Le Pen, who described president Putin as a ‘defender of the Christian heritage of European civilisation’, has to look elsewhere. In Russia the EU is seen as a subsidiary of the US, so all anti-European currents are being given the benefit of the doubt.

The history of the communism of the last century has not lost its importance in this respect. In the twenties and early thirties, up to the Seventh Comintern Congress in 1935, when Dimitrov announced the Popular Front strategy, Social Democracy too was labelled fascist (‘social fascists’)—not just the actual fascists. Basically everybody except the communists themselves were really fascists, and as a result Hitler could come to power although the communists and socialists together commanded a majority.

The claim that fascists are in power in Kiev resembles that pre-1935 strategy to a considerable extent.

What is needed here is a principled stance against NATO expansion, which is directed against regime change in Moscow, against the pretence of the EU to propagate its disastrous neoliberal policies also outside the EU proper, and against the slavish Dutch policy in both domains. To do this it is not at all necessary to categorically depict the Kiev regime as fascist because that only works to make this stance less credible.

Kees van der Pijl

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