Karl-Olov Arnstberg is a Swedish writer, ethnologist, and retired university professor. His essays are posted at the blog Invandring och mörkläggning. Below is today’s edition of his “Sunday Chronicle”. Many thanks to LN for the translation:
Sunday Chronicle: Ukrainian Nazism
by Karl-Olov Arnstberg
March 19, 2023
When Putin sent troops into Ukrainian territory on February 24, 2022, it was with the stated mission of “demilitarizing and de-Nazifying” the country.
For Western media, Putin’s language was inaccurate and offensive. As in all other contexts, it was obvious that Putin was lying. Eventually I realized that the Ukrainian Nazis were not just a matter of general accusations, and decided to dig, not too deep but a little bit. What I found no MSM reporter would ever dream of writing.
As a journalist, you must not violate the moral dichotomy: if one is evil, the other is good. When the Russians invade Ukraine, they are evil. And because they are evil, the Ukrainians are good. When I write about Nazism in Ukraine, I become evil because I am attacking the good guys. If I had written about Russian Nazism instead, I would have ended up among the good guys. Yes… there are quite a few people who think that stupidly.
But not you, right?
The actor and comedian Volodomyr Zelensky won a landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election in April 2019. He didn’t have much of a platform, but he promised to stop the low-level civil war that had been raging for five years between Russian separatists and far-right paramilitaries in the Donbass region.
Of the latter, the openly Nazi Azov Battalion was the largest and most militarily capable unit. Since 2014, it had been part of the Ukrainian National Guard. Eight percent of those who participated in the Euromaidan belonged to Azov. That doesn’t sound like much, but another report says that they were extremely effective and without them the effectiveness of Euromaidan would have dropped by 90%.
When Zelensky took office in May 2019, Azov had de facto control of the strategic southeastern port city of Mariupol and its surrounding villages.
The majority were killed in the battle for the Azovstal steel plant, where they held out for three months against the vastly superior Russian army. When they finally surrendered, there were 500 soldiers left. I don’t think they have survived either, having taken part in the fighting in Bakhmut.
What enabled Zelensky to campaign so successfully was the support of the Ukrainian oligarch and billionaire Igor Kolomoisky. He also supported the Azov Battalion and financed private militias such as the Dnipro and Aidar Battalions.
When needed, he used them privately, to protect his financial interests. In early October 2021, the leaked so-called “Pandora” documents showed that Kolomoisky had used foreign accounts to make Zelensky and his inner circle wealthy.
On October 25, 2019, six months after his election as president, Zelensky unexpectedly appeared in Zolote, a small town in the battle zone of the Donbass region. A ceasefire was underway. Both the Russian-backed militia and the Ukrainian army would retreat, leaving a no-man’s land between them. If Zelensky achieved a ceasefire, he could start peace talks with Putin. Now he wanted to meet the Azov veterans. They had to stretch out their arms, too.
This did not go well at all. When Zelensky learned that Azov was hiding illegal weapons to continue fighting, he was furious, and scolded them. The scene was filmed and went viral on social media.
The leader of the Azov battalion, Andriy Biletsky, who had vowed to “lead the world’s white races in a final crusade against Jewish-led Untermenschen,” threatened on his YouTube channel to send thousands of veterans to Zolote if the president tried to get the dozen or so now there to leave the city.
Sofia Fedyna, a politician in the 26-seat European Solidarity Party, said in a video posted on Facebook that “Mr. President firmly believes he is immortal. Imagine if a grenade happened to explode near him.”
Zelensky gave up trying to bring about a ceasefire, and ultimately peace. What stopped him was not Putin and Russia, but Azov. The risk of his being assassinated was obvious.
Zelensky changed tactics. In December 2019, when Ukrainian footballer Roman Zozulya, after openly supporting the Azov battalion, was beaten by Spanish leftist fans and denounced as a Nazi, he was, according to Zelensky, not only a great footballer but also “a true patriot who loves his country.”
Two years after the failed ceasefire attempt in Zolote, Zelensky named the 25-year-old battalion commander Dmytro Kotsyubaylo (nicknamed Da Vinci) ‘Ukraine’s hero’. He had a pet wolf and liked to joke with visiting reporters that his soldiers “feed it the bones of Russian-speaking children.”
This March, when Da Vinci was killed in the Battle of Bakhmut, he received a state funeral. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin also honored this right-wing extremist and Nazi with her presence.
Another Nazi, Stepan Bandera, has become the most important historical figure for the Ukrainian nationalism that flourished after the 2014 Euromaidan.
Who was he, this Ukrainian national hero?
Born in 1909 as one of three sons of a Greek Catholic priest in Galicia, Bandera was active in nationalist organizations from a young age. At the age of 20, he joined a newly formed Ukrainian activist movement, the OUN. He quickly rose through the ranks and soon became its propaganda chief and, in 1932, its deputy chief.
In the early 1930s, the OUN engaged in robbing post offices, murdering police officers and throwing bombs at various Polish events. Polish authorities responded with detentions and the expropriation of property.
At the age of 25, Bandera was sentenced to death by a Polish court for his involvement in a murder conspiracy against Poland’s Interior Minister Bronisław Pieracki. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Bandera became known and admired among Ukrainians as a revolutionary who fought for Ukraine’s independence. Supporters ensured that he did not suffer in his prison cell and provided him with fresh newspapers and literature, allowing him to follow politics. After five years in prison, he was released when Germany invaded Poland. His OUN party collaborated with Nazi Germany and participated in the persecution of Jews, ethnic cleansing and pogroms.
Bandera formed mobile groups of five to fifteen members that followed the German advances and, in the ensuing chaos, established local Ukrainian authorities. In total, about 7,000 people participated in these mobile groups, and they found supporters among a wide range of intellectuals.
In 1940, the movement splintered and Bandera became the leader of the faction known as OUN-B. In 1941, after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, he proclaimed an independent Ukrainian state. This was too much for the Germans and the Gestapo arrested Bandera.
In late 1942, while Bandera was in a German concentration camp, his organization was involved in a massacre of Poles in Volynia, and in early 1944 ethnic cleansing spread to eastern Galicia. It is estimated that more than 35,000 and as many as 60,000 Poles, mostly women and children together with unarmed men, were killed during the spring and summer campaign of 1943 in Volynia.
After the war, Bandera settled with his family in West Germany, where he remained the leader of the OUN-B and worked with several anti-communist organizations, such as the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, as well as with the American and British intelligence services. In 1959, Bandera was assassinated in Munich by KGB agents.
For the centenary of Bandera’s birth in 2009, a stamp with his portrait was printed. The following year, Bandera was posthumously awarded the title ‘Hero of Ukraine’ by then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. It was controversial.
In Russian-speaking eastern and southern Ukraine, Bandera is seen not as a liberation hero but as the fascist leader and Nazi collaborator he was, guilty of the mass murder of Poles and Jews during World War II. The Ukraine that Bandera dreamed of was a fascist ethnically pure Ukraine with no minorities such as Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Jews, Roma, etc., and with a single ruling party. The Jews in Ukraine were behind communism and Stalinist imperialism, and therefore had to be destroyed.
The European Parliament condemned the award, as did Russia, Poland and Jewish politicians and organizations. The next president, Viktor Yanukovych, annulled the award on the grounds that Bandera was never a Ukrainian citizen. This was a requirement for the award, though a bit of a stretch in Bandera’s case, as Ukraine did not exist as an independent state during his lifetime.
When Zelensky was running for president of Ukraine, he said in a radio interview: “There are undeniable heroes. Stephan Bandera is a hero for some Ukrainians, and that is normal and cool. He was one of those who defended Ukraine’s freedom.”
However, a new proposal to award the prize to Bandera was rejected by the Ukrainian parliament. At the same time, they decided to celebrate the 110th anniversary of his birth. A list of the anniversaries to be celebrated at state level included Bandera in the category of ‘outstanding personalities’. He was described as ‘a leading figure and theorist of the Ukrainian national liberation movement.’ Every year, on New Year’s Day, the far right marches and celebrates its idol.
Bandera and Azov — there is more.
After his failed attempt to demobilize neo-Nazi militants in the town of Zolote in October 2019, Zelensky also met with other fighters.
A photo shows that a few seats away from the president sat Yehven Karas, leader of the neo-Nazi C14 faction. They used to be a youth wing of the Svoboda party. They took their name from the American neo-Nazi leader David Lane’s infamous fourteen words:
“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”.
The C14 had been known to carry out acts of violence for money: “Who do you want to make life miserable for? We will try to do it.” During the Euromaidan, they took over Kiev’s city hall and pasted Nazi messages on the walls. In 2018, they were commissioned by the Kiev City Council to patrol the city’s streets. They bragged about their pogroms. A Radio Free Europe correspondent wrote on Twitter:
C14 has also received funding from the Ukrainian government, in the form of a grant from the Ministry of Youth and Sports for “national-patriotic educational projects.”
A young member of this neo-Nazi gang, Serhiy Bondar, updated his cover photo on Facebook on October 6. This image showed him speaking at America House Kiev, an American government institution that describes itself as “your premier resource in Ukraine for American culture, education and information.”
Now, I think that’s enough. [— for today?]
There will only be more, as he said, throwing up in his hat.
— Karl-Olov Arnstberg
Previous posts by Karl-Olov Arnstberg:
|2022||Mar||13||“We Need Not Celebrate Our Own Disintegration”|
|16||What I Understand About Ukraine|
|Aug||7||Talking to the Elephants|
|Sep||7||Socialism is the Loser of History|
|2023||Jan||2||The Clever and the Stupid
Finally I read on this blog truth
I will even say more – the word “Bandera” in southern and eastern Ukraine was a household name-negative.
He did not belong to their culture. After the collapse of the USSR. Central, southern and eastern Ukrainians began to impose a “Galician” identity, which had never been characteristic of them, and to tell that the Russians had always oppressed them. Although under the USSR Ukraine lived richer and better than Russia.
And now … after Putin’s “brilliant” military strategy, the words “Bandera is our father” even the ethnic Russians of Ukraine began to shout.
“Richer and better than Russia”. Does this include the millions who died unnecessarily of starvation? No wonder they sided with the Nazis, as did the Finns.
It wasn’t just Ukraine where the famine happened, but also in Siberia and Kazachstan, and at the time of the famine Stalin still exported grain even to Britain, to get more money…
What would happen if the Communists occupied the Sahara? There would be a shortage of sand…
My point is – how much of the famine in Ukraine was a targeted genocide, by the Russians against the Ukrainians, and how much was just a natural result of “Communism”?
I am just saying, because I don’t have a reason not to believe Elena that Ukraine was a better place to live, under the USSR. Though maybe after WWII.
This is true. The “starving Volga region” is the same synonym for “Holodomor”, it’s just that the Ukrainians managed to privatize this tragedy faster. Moreover, in Siberia and the Volga region, the climate is much harsher and harder to survive in conditions of artificially arranged famine.
Of particular interest are the names (and profiles) of the commissars who were behind all this. And I’ll tell you a secret that they were not ethnic Russians.
No, they weren’t. They were mostly Jews. That’s one of the hard facts of history that we should not shy away from looking at.
You may well be correct, though I believe the collectivisation of the productive Ukrainian farmland in particular had a severe effect on output.
Thanks, Elena and Baron. This explains, without necessarily excusing, some Ukrainians’ attitudes then and now.
It wasn’t collectivism, it was the vicious communist of Stalin, his attack dog Beria and Beria’s jewish cohorts whose methods made the naxi’s look like schoolboys that slaughtered and starved millions of Ukrainians and the Brits turned a complete blind eye to it because Churchill hated the Germans more than he hated the Russians, and because of that hatred by Churchill and the Brits stupidity in playing silly games, we are where we are today.
he reads and understands the basis of fascism then Europe isn’t in any position to cast stones. Even the US is developing odious signs of fascism, By this I mean strong central governments dominating and directing industry, media and academia. Which nation can say it is free of such alliances? Britain, France, Germany?
You ain’t seen strong nationalism yet, but boy you are in for a surprise as this diversity shoved up our backsides unleashes a Balkans on steroids in both scope and scale as we go completely tribal, for we will have no choice, the 3rd world orcs and their marxist lovers and WEF types or us of European heritage. It comes down to that cold, cruel reality in the end.