Look far right, and look right again

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2014/07/11 - 19:45 • Analysis & Opinion, Featured

The Russian political establishment thinks that Ukrainians are ‘traitors to Orthodox civilisation and Russian unity.’ But it is not only Putin’s Russia that is behind the challenge to democracy in Ukraine.

Russkiy mir

In 2006, Russian nationalist historian Mikhail Smolin condemned former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma’s book Ukraine is not Russia, arguing that Ukraine was a ‘sickness,’ and Ukrainians were ‘South-Russian separatists,’ ‘traitors to Orthodox civilisation and Russian unity.’ To a greater or lesser extent, this view of the Ukrainian people is shared by the entire Russian political establishment and underpins many of the Kremlin’s responses to developments in Ukraine.

The notion of ‘Russian unity’ or russkiy mir (literally, Russian world) would seem to imply the existence of a transnational community of people and societies committed to Russian culture and language. The idea was adopted by Putin as early as 2006, and is obviously imperialistic, but it also reveals a deeper and probably more important insight into Moscow’s domestic and international politics. Since Putin’s regime correctly recognised Western-style liberal democracy as an existential threat to the well being of its elites (not the people), it has crushed democracy in Russia and successfully convinced a large number of Russian people that Western-style democracy is destructive (look back at the 1990s, they say) and essentially alien to them. To compensate for the rejection of liberal democracy and, therefore, becoming part of the West, the Kremlin and its loyal opinion-makers have offered the Russian people the belief that they are a unique civilisation in its own right: you do not need Western values because you are different; Russian culture is not only different but superior to Western culture.

President Putin meets with members of the ‘Night Wolves’ a Russian Orthodox motorcycle gang. via Kremlin.ru

Moscow proclaimed the uniqueness of Russian culture to justify both the rejection of Western-style democracy and Western modernisation. But the Kremlin – unlike China – has failed in its attempts at authoritarian modernisation, and Russian culture, as intrinsically understood by Putin’s regime, is about not modernising at all. Russkiy mir is an, ‘unwesternisable’ and ‘unmodernisable’ community. This is why Putin’s Russia is not fascist, as some commentators suggest: both Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany strove for an alternative modernity rather than rejecting the idea of modernisation altogether.

Russkiy mir is an, ‘unwesternisable’ and ‘unmodernisable’ community.

Obviously, no society should be forced to modernise along Western lines unless it so wishes. However, the danger of the Kremlin’s ‘non-modernisation,’ driven by the elites’ urgent need for self-preservation, is that it clashes with Russia’s natural progress towards social modernisation, which is determined by globalisation. Thus, the Kremlin’s ‘non-modernisation’ agenda is not only to conserve the existing traditionalist elements of Russian society, but also to suppress those who embrace Western-style modernisation. This suppression has resulted in almost all the social conservative policies that Putin’s regime has produced so far, showing disdain for – if not openly persecuting – human rights and environmental activists, social, cultural and sexual minorities, progressive artists and musicians, etc.

Another danger of the Kremlin’s refusal to modernise is that the uniqueness of the ‘unwesternisable’ russkiy mir needs constant corroboration, meaning that hindering the progress of Westernisation and democratisation in the countries that are allegedly part of russkiy mir is crucial for continuing to substantiate the ‘non-modernisation’ thesis to the Russians. Putin’s attempts, first to sabotage Ukraine’s democratic revolution, and then to undermine the country’s post-revolutionary development were aimed at Russian citizens, to prevent them from observing Ukraine’s successful democratisation; otherwise, if those Little Russians did it, why can’t we?

Belonging to russkiy mir

Russkiy mir is not a community of ethnic Russians or societies committed to Russian culture.

It is essential to stress that russkiy mir is not a community of ethnic Russians or societies committed to Russian culture. The Kremlin’s flirtation with Russian nationalism, although convincing, is inherently a means to secure the rule of the political and financial elites in Putin’s Russia. To be part of russkiy mir is to fit their agenda: disdain for liberal democracy, suppression of human rights, and undermining the rule of law. This explains why liberal citizens of Russia, or ethnic Russians in Ukraine who supported the democratic revolution, do not belong to russkiy mir; they are ‘national traitors’ or ‘Russophobes.’ It also helps to explain why the defenders of russkiy mir in Eastern Ukraine are racists and homophobes; and why the best friends of russkiy mir in the West are corrupt politicians and undemocratic political parties.

In May 2014, an ‘epic thread’ appeared on the Facebook page of the Right Sector, a far right Ukrainian movement that emerged at the beginning of the Euromaidan protests in November 2013. A photo of Conchita Wurst, the extravagant Austrian winner of 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, was posted with the comment: ‘Do we need this kind of ‘Europe’? Or would it be better to restore the real Europe at home and build a strong national state that would be free not only from Moscow imperialists but also from Western liberasts?!’. This post became a disaster for the Right Sector, as the overwhelming majority of the commentators – many of them actual subscribers to the Right Sector Facebook page – condemned the homophobia and intolerance of the post. One commentator said: ‘You have Putin’s view of Europe… Europe is different and Conchita demonstrates that people are different… And, with the kind of attitude that you demonstrate, you’d better go to a referendum and join Russia.’ Another comment was no less devastating: ‘If you’re homophobes, then don’t turn on the TV. Go and visit neighbouring fascist Russia – they think the same way you do. Shame on you.’ Apart from comparing the Right Sector to Putin’s Russia, some comments also denounced its isolationism: ‘Do you want Juche [North Korean autarchy) ideas in Ukraine or do you want Ukraine to be a full member of the world community? If you want Juche, then you are enemies of Ukraine; if you don’t, then stop this silly hysteria and talk about self-isolation. Simply put: stop talking nonsense. Glory to Ukraine!’

Written in Ukrainian and Russian, comments like these affirm that Ukraine’s departure (‘South-Russian separatism’) from russkiy mir or the sphere of influence of Putin’s Russia is not about creating an unbridgeable ethno-cultural cleavage between the Ukrainians and Russians. It is about rejecting what Putin’s Russia apparently stands for: intolerance, illiberalism, and isolationism.

Far right… and far far right

‘I will return Crimea to Ukraine!’, – slogan from Oleh Lyashko’s presidential campaign. (c) RIA Novosti/Aleksandr Maksimenko

Unfortunately, the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and the proxy war that the Kremlin has waged against Ukraine in eastern parts of the country have created the conditions for some elements of Ukrainian society to evolve in the direction of russkiy mir. The natural feeling of humiliation deriving from the loss of territory and military failure, resulted in a psychological need for the deceptive comfort of populism and its simplistic rhetoric and actions. Similar attitudes were to be found in Russia after the defeat in the first Chechen war – attitudes that contributed to the rise of Putin.

After Ukraine’s presidential election in May 2014, many journalists and experts on Ukraine, who highlighted the pathetic results of the two ‘official’ far-right candidates, Svoboda’s Oleh Tyahnybok (1.16%) and Right Sector’s Dmytro Yarosh (0.70%), completely ignored the strong electoral performance of another presidential candidate, Oleh Lyashko, who obtained 8.32% of the votes and finished third. In his political programme, peppered with 23 exclamation marks, Lyashko presented a textbook example of unabashed populism, while, during his campaign, he postured in a military uniform promising to ‘return Crimea to Ukraine!’ In the run-up to the presidential election, Lyashko praised militarism and bragged about unlawfully questioning a captured separatist. However, not only have the Ukrainian authorities ignored Lyashko’s criminal actions, but society has largely failed to condemn his behaviour.

Social-National Assembly (SNA)

Fighters of the Azov battalion under the flag of the SNA featuring a wolf’s hook. via forum.omsk.com

Lyashko worked with Right Sector extremist elements, namely the Social-National Assembly (SNA); and by spring 2014 had effectively managed to lure them away from Right Sector. The SNA is a neo-Nazi movement, which has always been too extreme for the Right Sector. According to its official documents, its ‘nationalism is racial, social, great-power imperialist, anti-systemic (anti-democratic and anti-capitalist), self-sufficient, militant and uncompromising’. Its ideology ‘builds on maximalist attitudes, national and racial egoism,’ while glorifying the Ukrainian nation as part of the ‘White Race.’

Lyashko’s Radical Party nominated several SNA members as candidates in the May 2014 Kyiv city council elections: Oleh Odnorozhenko (its ideologue), Ihor Mosychuk, Ihor Kryvoruchko, and Volodymyr Shpara. It seems plausible to suggest that SNA members will also be included in Lyashko’s party list in the early parliamentary elections possibly taking place in autumn 2014.

The SNA was also behind the formation of the Azov battalion, a volunteer auxiliary police unit that was armed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine as part of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) launched against the (pro-)Russia separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The Azov battalion does not consist solely of SNA members (although there are unverified reports that all the volunteers are required to sign up to the SNA before joining the battalion), but the SNA leader Andriy Biletsky is its commander, with Mosychuk as his deputy. The battalion includes members of Misanthropic Division, an international neo-Nazi movement, whose Ukrainian ‘branch’ – mostly based in Kharkiv – is affiliated with the SNA. The Division considers that, rather than liberating Eastern Ukraine from illiberal and undemocratic (pro-)Russia separatists, their ‘black squadrons are fighting in the ranks of the pagan battalion Azov against the residues of modern society represented by khachi [racist slur for natives of the Caucasus region], chavs, communists, liberals, Asians and other Untermenschen.’

Media coverage

The SNA’s participation in the ATO in Eastern Ukraine, and Lyashko’s cooperation with the neo-Nazis, run in parallel with mainstream Ukrainian media according the SNA a degree of legitimacy by proclaiming them ‘defenders of the Ukrainian motherland.’ They are almost never presented to audiences as SNA members, but specifically as fighters of the Azov battalion. In the same manner, RT (formerly Russia Today) presents members of European far-right parties who support the Kremlin’s agenda, as simply European politicians, without mentioning their undemocratic doctrines.

Recently, SNA members have appeared on Ukrainian TV, and interviews with them have been published by respected media outlets. Their ideology was very rarely questioned although sometimes they took the liberty of appearing on TV wearing clothes with dubious symbols. Regretfully, the same media that provided objective coverage during the Maidan revolution were now legitimising the SNA by refusing to regard their ideology and activities as problematic.

Ihor Mosychuk in the studio of Hromadske TV, wearing a t-shirt produced by the neo-Nazi brand Doberman Aggressive. via YouTube

Hromadske TV, for instance, invited Biletsky, Mosychuk and Kryvoruchko to its studio as the commanders of the Azov battalion. In one episode, a journalist of Hromadske went so far as to show a video in which Mosychuk was humiliating a captured separatist. The journalist failed to provide even moderate criticism of Mosychuk’s actions – in what way was he any different from the Russian state journalists who questioned, detained and abused Ukrainian security officers?

In another episode, Roman Skrypin, a journalist for Hromadske, evidently unwillingly asked Biletsky, who was wearing a black paramilitary polo with a chevron saying ‘Black Corps’ – a clear reference to Das Schwarze Korps, the official newspaper of the SS – about the claims that the SNA was a neo-Nazi movement. When Biletsky, for obvious reasons, decided not to give a direct answer, Skrypin disavowed his question.

Ukrainska Pravda, LB, The Insider and other influential Ukrainian media outlets have regularly published comments from and interviews with the SNA leaders, as well as sympathetic coverage of their actions. Novoye Vremya, a new media project of Vitaliy Sych, former editor of the popular magazine Korrespondent, has even named Biletsky among the 10 people ‘who are taking a stand for Ukraine’s independence in Donbas.’ It may be worth remembering that Sych declared Svoboda’s Oleh Tyahnybok ‘the person of the year 2012.’

How different, then, are they all from the media in Putin’s Russia that serve as a platform for disseminating the illiberal and intolerant views of Russian ultranationalists such as Aleksandr Dugin, Aleksandr Prokhanov and many others? Ukrainian humanistic and liberal voices are few. In Ukraine, they are often slammed as ‘pacifists,’ although neither humanism nor liberalism equals pacifism. In Russia, liberal journalists are condemned as the ‘fifth column.’

Conflict as a test of Ukrainian democracy

Russia’s proxy war against Ukraine now serves as a perfect excuse for legitimising the fringe Ukrainian neo-Nazis as ‘defenders of the Ukrainian motherland.’ Those who are involved in this process – especially the Ministry of Internal Affairs that arm them and Ukrainian mainstream media that uncritically take their ‘patriotism’ at face value – fail to understand that neo-Nazis pose a real threat to Ukrainian society.

The Constitution of Ukraine unequivocally states that ‘Ukraine is the sovereign and independent, democratic, social, legal state’ (Article 1). For some Ukrainians, the Russian threat to their country’s sovereignty and independence has obscured the rationale of being sovereign and independent – that is to secure the democratic, social and legal state. Furthermore, the Constitution unambiguously recognises, ‘the human being, his or her life and health, honour and dignity, inviolability and security’ as the highest social value. At the same time, the main duty of the state is ‘to affirm and ensure human rights and freedoms’ (Article 3).

It is absurd to assume that the neo-Nazis who ‘are taking a stand for Ukraine’s independence’ are doing this in the name of Ukraine’s highest social values or to reinforce the main duty of the state as stipulated by the Constitution. Rather, they are arming themselves, learning how to fight and kill, as well as recruiting new members. Their ‘ideal Ukraine’ is not only different, but is the direct opposite of a democratic, social and legal state. To ignore these values, to override them for the sake of sovereignty and independence, is to move closer psychologically in the direction of Putin’s russkiy mir without even acknowledging it. Ukraine’s rapprochement with the EU should mean something different, because EU member states have partially sacrificed their sovereignty and independence at the altar of supranational democracy, more secure social order and the stronger rule of law.

In the beginning of July, Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko used the conflict in Eastern Ukraine as an excuse for discarding what should be the fundamental values of the democratic Ukrainian state. On 5 July, the Ukrainian LGBT community was going to hold a March of Equality in Kyiv, under the slogan ‘Ukraine is united and we are part of it,’ but Klitschko called for its cancellation on the grounds that ‘when military operations are taking place and many people are dying,’ it would not be ‘appropriate to hold entertainments.’ Klitschko seems completely to misunderstand the meaning of democracy: the March of Equality is not an ‘entertainment’ but a means of drawing attention to the fact that the state should ‘affirm and ensure human rights and freedoms’ of all its citizens.

What will Klitschko do when the neo-Nazi gang from the Azov battalion returns to Kyiv to fight against various ‘Untermenschen’?

The March of Equality has been cancelled but the reasons for cancelling it are most disturbing: the police told the organising committee that ‘they could not secure the safety of participants in the face of expected far-right counter-demonstrators.’ What will Klitschko do when the neo-Nazi gang from the Azov battalion – officially armed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs – returns to Kyiv to fight against various Untermenschen? The failure to protect the participants of the March of Equality from Ukrainian right-wing extremists in Kyiv is no different from the failure to protect East Ukrainian civilians from (pro-)Russia separatists, because ‘all people are free and equal in their dignity and rights’, while ‘human rights and freedoms are inalienable and inviolable’ (Article 21).

Giving in to bullies only makes them stronger; retreating from any enemy of democracy – be they militants of intolerant and isolationist russkiy mir or Ukrainian neo-Nazis – is to open up even more space for injustice, and cede even more territory to anti-European forces. Every time Ukraine’s authorities infringe the rights of its citizens, Putin gives a welcoming smile.

Originally published on Open Democracy

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  • http://batman-news.com humanitarian

    during any war some rights are limited as part of the war effort, that said Ukraine is more democratic that the invading enemy, Russia and, the Ukrainian populace has stood up for democratic ideals repeatedly …….
    “Giving in to bullies only makes them stronger “…. is what you should remind the USA, Britain, France, Germany and the EU . Ukraine is standing up for its democracy alone, against a non-democratic Russia bully with nuke’s.

    • Milton Devonair

      The dictatorial pig in charge of Belarus said it’s better to be a dictator than gay. Really, that ape said that.
      Belarus will prove to be interesting as putin would like to keep that under his thumb as he’s been shifting away some of Ukraine’s factory production to Belarus.
      Belarus isn’t refined enough to be neo-soviet communist dictatorship, it never left. With Ukraine being free and Poland also, the pressure will increase on Belarus.
      Good read here:
      http://www.pism.pl/files/?id_plik=17429

      • Maestro Snape

        hm, it’s sure better to be a dictator than a regular gay. You are one of a kind and have infinite powers within your own domain 😉 Lukashenko has been sincere 😀
        Jokes aside, his support will surely go down, but not drastically – the slaves in his domain are well-fed and happy.

        • Milton Devonair

          “the slaves in his domain are well-fed and happy.”
          And that’s the “soft dictatorship”….but if one wants more, they will be crushed.

          What’s funny is that the russians always say Ukraine isn’t a country of their own and never was……but if ever there were a country that fit that description, it’s Belarus. It’s just a flat spot between other countries.

  • Maestro Snape

    I am afraid you are wrong about March Equality gathering: the SNA is not stupid enough to attack those people – all their actions have been relatively reasonable so far, yet the possibilities for provokers are almost unlimited. And the police is not professional enough and corrupt to be able to secure such a gathering.

    • http://ukrainianpolicy.com/ UkrainianPolicy

      A gay club in Kyiv was attacked by Misanthropic Division the same day – and they took credit for it too. Here is a proof of the SNA / MD connection.

      • Milton Devonair

        From the video, looks like there was about a dozen young guys. I think we should be careful about attributing things to a whole group of people acts done by a small population of them. I know of two people in the SNA and one is the stereotype while the other isn’t. The latter just joined because they were the ones giving training to people that wanted to defend ukraine and doing a lot of the fighting, had the gear, etc. From what I could tell of him, he hand no anti-jewish or anti-gay feelings, he was just pro Ukraine and took the best opportunity to defend Ukraine.

        But as you said, they’re a small group, just like the others, so now that the criminal yanukovich is gone, Ukraine can get on with removing the russian/chechen stench from the land, rebuild their nation and becoming great.

        • Mat

          “I know of two people in the SNA and one is the stereotype while the other isn’t. The latter just joined because they were the ones giving training to people that wanted to defend ukraine and doing a lot of the fighting, had the gear, etc. ”

          Did you mean Azov? I think this description accurately describes Azov and that many join just for the latter purpose: to fight, not for ideology.

          The video does show a dozen, and maybe 3 are identifiably wearing Misanthropic t shirts. You’re also right that the SNA’s actions so far haven’t crossed any red lines. Even Mosichuk said the gay parade could be used for provocations, but who knows if he knew what MD would be planning anyway. I would hope that they are more preoccupied with the war effort than to give a damn about harassing locals.

          • Milton Devonair

            No, I meant SNA. It was still pretty early in the show when he joined the SNA. He said many people are both worried/scared and also, wanting to get training and fight. I’ve lost contact with him for the last few months, but I figure he, like other Ukrainians have been busy doing other things.

            From what little I know by reading the internet is while the government was still sorting itself out as to being loyal to a corrupt putin puppet or Ukraine and its people, ‘the right’ was organizing and training. The right (nationalists) will always be on the leading edge of things…and they will always be the ones that have the weapons and training and offering that to other nationalists of their nation. The Right (nationalists) know that they as individuals are the last line of defense of their country, no matter what country that is, no matter what flavor of government is running the country at that moment.

            And this is why a lot of the people in power in most countries fear The Right. For The Right, it’s about putting their own country first, their own people first, then deal with the rest of the world. To people in power, most of them just want to expand their power, country be damned, so the put the interests of their country below growing their power.

            Russia and putin are great examples of this. Russia has serious economic problems, so they also have a lot of social problems. Rather than address those for the betterment of russians in russia, he just concentrated on building more power/control/wealth of for himself and his friends (gas monies) and putting russians second, only to be considered as a tool for their use to get what they want.
            This is why Nationalists are being hunted down and persecuted in russia.
            This is putin and company has made telling the horrid truth about the soviet russia punishable by prison.
            They want to make their horrid past palatable to the russians of today, and nationalism OK—but only within the context of them having a great russian empire again, their russia ran soviet union, now called “eurasian union”.
            That’s a fine line putin has to walk, so he needs absolute control over ‘the message’ and any critique of it in the media, which they now own.

            http://scontent-a-fra.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xaf1/t1.0-9/10441225_664513266958777_1545032745030021745_n.jpg

          • Milton Devonair

            (breaking up the response for easier reading).

            Small portions of any population can do things not representative of the group or not in the overall interest of the group. There have been stupid acts done by SOME members the US Military, yet it is not the methods, nor desires of the US Military. There were gay people beaten up in moscow during the paratrooper day there, just like some in the SNA would do, yet these two groups would be fighting each other over who would run Ukraine. What is the goal(s) of a group and how best to achieve them.

            This is a great example of why getting exceptional leaders is vital to any organization, all the way up to a country.
            As President Poroshenko said, “Historic events are unavoidable”.

  • Milton Devonair

    I’ve thought that without the Ukraine Nationalists, the last protests would have done nothing but turn Ukraine into Belarus.
    If average citizens of a country won’t stand up and fight for their country, someone has to. Great reason to have a trained citizenry along the lines of a ‘citizen soldier’, a strong national guard.

    • http://ukrainianpolicy.com/ UkrainianPolicy

      The SNA is fringe and had absolutely nothing to do with the success of Euromaidan. Right Sector (and its member orgs) played a small role, Svoboda played a much larger one, and every-day nationalists/patriots did more than any single group.

      • Milton Devonair

        “every-day nationalists/patriots did more than any single group.”

        And that’s the way it should be.

  • Arctic_Slicer

    The problem with trying to define Ukrainian politics, or any former Soviet state for that matter, between “right” or “left” is that a nation such as Ukraine that had full communism in the past has a very different definition of what “left” means. In the West communism is something that is considered as being on the far left but Ukraine and other former Soviet Nations; communism is associated with conservatism a value associated with “the right”. The Communist party of Ukraine might sound like a leftist party yet they supported the most authoritarian measures of the Yanukovych regime and certainly have been no friends to LGBT and other minority rights. While it’s expected that traditional “far right” parties like Svoboda or Praviy Sektor would be opposed to LGBT rights; it’s very problematic when a “moderate” party like UDAR fails to support those rights. There also aren’t allies of LGBT rights in the current administration with president Poroshenko of the Solidarity part on the record as being against same sex marriage. Nor should we expect the party of prime minister Yatsenyuk to support LGBT rights either since Yatsenyuk has in the past called homosexuality “an abomination” and his party Batkivschyva in 2010 expelled Oleh Lyaskho from the party for his support for LGBT rights and allegations that he himself was gay. This creates a political system where the so called “far far right” radical party Oleh Lyaskho is the only party not currently publicly opposed to LGBT rights. Under such politics what does “right” or “left” even mean? It seems obvious the terms are nothing more than a false dichotomy and useless for explaining the complexities of a political system in any country and not just former Soviet ones.

    In the short term I fear LGBT rights are not going to see much progress and could indeed be eroded which places LGBT people in a difficult position in the near term. This is a shame since promoting LGBT rights is necessary for any country but doubly so for a country that is getting labeled as one overrun by “neo-nazi fascists” by Russia and Russian apologists the world over. With prominent liberals of the global community that I normally have a lot of respect for such as Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky, among others, trying to make excuses for Russia’s actions and supporting such narratives that “Crimea was Russian anyways” it’s more important than even that Ukraine shows the world that they are a progressive country with progressive European values and not “fascists” like Russia has led so many into believing. Not supporting LGBT rights feeds into the “fascist” myth and works against Ukraine in the global community.

    However just because things currently look bad for LGBT rights doesn’t mean it has to be that way. Ukraine has an opportunity to fix this but it will require great political courage from Poroshenko and other leaders. Ukraine needs to legalize same-sex marriage as soon as possible and guarantee all of the same rights to same-sex couples and different sex couples as well as provide access to transgender related healthcare and make it easier for them to update their legal documents. Doing so would make history and mark Ukraine as the first post-Soviet nation to guarantee such rights to it’s LGBT population. More importantly doing this would dispel the “fascist” myth permanently and prove to the world that Ukraine is a progressive country and ready for European integration and likely earn much greater support from the nations liberal critics.

    The right path for Ukraine is obvious. It’s important for citizens and residents of Ukraine to petition Poroshenko and others in government to pursue this part. I hope that Ukrainians make the right choice.

    • Mat

      Here’s the problem with the left/right political spectrum in a graphic I whipped up

      • Arctic_Slicer

        That’s pretty good though I think it’s more complicated than that. Even in a tyrannical society you’ll have a “left” or “right” wing that exists in the politics of that society. In the Soviet Union, for example, you could say Stalin represented the “right wing” of the Communist party whereas Nikita Khrushchev could be said to be more “moderate” or “to the left” of Stalin. Like I said before the terms “right” and “left” are kind of a false dichotomy that tries to simplify what is really complex political system.

        • Milton Devonair

          Everything is in gradations, even the gradations. What that means is the best thing there can be is the most power given to the individual as possible. All else is just a grouping of people making decisions for the individuals.

        • Mat

          Well even in the graphic, Stalin would be at the hammer n sickle, and Krushchev would be to the left of it – but still on the lower tyranny side. Graphic is infallible :)

    • Rascalndear

      I’m not sure LGBT rights should be a top priority for a country is still struggling to have a normal government on an everyday basis and to reduce corruption to the minimum. Issues such as taxation, healthcare, education and defense have to be addressed first because they affect everybody, regardless of age, gender or social class. Once the basics are in place, minority issues can be tackled more realistically.

      • Arctic_Slicer

        Guaranteeing the rights of minorities costs the national budget nothing while at the same time strengthens the image of the nation internationally. Being perceived as a nation that respects the rights of all of it’s citizens including LGBT people can only be beneficial when it comes to negotiations with nations such as the USA, Canada and members of the EU as well as organizations like the IMF. Ukraine can’t afford not to do this.

  • Kostecki

    I’ve noticed that elsewhere on this website Matthew Babiak has deleted Tom’s post showing photographs of the massacres carried out by Ukrainians on the Polish people during World War II. I therefore strongly encourage everyone to do a Google search for:

    Volyn massacre

    Massacres of Poles in Volhynia

    Ukrainian ethnic cleansing

    … so that they can see for themselves how sadistic and disturbing those genocidal campaigns carried out by the Bandera people really were.

    Deleting readers’ posts won’t solve the problem. Think of the shame and the anger young Ukrainians are going to feel when they finally discover that — from the relative safety of Canada — the children of those Ukrainians who gladly collaborated with Hitler in his plans to exterminate whole nations have deceived them into thinking that the Bandera people were heroes!

    Can’t you see that this kind of propaganda is no different from that of Putin’s Russia?

    150 000 isn’t quite on the scale of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, but genocide it most certainly was. In German-occupied Poland Ukrainian forces carried out a mass slaughter of Polish villagers who posed no military threat and whose only crime was that they were not ethnic Ukrainians.

    The slaughter was as horrifying as it was methodical. No one was spared. Ukrainian men with Polish wives were ordered to kill them or face execution themselves. Worse still, many of the Polish villagers were brutally tortured and mutilated before they died. When the killing was over, it was time for the wives and children of the killers to come and help with the looting.

    Men, women, children, old people and babies all shared the same fate. Pregnant women’s babies were often ripped out of their bodies before they themselves were finished off by Ukrainian militants. Any Ukrainians who dared to defend their Polish neighbours were also killed as traitors to the Ukrainian nationalist cause.

    It’s no use trying to deny it, Matthew, as there’s only too much evidence in the archives, including photographs of young children’s bodies strung up together on village fences as some sort of macabre trophy.

    The massacres were so appalling that even some members of the German army were moved to secretly provide Poles with arms so that they could defend themselves!

    Another disturbing aspect of this genocide was the fact that it was condoned by many members of the Uniate or “Greek Catholic” clergy, who held services to bless the militants beforehand. Perhaps that explains why they are still in denial about Bandera, who later in his life never expressed any sorrow for what happened.

    Fortunately the impartial Ukrainian historian Viktor Polishchuk / Poliszczuk — who steadfastly refused to support the Ukrainian Canadian UPA propaganda machine — has also left us an account of what really happened. The fact that in his article Matthew Babiak makes no reference to the work of Polishchuk speaks volumes about his academic credibility.

    Deleting readers’ posts will not solve the problem. By clumsily attempting to doctor the historical truth Ukrainian “historians” are doing a great disservice to the Ukrainian nation. How do you think Ukrainian teenagers are going to feel when they eventually discover what the Bandera people really did?

    Glorifying Bandera is a road to nowhere. If you want to put up statues, then put them up to Petlura and the heroes of the Maidan. Can’t you see that it’s time to ditch “heroes” like Khmelnytsky and Bandera, who were stupid enough to sell Ukrainians into slavery and ignominy?

    The sad truth is that between the two world wars some Ukrainian nationalists (and no, I have nothing against nationalism!) succumbed to the temptation to side with Germany in return for German support. That explains why they assassinated any Pole or Ukrainian who actively worked for Polish-Ukrainian understanding.

    When Poland was divided up between Germany and Russia they continued to play the German card. And play the German card they did! Many Ukrainian nationalists became guards at Nazi death camps, going down in history as unparalleled sadists, while others took part in massacres of Poles and Jews, whose presence spoilt their dream of an ethnically pure Ukraine.

  • Drohomir

    ^ I’ve noticed that elsewhere on this website Matthew Babiak has deleted Tom’s post showing photographs of the massacres carried out by Ukrainians on the Polish people during World War II. I therefore strongly encourage everyone to do a Google search for:

    Volyn massacre

    Massacres of Poles in Volhynia

    Ukrainian ethnic cleansing

    … so that they can see for themselves how sadistic and disturbing those genocidal campaigns carried out by the Bandera people really were.

    Deleting readers’ posts won’t solve the problem. Think of the shame and the anger young Ukrainians are going to feel when they finally discover that — from the relative safety of Canada — the children of those Ukrainians who gladly collaborated with Hitler in his plans to exterminate whole nations have deceived them into thinking that the Bandera people were heroes!

    Can’t you see that this kind of propaganda is no different from that of Putin’s Russia?

    150 000 isn’t quite on the scale of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, but genocide it most certainly was. In German-occupied Poland Ukrainian forces carried out a mass slaughter of Polish villagers who posed no military threat and whose only crime was that they were not ethnic Ukrainians.

    The slaughter was as horrifying as it was methodical. No one was spared. Ukrainian men with Polish wives were ordered to kill them or face execution themselves. Worse still, many of the Polish villagers were brutally tortured and mutilated before they died. When the killing was over, it was time for the wives and children of the killers to come and help with the looting.

    Men, women, children, old people and babies all shared the same fate. Pregnant women’s babies were often ripped out of their bodies before they themselves were finished off by Ukrainian militants. Any Ukrainians who dared to defend their Polish neighbours were also killed as traitors to the Ukrainian nationalist cause.

    It’s no use trying to deny it, Matthew, as there’s only too much evidence in the archives, including photographs of young children’s bodies strung up together on village fences as some sort of macabre trophy.

    The massacres were so appalling that even some members of the German army were moved to secretly provide Poles with arms so that they could defend themselves!

    Another disturbing aspect of this genocide was the fact that it was condoned by many members of the Uniate or “Greek Catholic” clergy, who held services to bless the militants beforehand. Perhaps that explains why they are still in denial about Bandera, who later in his life never expressed any sorrow for what happened.

    Fortunately the impartial Ukrainian historian Viktor Polishchuk / Poliszczuk — who steadfastly refused to support the Ukrainian Canadian UPA propaganda machine — has also left us an account of what really happened. The fact that in his article Matthew Babiak makes no reference to the work of Polishchuk speaks volumes about his academic credibility.

    Deleting readers’ posts will not solve the problem. By clumsily attempting to doctor the historical truth Ukrainian “historians” are doing a great disservice to the Ukrainian nation. How do you think Ukrainian teenagers are going to feel when they eventually discover what the Bandera people really did?

    Glorifying Bandera is a road to nowhere. If you want to put up statues, then put them up to Petlura and the heroes of the Maidan. Can’t you see that it’s time to ditch “heroes” like Khmelnytsky and Bandera, who were stupid enough to sell Ukrainians into slavery and ignominy?

    The sad truth is that between the two world wars some Ukrainian nationalists (and no, I have nothing against nationalism!) succumbed to the temptation to side with Germany in return for German support. That explains why they assassinated any Pole or Ukrainian who actively worked for Polish-Ukrainian understanding.

    When Poland was divided up between Germany and Russia they continued to play the German card. And play the German card they did! Many Ukrainian nationalists became guards at Nazi death camps, going down in history as unparalleled sadists, while others took part in massacres of Poles and Jews, whose presence spoilt their dream of an ethnically pure Ukraine.

  • Bobak

    ((( I’ve noticed that elsewhere on this website Matthew Babiak has deleted Tom’s post showing photographs of the massacres carried out by Ukrainians on the Polish people during World War II. I therefore strongly encourage everyone to do a Google search for:

    Volyn massacre

    Massacres of Poles in Volhynia

    Ukrainian ethnic cleansing

    … so that they can see for themselves how sadistic and disturbing those genocidal campaigns carried out by the Bandera people really were.

    Deleting readers’ posts won’t solve the problem. Think of the shame and the anger young Ukrainians are going to feel when they finally discover that — from the relative safety of Canada — the children of those Ukrainians who gladly collaborated with Hitler in his plans to exterminate whole nations have deceived them into thinking that the Bandera people were heroes!

    Can’t you see that this kind of propaganda is no different from that of Putin’s Russia?

    150 000 isn’t quite on the scale of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, but genocide it most certainly was. In German-occupied Poland Ukrainian forces carried out a mass slaughter of Polish villagers who posed no military threat and whose only crime was that they were not ethnic Ukrainians.

    The slaughter was as horrifying as it was methodical. No one was spared. Ukrainian men with Polish wives were ordered to kill them or face execution themselves. Worse still, many of the Polish villagers were brutally tortured and mutilated before they died. When the killing was over, it was time for the wives and children of the killers to come and help with the looting.

    Men, women, children, old people and babies all shared the same fate. Pregnant women’s babies were often ripped out of their bodies before they themselves were finished off by Ukrainian militants. Any Ukrainians who dared to defend their Polish neighbours were also killed as traitors to the Ukrainian nationalist cause.

    It’s no use trying to deny it, Matthew, as there’s only too much evidence in the archives, including photographs of young children’s bodies strung up together on village fences as some sort of macabre trophy.

    The massacres were so appalling that even some members of the German army were moved to secretly provide Poles with arms so that they could defend themselves!

    Another disturbing aspect of this genocide was the fact that it was condoned by many members of the Uniate or “Greek Catholic” clergy, who held services to bless the militants beforehand. Perhaps that explains why they are still in denial about Bandera, who later in his life never expressed any sorrow for what happened.

    Fortunately the impartial Ukrainian historian Viktor Polishchuk / Poliszczuk — who steadfastly refused to support the Ukrainian Canadian UPA propaganda machine — has also left us an account of what really happened. The fact that in his article Matthew Babiak makes no reference to the work of Polishchuk speaks volumes about his academic credibility.

    Deleting readers’ posts will not solve the problem. By clumsily attempting to doctor the historical truth Ukrainian “historians” are doing a great disservice to the Ukrainian nation. How do you think Ukrainian teenagers are going to feel when they eventually discover what the Bandera people really did?

    Glorifying Bandera is a road to nowhere. If you want to put up statues, then put them up to Petlura and the heroes of the Maidan. Can’t you see that it’s time to ditch “heroes” like Khmelnytsky and Bandera, who were stupid enough to sell Ukrainians into slavery and ignominy?

    The sad truth is that between the two world wars some Ukrainian nationalists (and no, I have nothing against nationalism!) succumbed to the temptation to side with Germany in return for German support. That explains why they assassinated any Pole or Ukrainian who actively worked for Polish-Ukrainian understanding.

    When Poland was divided up between Germany and Russia they continued to play the German card. And play the German card they did! Many Ukrainian nationalists became guards at Nazi death camps, going down in history as unparalleled sadists, while others took part in massacres of Poles and Jews, whose presence spoilt their dream of an ethnically pure Ukraine.

  • caap02

    Shekhovtsov fails to see that the danger to Ukraine from SNA neo-nazis is INSIGNIFICANT compared to the danger from the Kremlin. RIght now, Ukraine is fighting for its life, and if young men are willing to sign up and fight (Shekhovtsov certainly isn’t), grilling them on their political views is counter-productive and a waste of time. Whatever one might have thought about Sashko Bilyj, it would have been good to have him and his men in Donbass right now.

    IF Ukraine survives this war, and peace and stability are re-established, it will not be that hard to deal with any crime emanating from the small cohort of loony adolescents that is the SNA.

    As for the LGBT march: have you every BEEN to a gay pride parade? It is a PARTY. And quite apart from security concerns, would be innappropriate while the country is at war (in fact, if the organizers wanted to do something about improving LGBT rights, rather than organizing a part in Kiev, they should publicly sign up for active military duty).

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