In the media and diplomatic furore over the Crimea, the fact that neo-Nazis have taken prominent positions in a European government for the first time since the Second World War has been regrettably overlooked. The newly installed Ukrainian government contains members of Ukraine’s far right in key posts of defense, education and youth and sports.
As Seumas Milne writes for the UK’s Guardian newspaper:
It has been claimed that the role of fascists in the demonstrations has been exaggerated by Russian propaganda to justify Vladimir Putin’s manoeuvres in Crimea. The reality is alarming enough to need no exaggeration. Activists report that the far right made up around a third of the protesters, but they were decisive in armed confrontations with the police.
Fascist gangs now patrol the streets. But they are also in Kiev’s corridors of power. The far right Svoboda party, whose leader has denounced the “criminal activities” of “organised Jewry” and which was condemned by the European parliament for its “racist and antisemitic views”, has five ministerial posts in the new government, including deputy prime minister and prosecutor general. The leader of the even more extreme Right Sector, at the heart of the street violence, is now Ukraine’s deputy national security chief.
Throughout and since the Madian protests, the opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko and current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk shared a platform with Tyahnybok. Below, Klitscho and Yatsenyuk share a smile with Tyahnybok.
And in this photo, Yatsenyuk appears to throw a Nazi salute out to Svoboda supporters as Tyahnybok looks on, smiling:
Channel 4 reports on the history of this party and it’s leader:
The ultra-nationalist group is aligned with other European far-right parties including the BNP, but their radical stance has made them a central force in the ongoing street protests.
The party was registered in 1995, initially called the Social National Party of Ukraine and using a swastika style logo.
A 1999 report from Tel-Aviv University called the party: “an extremist, right-wing, nationalist organization which emphasizes its identification with the ideology of German National Socialism”.
The party broke with their most extreme elements a decade ago, expelling groups of neo-Nazis and rebranding with a new name and logo.
In 2004 leader Oleh Tyahnybok gave a speech attacking what he called “the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine” and in another speech declared: “the Moskali, Germans, Kikes and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.”
Despite the controversy his statements attracted in the West, Tyahnybok was voted Person of the Year by readers of Ukrainian news magazine Korrespondent last year.
In another outburst from the party their deputy chief, Ihor Miroshnychenko, wrote an anti-Semitic attack on Mila Kunis on Facebook: “Kunis is not Ukrainian, she is a Yid. She is proud of it, so Star of David be with her.”
Svoboda member of parliament Ihor Miroshnychenko called for the banning of a LGBT march this year declaring that “homosexuality provokes sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS”.