Kiev deploys fascists against political opponents

Clara Weiss

The Ukrainian government is deploying paramilitary groups in close cooperation with the army against opposition in the eastern part of the country. This collaboration has been largely ignored by Western media. While the armed actions of pro-Russian separatists are dealt with at length in the media, there is no discussion of the fascist terror against political opponents of the Kiev regime and the civilian population.

In February, armed groups from the Right Sector and the fascist Svoboda party played a decisive role in the putsch against then-President Viktor Yanukovych. Svoboda was rewarded for this with several ministerial posts and high-ranking positions in the state. Although Svoboda’s presidential candidate, Oleh Tyahnybok, received only 1.2 percent of the vote in the May election, Svoboda continues to be prominently represented in the government.

These paramilitary groups operate with the official protection of the state. At the beginning of March, the parliament decided to build a 60,000-man national guard, principally made up of volunteers recruited from the so-called Maidan self-defense groups.

On April 13, Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov released a decree that allows the formation of special units for the purpose of countering separatist currents. Since then, a number of battalions, officially operating under the Ministry of the Interior, have been founded with the financial support of certain oligarchs.


Nationalism and fascism in Ukraine: A historical overview

Konrad Kreft & Clara Weiss


Skoropadskyi with officers of the Hetman

Part one - The roots of Ukrainian nationalism

The Western media is seeking to downplay the prominent role of fascists in the new Ukrainian government. Several of the regime’s ministries are headed by members of the far-right Svoboda party, and the militias of the neo-fascist Right Sector are active in violently repressing resistance in the east of the country.

Both Svoboda and Right Sector played a crucial role in the February 22 coup in Kiev, which was strongly backed by Berlin and Washington. This is no coincidence. The close collaboration of Germany and the US with Ukrainian fascists has a long history, reaching back over the last hundred years.

In contrast to many other European countries, there has never been a strong bourgeois national movement in Ukraine. Ukraine has been divided between Poland and Russia since the late Middle Ages. After the carve-up of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century, Ukraine became part of the Russian Empire. Only a section of what is now western Ukraine was integrated into the Hapsburg Empire.

The weakness of the Ukrainian national movement was due on the one hand to the country’s economic backwardness and lack of a strong middle class. Significant industrialisation occurred only in the era of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, a large proportion of the urban population consisted of Russians, Germans and Jews, while the rural population was mainly Ukrainian.

When bourgeois forces finally erected a Ukrainian nation-state, following the 1917 February Revolution’s overthrow of the tsar in Russia, they were immediately confronted with a revolutionary working class. The Bolsheviks, who seized power in Russia in October, received powerful support from the workers of Ukraine. Ever since then, bourgeois nationalism in Ukraine has been characterised by virulent anti-communism, pogroms against revolutionary workers and Jews, and attempts to win the support of imperialist powers.


Russia prepares for a US-Israeli military strike against Iran

Clara Weiss

Russia has undertaken intensive preparations during the past few months for a possible military strike by Israel and the United States on Iran. According to recent reports, the Russian General Staff expects a war against Iran this summer, with enormous repercussions for not only the Middle East but also the Caucasus.

Russian troops in the Caucasus have been technically upgraded, and a missile division situated on the Caspian Sea has been placed in readiness. The missile cruisers of the Caspian flotilla are now anchored off the coast of Dagestan. The only Russian military base in the South Caucasus, located in Armenia, is also on alert for military intervention. Last autumn, Russia sent its aircraft carrier Kuznetsov to the Syrian port Tartous following the escalation of the conflict in Syria. Experts believe that Russia would support Tehran in the event of war, at least on a military-technical level.

In a commentary in April, General Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Science, wrote that “a war against Iran would be a war against Russia” and he called for a “political-diplomatic alliance” with China and India. Operations were being undertaken throughout the Middle East in order to destabilise the region and proceed against China, Russia and Europe. The war against Iran, Ivashov wrote, would “end up at our borders, destabilise the situation in the North Caucasus and weaken our position in the Caspian region.”

Of central concern for Moscow are the consequences for the South Caucasus in the event of a war against Iran. Armenia is the only ally of the Kremlin in the region and has close economic links with Iran, while neighbouring Georgia and Azerbaijan maintain military and economic ties with the United States and Israel.


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