In Ukraine, neo-Nazi sentiments continue to gain strength, political analysts say. At the same time, according to experts, the current government is unlikely to be able to neutralize the radicals: in Kiev now they are simply trying to ignore the existence of a threat, pretending that nationalism is not a problem.

On November 5, in the city of Kalush, near Ivano-Frankivsk, the nationalists opened a memorial plaque in honor of the Hauptsturmfuhrer of the SS Galicia division Dmitry Paliev (Ukrainian, Dmitry Paliiv. - RT ). This was written on Facebook by the head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Eduard Dolinsky.

During World War I, Paliev joined the legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (OSS) on the side of Austria-Hungary. Subsequently, he became one of the founders of the SS Galicia collaboration division, where he received the title of Hauptsturmfuhrer. He died in 1944 in battles on the side of the Nazis. In 2011, Paliev was already installed a memorial plaque in Lviv.

Law Inaction

With the growth of neo-Nazi sentiment in Ukraine after the collapse of the USSR, the celebration of such characters as Paliev has become a certain political trend, analysts say. Today, such actions have become quite common: for example, on November 5, Ukrainian media reported on a "masquerade" held in the village of Vorzel near Kiev. On the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the village from the Nazis, a number of local residents put on the Wehrmacht uniform and, imitating the guard of honor, lined up at the mass grave, where 47 soldiers of the Red Army are buried. Opposite them, a column of "Red Army" was formed.

Moreover, more and more radicals are turning to direct violence. For example, the other day in Lviv they broke the street musician’s guitar for singing in Russian. According to fighters from the Sokol NGO, they regularly conduct such raids.

  • Opening of the memorial plaque of the Hauptsturmfuhrer of the SS division “Galicia” Dmitriy Paliev in the city of Kalush, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine
  • Facebook
  • © Eduard Dolinsky

Experts note that the views of Ukrainian radicals are closely intertwined with Russophobia and neo-fascism: for example, in the summer in the Lviv region another event was held to honor the SS division "Galicia". With the participation of schoolchildren and soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the remains of the soldiers of this unit were solemnly reburied.

Of course, far from all Ukrainians find radical views, and some representatives of political circles even try to resist the nationalists at the legislative level.

So, on November 5, a deputy of the Rada from the ruling party “Servant of the People” Maxim Buzhansky announced that he intends to submit to the parliament a bill on the inadmissibility of honoring people who served in any structures convicted by the Nuremberg Tribunal, and also took part in the Holocaust.

“The country, as if abscesses, is covered with monuments and memorial plaques to individuals, let's call it that, indelibly stained by Nazism. <...> Nazism is such a thing that there is no way around. You are either with him or against him, ”the parliamentarian wrote in his Telegram channel.

True, the source of RT in the party "Servant of the People" doubted that the initiative of Buzhansky would really be considered by the parliament.

“This would create a lot of problems for the party, because the deputy has been repeatedly called pro-Russian. And any of his initiatives, even the most robust, can lead to protests by the radicals. Now Zelensky needs this the least, ”explained the interlocutor of RT.

A similar point of view in a conversation with RT was expressed by political analyst Bogdan Bezpalko, an expert at the Council on Interethnic Relations under the President of Russia. According to him, even the adoption of such a bill would hardly change the situation.

  • Fighters of the battalion "Azov"
  • Reuters
  • © Valentyn Ogirenko

“Today in Ukraine there are laws that punish the use of Nazi symbols. Both communist and Nazi symbols were forbidden, but there was not a single case in which a fighter of the same Azov regiment was persecuted for using Nazi symbols, ”the expert explained.

According to Ukrainian media, at one time the “Party of Regions” clearly underestimated the threat of the spread of radical nationalism in the country. This is indicated, in particular, by Paul Manafort's letters, made public during a recent trial around alleged foreign interference in the US election. It turned out that when he was a political strategist, Yanukovych Manafort advised him to use the anti-Semitic statements of opponents from the Freedom party in order to look more advantageous against their background. For example, a major scandal erupted after one of the “Svobodovites” criticized American actress of Ukrainian descent Mila Kunis for Jewish roots: this topic has long been exaggerated in the Ukrainian media space, then the nationalists had to publicly make excuses.

For its part, the “Party of Regions” introduced a bill to the Rada on the prohibition of hate speech, called the Kunis Amendment in the press. A statement by Ukrainian radicals prompted the European Parliament to issue a special resolution on Ukraine, which expressed concern about the anti-Semitic attacks of Freedom. Already after the Euromaidan, the media reported that the Party of Regions had actually sponsored Freedom, hoping to make the odious outcasts a convenient “sparring partner” in the elections.

As the president of the Center for System Analysis and Forecasting Rostislav Ishchenko explained in an interview with RT, there was no great secret that the party of Yanukovych financed Freedom before the party bookkeeping of the "regionals" came to the attention of the American court.

“Many knew about the fact that Yanukovych transferred funds to Freedom. By and large, he did not underestimate the nationalists, but his own abilities. Indeed, Freedom was a convenient election candidate. But when the radicals came to the Maidan, they had to be dispersed, and the president could not do this, ”the expert explained.

Direct intervention policy

Today, radicals not only openly honor SS collaborators, but also actively intervene in military and state affairs. The predecessor of Vladimir Zelensky as president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, tried to use nationalist rhetoric for his own purposes by betting on such slogans during the election campaign.

However, this tactic was a failure, and the Ukrainians supported the showman Zelensky, who from the very beginning distanced himself from the nationalist agenda. But for now, the incumbent president is unable to turn the tide - radicals openly impede his peacekeeping efforts.

  • APU in the Donbass
  • AFP
  • © Oleksandr Ratushniak

So, the former commander of the Azov national battalion squad, Andrei Biletsky, threatened on October 27 that he would bring thousands of militants to the line of contact in the Donbass if the president tried to “kick the veterans” out of the settlement of Zolotoye, in the area where the separation of forces was to take place. And already on November 5, the DPR People’s Police Department (UNM) announced the arrival of 60 Ukrainian militants to the site of the separation of forces in Petrovsky. According to the observations of the UNM, the Armed Forces command was even forced to draw a unit of the 131st separate reconnaissance battalion to counter the radicals.

Note that the activities of "Azov" previously attracted the attention of the US Congress - a group of lawmakers appealed to the State Department with a request to include the Ukrainian National Battalion in the list of terrorist organizations.

Nationalists consider Zelensky’s attempts to make progress in resolving the situation in the east of the country as “surrender” and surrender of a “huge front sector,” political scientists say. So, in mid-October in Kiev, protests took place against the "surrender" of Ukraine in the Donbass.

At the same time, in Kiev, responsibility for the current activity of the radicals is shifted to ex-president Poroshenko.

“Poroshenko’s mistake is only in the fact that it seems to him that he can be the leader of another“ Maidan ”. He is against breeding, it seems to him that there may be a "Maidan" ... He pushes people with his media and his actions, "Vladimir Zelensky told reporters.

Nevertheless, analysts believe that Ukrainian nationalism can be partially called a spontaneous phenomenon, but it is actively heated and used by politicians and financial clans for their own purposes.

“In general, nationalists are in the minority, among them there are quite sincere supporters of right-wing radical ideas that can act point-wise on their own initiative. But large shares are always consistent with representatives of the Ukrainian elite, which is now trying to slow down the normalization of the situation in the Donbass. Among such forces there are different figures, for example, the permanent head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, ”said Bogdan Bezpalko.

A similar point of view is shared by Rostislav Ishchenko. According to him, not one of those figures who previously conducted nationalists in Ukraine has left big politics.

“Avakov, Poroshenko and even the informal patron of the current president, Kolomoisky, remain in politics. Today, they all continue to rely on nationalists. Not to mention the fact that the latter is a completely independent force that won in 2014, in fact, their regime, ”Ishchenko believes.

“Feel their impunity”

According to RT sources in Ukrainian political circles, Vladimir Zelensky is not quite aware of how serious the nationalists have become today.

“This is a spontaneous phenomenon. Radical groups arise in different cities, and they feel their impunity. The previous government at least tried to somehow work with them, and the new one prefers not to pay attention. But it will be more and more difficult to curb them every day, ”a source in the Voice party explained in an interview with RT.

  • Deputies at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in Kiev
  • RIA News

According to an interlocutor of RT from the Fatherland party, Zelensky prefers to pretend that the problem does not exist.

“I think Zelensky does not understand what position Arsen Avakov will eventually take in this situation,” the deputy added.

As RT's interlocutor noted in the President’s Office, the Ukrainian leader has now focused on resolving the conflict in the east of the country and economic issues.

“So far, the issue with the radicals is not a priority,” he says.

Meanwhile, political scientists say that nationalist ideology continues to spread in the country.

“The inertia of nationalist hysteria in society is great. Even those people who initially had a good relationship with the Soviet past and Russia, are now beginning to gradually overestimate their views under the pressure of the media, ”Bogdan Bezpalko explained.

From his point of view, in order to stop this “ideological epidemic”, it is necessary to change the policy of the media, school books and the whole state ideology as a whole.

However, experts doubt that such changes can occur under Zelensky.

“The president, in fact, has no real power. He still does not understand how to use his powers, and therefore he is unlikely to be able to replace the nationalists, ”summed up Rostislav Ishchenko.