Anti-fascist resistance rises in UkraineAnti-fascist resistance rises in UkraineAnti-fascist resistance rises in Ukraine
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Anti-fascist resistance rises in Ukraine

Dev Balik
Anti-fascist resistance rises in Ukraine
We see that when it is no longer associated with ex-government the anti-fascism rises rapidly in many regions as a reaction to the terror of far-right militants

11.03.2014

Interview with Dmitry Kolesnik, Liva.com.ua

- When the uprising against Viktor Janukowitsch started where you going to Maidan too to partizipate?

- First I should highlight that initially the uprising was triggered after the government suspended to sign free-trade agreement with EU – the ‘Association Agreement’ accompanied by demand to impose austerity measures and take IMF loans. The signing of the agreement was the demand of some groups of oligarchs (and inside ruling party too). That’s why the lefts did not take part in it. The protests were initially dominated by far-right groups – thus protesters expressed always anti-left sentiments. For the lefts and antifascists it was really dangerous to participate in it. Then after brutal dispersal of protesters, mass-media and NGOs succeeded in mobilizing large numbers of people – especially from western regions of the country (as rivals for influence with eastern regions that backed mostly the ruling party). Thus we have seen initially a conflict of oligarchs and far-right riot. When protests turned to be massive – some lefts tried to join it. Some were beaten and expelled (trade-unionists, feminists, anarchists) when recognized as lefts. Others took part but without revealing themselves as lefts (mainly in medical assistance).

- We couldnt find many left wing people in Kiew. Can you tell us about antifascist movement in Ukraine? How is it organised, which groups are existing? Are there fights against the fascists?

Antifascist movement in Kiev was really weak. And it’s actually the problem of many ex-soviet countries where we see the rise of far-right nationalism and conservatism. Moreover, in Ukraine the anti-fascist stance was discredited by (ex)government that used it in official rhetoric for too long. So far, real antifascist movement was primarily the task of some marginal youth anti-fascist groups. Now we see that when it is no longer associated with ex-government the anti-fascism rises rapidly in many regions as a reaction to the terror of far-right militants. There are fierce street fights with fascists when storm-troopers from nazi coalition Right Sector (Prawy Sektor) are beaten by common workers. As usual such groups of anti-fascist resistance are spontaneously organized to defend cities from nazi land-troopers that try to seize towns and cities. There is newly organized Centre of Antifascist Resistance that tries to coordinate the activity of different anti-fascists groups. However, there is another problem – the supporters of ex-government and pro-russian nationalists also try to use anti-fascists movement and turn it into their advantage. However, along with a mass rise of fascism we witness also a mass rise of anti-fascism in Ukraine.

- On Maidan we saw a lot of right wing groups, Swoboda, Prawy Sektor, UPA and many more. They were thousands. Where these fascist organisations always that stronng or are they growing now?

- These groups initially led the protest so the whole Euromaidan and the following coup both have got an evident ‘brown shade’. The far-right nationalism was always strong in some regions especially in those where underground movement of Nazi-collaborators from UPA was active till 1950’s. The far-right nationalism re-emerged in 1990’s on the wave of similar rightwing nationalist movements across Eastern Europe. After ‘Orange revolution’ the president Yuschenko started in schools a campaign of glorifying nazi-collaborators that was warmly met by Ukrainian rightwing diaspora in the US and Canada.

Thus, schoolchildren are taught often that Nazis were right, and then they visit paramilitary summer camps organized by ultra-patriotic organizations. People of middle class (that is being undermined by crisis), unemployed, frustrated youth very easily accept the ideology that declare them ‘superior’ over somebody on the basis of ‘blood’, religion or place of birth. So, here we are – it’s the result. Moreover, the ex-president tried to feed and raise the far-right groups and parties – he believed that in election competition with such overtly far-right party as ‘Svoboda’ he could easily win. And as far as nazi paramilitary groups were well-organized, determined to fight they were cheered by the whole Euromaidan movement – thus, they are getting stronger. And now we see on streets really thousand of teenagers joining nazi units. And we should also consider Ukrainian far-right movements in connection with the whole trend of far-right rise all over Europe.

- Some communist guy from Borotba told us that Prawy Sektor is very strong in the Dynamo Kiev Ultra movement. Is this true?

- Initially Prawy Sektor it was a coalition of such nazi groups as Social-National Assembly, Patriot of Ukraine, ‘Vikings’, Ukrainian National Self-defence and others. The foot-soldiers of these groups were mostly ultras of Dynamo (Kiev), Karpaty (Lviv) and others. Nazism among fans in Ukraine is widely spread. Ukrainian teams were sometimes ‘punished’ for Nazism on stadiums. Almost two years when Ukraine hosted Euro 2012 western mainstream media expressed their anxiety about nazi ultras in Ukraine. Moreover, nazi ultras from other countries – Poland, Russia, Sweden Hungary – are mobilized and come to Ukraine to help their far-right friends in Ukraine.

- How are antifascists in Ukraine now reacting on the danger of the growing fascist movement?

- As I said, there are various attempts to organize resistance to fascist movement. Particularly they get now the form of self-defence units in some cities. Almost every day we witness street clashes – as nazi gangs roaming cities looting flats, searching for leftwing activists (in many cities left activists had to go underground). Paramilitaries from Prawiy Sector establish checkpoints on roads searching for dissenters, government supporters and left activists. The nazi militants are being incorporated into police and state security forces. Somewhere these paramilitary far-right units were kicked off by self-defence units – some communities organize watching 24 hours so that not to let nazi paramilitaries into their communities. There is also Centre of Anti-fascists Resistance organized by union ‘Borotba’. 

- Is it dangerous in Kiew at the moment to be known as an antifascist and are Arsenal ultras organising a self defense?  

- Yes, it’s really dangerous – especially for those who is well-known as antifa or left activist. Some of them were beaten, while some others fled Kiev. As for Arsenal ultras - unfortunately they mostly turned to the side of nazi ultras. Now their pages in social networks are full of nationalist and patriotic rubbish. Thus, they became rightwing too - like most Ukrainian ultras. 

- What do you think about the left parties and organisations. What about Avtonomia, Borotba or even the communist party (if you can call them "left")?"

- There were long and tired debates among Ukrainian lefts. Almost all the forces denounce the Nazis and the oligarchs that stand behind far-right paramilitaries. Some left activists that tried to join Euromaidan protest were beaten and expelled by neo-Nazis. The left symbolic is forbidden in the controlled by new government regions. Activists of left organizations are targeted. However, we have some small left-liberal groups such as ‘Left opposition’ and student union ‘Direct Action’ that actually supported the nazi coup and collaborated with far-righters. Certainly, they couldn’t reveal themselves as lefts but actually participated in Euromaidan protests and now they are hostile to counter-rebellion against Euromaidan that is spreading over eastern cities.

As usual the position of liberals over the issue is motivated by either western NGOs orders or by the fact that many liberals are former nationalists that just ‘return to their friends’. But actually such small groups have no influence on sentiments and situation in general. ‘Borotba’ tries to organize anti-fascist resistance (mostly in eastern cities and Kiev). It denounces the far-right government and possible Russian invasion. The similar is the position of anarcho-syndicalists of CRAS. As for small group Autonomous Workers Union – its members changed the position in course of this far-right riot – some of them actually backed far-right riot, while others condemned Nazis. The communist party of Ukraine quite predictably opposes the nazi coup, but at the same time actually backs ex-government and possible Russian invasion. Actually it’s the party of old people that cannot resist to the assaults of far-right paramilitaries that unleash real terror against them.

Dev Balik

Lower Class Magazine 



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