BBC’s Balanced Take on Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis

With all the propaganda on both sides of the Ukrainian civil war, it’s hard to find balanced pieces which try their best to get at the truth. I just came across a notable exception by the BBC’s David Stern, concerning the presence or absence of neo-Nazi elements within the current Ukrainian government. I’ve included key excerpts below my signature line, but recommend you read the entire piece. It’s concise and well worth the time.

Martin Hellman

=== BEGIN EXCERPTS ===

Ever since Ukraine’s February revolution, the Kremlin has characterised the new leaders in Kiev as a “fascist junta” made up of neo-Nazis and anti-Semites, set on persecuting, if not eradicating, the Russian-speaking population.

This is demonstrably false. … Only one government minister has links to nationalist parties – though he is in no way a neo-Nazi or fascist. And the speaker of parliament, Volodymyr Groysman, is Jewish. He has the third most powerful position in the country after the president and prime minister.

But Ukrainian officials and many in the media err to the other extreme. They claim that Ukrainian politics are completely fascist-free. This, too, is plain wrong. …

This hyper-sensitivity and stonewalling were on full display after President Petro Poroshenko presented a Ukrainian passport to someone who, according to human rights activists, is a “Belarusian neo-Nazi” … Serhiy Korotkykh, a Belarusian national, to whom Mr Poroshenko awarded Ukrainian citizenship, praising his “courageous and selfless service”. …

Experts who follow the far right … say Mr Korotkykh was a member of the far-right Russian National Unity party and also a founding member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Society (NSS) in Russia.

According to Ukrainian academic Anton Shekhovtsov, the NSS’s main goal “is to prepare for a race war”. …

The volunteer Azov Battalion is [another] case in point. Run by the extremist Patriot of Ukraine organisation, which considers Jews and other minorities “sub-human” and calls for a white, Christian crusade against them, it sports three Nazi symbols on its insignia: a modified Wolf’s Hook, a black sun (or “Hakensonne”) and the title Black Corps, which was used by the Waffen SS.

Azov is just one of more than 50 volunteer groups fighting in the east, the vast majority of which are not extremist, yet it seems to enjoy special backing from some top officials …

And although Ukraine is emphatically not run by fascists, far-right extremists seem to be making inroads by other means, as in the country’s police department.

Ukraine’s public is grossly under-informed about this. The question is, why doesn’t anyone want to tell them?

About Martin Hellman

I am a professor at Stanford University, best known for my invention of public key cryptography -- the technology that protects the secure part of the Internet, such as electronic banking. But, for almost 30 years, my primary interest has been how fallible human beings can survive possessing nuclear weapons, where even one mistake could be catastrophic. My latest project is a book with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." Its soon to open website explains: https://anewmap.com.
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