Originally published in the Autumn 2018 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 58, printed November 8. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Autumn 2018 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post (pending). For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.
By Phil Wilayto
Over the past few years, the United States has gotten glimpses of fascism – notably in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. But to understand what a far more advanced fascist movement looks like, try Ukraine, a country in which the U.S. military is deeply involved.
On Oct. 14, some 8-10,000 members of right-wing, paramilitary organizations marched through the streets of Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev. Members of the European Union-based Global Rights of Peaceful People sent journalists to video the day’s activities. (For video of Oct. 14, see this webpage.)
Many of the participants, overwhelmingly young men, came from Kiev, but other regions were represented as well, so it was a national action. Some even came from other countries, such as Germany. Some wore civilian clothes, others camouflage uniforms.
Marching behind huge banners, they carried hundreds of flags representing their different organizations: Right Sector, C14, Sich, Svoboda, National Corps and the Azov Battalion – a cross-section of the strongest fascist forces in Ukraine.
Prominent among the flags was the black and red banner of the followers of Stepan Bandera, a WWII-era Ukrainian fascist responsible for the murders of thousands of Jews and Poles.
Some of these organizations took part in the U.S.-backed right-wing coup of February 2014 and the subsequent May 2 massacre at Odessa’s House of Trade Unions. (See Appeal here.)
Especially chilling was the fact that the march was part of a national holiday. Oct. 14 is a date long associated with Ukrainian nationalists. Formerly known as the Day of the Cossacks, the date was chosen in 1943 for the founding of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a fascist military organization responsible for genocide during World War II. Since then, Oct. 14 has been a rallying date for various right-wing forces.
In 2014, President Petro Poroshenko proclaimed Oct. 14 to be Defender of Ukraine Day. His decree was approved the next year parliament. The new state holiday replaced the former Feb. 23 Soviet-era Defender of the Fatherland Day.
This was part of the “decommunization” process now taking place throughout Ukraine: renaming holidays, streets and memorials dating to Soviet times to honor nationalist dates and figures. For example, in 2016 Kiev renamed Moscow Avenue after a Russian figure accused by the Kremlin of siding with the Nazis during World War II. And Kiev’s local council renamed one of the city’s main northern arteries to honor Bandera.
You would think that mass fascist marches and state holidays honoring fascists would at least raise some eyebrows in the West. Instead, the U.S. and NATO are increasing their military involvement in this eastern European country that has a 1,200-mile land border with Russia.
With NATO troops, planes and warships exercising on its borders and a national government honoring WWII-era fascist militaries, it’s small wonder that Russia is becoming increasingly concerned for its own security.
And with Washington and the Pentagon supporting a government that honors out-and out fascists, we should be concerned as well.
Phil Wilayto is editor of The Virginia Defender and coordinator of the Odessa Solidarity Campaign of the United National Antiwar Coalition. This article was written in cooperation with Ukrainian progressives.
Categories: International & Antiwar News