February 2014        


Whose revolution?

Apparently there’s a revolution afoot in Ukraine. Just tune in to RTE, the BBC or Euronews and you could be forgiven for thinking that a wave of popular unrest is sweeping the country, on the receiving end of which is a Russian-imposed puppet government that established itself through coercion and sustains itself through autocratic terror.
      The riots are serious and sustained. Police and protesters have been killed and injured. The demonstrators’ spokespersons are being interviewed continually by the Western media—threatening “civil war” and asserting that they are in the business of overthrowing a dictatorship.
      No matter how many times this is repeated, however, the factual information stubbornly refuses to acquiesce in their story. Ukraine’s government was elected by the Ukrainian people on 28 October 2012, an election that was notable for a sharp fall in support for Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party, and the almost tripling of the vote attained by the Communist Party.
      So, is this protest movement just an attempt by Ukraine’s pro-Western opposition to heap some pressure on the government before the 2015 elections? Closer inspection of the rioting crowds reveals a much more sinister purpose.
      On 1 January this year thousands of young men wearing masks and balaclavas marched side by side with Second World War veterans—complete with their old uniforms and deactivated guns—through the capital city, Kyiv. They were involved in a commemoration that would be considered unthinkable in much of the rest of modern Europe. The march’s imagery told the story of the participants’ ideals: the black-and-red flags, the Celtic crosses, the runic of the German Schutzstaffel—the SS; and on their placards the hard-faced image of Stepan Bandera. This was the uncompromising leader of the militant terrorist branch of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, which declared an independent Ukraine on 30 June 1941—nine days before Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
      This independent Ukrainian government’s first act was to collaborate with the Nazis, who enlisted Bandera’s men in setting up Ukrainian volunteer battalions. So began an era of incredible barbarism; for, like the Nazis, Bandera believed that “Bolshevism” and the Jewish population of Ukraine were the enemies within Ukrainian society that were to be “cleansed.” A Banderist pamphlet proclaimed to Ukrainian Jews: “We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet.” For more than 1½ million of them, as well as hundreds of thousands of (Jewish and non-Jewish) Polish, Hungarian and Russian civilians, the mass graves of the “final solution” were to be their fate.
      The Germans had no intention of allowing Ukrainian independence of any kind within their Third Reich, and so they jailed Bandera and his government for several years, before releasing him again in 1944 when the war turned against them, setting him up with his own headquarters in Berlin and letting him and his colleagues return to train the death squads of the “Ukrainian Insurgent Army.”
      Bandera’s story didn’t end in the ruins of Berlin in 1945, however. Declassified CIA documents in 2007 revealed that Bandera worked first for British and then West German intelligence after the war. On 14 October 1959 he was discussing the expansion of his underground operations in Ukraine while dining with the top brass of a thoroughly infiltrated BND (West German intelligence). Acting on this information, the following day a KGB anti-terror unit caught up with him.
      Bandera’s legacy and that of the rest of the anti-Soviet émigré and underground OUN/Banderist movement has left an indelible mark on Ukraine’s political landscape. Always close to West German and latterly EU interests, and implacably opposed to any policy considered socialist or pro-Russian (for they regard these as essentially the same), the modern protesters of the UDAR and Svoboda (formally the “Social-Nationalists”) remain committed to their wartime idea that Ukraine is “ruled by a Muscovite-Jewish mafia” and annually commemorate Ukrainian Waffen-SS divisions and attack Victory Day celebrations.
      While the young men on the barricades in Kyiv and throughout western Ukraine are the openly fascist cadres of these groups, what makes them truly dangerous is the gamble of the larger and more moderate Fatherland party in supporting this movement, under the cover of protesting against the government’s opting for a trade deal with Russia rather than the European Union. They know they cannot control the movement on the streets, but with the brazen blessing of the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and the president of the EU Council, Herman van Rompuy, they clearly feel that they will be in a position to negotiate on its behalf with the “international community” if a coup develops that can bring down the government.
      The ideas such a “revolutionary” government would be based on—presumably within the “liberal” European Union—should be reason enough to take these riots very seriously. As one commentator recently pointed out, if the BNP and EDL were to begin rioting in England while holding up images of Oswald Mosley it would be one thing; if they received support from the European Union and the United States, entirely another.

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