Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
On the eve of Victory Day the “brainwashed” community demanding to limit the day of mourning was already traditionally excited. And radicals openly threaten the people who gather like they did before to celebrate May 9th.
About the situation in which the May holidays will pass in Kharkov now, we talk to the political expert Aleksandr Aleksandrovsky.
Do you remember how three years ago Kharkov citizens took part in processions and meetings on May 1st and May 9th? At that time nobody was afraid to leave under the Victory Banner, with St. George’s Ribbons.
“But then, the May activity of Kharkov citizens very much frightened the junta. On May 9th, 2014, people carried a huge St. George’s Ribbon through all the city. And it was our real Kharkov. It is possible to remember that at the head of the column at that time the same Yury Apukhtin walked. He has been behind bars for three years …
This despicable power during these three years did everything so that the May holidays pass in an atmosphere of fear. It reached such a level that a state person, high-ranking in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, intimidate the people who remained faithful to Victory symbols.
During these three years historical memory was purposefully erased. In Kharkov the memorial signs that for people are associated with May Day demonstrations are already destroyed. The stele on the embankment near Annunciation Cathedral, which was installed in honor of May 1st, is now actually in a semi-dismantled state, the plaques are removed. The monument on Constitution Square, near the hall of organ music, was repeatedly desecrated by vandals. And the absence of those Soviet monuments that have already been swept away for these years, of course, has a negative impact. Because this is one of the elements of the cleansing of history, the scratching out from it of everything that disturbs the junta.
On the eve of this Victory Day, vandals desecrated a mass grave of Soviet soldiers and a tomb of the marshal Bazhanov. The granite plates at the bottom of the monument were broken, some of them were taken away. The character of the crime itself says that vandals in this country are sure of their impunity, because such patrons as Avakov, send them hints and signs: nothing will happen to you for this. It is necessary to say that the city authority quickly restored the monument to the liberators of Kharkov. But we don’t expect from the police such efficiency in the capture of the vandals.”
You said that the Minister of Internal Affairs encourages the actions of vandals. What does this consist of?
“In the inaction of the police. But I speak not only about the encouragement of vandals, but in general about its collusion with all opponents of May 9th. For example, the head of the Kharkov regional justice of the Ministry of Internal Affairs threatened: the police will detain Kharkov citizens (except veterans) for the use of Victory symbolics. What ‘humane’ favour to veterans! In this case, then also detain the minister Avakov — at least before a clarification of circumstances: when was the photo taken in which he is stood with a St. George’s Ribbon. The already disgusting hypocrisy and despicableness of these figures goes off the scale. The last pre-holiday statement of Avakov: he threatens Vilkul, Levochkin, Simonenko — anyone, just not radicals or nazis, who don’t even hide that they plan provocations.”
The first stage of the fight with historical memory passed under the cover of the inadequate law “about decommunization”. But are the Banner of Victory and a St. George’s Ribbon forbidden by some laws? Are we today dealing with a lawless stage of the fight with historical memory?
“Yes, but this lawless stage is frankly encouraged from above. The Minister of Internal Affairs speaks about provocative symbols. There is no such legal concept! It is the same as saying: the face of the minister is a provocative symbol. Additionally, note: the notorious law was called ‘About condemnation of communist and nazi totalitarian regimes in Ukraine’. But here in Ivano-Frankovsk nazis with big pomp celebrated the 74th anniversary of the 14th Grenade division of SS ‘Galicia’. No counteraction, no criminal liability, no reaction of the Minister of Internal Affairs on Facebook … on May 7th ‘Azov’ celebrated its own anniversary with nazi slogans. But did you hear Avakov mention their provocative actions?
History is physically cleansed by these thugs. And ideologically — by the ‘Institute of nazi memory’ of Vyatrovich. History — it is what was. It is possible to treat it differently, but it was. Another matter is when they try to immortalize what wasn’t. There was no armed resistance of UPA to the German army. But whole institutes are involved in the development of this myth, including Vyatrovich. Thus, at the same time Vyatrovich calls the liberation of Odessa ‘so-called’. We see how in front of our eyes impudent falsification takes places, the substitution of concepts.”
In recent days — it just flooded from all the cracks…
“On the Internet and in the media this infernal attack on the ‘immortal regiment’ was already unleashed. Notice how in one burst different Ukrainian nazis converge like Kokhanovsky and Vyatrovich, and their Russian liberal allies, with their usual song about ‘victory over evil’. Kokhanovskoy, due to his narrow-mindedness, involuntarily found an exact definition to this pack mourning May 9: ‘Death regiment‘. If the ‘immortal regiment’, the song ‘From Heroes of Past Times…’ — it is the symbols of Victory, so the ‘death regiment’ is the successor of those ‘heroes’ who look from the photos of the Nuremberg tribunal.
In her new poem, Yunna Moritz writes about these insane moods of the opponents of the Victory:
Isn’t it time for us to cancel the Victory holiday,
Isn’t it time for us to forget about Day of Purity,
Because it teases other countries,
And very much spoils the mood of fascists?
I want to emphasize: the ‘immortal regiment’ is the successor of the heroes of the Victory. And all these ‘institutes of nazi memory’ is the successor of ‘heroes’ condemned by the Nuremberg tribunal.”
How will Kharkov citizens celebrate Victory Day this year — with numerous threats, with not-hidden preparation of provocations against them?
“The holding of an action in itself is similar to the ‘immortal regiment’ (there will be a procession down Sumskaya Street to the Memorial) caused an inadequate reaction on the Internet. National patriots boldly, openly urge ‘Azov’, etc. ‘to stop this sabbath’, to forbid it in every possible way. They already made an appeal to the governor of the region. They openly call radicals: to come out and counteract. There is a high probability that on May 9th, after such warming up, provocations will happen.
People are being frightened, and memories of the events on May 9th, 2014, in Mariupol when punishers staged a bloody massacre of civilians and, being terrified, retreated from the city. This crime still hasn’t been objectively investigated by the Kiev power. The events looked like savagery, but nobody bore responsibility for the murder of residents of Mariupol. And now it is already openly welcomed.”
What is behind all these gestures of Avakov and “Azov”? After all, the adviser to the head of the SBU Tandit, on the contrary, stated that there are no grounds for a ban of the “immortal regiment” march.
“We must consider all difficult games of politics. The ‘National Corpus’ of Biletsky constitutes danger not only to participants of May marches, but also to the Kiev power, Poroshenko’s regime. The SBU is controlled by Petro Poroshenko directly. There is information that orders are given: to carry out compromising actions to provoke ‘Azov’ or its civil component ‘National Corpus’ into radical actions. There is one more factor — the police, which must protect peaceful actions, and the participants of the celebration on May 9th. Avakov isn’t stupid enough to expose himself in this game. And, as it seems to me, collisions are possible not only between those brainwashed and participants of the celebration on May 9th, but it can also be active actions between police officers and representatives of ‘Azov’.
It is precisely this that the SBU counts on: owing to similar actions, on the one hand, to be able to strongly tighten the vice grip, to intimidate the main active part of Kharkov citizens who support May 9th and oppose the Kiev regime. And like this in the future there will be an opportunity for a long time to officially forbid all of this.
And on the other hand, the possibility of influencing ‘National Corpus’ and ‘Azov members’ will arise, who as we understand, the SBU doesn’t control. And this is a big problem for the special services. They, maybe, have partial control. It’s not a secret for anyone that certain members of ‘Azov’ cooperate with the SBU. But they have no total control and influence over them. This center of influence is in other place. The SBU needs provocation, because at the moment the ‘National Corpus’ from the Ukrainian radical organizations is the most efficient and prepared for resolute actions. A huge number of weapons are in the hands of the citizens of Ukraine. This is a big problem for the current authorities. And ‘Azov’ is precisely that forces that can organize a coup if something happens. And the attempts of ‘National Corpus’, ‘Svoboda’ and ‘Right Sector’ to unite for Rada elections, if they take place, is already a demonstration of serious intentions. But the current power doesn’t need them in politics.”
And how can it prevent them from entering there?
“At the moment they pushed aside closer to the roadside. They are not given the chance to gather electoral support, they are kept at an arm’s length. But it isn’t enough. They need to have rigid compromising material on the main leaders at the regional level, at the All-Ukrainian level, so that in the future they can manipulate them.
As we see, the present power skilfully ‘drops’ (in a political sense) all these radical organizations, turning them into protesting clowns and marginals who paint and immure banks. Their political potential goes down. Inside of this movement, as a rule, the question to leaders arises: ‘Well, what do we block if it doesn’t bring any effect? The Russian banks worked, and continue to work. We just sit here, in the center of Kharkov, listening to some lectures’.”
And what is the background of the recent confrontation between “Skhidny Corpus” with the police near “Sberbank of Russia”? What does Avakov need it for?
“The battalion ‘Kharkov-1’ and ‘Skhidny Corpus’ are now serious power opponents. They are at war among themselves for a long time. Their confrontation came down to the fact that the minister Avakov was compelled to take away to Kiev one of the Deputies of regional department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Cheremukhin. ‘Skhidny Corpus’ clashed with it. Such public pressure was created that there wasn’t another possibility to quietly transfer and keep it in the system. Old police officers have their own scores to settle with these guys. That’s why at the slightest opportunity to show their attitude to each other, they use it. It was in this way, near ‘Sberbank of Russia’ on Donets-Zakharzhevsky Street. It was like that on May 9th last year, on Petrovsky Street: there Cheremukhin even fired bullets in the air to bring aggressive fighters of the ‘Skhidny Corpus’ to their senses.”
Is it probable that, like on May 9th, they will continue to sort out their grievances?
“The authorities are interested in it. Whatever happens, whatever provocations nationalists stage, the Kiev government always says that this is favorable for the Kremlin. The power constantly tries to present intra-Ukrainian grievances and the lawlessness of their own radicals for the next shake-up. Poroshenko now is at war at the same time with all. And during this war one of the most odious divisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs – ‘Azov’ – can suffer.”
And what is “Azov” in conflict with the SBU for?
“If radicals cause a stir in Kiev what can the authorities undertake? To withdraw military units from Donbass? It will be a demonstration of total failure. And with forces of ‘Alpha’ or any presidential funny battalion, the situation can’t be corrected in any way. While Avakov, with his National Guard, with ‘Azov’ and other battalions, indeed has a mandate for the quelling of internal conflicts. And Poroshenko understands: if something happens, he won’t have the room to maneuver. He won’t have the time to do anything. He will be swept away also via the forces of ‘Azov’. The same Kharkov SBU understands this perfectly. They have been working for a long time on the introduction of their people into ‘Azov’.
At the beginning of spring there was a high-profile case. A ‘Azov member’ killed his wife and child, and jumped from the elevator. He was engaged in the supply of arms. And he acted as a seller of weapons to a citizen of France, about whom the SBU reported that he was preparing an act of terrorism for the period of the European Football championship. There is one version of events from the people who known this ‘Azov member’ (by the way, it coincides with Anatoly Shariy’s version of events). He was the decoy guy from the SBU in ‘Azov’. Also, the sale of explosives and weapons was noted many times. There was the collecting of compromising evidence on ‘Azov’. And this guy had to become such a ‘torpedo’ for the leadership of ‘Azov’. And very serious pressure was put on him. Judging by everything, this was understood by his brothers-in-arms. He found himself between a rock and a hard place. It is known how the SBU is able to apply pressure. This case is an example of unsuccessful work from their side.
It is possible to remember the ‘case of bank cash collectors’, where fighters of ‘Azov’ were involved. Do you remember these loud stories? In July, 2016, the SBU detained three ‘Azov member’ for attacking cash collectors in the Zaporozhye region. One more fighter of ‘Azov’ who was robbing cash collectors was killed during detention, and three others were put on the international wanted list. And in some days already in Kupyansk there was an armed robbery of cash collectors. And this time the police detained the Lieutenant-Colonel of the Kharkov regional department of the SBU, who participated in this attack on the cash collector car. It is possible to say that opposing structures parted ways with the score at evens. And after this the story somehow faded away. And ‘Azov’ started to have less claims…
But the SBU tries to find options to control the influential and dangerous structure. They understand: if a threat for Poroshenko’s regime appears and the entire movement will be headed by ‘Azov’, then the most part of Euromaidan will support it. While the SBU has no such resource.”
We speak about how today’s authorities fights against Victory Day. But, to be fair, it is necessary to remember that prerequisites were created at Yanukovych’s time. The first large-scale attack on the people celebrating May 9th was in Lvov in 2011.”
“Yes, ‘Svoboda’ was allowed to do it. Nobody went to prison for humiliating veterans. In 2011 in Lvov there was a rehearsal, a running in of that model that is now imposed on all Ukraine. The Party of Regions and Yanukovych systematically gave a free hand to nationalists in both western and central Ukraine. And respectively tied the hands of Russian-speaking citizens in the east and the South. Now we reap these fruits. What occurred then in Lvov, we see now in each city of Ukraine. At that time the authorities, creating a dangerous precedent, didn’t even think to what this can lead. They didn’t realize all the consequences. They flirted with the population of Western Ukraine. But there this shaking of the ass wasn’t evaluated there. Already at that time, on the day of the Great Victory, they staged the first attacks. And the authorities didn’t use a legal basis to stop this disorder and to put extremists and marginals back into their place. On the contrary, ‘regionals’ started to twist these marginals for their own needs. And as a result they handed power over to them and the country on a silver platter.”
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