Elena Berezhnaya: Neo-Nazism in Ukraine Once Benefitted the West, But Now It Represents a Danger

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The human rights activist Elena Berezhnaya commented especially for the “Ukraina.ru” publication about the appeal of international human rights organisations to the Ukrainian authorities with the demand to tackle the revelry of the ultra-right in the country…

The international human rights organisations Human Rights Watch and Freedom House condemned the aggression of Ukrainian radicals and urged the Ukrainian authorities to carry out an effective investigation into the assaults committed by radicals. Why is it only now that foreign human rights activists noticed the problem?

“The matter is that earlier these right-wing radicals suited the West, and international organisations didn’t notice them: it was favorable to the European Union and the United States, which tried to keep the Ukrainian authorities afloat, to make it legitimate, and didn’t show at all in European countries that such a situation had ripened. However now it came so far that it already constitutes danger to the European Union countries. And Poland already felt this when such a large number of gastarbeiters with their right-wing neo-Nazi ideology went there. And this can spread across all of Europe in the same way.

That’s why they couldn’t close their eyes to it any more. We know well that some of these international organisations are financed by Soros, and others are funded by grants of the US Government and are, in one way or another, under American influence. After all, we know that 57 senators of the US sent a letter to the authorities of Ukraine where they wrote about the glorification of UPA, about other facts, and about manifestations of neo-nazism and anti-Semitism. That’s why now human rights organisations already can’t but notice neo-nazism and radicalism in Ukraine.

Besides this, I think that our reports on monitoring that we very actively send to the UN High Commission for Human Rights work, and we sent reports to the American senators — with photos in English.

Since 2014 incident involving the ultra-right happen in Ukraine almost daily. It reached such a level that the State started to openly support right-wing radicals. A fresh example — the allocation of money by the Kiev Rada for neo-Nazis.

The ‘C14’ group is recognised as a terrorist organisation (The consortium on studying and analysis of terrorism at the University of the State of Maryland [USA] placed the Ukrainian C14 group on the list of terrorist organisations). And at the same time it received nearly 700,000 hryvnia, like National Druzhina, in support of the police. And other right-wing radical organisations received money too — ‘Svoboda’, ‘Right Sector’, etc.

What does this mean? It means that the State supports terrorist organisations and finances them. The consequences of this for Europe will be very serious, something that many there began to understand.

Heads of European States also paid attention to this: for example, the President of the Czech Republic Zeman warned about the danger of Ukrainian radicalism even before his re-election. Also, the Hungarians expressed their concern, including the Prime Minister Orban.

I think that the letter with our materials that we handed over to the German chancellor Angela Merkel will also have an effect, and now all the European Union countries will start to react somehow in a different way. Acts of terrorism committed by ISIS and other similar terrorist organisations is already enough for them. They are just missing manifestations of the neo-Nazi phenomena from Ukrainian right-wing radicals.

For example, our materials on the Ukrainian consul in Hamburg Vasily Marushchinets. After all, he was gifted a cake in the form of the book ‘Mein Kampf’ by Hitler. This, by the way, was said in his book, which was presented in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. At the presentation there was Pavel Klimkin.

In this ‘work’ it is written that Magyars occupied Ukrainian lands, the Poles are not a nation at all, and the fact that the solar Ukrainian nation of Aryans isn’t perceived properly, although it is the most ancient nation in the world. There were obvious appeals of a neo-Nazi nature.

Marushchinets was just dismissed, however nobody started to deal with those employees who gifted him this cake. After all, this happened officially in the consulate. It means that it turns out that Adolf Hitler’s admirers continue to work in the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and represent Ukraine at the diplomatic level.”

The other day Yury Krysin, accused of the murder of the journalist of “Vesti” Vyacheslav Veremiy, received 5 years of prison. This is a very soft sentence, however it nevertheless is a real term. Is there the impression that the Ukrainian authorities start to be afraid of radicals?

“The Ukrainian authorities played along with right-wing radicals and neo-Nazi groups so much so that they almost fell under their blows too. We know that some similar groups periodically stage infighting. We saw visits of radicals to the houses of Lutsenko and Poroshenko.

Everyone who participated in the ATO and adheres to neo-Nazi and far-right views were grouped together and support each other. Any crime that they commit escapes punishment. A striking example is Sergey Sternenko (the former leader of the Odessa branch of “Right Sector”), whose bail was posted the first time by the governor, the president’s representative in the Odessa region (the Odessa governor Maksim Stepanov posted 600,000 of bail for Sternenko, who was accused of attacking police officers). And now he killed someone and no measure of restraint was applied to him (Sternenko attacked two inhabitants of Odessa with a knife, one of the victims died at the scene). This means that there is the real fear inside the authorities that they can be displaced by such a coup under the condition of an association of right-wing radicals together with the military personnel who are currently in Donbass.

Moreover, we heard the speech of Biletsky, who said that there are 300 trained fighters who will be enough for a change of power in Ukraine.”

Will the present Ukrainian authorities be able to cope with radicals and neo-Nazis who they themselves raised and continues to finance?

“Unfortunately, everything already came so far that if mass fighting against radicals will begin there will just be one more coup in the country. They (the radicals) already gathered so much muscle and so much force and support, all of them are ‘ideologically consolidated’, they have no other work, they have no other purpose or meaning of life, and thus it will be difficult for the authorities to punish at least their leaders and obvious criminal elements from these far-right groups that committed crimes. Using as an example this same Evgeny Karas from C14, who hasn’t been brought to responsibility, and who staged a riot on February 17th in Rossotrudnichestvo, those who have to sit and serve jail long sentences for their committed crimes continue to act ‘heroically’ and be financed by the taxes that are collected from the citizens of Ukraine.

This means that the authorities are powerless. They will try to get revenge on the radicals, but it will be isolated cases. If this happens in large quantities, the regime will face powerful resistance from the ultra-right. They will stand shoulder to shoulder, understanding that some of them will be next. And this is the most terrible thing. The authorities already missed the moment when they could control it, and this is very dangerous for society at large, and not only the authorities.”

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