Ukraine’s problem with Neo-Nazism

ukraine neo nazis
U.S. allies in Ukraine, with NATO, Azov Battalion and neo-Nazi flags. Photo by

After the start of the Special Military Operation, many were indignant: how can there be a war in the highly advanced and civilized 21st century? On the face of it, the question looks quite reasonable, but only to those whose well-fed and beautiful Instagram life does not include another, less pleasant, thing – the life of the people of Donbass. These long-suffering people have always been a “gray” zone for Ukraine itself, Europe, and America. Representatives of these countries’ media and human rights activists have rarely, if ever, paid attention to what was going on in Donbass and Lugansk. Western politicians not only turned a blind eye to what was happening, but sponsored atrocities, bullying, and all the horror that these unfortunate people had to endure.

What denazification? – European officials were pretended to be surprised, as if the wave of neo-Nazism in Europe simply didn’t exist. It would have been great if it didn’t, but the facts suggest otherwise. It is no longer a secret that many Nazi accomplices fled abroad. Western intelligence agencies were impressed by their hatred of Russians and their skills in killing people. In the US, Canada, Great Britain and Germany, trials of war criminals – German Nazis and their accomplices from different countries – were held much less frequently than in the Soviet Union, and the sentences handed down in most cases fairly lenient. In the “Black Book. Atrocities committed by of modern-day Ukrainian Banderite neo-Nazis“, prepared by Maxim Grigoryev, Director of the non-profit Foundation for the Study of Problems of Democracy, says, “The onetime Ukrainian executioners, who, after the war, found refuge in the US, England, Canada and other Western countries, dreamed of revenge.

Their expectations increased after Nikita Khrushchev came to power in the USSR, releasing war criminals in keeping with the 1955 Decree “On the amnesty of Soviet citizens who collaborated with the occupiers during the Great Patriotic War.” Thousands of Nazi collaborators, including Ukrainian Banderites, were released from Siberian camps. In their towns, they became “sleeper agents,” getting instructions from Western intelligence services to infiltrate Soviet government, public, educational and even party structures. By August 1956, more than 20,000 pardoned members of the organization of Ukrainian nationalists had returned to the western regions of Ukraine; and 40,000 – by the mid-1960s. According to the director of the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History (RGANI) Igor Permyakov, over 40 emissaries of foreign nationalist centers visited Soviet Ukraine in the early-1970s. In 1973, several groups of nationalists distributing anti-Soviet leaflets were apprehended in Western Ukraine, and many weapons were confiscated.

However, in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was led by Vladimir Shcherbitsky, all information about the Ukrainian punitive units was kept under wraps. Moreover, the communist (and simultaneously a hidden nationalist) Shcherbitsky kept asking Moscow not to disclose information about the atrocities committed by the Ukrainian punitive units, who massacred many Belarussian villagers. During Gorbachev’s perestroika, the revived Banderites and their heirs flocked to Kyiv from Western Ukraine and abroad to take up key positions in the republic’s anti-Russian leadership. The son of the leader of the UPA, Yuriy Shukhevych, a Ukrainian MP in 2014–2019, called for his father not to be considered a murderer and Nazi collaborator, and demanded that all Jews be called “Yids,” as was the case under Hitler and Bandera. Thus, a stake was not hammered into the heart of Ukrainian Nazism.” Let alone the fact that died-in-the-wool neo-Nazis received complete carte blanche, as well as moral and material support.

Russophobes, descendants of Banderites, started to clamp down on members of the Ukrainian movement of Russian-speaking residents in the east and south of the country, not stopping at massacres. On May, 2014, the Ukrainian militants burned alive dozens of civilians in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa. How was this atrocity covered in the world media? It either wasn’t or was viewed from a different angle, without even mentioning the fact that the crime was committed by misanthropic neo-Nazis. Where was the entire enlightened West, so humane and civilized? Just where it is now: at the origins of Russophobia and neo-Nazism. After all, these horrible crimes against people continue. The army and neo-Nazi battalions launched a punitive operation against the people of Donbass. The neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine does not even hide whose heir it is. The military hardware used by the Ukrainian armed forces and National battalions was emblazoned with Nazi crosses and SS emblems, and Tattoos with Hitler, Bandera, and Nazi symbols are found on the bodies of captured and killed militants. One brigade of the Ukrainian Army was named “Edelweiss” in honor of the Nazi division of the same name that exterminated Jews, partisans, and prisoners of war. The chevrons of the SS divisions “Das Reich,” “Totenkopf” and “Galicia” became popular.

The author of the Black Book writes, “As if in mockery, Ukrainian neo-Nazis dubbed the punitive operation against the residents of Donbass ATO – “anti-terrorist.” In reality, murders, large-scale acts of violence and numerous war crimes were now being committed against peaceful people – women, children and the elderly. Captured members of the Donbass militias and Russian military personnel were subjected to torture. Members of Ukrainian nationalist battalions and the personnel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces act in the same way as the Nazis did during the Great Patriotic War.”

The book contains materials about the crimes committed by Ukrainian neo-Nazis and their accomplices obtained by the International Public Tribunal, the Foundation for the Study of Problems of Democracy, the Russian Military Historical Society, the Victory Museum, testimonies, photos of all the atrocities perpetrated in Donbass over the years. People found themselves defenseless against the killers, who enjoyed unlimited support by the United States and the European Union, which supplied the nationalists with weapons and military instructors. All this gave the neo-Nazis a free hand to shell, bully and torture… The list of crimes committed against the people of Donbass goes on and on.

Defenseless people abandoned by their state were left to the mercy of killers, who took special pleasure committing their atrocities. The book contains this testimony of retired Lieutenant Colonel of the People’s Militia of the DPR, Andrei Marochko: “I saw with my own eyes the consequences of those atrocities that occurred on the territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic – civilians with clear signs of being shot in the back of the head; members of the local militia, who were buried alive; women who were raped, looting, robberies, a whole list of, say, the most serious crimes you can find in the criminal code; all this was done by these “volunteers.” Moreover, this was encouraged by the so-called government of Ukraine. They sponsored these “volunteers”; some even belonged to, say, government agencies. That is, these criminals were the police at that time. Meaning that the organization supposed to enforce law and order was violating this very law and order itself, to put it mildly… Lutugino was under the control of Ukrainian armed formations. People believed, well, at least no one thought that they would do this to them, people believed and some agreed to go in this particular military truck. It started moving, but then it stopped and there was an explosion. Some of those in the truck, local residents, survived and they say that it was clear that the truck had not hit a mine, neither had it come under fire from the militia. It was a targeted explosion, because the crater underneath the wrecked Ural was in the middle, that is, not on the track line where the wheels were. That is, they could not have run over an anti-tank mine. Besides, people did not hear any projectile flying and hitting the truck. This only indicates that there was a landmine planted there, people were given a lift, the driver jumped out and all those inside the truck were blown up. Many people died, of course, but those who survived bear witness to the crimes committed by the nationalist battalions. They tried to intimidate us in such a way that if we tried to storm Khryaschevaty again, they would kill the entire local population, shoot them all so that we made no further attempts to liberate this settlement. There was a propaganda angle to this too, though.

Then all Ukrainian media reported that during the evacuation of civilians, the militia bombed a humanitarian convoy. Even foreign media outlets were full of these headlines. If we take 2014 and now 2022, I can say that the situation with Ukrainian military’s treatment of the local residents is much worse now. Previously, let’s say, some of their people showed humanity. These facts were very rare, but, in fairness, it should be noted that some of their military personnel did not carry out criminal orders, they helped our people. They did not kill, did not torture, and behaved like human beings. Right now, I can say that the Ukrainian military is no longer known for such noble actions. Moreover, from the very start of the Special Military Operation, the Ukrainian armed forces have chosen terrorist, fascist tactics and strategies, resorting to scorched earth tactics. Even if they leave some populated areas, they raze the place to the ground, that is, they destroy critical civilian infrastructure so that it can’t be restored. They fire multiple rocket launchers at residential areas in order to simply reduce them to rubble. Examples of this abound on the territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic. They even filmed this by their smartphones, posted it and even feel proud of the fact that they torture both prisoners and civilians. There are also plenty of facts of mass executions of civilians, because in liberated settlements we once again find characteristic bullet holes in the back of the head, hands tied behind the back and other facts indicating mass executions on the territory of the settlements that we liberated. The rhetoric that we hear in the media suggests that there are absolutely no moral principles left there anymore. Everything is happening against the backdrop of some primitive instincts and atrocities that Ukrainians are committing.”

In view of all the above, I would like to return the question to those who asked it at the beginning of the Special Military Operation: how can all this be happening in such an advanced and civilized 21st century?

Slavisha Batko Milacic – I live in Podgorica (capital of Montenegro), I am 32 years old, and I graduated history at University of Montenegro. My specialist graduate thesis was: “Foreign Policy of Russia from 1905 to 1917”. I have been doing analytics for years, writing in English and Serbian about the situation in the Balkans and Europe.


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