When Are We Taking Action On Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Problem?

I do realize that unfortunately the international community feels like it cannot criticize anything Ukraine does since it is ‘fighting a war against Russia’ (in their eyes) and the enemy of your enemy is supposed to be your friend, but it would certainly boost the West’s credibility to draw a line.

On 16 December, the UN General Assembly voted on a resolution proposed by Russia and more than 30 other countries to condemn Nazism, neo-Nazism and all forms of racism. The resolution was passed with 130 votes in favor. Only two countries voted against: The United States and Ukraine. The US declared that such a resolution contradicted the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Ukraine did not explain anything. But, to be fair, they don’t have to. We know.

To give you a hint: over just the first week of November alone, Ukraine has had multiple incidents featuring far-right extremism. Now it is not exactly a secret that the country has some work to do in the area of lingering fascist sentiments, but when do we reach the point that the international community steps in?

The events of November followed one another so quickly that you could easily lose track. On Halloween, a group of Ukrainians was filmed marching in Kiev dressed as Ku Klux Klan. They wore the famous gown and headdress, carried signs reading ‘White power’ and ‘Yes, we are racists,’ and made the Nazi salute. A few days later, the former leader of the Ukrainian fascist paramilitary group Right Sector was appointed advisor to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army. Right Sector is famously known for its far-right views and antisemitism. And just two days later, president Zelensky himself was involved in a row with a Jewish MP after branding the Red Army generals who liberated Kiev from the Nazis as ‘soulless.’

All this has happened in just one week. It is telling that no one seems to have noticed, not in Ukraine but also not abroad. Incidents with far-right extremism have become so ordinary in Ukraine that we have reached a point where people will feel like something is off if they haven’t heard anything about Ukraine and Nazis for more than a week. The media do not even report on Ukraine’s vote against condemning Nazism at the UN.

The Ukrainian government is not helping either. In fact, as Zelensky’s recent fight with a Jewish MP showed, they are part of the problem. The authorities do not even make an attempt to prevent Nazis from openly marching the streets of Kiev. Just last month, thousands of people marched under the flags of Right Sector in the capital, carrying banners with racists slogans as ‘White Lives Matter.’ A few months earlier, a group of people marched in commemoration of the SS Galicia, a World War II Nazi division made up of Ukrainians. And, once again, no one batted an eye.

These are just a few examples – if I would list every incident of the past five years, this article would go on longer than a Zelensky speech – but the constant factor is that Ukrainians find all of this completely normal. There is no outrage. We don’t have to expect anything from the Ukrainian government or the Ukrainian people to stop this madness. However, the rest of the world does NOT tolerate antisemitism and fascism. Then why are we allowing it to happen in Ukraine? Why are we not protecting Ukrainian Jews and other minorities?

Because, if we ignore everything that has been happening in Ukraine, we send the signal that it all does not really matter, and that Nazism is excusable. But we simply cannot tolerate growing Nazi sentiments. And remember: we are not talking about a couple of lunatics in a small village, we are talking about large groups of Nazis openly marching the streets of the capital. And, even more mind-boggling, Ukraine’s vote against condemning Nazism at the UN. It is out in the open. I do realize that unfortunately the international community feels like it cannot criticize anything Ukraine does since it is ‘fighting a war against Russia’ (in their eyes) and the enemy of your enemy is supposed to be your friend, but it would certainly boost the West’s credibility to draw a line. After all, if we don’t, are we really any better?

By Maria Heemskerk Via http://oneworld.press/?module=articles&action=view&id=2364