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The far right in Ukraine

March 4, 2014 - Jim Anderson
Far right groups — some with Nazi overtones — played a role in the unrest that led to the toppling of Ukraine's now-ousted president Viktor Yanukovych.

But just how prominent are these ominous players? Is the opposition actually a fascist movement?

Few would argue that’s the case, but reports have linked the far right to an escalation of the protests, which led to a violent retaliation that proved to be Yanukovych’s undoing.

At, Robert Parry offers the opinion that support from U.S. neocons was a key factor in the protest movement. He goes so far as to claim “neocon elements from within the U.S. government encouraged the overthrow of the elected president of Ukraine via a coup spearheaded by neo-Nazi storm troopers.”

As theories go, that one may not gain traction even with Rachel Maddow, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

At Huffington Post, Jessica Elgot offers a comprehensive list of those vying to become Ukraine’s new power brokers. The list includes not only neo-Nazis, but a Muslim journalist, a Jewish businessman and former heavyweight boxer Vitali Klitschko.

Elgot identifies Oleh Tyahnybok as “the man who most worries the West.” Tyahnybok heads the extreme Svoboda party, which is part of an alliance of European neo-fascists, the Alliance of European National Movements.

Whether genuinely, or conveniently, or both, Tyahnybok is a source of worry in Russia, too.

“The infiltration of the far right into the movement has played directly into the propaganda of Yanukovych and Vladimir Putin,” Elgot writes. “Russia's president, immediately before he asked Parliament for permission to invade Ukraine, condemned the ‘fascist hooligans’ who had staged a coup against a democratically elected president.”

Based on what’s been widely reported, the far right has indeed played a role in Ukraine’s unrest. The core of the uprising, however, appears to be disillusionment both with Russia and Ukraine's corrupt government.

At The Daily Beast, Jamie Dettmer says longtime protesters in Ukraine now claim two enemies — Putin and Ukraine’s politicians, including those who replaced Yanukovych.

While fearing that Putin may move beyond Crimea and endanger the whole nation, contempt is also building against the acting leaders in Ukraine, Dettmer writes.

“Suspicions mount that entrenched political and business elites, who have overseen the cronyism that has warped Ukraine’s post-Soviet development, are trying to protect their interests and to steer the revolution away from reform and to secure control of its politics once again.”

The more things change ... .



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