News Release

Not Kremlin Propaganda: Neo-Nazis in Ukraine


Newsweek reports: “Poland Nationalist Rally With Neo-Nazi Slogans, Calls For ‘Islamic Holocaust’ Draws Biggest Crowd Ever.”

LEV GOLINKIN, golinkin at
Golinkin is the author of A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka, a memoir of Soviet Ukraine, which he left as a child refugee. Since the book’s release, he’s had pieces in the New York Times, the Washington Post and numerous other outlets.

He said today that the U.S. “has been ignoring Europe’s far right for way too long. We’re paying attention to Richard Spencer, when there are people across the Atlantic who make him look like a downright amateur. When I saw the Charlottesville images, all I could think of was ‘This is an echo of Europe.’

“Europe has some paramilitary groups with access to weapons and training. Azov Battalion in Ukraine is just one example. Hungary has been using ‘volunteers’ to monitor for refugees. (A few years ago they had an actual force, which was later disbanded.) Poland has been building ‘volunteer’ units as well. These are groups operating in nations which have far weaker democratic institutions compared to the U.S. That’s what is scary.”

He just wrote the piece “The Reality of Neo-Nazis in Ukraine is Far from Kremlin Propaganda” for The Hill.

Golinkin writes: “The accusations of being duped by Russia have even extended to Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.), who cosponsored an amendment barring the U.S. from providing training and support to Azov in 2015. Some bloggers have gone on to insinuate Conyers was ‘snookered’ or, worse, doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding.”

In fact, Golinkin writes: “As the Trump administration mulls sending weapons to Ukraine, the question of far-right forces employed by the Kiev government has returned to the forefront. Some Western observers claim that there are no neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine, chalking the assertion up to propaganda from Moscow. Unfortunately, they are sadly mistaken.

“There are indeed neo-Nazi formations in Ukraine. This has been overwhelmingly confirmed by nearly every major Western outlet. The fact that analysts are able to dismiss it as propaganda disseminated by Moscow is profoundly disturbing. It is especially disturbing given the current surge of neo-Nazis and white supremacists across the globe.

“The most infamous neo-Nazi group in Ukraine is the 3,000-strong Azov Battalion, founded in 2014. Prior to creating Azov, its commander, Andriy Biletsky, headed the neo-Nazi group Patriot of Ukraine, members of which went on to form the core of Azov. Biletsky had stated that the mission of Ukraine is to ‘lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival … against the Semite-led Untermenschen.’…

“It’s difficult, if not impossible, to imagine mainstream media describing reports on Charlottesville as propaganda and questioning the motives of lawmakers who try to counter today’s alarming surge of white supremacy. Why shouldn’t we view Ukraine — a nation to which we send billions in foreign aid — in light of the same standards?”