News Release

Whitewashing the Azov Battalion: “Our Neo-Nazis”


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.

He just wrote the piece “The Western Media Is Whitewashing the Azov Battalion” for The Nation, which states: “Vladimir Putin’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has already resulted in millions of losers — chief among them the civilians who’ve been tortured, murdered, forced to become refugees, or forced to spend their days worrying about loved ones fighting Russia.

“But there are also winners: the neofascists whom Putin’s war has turned into heroes.

“For seven years, Western institutions have warned about Ukraine’s Azov Movement, which began as a neo-Nazi paramilitary group in 2014 and became notorious for its worldwide recruitment of extremists.

“Then came Russia’s invasion. Within months, Azov fighters were being feted in Congress and at Stanford University. MSNBC swooned over a Ukrainian soldier whose Twitter account overflowed with neo-Nazi images. Facebook made the stunning decision to allow posts praising the Azov Battalion, even though the company admitted that it was a hate group.

“This overnight normalization of white supremacy was possible because Western institutions, driven by a zeal to ignore anything negative about our Ukrainian allies, decided that a neo-Nazi military formation in a war-torn nation had suddenly and miraculously stopped being neo-Nazi.”

The Nation tweets: “The Anti-Defamation League has tirelessly gone after corporations for selling Nazi-affiliated merch. They told the New York Times it’s impossible to ‘make an inference about the wearer or the Ukrainian Army’ based on the patch of a Totenkopf.”

Golinkin concludes: “Putin isn’t the only one obsessed with Azov. We can’t get enough of them. They’re our neo-Nazis.”

Golinkin’s writing on the Ukraine crisis, Russia, the far right, and immigrant and refugee identity has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and the Boston Globe among others.