by Gordon M. Hahn
One of Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist and neo-fascist parties, the increasingly powerful Right Sector (Praviy Sektor or PS), has shifted the front in its war with the “bandit” Maidan regime to Lviv (Lvov). It has done so in the wake of its fighters’ brutal attack on police and subsequent shootout with Ukrainian police and security forces in Mukachevo on Saturday, for which not one perpetrator or leader of PS has been arrested. The shift has a logic, since Lviv is a relative hotbed of Ukrainian national chauvinism, ultra-nationalism, and neofascism.
It appears PS might be preparing to seize power in western Ukraine first, declare an independent Galician republic under its control, and then move on Kiev. This follows the pattern of the Maidan revolution/revolt in 2014, when nationalist, anti-Yanukovich, anti-Russian elements began to rally in Lviv, threaten secession from Ukraine, and then moved to Kiev and the Maidan. The radicals among them then organized self-defense forces for the Maidan and worked closely or actually joined Right Sector.
Yesterday, July 13th, PS’s Lviv branch took down the European Union flag flying at the Lviv Oblast Administration’s building and replaced it with PS’s red and black (blood and soil) flag (www.unn.com.ua/ru/news/1481576-praviy-sektor-zaminiv-prapori-yes-bilya-lvivskoyi-oda-na-chervono-chorni). In addition, PS forces and activists began to set up checkpoints on the outskirts of some cities, including Lviv, where, according to reports, several PS checkpoints have been set up to prevent “titushki” from entering the city. On the next morning, two headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) in Lviv were mined and the detonations wounded two policeman. One had his foot amputated, and another is now blind from their wounds. PS Lviv has denied any connection with the bombings but has used them as a pretext for sending its goons across Lviv and setting up checkpoints (http://vesti-ukr.com/lvov/107227-postradavshej-ot-vzryva-vo-lvove-amputirovali-nogu-i-udalili-pochku). In response, PS’s Lviv branch announced its intention to establish a presence and presumably act in response to any events in the city (http://vesti-ukr.com/lvov/107188-ps-poobewal-vzjat-pod-kontrol-lvov). The MVD has stated it regards the likely PS attack in Lviv as being connected with the conflict in Mukachevo, meaning it too suspects PS, and has categorized it as a “terrorist attack” (http://glavnoe.ua/news/n233989 and http://glavnoe.ua/news/n234002).
Also on July 13th, some two dozen members of PS’s militia, the Volunteer Ukrainian Corps (DUK), which has refused to be incorporated into Ukraine’s armed forces entered the regional administration offices of Volyn and after several hours of talks a “joint statement and appeal to the leadership of the state” was issued by PS DUK representatives and the Volyn Oblast Administration calling on the all sides to resolve the conflict in Mukachevo peacefully. According to PS’s website, the PS DUK in Volyn was backed by the AvtoMaidan’s representatives in Volyn (http://pravyysektor.info/news/news/313/u-luc-ku-duk-vlada-i-siloviki-pidpisali-kolektivne-zvernenna.html).
Ever since the clashes in Mukachevo, PS has been demanding the resignation of the Ukraine MVD chief, Arsen Avakov, and the prosecution of the leadership of the Transcarpathian Oblast’s MVD – the town of Mukachevo is located in Transcarpathia. An article on PS’s website accuses of Avakov of pedophilia, economic crimes, and the repression and murder of patriots, calling for him to be “eilimnated……from office” (http://pravyysektor.info/news/news/318/avakov-maye-buti-usunutim.html).
PS is also demanding the prosecution of the “crime boss” and Rada deputy Mikhael Lano who was on the other side of the conflict in Mukachevo; a criminal investigation of pro-Russian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk (who was former President Leonid Kuchma’s presidential administration head and Viktor Yanukovich’s 2004 presidential campaign manager and close ally and whose daughter’s godfather is Russian President Vladimir Putin); and “the release of all the political prisoners of the regime” (http://pravyysektor.info/). It has also convened demonstrations at key government buildings in Kiev and in 10-15 provincial capitols, calling for the the overthrow of the “bandit regime” (http://pravyysektor.info/news/news/320/koordinaciya-vseukrayinskoyi-akciyi-protestu-banditskomu-rezhimu.html).
Thus, PS’s methodology in Lviv reminds one – albeit on a smaller scale for now – of Adolf Hitler’s use of the Reichstag fire.
It remains unclear how thoroughly PS leader DmitroYarosh and his associates have prepared the groundwork for the ongoing events or whether this is a spontaneous improvisation in response to the local clash in Mukachevo. It is very possible that Yarosh has moved against the rest of the Maidan regime in choosing escalation rather than compromise over the Mukachevo conflict.
Much will depend on the unity of the rest of the regime and its armed forces. Here, problems arise for the beleaguered and embattled Maidan regime, since many of the other factions in the regime are sympathetic to radical nationalism. This is especially true among the now well-armed volunteer battalions, which are infused with neofascist groups’ members. Recall that the neofascist Yarosh received 127 thousand votes in the presidential election and nationalist parties and deputies control as many as 20 percent of the seats in the Supreme Rada, where Yarosh is a People’s Deputy. Time will tell.
One thing is now very clear to those willing to see it. The West’s encouragement of Ukrainian ultra-nationalism since the mid-2000s (indeed earlier as well) had led to blood-letting, much the way the US government, academic, journalistic, and think tank consensus regarding the ‘freedom fighter’s in Chechnya led to Boston. Remember Ms. Nuland’s and our administration’s view: There are no neofascists in Ukraine, and Maidan was filled only with women, children, and grandmothers.
Now go read your New York Times, Washington Post, PBS, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and DC think tank reports, etc. And good luck with that.
Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch; and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and wrote, edited and published the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report at CSIS from 2010-2013. Dr. Hahn has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute.