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REPORT: Maidan Ukraine, the Ultra-Nationalist Tradition, and Anti-Semitism

Ukrainian neofascists

by Gordon M. Hahn

Initially, it appeared that the xenophobia tied to the numerous neo-fascist, ultra-nationalist, and national chauvinist elements inside and around the Maidan Ukraine’s Wiemar-like regime would be focused almost entirely on Russians – the so-called ‘vatniki‘ (referencing lined jackets warn in the Gulag to imply Russians are inherently sheep and slaves) and ‘koloradi‘ (beetle bugs) – of the initially democratic but increasingly ultra-rightist February 2014 Maidan revolution. However, increasingly Ukraine’s significant strain of anti-Semitism and those who propagandize it are rearing their ugly head ever more insistently. The following article reviews the Ukrainian strains of xenophobia and anti-Semitism throughout Ukraine’s history and under the new Maidan regime.

The Rise of Ukrainian Ultra-Nationalism and Its Alliance with the Nazis

The core of the new Ukrainian nationalist movement was the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) led by Stepan Bandera was based largely in Polish Galicia. In contrast to their counterparts living in the totalitarian USSR, Ukrainian nationalists in Galicia had political space to develop an organized movement in autocratic but relatively free Austro-Hungary and much more so the fledgling nation-states and democracies of early interwar Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Hungary that replaced the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires. This put Ukrainian nationalists there in a position to make another attempt at achieving Ukrainian independence in the interstesces created in the region by the great conflagration of World War Two, or so it seemed. Encouraged by the era’s principle of national self-determination, but the only major nationality left out of the region’s new nation-state order, the 7 million Western Ukrainians, most of whom lived in Poland, gave birth to a new national movement. Unfortunately, that movement would be tainted by the ultra-nationalism, neo-fascism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism that was also part and parcel of both the region and the era. These ‘isms’ in turn were violently opposed to the equally radical communist competitor of the region and era.

Despite growing Polish nationalism and authoritarianism in the wake of Marshal Joseph Pilsudski’s 1926 military coup, some civic space remained in which Ukrainians’ could self-organize the core of the new Ukrainian nationalist movement, Bandera’s OUN. Founded in 1929 as a revolutionary nationalist organization, much of its leadership spent time in Nazi Germany, and the group held up the notion of an ethnically pure Ukrainian nation. The OUN emerged out of the ‘integral nationalism’ movement – a reaction to the failures in establishing an independent Ukrainian state during the opportune upheavals in the revolutionary period of 1917-20. Integral nationalism was not an integrated system of ideas but a collection of basic concepts intended to “incite people” to nationalist revolutionary action. The Ukrainian historian Orest Subtelny notes that Ukrainian integral nationalism “clearly contained elements of fascism and totalitarianism.” It resembled the agrarian fascism of the Romanian Iron Guard, the Croatian Ustashi, and Hungarian Arrow Cross. A key element was similar to an integral component of many Russian nationalist strains of thought frequently emphasized by Westerners – sobornist (in Russian sobornost’). Sobornist in the Ukrainian ultr-nationalist milieu of both the inter-war period and today signifies national collectivism; the nation’s cause supercedes the rights and interests of individuals when they clash. The OUN’s ideology proposed “revolutionary action, radical solutions, and the creation of “a new breed of ‘super’ Ukrainians,” according to Subtelny. OUN leaders’ ideological tracts also contained elements of the anti-Semitism extant at the time across Europe’s ultra-nationalist and neofascist groups.

On the eve of World War II, the organization included some 20,000 members, with sympathizers numbering many times more. Snyder’s “irritant” carried out hundreds of sabotage acts, dozens of “expropriations” of government moneys, and over 60 successful or attempted assassinations, including Polish Interior Minister Bronislaw Pieracki in 1934. The entire leadership of the OUN’s home base in Galicia was arrested in response to the Pieracki assassination, including its future pre-eminent leader Stepan Bandera. Bandera and his close Galician associates were “predisposed to “a violent, heroic type of resistance” and by the eve of the war had reached a fever pitch of “fanaticism,” according to Subtlelny.[1] In 1939, as the war began, the OUN split between its older generation rooted in the 1917-1920 struggle for independence and based abroad mostly in Germany and the younger Galicia-based wing, the members of which came to OUN in the 1930s. The former was led by Andrei Melnyk, who supported close ties with Germany alone – the OUN-M or Melkynites. The “young radicals” or OUN-B or OUN-R (revolutionary) were led by “the dynamic, strong-willed Stepan Bandera, who recently had been released from a Polish prison. Bandera supported the creation of a military underground and the development of contacts not just with the Nazis but the Western powers as well.[2]

Ukrainian-Polish conflict became a central feature of Ukrainian nationalism. After Poland’s defeat of the Red Army’s attempt to export communist revolution to Europe through Galicia in 1919, the Western Powers temporarily recognized Warsaw’s jurisdiction over the Galicia on condition it was given administrative autonomy and Ukrainian cultural autonomy. Galicia’s Ukrainians, however, refused to recognize the authority of the Polish state, boycoted the 1921 census, and the 1922 Polish sejm or parliamentary elections. In 1923, the Western Powers recognized Poland’s hold on Galicia, but Warsaw failed to grant Galicia administrative and cultural autonomy. For example, Ukrainian-language schools created under the Hapsburgs were “systematically eliminated,” with 2,048 of 2,400 closed in Eastern Galicia by 1937.[3]

Under the secret protocols of the Soviet-Nazi or Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Soviet troops moved into Galicia and all of western Ukraine, what was then eastern Poland, in September 1939. Like many other OUN members and thousands of other western Ukrainians, Bandera’s grandfather Andrei, a Uniate Catholic priest and a founding member of the 1918 self-declared Western Ukrainian National Republic, was executed by the NKVD. He was accused of having allegedly close ties to the OUN, but he denied this during interrogation, confessing that he only sympathized with the organization and was simply a Christian scholar.[4] At the same time, the Soviets initially supported Ukrainization in education and culture, but Ukrainian and all other political parties except for the communists were forced to disband. Tens of thousands, including many OUN members and supporters, fled to German-occupied Poland. When Soviet policy shifted in 1940 and repressions against Ukrainians and Poles ensued in force, deporting 400,000 Ukrainians from Galicia alone, Western Ukrainians remaining in Soviet occupied areas were left with only one political force to protect them – the ultra-nationalist OUN. Since Jews were disproportionate in numbers among the Communists who backed the Soviet takeover, Ukrainians’ (and Poles’) already strong anti-semitism became even more robust. The historical irony for Ukraine was that the Soviet communists’ incorporation of Galicia into the USSR meant that it was the Soviet dictator Stalin who united all Ukrainians inside a single state entity for the first time in centuries.[5]

Ukrainians in the eastern parts of German-occupied Poland called the ‘General Government’ run by Hans Frank immediately began cooperating with the Nazis in so-called self-help committees staffed mostly by OUN members and supporters from Falicia who fled from the Red Army. The committees were coordinated by the Ukrainian Central Committee (UCC), which the OUN used to raise national consciousness, expanding Ukrainian educational, publishing and youth group infrastructure, despite German warnings that the committees were to refrain from political activity. After the German invasion of the USSR, the UCC extended its work to Galicia. Transcarpathia came under Hungarian occupation, which relied on a ‘Rusynification’ policy based on the idea that the ethnic Rusyns were linked with Hungarians.[6]

With the Nazi invasion of the USSR on 21 June 1941, it was time for Ukrainian nationalists to turn the tables on the communists. But not before the Soviets in retreat massacred several tens of thousands of their Ukrainian prisoners en masse in Lviv, Sambir, Stanislavyiv, Rivne, Lutsk, and Volhynia during the week of 21-28 June 1941. Many in Galicia, in particular the OUN, turned to Hitler’s Nazis as a vehicle for attaining Ukrainian independence or at least avoiding Stalin and communism, submitting to the devil they did not know. Subtelny calls the Nazi-OUN relationship in German-occupied Ukraine “tenuous” and one which each side sought to use “for its own, often contradictory purposes.”[7] But both parties had in common a rabid rascism, a cult of violence, and an interest in, and no compunction about slaughtering Poles, Jews, and communists.

OUN ultra-nationalist discourse was traditionally fascist, racist and violent with the objects of its ire focused largely on Jews, as well on their traditional imperial overlords, Poles and Russians. As Per A. Rudling demonstrates, the Nazis and OUN had much in common: “The OUN shared the fascist attributes of anti-liberalism, anti-conservatism, and anti-communism, an armed party, totalitarianism, anti-Semitism, Fuhrerprinzip (the Fuhrer principle), and an adoption of fascist greetings.” OUN leaders stressed to the German Nazi leadership that they shared the Nazi worldview and goal of a fascist Europe.[8] The author of the most detailed study of the OUN, Franziska Bruder, concluded that the OUN is “a classic representative of a nationalist movement with fascist characteristics that appeared in East-Central Europe.”[9]

The OUN’s most influential ideologist was Dmytro Dontsov translated the writings of Mussolini, Hitler, Goebbels, Rosenberg and Franco and wrote his own anti-Semitic articles for publication in the OUN’s Visnyk and other journals. OUN literature held that inter-racial marriages should be banned and that “Ukrainians are those who are blood of our blood and bone of our bone. Only Ukrainians have the right to Ukrainian lands, Ukrainian names, and Ukrainian ideas.” Antisemitism was rampant in OUN publications.[10] In 1938, Volodomyr Martynets, the editor of the OUN’s main ideological organ Razbudova Natsii (Awakening of the Nation) wrote: “How to deal with the Jews? We have over two million of them in Ukraine. … Should we allow them to continue to abuse the Ukrainian national organism? Assimilate them? Take them in? Amalgamate them? Get rid of them from Ukraine? How? Expel them? Where? It is neither that easy to expel 2 million people, nor get rid of them altogether. Nobody wants them; everybody is only happy to get rid of them. In practice, other than the Spaniards, no single European Christian nation has been able to solve the Jewish problem in a fully satisfactory way. Various methods have been used, and not a single one of them has solved the issue.”[11]

That the OUN’s preference for violence would hold sway in any final solution to the ‘Jewish problem’ was evident throughout OUN texts of the 1930s. One frequent icon of the OUN was the violent haidamaki and the 1768 uprising: “When this new, great day [of national revolution] arrives, we will have no mercy. There will be no cease-fire, the Pereiaslavl or Hadiack peace treaties will not be repeated. A new Zalizniak, a new Gonta will come. There will be no mercy, neither for the big, nor for the small, and the bard will sing: ‘And father slaughtered son’.” Similarly, the OUN’s 1935 military instructions demanded that “a fighter should not hesitate to kill his father, brother, or best friend ir he gets such an order.” In 1936 Bandera himself indicated the scale of atrocities he thought would be needed to protect the Ukrainian nation from othera and establish Ukrainian statehood: “The OUN values the life of its members, values it highly; but—our idea in our understanding is so grand, that when we talk about its realization, not single individuals, nor hundreds, but millions of victims have to be sacrificed in order to realize it.” Moreover, the OUN supported the Nazis plans for European conquest.[12]

Not surprisingly then, Bandera and the OUN collaborated, broke and again collaborated with the Nazis. At the beginning of the war, Bandera received Nazi funding to carry out sabotage attacks in the USSR as Nazi forces advanced across Poland and then the Soviet Union. Under the cover of the Nazis, the OUN declared an independent state in Lviv on 30 June 1941 and put Bandera’s Bandera’s deputy and “close associate”, Yaroslav Stetsko, as its premier.[13] The OUN’s move sparked a rift between the Banderites and the Nazis soon had a falling out in 1941, but not before the OUN carried out pogroms in July with “above average brutality” compared with their Nazi colleagues against Lviv’s Jews killing 5,000 in what was perhaps a demonstration of the OUN’s sympathy for Nazi anti-semitism.[14] Subtelny apologizes for the OUN and other Ukrainians’ active participation in the Jewish holocaust, claiming “Ukrainian participation in the massacres was neither extensive nor decisive. In fact, the OUN’s deep, premeditated involvement is clear. On 25 June 1941 Stetsko informed Bandera that he “was setting up a militia that will help remove the Jews and protect the population,” and instructions to OUN fighters urged that “the liquidation of undesirable Polish, Muscovite, and Jewish activists, especially supporters of Bolshevik-Muscovite imperialism. Destroy the officer staff, shoot the Muscovites, Jews, NKVD men, the political instructors, and all who want war and our death.” Pogroms spread beyond Lviv and were led by the Stetsko government’s ‘Nachtigall Battalion’ led by the notorious Ukrainian anti-Semite Roman Shukhevych and estimated Jewish deaths range from 13,000 to 35,000.[15] In several days in late September on the outskirts of Kiev at a ravine near Babi Yar, nearly 34,000 Jews were executed by Nazi Eizsatzgruppen mobile death squads with assistance from the Ukrainian auxiliary police dominated by OUN members.[16] Subordinated auxiliary police units were the standard instrument with which the Eizensatzgruppen recruited locals to assist them in their dirty work. The auxiliary police searched for, detained, transported, and sometimes assisted the Germans in the execution of Jews and other ‘alien’ groups.[17]

Bandera and the entire OUN-B leadership were arrested days after their declaration of independence and sent to a concentration camp. This and the Nazi-approved formation of Ukrainian ‘expeditionary groups’ to follow the Nazi army into Ukrainian lands and organize the rear led to OUN-B assassinations of OUN-M officials and mutual recriminations made to Nazi officials. As the OUN-M sought to replace the OUN-B and engaged in increasingly overt political activity, the Nazis turned on the Ukrainian nationalists. In September, the Gestapo executed the leaders of the expeditionary committees, and in November over forty members of the OUN-M were executed. The Nazi government then instituted a brutal policy against suspect Ukrainians and divided the Ukraine between different governates for Poland and Ukraine, with other parts distributed to Hungarian or Romanian occupational regimes.[18]

During the OUN leadership’s internment, OUN elements continued to wage war on Jews, Poles, and ‘moskals’ (a derogatory Ukrainian term for ‘Muscovites’). The central role was played by Waffen SS ‘Galician Division’ death squads, characterized even by Subtelny as “the most important case of Ukrainian collaboration with Hitler’s regime on the organizational level” by the OUN. Eager to slaughter Jews and other ethnic enemies and hoping to parlay the volunteer Galicia Division (GC) into a Ukrainian army that in the likely post-war chaos could fight for the establishment of an independent Ukrainian state, over 82,000 OUN members and sympathizers answered the call, and 13,000 were eventually brought into the GC’s ranks. In addition, OUN, its sympathizers and other Ukrainians played a role – sometimes with real enthusiasm – in rooting out, detaining, and/or shipping Ukraine’s 2 million Jews to the Nazis’ 50 Jewish ghettos and killing about 850,000 of those in 180 large concentration camps locatd in Ukraine.[19]

At the same time, a partisan movement emerged in western Ukraine. Combining the Taras-Bulba Borovets’ partisans, the ‘Polissian Sich’ formed in late 1941, and elements of the Petlurist Ukrainian National republic government-in-exile, the Ukrainian Insurgent or Partisan Army (Ukrainska Povstanska Armiya) or UPA was born. In 1942 members of both OUNs established partisan units in Volhynia, and by the end of the year the Banderite wing of Volhynia partisans decided to form a Ukrainian army. Gradually building up its forces, the OUN-UPA was boosted by the Nazis’ release of the OUN leadership in early 1944. Usurping the UPA name, the Banderite OUN forced units of the original UPA and Melnykite OUN into the new UPA, killed many of the original UPA’s leaders and others who refused to subordinate themselves to the OUN-B, and appointed Shukhevych as the new UPA’s commander. The disasters at Stalingrad and Kursk and the beginning of the Red Army’s march west forced the Nazis to give the Ukrainian ultra-nationslists more freedom to organize militarily and politically. The OUN-UPA’s new political organ, the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council, called on the USSR’s non-Russian nationalities to rise up against Moscow, signaling a shift in OUN fascism’s ethnic targeting from Jews to moskals.[20]

Nazi Germany freed Bandera and the OUN leadership, hoping his Ukrainian partisans could help stop the advance of the Soviet army, which had marched through much of eastern Ukraine and was moving west. Therefore, Bandera was able to set up a headquarters in Berlin and manage Nazi training of Ukrainian insurgents. Many had already served in the occupation’s police and did the Nazis dirty work, such as rounding up Jews. The top leadership of the OUN-UPA was now dominated by Nazi-trained commanders, and it expanded and disciplined the UPA’s ranks by terror and forced recruitment, led by its special service shock troops, the Sluzhba Bezpeki (Security Service) or SB. However, the Nazis’ clearly declining prospects prompted a shift in the OUN’s preference regarding a protector. Expanding contacts with the democratic Western powers motivated a change in official rhetoric, even as the level of OUN-UPA slaughter mounted in the homeland. Thus, in this period some OUN-UPA units accepted a Jew here or there to counter a shortage of medical personnel; however, these Jews were executed when the Red Army approached.[21]

In spring 1943 the interim OUN-B leader Mykola Lebed’ ordered an ethnic cleansing of Ukrainian territory taregeting all ethnic minorities. Although Poles and after them the Jews bore the brunt of OUN-UPA spear, mass extermination aimed to liquidate Czecks, Hungarians, Armenians, and other ethnic groups. In 1943, the OUN-UPA’s SB in Volhynia issued orders to “physically exterminate Jews who were hiding in the villages,” and Jews who escaped the ghettos were captured and executed on the spot by OUN-UPA forces. A strategy of luring Jews out of their hiding places in order to execute them was adopted. The murders of Jews culminated in early 1944 and reached ‘only’ several thousand, given that almost all of Ukraine’s Jews already had been slaughtered or were in labor camps. By March 1944 the OUN-UPA was reporting to the Nazi SS on its successes in exterminating Jews and Poles, and in talks OUN-UPA chaplain, Father Ivan Hrymokh (Grymokh), assured the Nazis that the view that the Banderites viewed the German Reich as an enemy was “mistaken” and would not have engaged in illegal activity if in 1941 the Reich had granted Ukraine simply protectorate status. Hromykh stressed that while engaging in illegal activity, the OUN-B was “was maintaining the rules not to attack German interests and aim all its forces toward the preparation for a decisive struggle against the Muscovites.” OUN-UPA songs hailed the slaughtering: “We slaughtered the Jews, we’ll slaughter the Poles, old and young, everyone; we’ll slaughter the Poles, we’ll build Ukraine.” Thus, from mid-1943 through most of 1944 OUN-UPA and the OUN’s security service carried out widespread, brutal massacres of Poles across Galicia and Volhynia that left 60,000-88,700 dead. Ukrainians claim Poles began the massacres in 1942 and continued them in 1944-45 in areas west of the San River.[22] However, Ukrainians cannot point to any documentation of Polish murders on a scale or so carefully organized and ideologically justified  like that detailing the scale and premeditated nature of the crimes perpetrated in Galicia and Volhynia by the Ukrainian nationalists.

It should be noted, however, that Ukrainians participated in Nazi war crimes against Russians, Jews and other minorities sometimes because they were communists raher than because they were non-Ukrainian. As the Nazis swept east, Ukrainian CPSU members and sympathizers also felt fascism’s wrath. Therefore, in the five major pro-Soviet partisan units in late-war Ukraine, 46 percent of the fighters were ethnic Ukrainians. The local population in Ukraine was 80 percent Ukrainian.[23] The Germans occasionally executed Ukrainian nationalists in the Donbass, but overall the OUN had a small following in southeastern Ukraine throughout the war. The OUN following developed in the region by way of the relaxation of anti-nationalist (as in anti-religious) policy granted by Stalin as the war began, the German occupation of the region, and the import of OUN forces as a result. The southern port city of Mariupol became a relative OUN stronghold in the region. Nevertheless, the OUN’s influence was still minimal even under the German occupation and erased completely when the Red Army moved back into the region in 1943. The Galician dialect of OUN members was barely decipherable in Russified Donbass, where Ukrainian speakers often denied speaking Ukrainian, claiming they spoke a local language. Indeed, many spoke a peculiar mix of Russian and Ukrainian. The difficulty of communication made conversion rare. Some Russians joined the OUN but remained suspicious of its extremist ideology. Some proclaimed a position of a Soviet Ukraine without Germans and Bolsheviks. The OUN’s main operative in Donbass during the war, Yevhen Stakhiv (Yevgenii Stakhov), acknowledged that the main concern of the few OUN members in Donbass was social ills, not Ukrainian independence, which was simply seen as one possible vehicle to correct the social order. Donbassians rejected the propaganda of Stakhiv, who was a Francoist, because they saw it as “fascist,” and Stakhiv eventually discarded Dontsov’s integral Ukrainian nationalism in favor of “a democratic Ukraine without discrimination against its national minorities.”[24]

Whereas the Donbass and some other regions in central and southeastern Ukraine largely rejoiced with the Red Army’s return, western Ukraine was a completely different story. In the Donbass, the OUN’s emissaries and sympathizers in Donbass and elsewhere in southeastern as well as central Ukraine, especially those who collaborated with the German occupation regime, were subject to repressions carried out by the NKVD and supported by the bulk of underground and returning pro-Soviet locals. Mass repressions in the post-war years were significant. The number of false accusations is unknown, but 21,412 people were tried as German traitors and spies in the first seven months of 1946. Almost all were imprisoned – most to ten years – and 2 percent of those tried were executed.[25]

Whereas elsewhere in Ukraine there was little and usually no resistance to the return of Soviet power, OUN-UPA nationalists of western Ukraine continued their partisan campaign from the forests of Galicia and Volhynia until the mid-1950s. With the Wehrmacht’s withdrawal and the Soviet rear weakened by the offensive into Europe and towards Berlin, battalion-sized units of OUN-UPA partisans took control of large areas in western Ukraine and took on MVD and NKVD special units, as too many Ukrainians in the Red Army were in reality or suspected of being reluctant to fight the Ukrainian partisans. In 1944-45 pitched battles took place between the somewhat dispersed 30-40,000 OUN-UPA partisans and Soviet force concentrations numbering sometimes as many as 30,000 troops. After the Nazi surrender in May 1945, the Soviets were able to step up operations against the partisans. Hundreds of raids and special operations were carried out to root out straggling units. As the partisans retreated into the Transcarpathian Mountains, there were mass arrests and executions across western Ukraine. Tens of thousands of OUN members and sympathizers had openly collaborated with the Nazis. In order to deprive them of their support base, the NKVD blockaded and depopulated areas of Galicia, Volhynia, and the Transcarpathian foothills, deporting families and sometimes entire villages of OUN-UPA members. As many as 500,000 may have been deported to Siberia in 1946-49. Suffering heavy losses, the OUN-UPA took the decision to avoid large frontal engagements and break its forces into smaller units, returning to an insurgent strategy, but by 1948 most units had disbanded. Establishing “loose, sporadic contacts with the British and American secret services,” the OUN-UPA then resorted to a strategy of propaganda, sabotage, terror, and assassinating Soviet officials. With Shukhevich’s death in a skirmish near Lviv in March 1950, the OUN and UPA soon ceased their existence.[26]

With the post-war Ukraine SSR extending into formerly Polish, Austrian, and Hungarian Ukraine, Soviet power was ensured by the OUN-UPA’s dispersal and destruction. Western Ukraine’s subjugation was consolidated with the Greek Catholic Church’s liquidation; its entire hierarchy was arrested and exiled to Siberia by 1946 for collaboration of some clergy with the Nazis. Finally, the entire western Ukrainian peasant class was herded on to collective farms, repeating in the west the fate eastern Ukrainians and others who fell under Soviet rule experienced in the 1930s minus the famine.[27]

With the collapse of the USSR, disparate Ukrainian and Ukrainian diaspora elments begean to re-fashion the neo-fascist OUN. Many were involved in the first major anti-Soviet organization of the perestroika era, Rukh, which emerged in 1989. However, the first few post-Soviet administrations of independent Ukraine kept a lid Ukrainian ultr-nationalism through most of the 1990s. The Orange revolution of winter 2004-2005 provided an opening to Ukrainian radicals, who had been organizing and waiting for their moment.

Yushchenko’s Orange Regime: Maidan 1.0

Ukrainian ultra-nationalism’s first moment in power came with the Orange regime under the Viktor Yushchenko administration. It openly supported and used the state to propagate the Galician OUN-UPA model in attempting to construct a new Ukrainian national identity. Policy was anti-eastern and anti-Russian in both domestic and especially foreign policy. Western Ukraine became dominant in domestic policy, which in ideology was overtly ultranationalist, and included xenophobic and anti-Semitic aspects. The West moved to the forefront in foreign policy. Through its silence, the West effectively endorsed former Yushchenko’s unbalanced policy. An emerging anti-Russian stance was disguised as an anti-Soviet one, in the hope that it would sway public opinion in favor of Ukraine’s entry into NATO and the EU.

Neither Yushchenko nor his government had an explicit nationalities policy. There was no ministry for nationalities policy or inter-ethnic relations and no specific legislative bills or official policy statements addressing such issues. Instead, two domestic policy areas indirectly shaped inter-ethnic relations, especially Russian-Ukrainian relations: (1) the proselytization of state ideology rooted in the revision and falsification of the history and (2) language policy. The state ideology implied anti-Russian and anti-Semitic attitudes. Language policy discriminated against all of Ukraine’s minorities, but especially Russians, who by dint of numbers had the strongest justification for demanding their language became an official Ukrainian state language. Moreover, the shift in favor of western Ukrainian preferences on these issues helped to revive the inter-communal and inter-regional schisms that shook the country’s political stability and stateness during the 1990s.

World War Two: Historiographical Battleground

Yushchenko succeeded in consolidating or at least further developing a Ukrainian national identity, but one that is largely ethnic and western Ukrainian rather than civic and all-Ukrainian, Consequently, it would alienate many Russians, Transcarpathian Rusyns, and even some Crimean Tatars even as it mobilized the western Ukrainians. The campaign was based on two pillars often present in the mythologies of communalist movements—a heroic myth and a victimization myth. Together, these two myths were to form the foundational myth for Ukrainian nation- and state-building, and ther were particularly noxious to southeastern Ukraine, especially its pro-Russian and Soviet nostalgic elements. First, the heroic myth was the full rehabilitation of Stepan Bandera, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), and the Waffen SS Galician Corps. Second, the vicitimization myth was the Great Famine or ‘Holodomor’ or ‘famine-murder’ or genocide, which was blamed or at least strongly associated with Russia, rather than the internationalist communist ideology or its ethnic Georgian Soviet leader, Iosif Stalin.

Yushchenko aggressively supported the rehabilitation of Ukraine’s World War II-era neo-fascist organizations, the OUN and UPA, as well as its leading figures. In 2007 he granted an INP request to designate Shukevych a national hero and awarded a similarly honorific status to Stetsko. Yushchenko also used state funds to finance the building of monuments to other OUN figures at sites of the Jewish Holocaust in Ukraine, including in former Jewish ghettos and the infamous Babi Yar.[28] In addition, he has been willing to engage in legal repression of those who dare question his ultra-nationalist false narrative on issues such as the Holodomor (see below). There were certainly moderate Ukrainian nationalist historical figures, who incidentally are more popular than Bandera and the other OUN-OPA figures, Yushchenko could have chosen to glorify the Ukrainian national liberation struggle and in doing so would have not alienated the southeast. The revolutionary era Rada leader Mikhail Hrushevskiy and the great 19th century poet Taras Shevchenko are the best examples.[29] Shevchenko wrote both in Russian and Ukrainian and therefore would have been one who could have helped found a more inclusive civic national identity rather than the ultra-nationalists’ preferred ethnic one.

Perhaps more problematic in terms of long-term consequences was Yushchenko’s use of the state to proselytize a new, official nation-building ideology rooted in the revision and falsification of Soviet and World War II history. In particular, despite their problematic nature for a regime claiming to become European and democratic, the Orange regime rehabilitated the legacy of the neo-fascist OUN-UPA and held its leaders—including the infamous pro-fascists Bandera, Shukevych and Stetsko—up as the heroes of Ukraine’s national liberation struggle. This became a point of pride for many—though far from all—in the country’s west and political provocation for almost all the southeast, especially in Crimea and Donbass. Yushchenko’s historians depicted the OUN and UPA as pluralistic and inclusive organizations rather than the totalitarian, intolerant, and racist organizations their ideological tracts fostered. Instead of an organizations that deliberately sought Jews out to kill them, the Orange revolution in power claimed that Jews were invited in as part of its fight against not just againmst Stalin but also against Hitler with which OUN-UPA allied.[30]

Since Yushchenko likely was a genuine opponent of the OUN’s fascism, totalitarianism, terrorism, fuhrer principle, and ethnic cleansing and certainly needed to appear as such in the eyes of his Western supporters, he needed to fashion the new OUN-UPA myth in a way that did not offend the Western principles of multiculturalism and inter-communal tolerance and respect. To overcome this paradox, Yushchenko’s historians deployed the revised and falsified history of Ukrainian integral mationalism and Banderism contained in OUN-UPA propaganda materials dated from the post-1943 period after its leaders decided to tone down its racist ideology in the wake of the German army’s rout at Stalingrad as it became more apparent that the Nazi experiment would collapse and the West and/or the Soviets would be deciding Ukraine’s future. In addition, to post-1943 propaganda materials and even revised and falsified pre-1943 documents from its pre-1943 period, Yushchenko’s ideologists used revised and falsified histories and ‘scholarly’ materials produced by former OUN-UPA members, their descendants, and other members of the Ukrainian diaspora in North America and Germany.[31]

Yushchenko’s government used three institutions to propagandize the new myth: the Institute of National Memory (INP) founded in May 2006, the OUN-B front group or “façade structure” called the Center for the Study of the Liberation Movement (TsDVR), and the archives of Ukraine’s intelligence and security organ, the SBU, with which the TsDVR cooperated closely along with the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry as well. As the INP’s director Yushchenko appointed academician Ihor Yukhnovs’kyi, a supporter of the neo-Nazi Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine.[32] According to Yukhnovskiy, “the basic goal of the INP is to develop activities that focus on the consolidation and growth of the state-creating patriotism of the Ukrainian people (narody) … the resurrection of memory about the sacrifices and repressions that the Ukrainian nation (natsia) endured … [and that] all those who fought for Ukraine, suffered, died, should be treated as national heroes of Ukraine. The policies of all government entities should be based on the Ukrainian idea.”[33] All of these institutions were “interlinked”; their “directors cross-referenced and legitimized each others’ existence.” The SBU, according to German scholar Per Rudling, “was tasked with the most important aspects of Yushchenko’s apparatus of memory management: to guard the memory, the institutions, resources, and archives of the Ukrainian security forces.”[34] Speaking in 2008 historian Sofia Hrachova noted the SBU “uses this monopoly to political ends, publishing selections of that represent historical events according to the current official perspective.”[35]

The revisionists’ chief ideologist was Yushchenko’s director for both the Central State Archives of the SBU (Archives Holovnyi Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrainy or HDASBU) and TsDVR, Volodomyr V”yatrovich, who devoted “partocular attention” to the OUN-UPA and the Jews. V”yatrovich ignores all sources—Jewish and memoirs and German and Soviet archival documents—that disprove his contention that Jews were welcome and important within the OUN-UPA. Instead, he has focused on the five named Jews who served in the UPA (not OUN members), including “Stella Krentsbach/Kruetzbach”, who is a fictitious person created by OUN-UPA post-war emigres. V”yatrovich’s HDASBU circulated the post-war OUN forgery Do pochatku khyha faktiv (The Book of Facts) to a series of government organizations in an attempt defend the OUN, Shukevych and his Nachtigall Battalion, which slaughtered Jews, and presented it as an authentic World War II-era document to the public.[36] In April 2008 the SBU convened a public “hearing” to focus attention on V”yatrovich’s narrative that because of the UPA the Jews and Ukrainians fought the Nazis together side-by-side. SBU director—then and again after the 2014 Maidan revolution—Valentyn Nalyvaichenko presided over this and the entire SBU portion of the Yushchenko exercise in myth-making. He noted that the goal was to replace KGB lies with “historical truth” and “liberate Ukrainian history from lies and falsifications.” The SBU itself said the forgery “objectively certifies…collaboration between Ukrainian and Jews.” Well-known anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, including but not limited to Levko Luk”ianenko and Yurii Shukhevich, were frequent guests at Yushchenko’s ‘research’ institutes. Finally on this score, the Yushchenko ideologists were able to popularize these falsehoods using willing popular literary figures, such as Moisei Fishbein and Oksana Zabuzhko, who repeated the government’s fabrications, including the Stella Krentsbach/Kruetzbach fiction, and produced works based on Yushchenko’s false narrative and OUN-fabricated documents and propaganda provided by the TsDVR.[37]

As Rudling convincingly argues, the false Semitophilic narrative of the OUN-UPA’s historical revisions proffered by its past and present supporters inside and outside Ukraine and its government “constitutes a form of Holocaust ‘revionism’.”[38] Indeed, there is much in common between Holocaust revisionism and outright denial, on the one hand, and the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist narrative of a benign OUN-UPA deceptively maligned by Soviet and Russian propaganda, on the other, especially as regards its discourse on OUN-UPA’s relations with the Jews. Yushchenko was careful to balance his tolerance of some anti-semitism within his ultra-nationalist wing by way of occasional personal demonstrations of sympathy for the Jews. Nonetheless, the Orange regime and its memory-making institutions consistently took steps to downplay and marginalize the OUN-UPA’s killings of the Jews and the Jewish nature of the tragedy at Babi Yar.

Yushchenko ignored international and U.S. appeals to honor the Jewish victims of the Holocaust at Babi Yar. Indeed, it appeared to take steps to ensure that none of the proposed projects could undertaken by either transferring jurisdiction to the INP. After an international movement was formed to lobby for the building of a major memorial to the victims of the Holocaust at Babi Yar, Ukraine’s Council of Ministers on the basis of a directive issued by President Yushchenko, decreed on 1 March 2007 that the territory of Babi Yar was designated a historical preserve but transferred from the authority of the Kyiv City Council to the pro-OUN-UPA INP, outraging the international Jewish community.[39] In addition, throughout the Yushchenko presidency fewer and fewer Ukrainian officials attended the Jewish commemorations at Babi Yar. By October 2008 not one Ukrainian official attended because, as Rabbi Yakov Dov Bleich—who in June 2001 was accompanied by Pope John Paul II to the site to pray together—told those present: “We…do not have the right to allow what happened at Babi Yar to be forgotten. We cannot be silent, when history is being written according to someone’s pleasure.”[40]

Instead of commemorating the Jewish loss, the Yushchenko’s government allowed Babi Yar to be used by ultra-nationalists, many of them with anti-Semitic attitudes, such as the rising neo-fascist, pro-OUN Svoboda Party (SP) led by the openly anti-Semitic Oleh Tyahnybok. Their commemorations at the site in 2007, 2008, and 2009 ignored the Jewish character of the tragedy and the OUN-UPA’s role it, claiming Babi Yar was a massacre primarily of Ukrainians, especially those of the OUN-UPA ultra-nationalists. In February 2007 the head of SP’s Kiev organization, Andriy Mokhnyk declared at Babi Yar: “(T)here are myths about Babyn Yar. First, Germans executed mainly non-Ukrainians at Babyn Yar (read: Jews). Second, supposedly Ukrainian nationalists (read: OUN members) helped the Hitlerites conduct the executions … It is a blatant lie. Babyn Yar is mainly a site of the tragedy of Ukrainians, with over 55,000 Ukrainians being murdered there. Simultaneously, Babyn Yar is a hallmark of the unbrerakable Ukrainian spirit. In Babyn Yar, the Germans shot activists of the Ukrainian nationalist underground movement. … They were executed as fighters of the Ukrainian national revolution.”[41]

Victim Narrative: Holodomor

The second pillar of the Orange regime’s myth-making is a “victimization narrative” based on a revision and falsification of the Holodmor or Great Famine of the early 1930s. Rather than being portrayed as a Soviet attempt to build communism through collectivization of all agriculture in the USSR that killed some 3 million, Yushchenko’s ideologists put forward the interpretation that the famine was an attempt to commit genocide and targeted the Ukrainian nation alone. In this Ukrainian nationalist view, the Holodomor was not a consequence of the communist ideology and Stalin’s practice of it, but rather part of a centuries-long Russian effort to destroy the Ukrainian nation.

While spending much time and energy attempting to revise and deny the real history of the Holocaust in Ukraine, the Yushchenko government spent even more endeavoring to win international recognition of the 1930s famine as a “Ukrainian Holocaust”, despite the numerous other territories and peoples of the USSR who suffered from the very same famine. In April 2007 Yushchenko submitted but was unable to push through the Supreme Rada a law that would have criminalized the denial of the famine’s genocidal character. Thus, those who deviated from the state ideology’s current line on the intent behind Stalin’s crime would have been subject to imprisonment, presumably including leading Western historians such as Robert Conquest or those who might assert that other Soviet territories and ethnic groups also were victimized.[42]

A revolution and eight years later, the Maidain regime’s own Yushchenko, President Petro Poroshenko, blamed the ethnic Georgian Stalin’s Soviet famine on the Ukrainian nationalists’ other favorite scapegoat – Russia. At a 28 November 2015 ceremony commemorating the Great Famine, Poroshenko transferred the blame for the tragedy from Soviet communism to Russia and by insinuation those sympathetic towards Moscow, especially ethnic Russians: “We pray for multimillion heavenly legion of the Ukrainian nation. The bright spirits with no guilt who were killed here are invisibly with us. The Holodomor was nothing other than a manifestation of the centuries-long hybrid war that Russia has been waging against Ukraine.”[43]

As I have shown on this site, Russophobia would reach dangerously racist proportions after the ultranationalist-led Maidan revolution of 2014. Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, such as those that came to play a major role in the Yushchenko government, are consistently careful to avoid the fact that ethnic Ukrainians played the lead role in Ukraine in carrying out the grain and seed grain confiscations and overall collectivization process. For these actions and the crimes that accompanied, ethnic Russians and Jews are often scapegoated. The entire Soviet experiment is often referred to as the “Muscovite-Bolshevik” regime or occupation, putting the blame on the Soviets’ crimes on ethnic Russia, ethnic Russians, and a mythical Russian quest to destroy Ukraine. Moreover, many Ukrainian (and Russian) ultra-nationalist historians are quick to, and frequently emphasize that there was an inordinate or disproportional number of Jews in the Bolshevik party and leadership. In this way, the term ‘Muscovite-Bolshevik’ is a coded discursive slur against both ethnic Russians and Jews.

Orange Anti-Semitism

The Orange regime’s willful tolerance and support of ultra-nationalist historical revisionism and denial as at a minimum a price that had to be paid for national myth-making in the alleged absence of alternative models and heroes—one wonders why the far more reasonable national independence movement of the late 19th and eary 20th centuries was not the Orangists’ choice—led to a sharp increase in explicit displays and tolerance of anti-Semitism.[44] A striking example was an article published for the Babi Yar massacre’s 65th anniversary in the largest mainstream newspaper in Ukraine at the time, Silski visti, written by its editor-in-chief Volodomyr Bilenko. In his “appeal” to Jews, Bilenko asked them to plea to Ukrainians for forgiveness: “(I)n the name of fairness and sincere co-existence, you should apologize before the Ukrainian people for the perfidious murder of S. Petlura, for participating in mass repressions against Ukrainians, for participating in the organization of the Holodomor, and finally for the convoluted thinking used in Israel for the destruction of innocent Lebanese children. Now Israel should come and repent before Babi Yar.”[45] The direction things were moving and may still move could be seen in an attempt made in not-so-valed fashion by Yushchenko’s and Nalyvaichenko’s SBU to scapegoat the Jews for the horrors of Soviet rule. Thus, in July 2008 it issued a “highly selective” list of nineteen perpetrators of the Holodomor “famine-genocide.” Of the nineteen, eight were designated as being of Jewish nationality by placing their Ashkenazi names next to their adopted Slavic names.[46]

Red flags should have been seen about the democratic nationalist movement in Ukraine, as Yushchenko in the same period was repeatedly denying the existence of any anti-Semitism whatsoever in Ukraine. On 17 September 2005 Yushchenko categoriacally stated: “In Ukraine there is no anti-Semitism or any kind of manifestation of xenophobia.” The irony was abundant, as the statement came in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, where America’s latest ‘beacon of democracy’ in the former USSR made the statement in receiving the Liberty Medal award. Three years later, on 23 September 2008, Yushchenko told a conference of Jewish-American organizations: “(I)n Ukraine such a shameful phenomenon as anti-Semitism is absent.”[47] None of this should have surprised. Yushchenko had long maintained a close relationship with ultranationalist elements in western Ukraine. His “Our Ukraine” coalition included several ultranationalist groups. Early on, Yushchenko was on the board of MAUP, a private university in Kiev dominated by Ukrainian nationalists, produced nearly all of Ukraine’s anti-Semitic print material, and welcomed former KKK leader David Duke as a visiting scholar. Yushchenko was forced to resign from MAUP’s board in 2005 after a three-year campaign by Jewish leaders in Ukraine and the U.S. demanding he do so.[48]

Overt anti-semitism continued to plague the Ukrainian diaspora community, which strongly supported Yushchenko and bitterly opposed the contemporary Ukrainian communists, who are more akin to European socialists than Stalinist or even late Soviet communists, and blame communism’s crimes on Jews. For example, in 2011 the émigré Internet publication included a ‘best and worst’ of 2011 written by one Oksana Bashuk Harper. She noted among her worst events of the year the following: “Ukraine’s Communist Party leaders, including comrades Symonenko and Vitrenko –for saying the Holodomor, the famine orchestrated by the Soviet Communist Party, is history and no longer important, and Israel’s President Shimon Peres–for lecturing Ukrainians to forget their history, Holodomor included, motivated, perhaps, by the desire to protect Lazar Kaganovich, also a Jew, and a key architect of the genocide.”[49]

Yushchenko, however, revealed his true leanings after his defeat in the 2010 presidential election in which he received a mere 5.5 percent of the votes, by issuing a decree officially rehabilitating the WWII-era Ukrainian neo-fascist OUN leader Stepan Bandera as a national hero.[50] This provoked a sharp reaction at home and abroad. A Crimean Supreme Soviet deputy burned his passport in protest against the rehabilitation, and a lawyer from the Donbass filed a lawsuit to have Bandera’s Hero of Ukraine honor annulled. Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski accused Yushchenko of putting “current political interests [over] the historical truth” and warned the move had driven a wedge between the two eastern European Slavic states. In reaction to Kaczynski’s remarks ultranationalist Ukrainians marched on the Polish Embassy in Kiev.[51] In December 2010, the Kiev city council announced it would be renaming three of its streets after Bandera’s associates, Shukevych, Stetsko, and Melnyk.[52] Two years after Yushchenko’s demise, Bandera and presumably the OUN-UPA along with him enjoyed a positive assessment among 32 percent of all Ukrainian citizens; obviously, the majority of these would be from western Ukraine and might have constituted a majority and likely an overwhelming majority in the west.[53]

Language Policy

In addition to his draconian historiographical policies, Yushchenko undertook the implementation of an integrated national culture based on western Ukraine’s identity. Thus, he initiated an aggressive Ukrainization policy in language and education in an effort to eliminate the Ukrainian language’s second-rate status created under Soviet power. In doing so, he politicized the language issue and created more fertile soil for division within the country, especially in highly Russophone regions and districts like Donbass and Crimea. Although Ukrainian was instated as the only language with state status in Ukraine’s constitution, several articles, including several on Crimea, posed the task of developing Ukraine’s other languages as well. Moreover, during the heady days of 1991 when Ukraine was achieving its long-sought independence, a very different model was supported by the then more moderate nationalists. At that time, the Ukrainian Supreme Rada passed a Declaration of the Rights of Nationalities of Ukraine that pledged the government to grant official language status to the mother tongue of any ethnic group living compactly in any of Ukraine’s regions.[54]

By contrast, the Orange regime referred to Russian as one of the minority languages, even though all data showed that far more than 50 percent and as many as 80 percent of Ukraine’s mostly bilingual and even multilingual citizens were Russian-speaking. Official documents, including birth and death certificates and other legal documents, were issued only in Ukrainian. A campaign to change the names of streets, schools, and buildings was instituted. Some Russians were forced to Ukrainize their names in their passports.[55] One strategy of Ukrainian nationalists given patronage by Yushchenko’s government used to strengthen a western Ukrainian ethnic state, society and identity during Yushchenko’s Orange regime was to eliminate from education and dictionaries words in common usage in both the Ukrainian and Russian languages.[56]

Svoboda Rising: Rise of Ultra-Nationalists Under Yushchenko

Not surprisingly, the Orange Revolution and Yushchenko’s policies sparked a sharp rise in Ukrainian ultra-nationalism, anti-semitism, and general racist xenophobia and hate crimes. On the streets, NGO monitors documented a dramatic rise in violent crimes with a suspected hate-bias motivation, in particular “a revival of anti-Jewish prejudice in the form of an increase of anti-Semitic attacks and incidents.” In addition to Jews, hate crimes mostly targeted people of African and Asian origin and those from the Caucasus and the Middle East.[57] They also targeted Russians and Roma, according to a December 2011 European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance report, which noted that “tolerance towards Jews, Russians, and Romani appears to have significantly declined in Ukraine since 2000 and prejudices are also reflected in daily life against other groups, who experience problems in accessing goods and services.”[58] The perpetrators of the most serious hate crimes were from loosely organized groups of skinheads “united by extreme nationalist and racist ideology.”[59]

At the same time, Yushchenko’s government downplayed the ultra-nationalists’ rise and downgraded the state’s capacity to combat such phenomena. In 2008, the Interior Ministry claimed there were only 500 such skinheads in Ukriane, but NGO monitors suggest that the “number…is likely to be much higher.” The government also discontinued official data collection and public reporting on violent hate crimes and disbanded both the State Committee for Nationalities and Religion and the Interior Ministry’s Human Rights Monitoring Department and thus, according to Human Rights First, “significantly weakened the government’s efforts to combat racist and bias-motivated incidents.”[60]

In the corridors of power, Yushchenko’s nationalist policies were faciliated the rise of neo-fascist Oleh Tyahnybok’s ultra-nationalist, anti-semitic, anti-Russian and deceptively-named ‘Svoboda’ or ‘Freedom’ Party (SP). Tyahnybok hails from Lviv. His father was a sports physician and lead physician of the Soviet National Boxing Team and was honored under the communist regime with the Hero of Sport of the USSR award. Oleh, also a physician, graduated in 1993 at the age of 23 from Lviv Medical Institute and is certified urologist and surgeon. In October 1991, as the USSR collapsed, he and Andriy Parubiy co-founded the radical neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU), which included Nazi insignia and anti-Semitic pronouncements. Tyahnybok was elected to the Lviv Oblast parliament in 1994 and to Ukraine’s Supreme Rada in 1998 and, as a member of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine electoral bloc, in 2002. In February 2004, the SNPU sought to re-brand itself as a more moderate nationalist party, changing its name to the All-Ukrainian Svoboda (Freedom) Union or simply the Svoboda party, discontinuing the use of the modified Nazi Wolfsangel as its symbol, disbanding its para-military wing the Patriots of Ukraine, and moderating its party program and public statements. The caveat to the last change was that its neo-fascist ideology was to remain fully intact in reality; only its pubic face was being revamped.[61]

Despite the plan to soften its image, Tyahnybok let loose a series of inflammatory and racist remarks at a July 2004 speech in at the grave site of an UPA commander on Yavornaya Mountain in the Carpathians. He stated the following: “The enemy came and took their (UPA’s) Ukraine. But they (UPA fighters) were not afraid; likewise we must not be afraid. They took their automatic guns on their necks and went into the woods. They got them ready and fought against the Moskaly (derogatory for Russians), the Germans, Zhydy (derogatiory term for Jews) and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state! And therefore our task—for every one of you: the grey-headed and the youthful—we must defend our native land. … These young men and you, the grey-headed, are the very combination, which the moskal’sko-zhydivs’ka (Muscovite-Jewish) mafia ruling Ukraine fears most.[62]

The same month Tyahnybok was expelled from Our Ukraine’s parliamentary faction party for his remarks at Yavornaya. In 2012, Tyahnybok refused to renounce these words, stating to a BBC journalist: “All I said then, I can also repeat now. … Moreover, this speech is relevant even today.”[63]

Tyahnybok has issued other unsavory remarks and declarations. In 2005, he and 17 others signed an open letter titled ‘Stop the Criminal Activities of Oragnized Jewry’ addressed to Ukraine’s leadership, including President Yushchenko. The letter listed Jewish businessmen who got rich during the 1990s, claiming they control Ukraine, and called for investigations into the activities of Jewish organisations, such as the Anti-Defamation League, which, the letter said, is led by people “suspected of serious crimes.” The letter referred to Zionism as “Jewish Nazism” and asserted that ‘organized Jewry’ spreads its influence across Ukraine through such organisations in order to commit “genocide” of the Ukrainian people through impoverishment.[64] Svoboada has called for “purging” Jews from Ukraine, damaged synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, demonstrated against Hassidic Jews’ annual pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav in the southern Ukrainian town of Uman.[65] In 2012, Tyahnybok’s comrade in the SP, Ihor Miroshnichenko, called actress Mila Kunis a “dirty Jewess” and not a real Ukrainian.[66]

The SP’s official program begins by stating that the “state…secures the continuous development of the Ukrainian nationality (Ukrainskaya natsiya)” rather than that of all ethnic groups comprising the population of Ukraine. The first two measures listed for achieving this goal are a “fundamental purge” of all former CPSU and KGB officials from Ukrainian state structures and their replacement by people according to their “patriotism and professionalism.” Given Tyahnybok’s association of Russians and Jews with the CPSU and KGB, there is little doubt who would not be considered to be in possession of sufficient ‘patriotism.’ Correspondingly, the program calls for: making “manifestations of Ukrainophobia” a crime; introducing in Ukrainian internal passports data on the holder’s nationality, which would be determined by birth certificate or that of the holder’s parents and “taking into account the wishes of the Ukrainian citizen”; requiring all candidates for public office to indicate their ethnicity in their official biographical data; introducing for public discussion a legislative bill that would establish the proportional representation of Ukrainians and national minorities in the executive branch; banning dual citizenship (which would affect Russian and Jews for the most part); “facilitation of the mass return of ethnic Ukrainians” to Ukraine; banning the adoption of Ukrainians by foreigners; creating a state committee “responsible for the defense and spread of the Ukrainian language”; requiring that no less than 78 percent of mass media communication is in Ukrainian; repealing all taxation on Ukrainian language publishing, commuications, and information; ceasing all state budget support for school textbooks and other educational materials not in Ukrainian; requiring a course on “The Culture of the Ukrainian Language” in all higher educational institutes; instituting a program for “patriotic education”; facilitating the creation of single Ukrainian local church with its center in Kiev; acknowledgement of “the fact of the occupation of Ukraine by Bolshevik Russia in 1918-1991, as a result of which there was an unprecedented genocide of the Ukrianian people; securing from the Verkhovna Rada, the United nations, the European Parliament, and the world’s parlimants recognition of the Ukrainian genocide in the 20th century” as “a result of which 20.5 million Ukrainians were destroyed”; opening up a “criminal case of the Holodomor to be recognized as a state crime against the Ukrainian people”; implementing a public criminal trial of communism; banning the communist ideology and establishing criminal liability for “denial of the Holodomor as a genocide of the Ukrainian people”; creating a special investigative structure for the search of the criminals who destroyed the Ukrainian nation and after uncovering them holding them criminally responsible; recognition of the struggle of the OUN and UPA as the “national liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people” and the soldiers of the UPA and the OUN underground as participants in that struggle; awarding compensation still owed to the OUN-UPA veterans; spreading “the truth about the Liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people in the 20th century in all educational institutions”; reestablishing Ukraine’s tactical nuclear potential; and repealing Crimea’s autonomous status.[67]

In 2009 Svoboda joined a federation of European ultra-rightist parties called the Alliance of European Nationalist Movements which includes Belgium’s National Front, Britain’s National Party, Hungary’s violently chauvinist ‘Jobbik’ Party, Italy’s Tricolor Flame, and Sweden’s National Democrats.[68] At the time, Svoboda maintained close ties to France’s National Front and honored the Front’s leader Jean-Marie Le Pen at Svoboda’s 2004 congress. In December 2012, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution expressing “concern about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada. The EP resolution recalled that “racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles” and therefore appealed “to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate, endorces, or form coalitions with this party.”[69] This was just one year before the very pro-democratic parties appealed to in the resolution joined in an opposition alliance to protest President Yanukovich’s decision to postpone signing the EU association agreement and Western officials, including US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Senator John McCain, would be meeting with Svoboda leader Tyahnybok during the opposition alliance’s demonstrations on the Maidan.

The decline in Yushchenko’s popularity surely played into radical parties’ hands; thus, the SP’s sudden rise in popularity, but the state ideology and identity played into the hands of the extremists. In March 2009, Tyahnybok’s SP for the first time was a regional parliamentary election. Not surprisingly, the victory occurred in the western Galician oblast of Ternopil, with Svoboda winning 35 percent of the vote and more than doubling the vote of the second-place party’s 14 percent.[70] In 2010 it won city assembly elections in the three Galician western oblasts’ capitols of Lviv, Ternopil, and Ivano-Frankivsk.[71] As noted above, Svoboda then won more than 10 percent of the vote in the 2012 Ukrainian Supreme Rada elections and 30-40 percent in the same three western regions (see Table 5).

Some saw the handwriting on the wall in 2009. Director of the Philosophy Department at NANU and one of three co-chairs of the Babi Yar Community Committee, Academician Myroslav Popovych warned in March of that year: “We are suffering through a period of declein of Ukraine’s national democrats … (T)he prestige of an aggressive nationalistic course, such as that of the Svoboda Party is increasing … (I)n place of national democrats can come (to power) an aggressive nationalistic movement and then the civil peace in Ukraine, of which we are so proud, will come to an end, And many forces for which this will be satisfactory will be found.”[72] Looking back from the perspective of 2015, Popovych’s words are indeed prophetic. Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international affairs at the American Jewish Committee, summed up the results of Yushchenko’s rule: “We really thought a decade ago that this sort of ultra-nationalism would be disappearing by now. We thought it was [a temporary] thing. We were wrong.”[73]

In his last year and a half in office, not only did Ukraine collapse economically but politically as well. In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown in the U.S. and the ensuing global economic crisis, Ukraine suffered a major financial crisis from which it still has not recoevered. Yushchenko had permanently alienated southeastern Ukraine’s voters from himself—as well as from Kiev and the west—but Ukraine’s declining economic fortunes and conflicts between oligarchic clans over the natural gas profits split the Orange coalition that brought Yushechnko to power. In response, he stepped up his efforts to play to the nationalist wing in the runup to the presidential election, poisoning the Ukraine political well for years to come. Yushchenko then divided the Orange movement by accusing his former Orange Revolution comrade and now main presidential rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, of “high treason” for allegedly plotting with the Kremlin to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty after she cut a new gas deal with GazProm.

The Yanukovich Regime

            Viktor Yanukovich won a narrow victory over Tymoshenko in the second round of the 2010 presidential election. For this and other reasons he was not aggressive in seeking to replace the Yushchenko legacy of Galician myths with eastern Ukrainian Soviet nostalgia or Russophilia. However, some of what western Ukraine saw as gains for its nationalist agenda—in particular, those that were most odious for the southeast—were rolled back under Yanukovich, aggravating east-west tensions. At the same time, Yanukovich’s presidency was hampered by the aftermath of the 2008-2009 Ukrainian financial crisis and the perception and reality of massive corruption on the part of his administration and key oligarchs who supported it. In order to mollify public opinion, Yanukovich decided to pursue an EU association agreement, proimising economic recovery and revitalization on the road to EU membership. At the same time, he did not foredlose the possibility of a deal with Moscow on joining the EEU, which began to gain momentum during this period.


Yanukovich moved to reverse Yushchenko’s Galician myth-making and historical revisionism. Yushchenko’s orders designating Bandera and Shukhevych as national heroes in the Ukrainian national liberation struggle were nullified by Ukrainian courts, and the orders retracted. Yushchenko’s nationalistic ideologists Viatrovych and Yukhnovskiy were dismissed from the posts, Yanukovich appointed new directors to both the SBU Archives and INP. In response, the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada and the U.S. has feted Viatrovych with speaking engagements where he has continued his denial of OUN-UPA involvement in the Holocaust. Among other things, he was awarded a fellowship from the diaspora-dominated Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. The diaspora also began to inflate the number of Holodomor victims, citing a figure of 10 million, and initiated a vitriolic campaign against Yanukovich and cut off all relations with his government, regarding it an “occupation regime.” A noisy demonstration was organized for Yanukovich’s visit to New York for the UN General Assembly, with protestors chanting “Russian butchers, go to hell!” Slava Ukrainy! Heroiam Slava!” (Glory to Ukraine! To the Heroes Glory!”). One of the demonstrations organizers and a prominent Ukrainian diaspora activist deployed openly anti-Semitic rhetoric, asserting “an…overwhelming amount of Soviet accomplices during the Soviet’s two years in Western Ukraine from 1939-1941 were Jews.” He also claims Jews control the Canadian media and those who research anti-Jewish violence by the OUN and UPA are in the pay of a Jewish lobby.[74]


Although Yanukovich failed to fulfill his campaign promise to designate officially Russian as Ukraine’s second state language, he implemented a measure that satisfied southeastern Ukrainians aspirations on this score. In July 2012 he pushed the Kolesnichenko-Kivalov law through the Rada establishing the requirement that in any region of Ukraine where any ethnic minority composed more than 10 percent of the population then the minority’s language must be declared an official language in that particular region. As a result of this law, 13 of Ukraine’s 27 regions established Russian as a second state language.[75] All 13 of these regions were located in the eastern half of the country.

With the Yanukovich regime’s reversal of historiographical and language policies the east-west polarization process began to peak. Much like Yushchenko’s alienation of the east through his historico-ideological and language policies, Yanukovich’s language policies alienated the west. Thus, with each change in power between pro-southeastern and pro-western governments, Ukraine’s body politic was being bent back and forth. Like a piece of metal repeatedly bent to one side and then the other, the stress was bringing the country to abreaking point.

In addition the high level of corruption that existed under Yushchenko and his predecessors became even more prounced under Yushchenko. Moreover, the regional elite and oligarchs in the already far richer east, southeast, and south were the main beneficiaries of official largesse. This fed the west’s resentment of its own relatively low standard of living and the corrupt regime. The former was aggravated by the even better off regions just over the border in EU Poland, to which Galicia had once belonged. A perfect storm would be created by additional stresses caused by the geopolitical struggle over Ukraine on the international level.

The Rise of Anti-Semitism After Maidan

I have detailed on this site the violence used by neo-fascist groups like the SP and Right Sector to overthrow the Yanukovich regime—the destructive phase of the Maidan revolution—and to seize full control over the post-revolutionary Maidan regime during the constructive nation-building phase of the Maidan revolution. I have also shown on this site the growing cohort of national chauvinist, ultra-nationalist, and neo-fascist elements in the post-Maidan government and parliament. Here, I will focus exclusively on manifestations of anti-Semitism which appeared to be gradually on the rise in 2015, especially as the ultra-nationalist wing of the Maidan revolution parts ways with the oligarchic wing, making a clash between the two increasingly likely.

In May, the news agency Vesti, which has been attacked numerous times by ‘Right Sector’ and other neo-fascist groups since the February 2014 Maidan revolt, reported rightists’ plans to desecrate the monument erected at Babi Yar.[76] This past summer in Lviv (Lvov), the hotbed of Ukrainian ultra-nationalism and neo-fascism, an ultra-nationalist group demonstrated for the removal of all Jews from government office and a leading Polish Holocaust scholar, Robert Kuwalek, was found dead.[77] In September, the news agency Vesti uncovered a plot being organized by a radical rightist organization to release pigs into a synagogue in Uman during Rosh Hashanah.[78]

The most recent advance for anti-Semitism in Ukraine came in Ukraine’s October 2015 local elections. The SP managed to improve on its poor showing in post-Maidan national elections, having been drained of support by other neo-fascist groups like Right Sector (RS) and the Radical party (RP).  In recent municipal elections, however, the SP won some 10 percent of the vote in the capital of Kiev and finished second in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. “It is a sad, but a reality when anti-Semites are being elected in local governing bodies, even mayors promoting hate and intolerance,” warns Eduard Dolinsky of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee.[79]

In another town, Konotop, Sumy Oblast, the SP won a majority on the city council and its candidate, radical battalion commander Artyom Semyonikhin, won the mayoral race. Semenikhin reportedly drives around in a car bearing the numerological reference – 14/88. This a frequently used neo-fascist and skinhead numerical code for the phrases “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and “Heil Hitler”.[80] The new mayor also replaced the picture of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in his office with a portrait of Bandera.[81] He also reportedly ordered the placement of a monument to the late neo-fascist Right Sector deputy leader Sashko Biliy, who was killed by Ukrainian police in a shootout as they sought to apprehend him for illegal activity in Kiev in 2014.[82] Semenikhin also reportedly refused to fly the city’s official flag at the opening meeting of the city council because he objected to the star of David emblazoned on it (Sokol, “Ukrainian Jews shocked after city elects neo-Nazi mayor”). Semenikhin is also said to have conducted a “short master class on how to spot ‘vatniki’ during a meeting as mayor with entrepreneurs. He told the businessmen that a car with the bumper sticker ‘Thank you for the Victory, Grandpa’ a reference to the Soviet victory over the Nazis in World War II, belongs to a ‘separ’ (derogatory term for a pro-Russian separatist) and instructed police to track down the car’s driver.[83] Semenikhin has a history of fraud, having been arrested in 2012 for posing as an electricity company worker in order to extract payments from businesses.[84]

Jewish media note that Semenikhin, consistent with the SP’s strealth Nazism, is careful not to cross over into outright anti-Semitism publicly, allowing his listeners to infer the anti-Semitic message. One example cited is Semenikhin’s refusal to apologize for anti-Jewish crimes committed by OUN-UPA during the Second World War while he implies that his refusal is motivated by the responsibility for the Holodomor famine of the 1930s born by allegedly the largely Jewish Bolsheviks. “The community is discussing the situation and they understand that the mayor is balancing between anti-Semitism- he isn’t crossing a red line with statements but saying borderline things that can be understood as antisemitic,” community activist Igor Nechayev told The Jerusalem Post. While the Jews are not scared, Nechayev says, they are “wary” as “Svoboda has a lot of activists [and] fighters in region and [they] can be dangerous.”[85]

President Petro Poroshenko has followed the lead of his predecessor Yushchenko in supporting the policy of building Ukrainian national identity based on the pro-Galician exclusivist myth that the Bandera, Shukhevych, Stetsko, the OUN and UPA were primarily or solely national liberationists and freedom fighters, not xenophobes or anti-Semities. In early 2015 his administration and the Rada restored Kiev’s official recognition to the OUN-UPA first established by Yushchenko and repealed by Yanukovych. At the same time, Poroshenko at times has tried to have it both ways by acknowledging Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust, sparking divisions between the oligarchic and ultra-nationalist wings of the pro-Maidan camp. When asked by the Jerusalem Post about the decision, Poroshenko said the government was paying tribute to those who fought for Ukraine’s national independence, adding: “Let’s not try to find the black cat in the black room, especially if there is nothing there.”[86]

In November 2015 residents of the western Ukrainian city of Uman unveiled a statue honoring Ivan Gonta and Maxim Zheleznyakov, leaders of a 1768 uprising against Poland and pogrom, which killed as many as 20,000-30,000 Jews. Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarch Filaret blessed the monument at the unveiling ceremony. According to Vyacheslav Likhachev of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Jewish groups in the country had put pressure on Filaret to make reference to the Jews killed in Uman during the ceremony, which he did not do. Built with funds donated by local businesses, the monument outraged the Jews of Uman, a once thriving Jewish community. Uman’s economy rests in large part on tourism connected with the annual high-holiday pilgrimage to the grave of the hassidic master Rebbe Nachman, who requested that he be buried there to be close to the pogrom’s martyrs. Russian Jewish Congress president Yuri Kanner charged that building such a memorial near the mass grave of the pogrom victims was “not just blasphemy [but] savagery” and “glorification of those whose hands are stained with blood.” Eduard Dolinsky of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee blamed the project on the SP, which has also been accused of attacking a Jewish tent city in Uman immediately prior to Rosh Hashana in 2015 and fomenting tension between Jewish pilgrims and Ukrainian locals. He also castigated the silence of the government and civil society, noting: “No comment from the government or from civil society has been made about this. Everyone is calm and this is a shame.”[87]

Poroshenko’s alliance with the ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists facilitates such things as the spurt of Holocaust apologism and anti-Semitism that emerged in the wake of President Poroshenko’s December 2015 visit to Israel. As part of Kiev’s effort to induce Tel Aviv to abandon its neutral position on the Ukrainian civil war and Ukrainian-Russian conflict, Poroshenko in a speech to the Knesset asked for Israel’s forgiveness of the participation of some Ukrainians in the Holocaust, though he avoided mention of the OUN and UPA, stating that “we must remember the negative events in history, in which collaborators helped the Nazis with the Final Solution. … When Ukraine was established [in 1991], we asked for forgiveness, and I am doing it now, in the Knesset, before the children and grandchildren of the victims of the Holocaust… I am doing it before all citizens of Israel.”[88]

The public relations gain that might have accrued to Kiev’s benefit was erased within days when a video emerged of a member of Oleh Lyashko’s ultra-nationalist Radical Party singing praise to Hitler and Lyashko himself then lashed out against Poroshenko’s apology. The video showed former commander of the government-backed Luhansk-1 Battalion and Radical Party member Artyom Vitko sitting in the backseat of a car in camouflage fatigues singing a song by a Russian neo-Nazi band extolling the virtues of the Nazi dictator including the following verse: “Adolf Hitler, together with us, Adolf Hitler, in each of us, and an eagle with iron wings will help us at the right time.” Vitko sang and saluted the camera as the car’s sound system blared “Heil Hitler.” Dr. Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center responded: “The sight of a member of the Ukrainian Parliament singing a song praising Hitler, underscores the extremely deep problem in today’s Ukrainian democracy regarding the ongoing efforts in that country (and elsewhere throughout post-Communist Eastern Europe, especially in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Hungary) to rewrite the narrative of World War II and the Holocaust. … The fact that the Ukrainian authorities honor groups which actively participated in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust and glorify their leaders sends a message that delegitimizes the accurate historical narrative, and paves the way for disgusting scenes like this one. The Ukrainian leadership should not feign surprise or astonishment, they’re the ones at least partially responsible.”[89]

Prior to Vitko’s outburst, his party’s leader, Oleh Lyashko denounced Poroshenko apology for Ukrainian complicity in the Holocaust, noting on his Facebook page: “This kind of humiliation of Ukrainians has not been recorded in our history yet. During a visit to Israel, President Poroshenko apologized for the ‘Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust.’ … This is exactly situation if we would accuse Georgians and Jews in the Holodomor, appealing to the atrocities of Dzhugashvili, Beria, Kaganovich, etc.” He added: “The Knesset has not recognized the Holodomor as the genocide of the Ukrainian people. That is a goal for Ukrainian authorities visiting the Holy Land rather than belittling Ukrainians [and] proclaiming inferiority of his people on the international level.” Lyashko’s comments, which echoed the historical Ukrainian nationalists’s apologism for the Holocaust and remicriminations against Jews for responsibility in the Holodomor. In response, chairwoman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel Colette Avital commented: “Even though we are not surprised by the comments of the radical leader, Oleh Lyashenko (sic), we are nonetheless shocked by the kind of strange and irrelevant comparisons he brings up and by his negation historical facts. By now even leaders like Mr. Lyashenko should understand that the tragedy which befell the Jewish people in Europe in general, in Ukraine in particular should be condemned by all, including by him.” Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich responded calling Lyashko a populist who says only “what he thinks people want to hear” and said the real disgrace comes not in apologizing but when “one cannot face up to history.”[90]


Although much of Ukrainian ultra-nationalism today has moved from the ideational and ideological phase to concrete political action, including violence, none of the latter has been directed at Jews to this date. The sense is that this is in the offing, especially should these elements defeat the oligarchic authorities that be and their atomized democratic allies. As in the Arab ‘Spring’, the West—in particular America and its revolutionist ideology—is producing anything but the expected or at least wished for democratic outcome, posing the threat of political decay, further radicalization, and the possibility of an authoritarian or even totalitarian regime outcome.



[1] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 441-6 and 452.

[2] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 459-60.

[3] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 425-39.

[4] Aleksandra Vagner and Aleksei Dsokavitskii, “Mnogolikii Stepan Bandera,” Radio Svoboda, 25 December 2013,

[5] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 455-6.

[6] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 457-8.

[7] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 461-3.

[8] Per Anders Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies, No. 2107, (Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Pittsburgh, 2011), p. 3.

[9] Fraziska Bruder, “Dem ukrainischen Staat erkampfen oder sterben!”: Die Organizatsion Ukrainischer Natsionalisten (OUN), 1928-1948 (Berlin: Metropol Verlag, 2007), p. 23.

[10] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 3-5.

[11] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” p. 6.

[12] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 3-4 and 6-7.

[13] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, p. 463.

[14] John-Paul Himka, “The Lviv Pogrom of 1941: The Germans, Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Carnival Crowd,” Canadian Slavonic Papers/Revue Canadienne des Slavistes, Vol. 53, No. 2/4 (June-Sept.-Dec. 2011), pp. 209-43 and Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” p. 8.

[15] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 8-9.

[16] Kerel C. Berkhoff, “Dina Pronicheva’s Story of Surviving the Babi Yar Massacre: German, Jewish, Soviet, Russian, and Ukrainian Records,” in Ray Brandon and Wendy Lower, eds., The Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), pp. 291-317, at pp. 303-4.

[17] Dieter Pohl, “The Murder of Ukraine’s Jews under German Military Administration and in the Reich Commissariat Ukraine,” in Brandon and Lower, eds., The Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization, pp. 77-113, at pp. 54-5.

[18] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 464-7.

[19] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 468 and 472-3.

[20] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 473-4 and Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” p. 10.

[21] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 10-14.

[22] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, p. 475 and Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 11-13.

[23] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, p. 476.

[24] Kuromiya, Freedom and Terror in the Donbas: A Ukrainian-Russian Borderland, 1870s – 1990s, pp. 277-82.

[25] Kuromiya, Freedom and Terror in the Donbas: A Ukrainian-Russian Borderland, 1870s – 1990s, p. 299.

[26] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 488-91.

[27] Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, pp. 488-91.

[28] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 28.

[29] Volodomyr Kulyk, “One Nation, Two Languages? National Identity and Language Policy in Post-Euromaidan Ukraine,” PONARS, Policy Memo 389, September 2015,

[30] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 26-38.

[31] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 10-11 and 14-26.

[32] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 26-7.

[33] Aleksandr Burakovskiy, “Holocaust remembrance in Ukraine: memorialization of the Jewish tragedy at Babi Yar,” Nationalities Papers, Volume 39, Number 3, May 2011, pp. 371-89, at p. 382, Last retrieved 5 December 2015.

[34] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” p. 27.

[35] Sofia Hrachova, “Unknown Victims: Ethnic-Based Violence of the World War II Era in Ukrainian Politics of History after 2004,” paper presented at the Fourth Annual Danyliv Research Seminar in Contemporary Ukrainian Studies, Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Ottawa, October 23-25, 2008, p. 9 cited in Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 27 and 65, footnote 275.

[36] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 15, 25 and 28-9.

[37] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 29-33.

[38] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” p. 35.

[39] Burakovskiy, “Holocaust remembrance in Ukraine: memorialization of the Jewish tragedy at Babi Yar,” pp. 382-3.

[40] Burakovskiy, “Holocaust remembrance in Ukraine: memorialization of the Jewish tragedy at Babi Yar,” p. 385.

[41] Burakovskiy, “Holocaust remembrance in Ukraine: memorialization of the Jewish tragedy at Babi Yar,” pp. 384-5.

[42] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 35 and 70, footnote 329.

[43] “Poroshenko: Golodomor – proyavlenie gibridnoi voiny,” Korrespondent, 28 November 2015,

[44] Aleksandr Burakovskiy, “Key Characteristics and Transformation of Jewish-Ukrainian Relations during the Period of Ukraine’s Independence: 1991-2008,” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Volume 15, Number 1, January 2009, pp. 109-32.

[45] Burakovskiy, “Key Characteristics and Transformation of Jewish-Ukrainian Relations during the Period of Ukraine’s Independence: 1991-2008,” p. 120 and Burakovskiy, “Holocaust remembrance in Ukraine: memorialization of the Jewish tragedy at Babi Yar,” p. 384.

[46] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 29-31.

[47] Burakovskiy, “Key Characteristics and Transformation of Jewish-Ukrainian Relations during the Period of Ukraine’s Independence: 1991-2008,” p. 120.

[48] Nadine Epstein, “The Mysterious Tale of a Ukrainian University’s Anti-Semitic Crusade,” Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, 31 October 2009,

[49] Oksana Bashuk Hepburn, “The 2011 Ukrainian Best & Worst (UBaWL),”, Volume 13, Number 1, 2 January 2012

[50] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” p. 36.

[51] Mark Ames, “Hero of the Orange Revolution Poisons Ukraine,” The Nation, 12 February 2010,

[52] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” p. 65, footnote 278.

[53] Kulyk, “One Nation, Two Languages? National Identity and Language Policy in Post-Euromaidan Ukraine.”

[54] Bohdan Nahaylo, “Toward the Rule of Law – Ukraine,” RFE/RL Research Report, Volume 1, Number 27, 3 July 1992, pp. 50-6, at p. 54.

[55] Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands, pp. 58-9.

[56] L. I. Romashenko, “Yazyk kak otrazhenie sovremennykh sotiokul’turnykh protsessov (na primere Ukrainy),” in Yezhegodnaya nauchno-prakticheskaya sotsiologicheskaya konferentsiya ‘Prodolzhaya Grushina’, (Moscow: VTsIOM, 2012), pp. 180-82,

[57]“Violent Hate Crime in Ukraine,” Human Rights First, 2012,, pp. 2-3. Last accessed on 11 December 2015.

[58] European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) Report on Ukraine (fourth cycle), Council of Europe, 8 December 2011,, p. 8. Last accessed on 11 December 2015.

[59]“Violent Hate Crime in Ukraine,” Human Rights First, 2012, p. 2.

[60]“Violent Hate Crime in Ukraine,” Human Rights First, 2012, p. 4.

[61] Anton Shekovtsov, “The Creeping Resurgence of the Ukrainian Radical Right?: The Case of the Freedom Party,” Europe-Asia Studies, Volume 63, Number 2, March 2011 pp. 203-28, at p. 215.

[62] Shekovtsov, “The Creeping Resurgence of the Ukrainian Radical Right?: The Case of the Freedom Party,” p. 216.

[63] David Stern, “Svoboda: The rise of Ukraine’s ultra-nationalists,” BBC, 26 December 2012,

[64] Stern, “Svoboda: The rise of Ukraine’s ultra-nationalists”.

[65] “The anti-Semitic Svoboda Union wins representation in the Ukrainian parliament,” The Coordinating Forum for Countering Antisemitism, 6 November 2012,

[66] Jill Heller, “Mila Kunis Targeted in Anti-Semitic Facebook Rant by Ukrainian Politician, Simon Weisenthal Center Expresses ‘Outrage’,” International Business Times, 21 December 2012,

[67] Programma partii ‘Svoboda’,”, 15 December 2013,

[68] “Vybory: total’ne domirovannya Partiy regioniv,” BBC, 6 November 2010,

[69] European Parliament Resolution 2012/2889 (RSP) on the Situation in UKraine, European Parliament/Legislative Observatory, 13 December 2012,

[70] Svitlana Michko, “Generalnaya repetitsiya prezidentskikh vyboriv: na Ternopolshchiny stavsya prgnozovaniya triumfa natsionalistiv i krakh Tymoshenko,” Ukraina moloda, November 2010,

[71] “Vybory: total’ne domirovannya Partiy regioniv” and Natalia Fedyuschak, “Nationalist Svoboda scores election victories in western Ukraine,” Kyiv Post, 11 November 2010, For comparison, in 2006 Svoboda won 6 percent in the Lviv Oblast council elections, 7 percent in the Lviv city council election and 4 percent in the Ternopil city council election. Shekovtsov, “The Creeping Resurgence of the Ukrainian Radical Right?: The Case of the Freedom Party, p. 218. At the national level, in 1998, the SP’s predecessor, the SNPU, participated in the election bloc ‘Less Words’ and won 0.16 percent of the votes. In the 2006 parliamentary elections the SP won 0.36 percent, and in the 2007 special parliamentary vote – 0.76 percent. Bekeshkin, “Parlamentskie vybory v Ukraine: predvidimoe in nepredvidimoe”.

[72] Iryna Kyrychenko, “Popovych: V Ukraini lamaiutsya zasady hormodianskogo myru,” Dzerkalo tyzhnia, 28 March 2009,

[73] Ames, “Hero of the Orange Revolution Poisons Ukraine.”

[74] Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” pp. 36-7.

[75] Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands, p. 59.


[77] “Vo Lvove na mitinge trebovali otstranit’ ot vlasti Yevree,” Vesti Ukraina, 23 July 2015, and “Body of missing Holocaust scholar Robert Kuwalek is found,” 8 June 2014,

[78] “Radikaly gotovyatsya podlozhit’ Hasidam svin’yu,” Vesti Ukraina, 11 September 2015,

[79] Sam Sokol, “Ukrainian Jews shocked after city elects neo-Nazi mayor,” The Jerusalem Post, 21 December 2015,

[80] Sokol, “Ukrainian Jews shocked after city elects neo-Nazi mayor”.





[85] Sokol, “Ukrainian Jews shocked after city elects neo-Nazi mayor.”

[86] Sam Sokol, “Ukrainian legislator toasts Adolf Hitler,” Jerusalem Post, 27 December 2015,

[87] “Ukrainians Erect Monument to national Heroes Who Killed Jews in 18th Century Pogrom,” Jerusalem Post, 30 November 2015,

[88] Sokol, “Ukrainian legislator toasts Adolf Hitler.”

[89] Sokol, “Ukrainian legislator toasts Adolf Hitler.”

[90] Sokol, “Ukrainian legislator toasts Adolf Hitler.”



Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Adjunct Professor and Senior Researcher, Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California; a Contributor for Russia Direct,; and an Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch, 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. Dr. Hahn has taught Russian politics and other courses at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, St. Petersburg State (Russia), and San Francisco State Universities as well as the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey, California. He also 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. His website is

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