Maidan Snipers' Massacre Maidan Ukraine Ukraine Ukrainian neofascism Ukrainian politics Ukrainian ultranationalism

WORKING PAPER – The New Terrorist Threat: Ukrainian Ultra-Nationalist and Neo-Fascist Terrorism at Home and Abroad, Part 1

by Gordon M. Hahn

Today, 16 February 2020, the U.S. State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism arrived in Ukraine ( The agenda was not announced. The hope is he discussed at least some of the issues discussed in this report with his Ukrainian counterparts. Five years ago the threat of ultranationalist-neofascist Ukrainian terrorism (UNUT) should have been clear to all, but it was not ( Things have not gotten any better. The threat has grown, and there remains no acknowledgement of the UNUT threat. The threat remains one both to Ukraine as well as Europe, Russia and the United States and is part of a larger ultranationalist-neofascist international movement and terrorist threat.

Identitarian violence and terrorism is deeply embedded in the nationalist, ultranationalist, and neofascist strand of Ukrainian political culture. Contemporary UNUT is inherited largely from Galicia and the Nazi-allied Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Partisan Army (UPA) of World War II and thus is a near century-long tradition. Not only did the OUN assassinate officials, including Polish and perhaps more understandably Soviet officials and NKVD officers, OUN members also tried to assassinate US President Delano Roosevelt, according to archival documents (Ivan Katchanovskii, “The Politics of World War II in Contemporary Ukraine,” Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2, 2014, pp. 210-233, at pp. 219-20, The UNUT tradition is being carried forward by Ukraine’s ultranationalist and neofascist groups, such as Right Sector, the Svoboda Party, Right Sector, Azov, the National Corps (Natsional’nyi Korpus) or NatsKorpus, and C14. This is no coincidence as it these groups that have fostered a cult of personality surrounding Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevich, the OUN’s and UPA’s respective founders. in the nationalist, ultranationalist and neofascist subculture of Ukraine, helping to establish them as officially recognized national heroes.

Unfortunately, Western media and academia are largely ignoring or in the business of covering up this brutal legacy. Thus, one broadly published ‘expert’ on Ukraine, OUN apologist and Ukrainian nationalism apologist Alexander Motyl, refers to the contemporary ultranationalist Svoboda Party, which played a role in the original Maidan regime-founding terrorist attack and subsequently others, refers to Svoboda as akin to America’s ‘Tea Party’, even though the American ‘Tea Party’ has been involved in no violence let alone organized violence or terrorism (;; and

Maidan Regime Born by Revolutionary Terrorism

The definition of terrorism is political violence intentionally targeting state officials or agents (police, security, military, intelligence) during peacetime or intentionally targeting civilians for purposes of sending a message or threat to a third party [neither perpetrator nor victim if the attack(s)]. On 20 February 2014, the present Maidan-born regime in Ukraine was brought to power on the backs of a terrorist attack involving the murder of tens of civilians and police by ultra-nationalist and neofascist forces among the Maidan opposition and demonstrators [For all the evidence, see Ivan Katchanovski’s work, especially, “The ‘Snipers’ Massacre’ on the Maidan in Ukraine (Revised and Updated Version),”, 20 February 2015, or Johnson’s Russia List, #33, 21 February 2015, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, See also Gordon M. Hahn, “REPORT: The Real Ukrainian Snipers’ Massacre, 20 February 2014,” Russian and Eurasian Politics, 9 March 2016,]. Born in terrorism, this hybird regime continues – even after the election of Volodomor Zelenskiy as president and a new Verkhovna Rada with fewer ties to the Maidan – to exhibit elements of ultranationalism, neofascism, and authoritarianism. As the regime has failed to face up to the horror of its formative experience and original sin – though some in Ukraine are beginning to utter the truth under the new perhaps more pliable Zelenskiy government — it also continues to harbor ultranationalist and neofascist groups, including armed ones. Some of these radical groups are engaged directly in terrorism.

Revolutionary UNUT terror extended beyond the Maidan or even Kiev during the revolt’s heady days. For example, Deputy of the Supreme Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) and leader of the ultra-nationalist Radical Party (RP) Oleh Lyashko acknowledges that members of his party murdered anti-Maidan leaders during the ‘revolution’, and Amnesty International condemned these and other actions committed by Lyashko’s thugs and the impunity from the Maidan regime they enjoyed. Lyashko was summoned by the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office thirteen times without showing up or even bothering to explain his failure to do so, and he continued to serve as a Rada deputy until his defeat at the polls in 2019. The post-revolutionary period has seen numerous other, more serious terrorist attacks.

Post-Revolutionary UNUT

The list of incidents in Ukraine of pro-Maidan terrorism in the wake of the February seizure of power by Maidan elements is long. One of the reasons is that ultranationalism and neofascism and the resulting UNUT are not solely a societal phenomenon. They have roots in the post-Maidan state and regime. The Ukrainian Maidan regime is hybrid in two senses: (1) ideo-institutionally, if you will, and (2) sociopolitically. First, the Ukrainian state includes elements of both democratic and authoritarian ideology and practice. Heroization of Ukraine’s pro-Nazi fascist groups of World War II, the OUN and the UPA, and tolerance, even support for contemporary ultranationalist and neofascist groups that are modeled on these pro-Nazi groups. At the same time, elections are free and mostly fair, despite some fascist violence and intimidation. However, most of the opposition now lies outside the country by dint of Russia’s annexationist reunification of Crimean and the civil war in Donbass. Second, it is hybrid in the sense that the Maidan regime is populated by a mix of oligarch-controlled politicians and bureaucrats and ultra-nationalist and neofascist groups. Given the significant ultranationalist element, it is hardly surprising that the Maidan Ukrainian state has engaged in authoritarian acts such as terrorism.

Kiev’s ‘Anti-Terrorist’ Operation

In mid-April 2014, the Maidan regime declared and immediately commenced its ‘anti-terrorist’ operation (ATO) in Donbass and proceeded to bomb civilian areas across the region for months with air power, tank, and artillery. This set a tone for both the new Maidan regime’s towards political violence, already prejudiced by the Maidan snipers, and relations between Maidan Kiev and the Donbass rebels. Civil war became an incubator and networking opportunity for UNUT and its practitioners. Remeber that at this time there was still no Russian troop presence, and perhaps a hundred Russian volunteers in Donbass backed the native rebels. In late February and March in the immediate wake of the illegal seizure of power in Kiev by the Maidan’s oligarchic-ultranationalist groups, spearheaded by the snipers’ massacre, both Crimea’s and Donbass’s rebels engaged in little violence and simply repeated (sans snipers) the Maidan revolt in Kiev in taking over city and provincial government administration buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk, and other regions of eastern and southern Ukraine. They were dubbed instantly ‘terrorists’ by the Maidan regime under its ATO, and Kiev hastily formed volunteer battalions, most of which were manned largely by members of ultra-nationalist and neo-fascist parties. At least nominally subordinated to the Defense and Internal Ministries, neo-fascist battalions like Azov, Aidar, Dnepr, and others carried out a good deal of the state terrorism in Donbass, taking the lives of several thousand Donbassians and wounding many more. In late April, Mariupol saw one of the war’s worst acts of state terrorism, when the neo-fascist Azov battalion equipped with tanks and armored personnel carriers destroyed a police station, killing some twenty officers who refused to go over to the Maidan regime’s side ( It is worth noting again that when facing a very similar, indeed far more threatening situation in Chechnya in 1991, Moscow negotiated for three years before starting its anti-terrorist operation under some criticism from Western governments. Kiev started its ATO in less than six weeks with virtually no attempt to negotiate and full Western backing.


Elements of the state were tied to the 2 May 2014 Odessa terrorist pogrom against anti-Maidan protestors and perhaps many of the other terrorist attacks discussed below. The most horrendous terrorist attack in the post-‘revolutionary’ period so far has been the Odessa terrorist pogrom, in which 48 peaceful, anti-Maidan demonstrators were burned alive, shot and/or beaten to death. It appears to have been a joint operation coordinated by one of the main organizers of the Maidan snipers’ massacre and now Chairman of the Maidan regime’s National Security and Defense Council Andriy Parubiy along with local law enforcement and the then very influential neofascist group, Right Sector (Praviy sector) or RS. Parubiy was videotaped on the outskirts of Odessa three days before the pogrom meeting with one of its leaders, Mikola Volkov, who during the event was videotaped speaking on a walkie-talkie and firing a pistol on people in the windows of the burning Trade Union building ( RS activists had been carrying out a more ‘soft’ reign of terror across the country – from war crimes on the Donbass war front to beatings of officials, alleged criminals, drug dealers, and prostitutes to attacks on media organs and thus played the lead role in the terrorist pogrom in Odessa RS not once but twice claimed responsibility for the atrocity. The attack unfolded by sparking a clash between pro-Maidan demonstrators, led by RS and likely other nationalist elements, and anti-Maidan demonstrators. The former chased some to the Trade Union building, where a tent camp had been set up by anti-Maidan demonstrators, who were chased into the building. It was then set on fire and fired upon by some in the cheering pro-Maidan crowd surrounding the building. (1)

RS claimed responsibility for the attack in euphoric fashion: “May 2, 2014 is another bright page in our national history.” It noted that “about a hundred members of ‘Right Sector’ and patriotic-minded Odessa residents countered the rebels”, and “Dmitro Yarosh ignored the ‘expedience’ of the election campaign to coordinate the action against the Russian aggression.” In the second claim of responsibility a year later, RS thanked “the bold and coordinated actions in Odessa,” noting that the “feat will live in our hearts forever” and: “On that day we all fought and won!” The election campaign to which the first RS claim of responsibility refers was the presidential election held 23 days after the terrorist pogrom, and Yarosh openly campaigned and won just over 1 percent of the vote. But Yarosh’s game and that of the other ultra-nationalists is politics by much more than democratic means. (; Eugene Trofymenko, “ATO Po-narodnomu, Abo chomu ne Vladimir Putin ne vviv viyska,” Pravyi Sektor, 2 May 2014,; and


In July 2015, units of the notorious Right Sector (RS), specifically its militia unit in Transcarpathia, attacked police in the western town of Mukachevo. RS fighters used machine guns and a grenade launcher. Several police and several civilians were killed and wounded, with up to 14 casualties, according to some reports. Security forces flooded in but instead of attacking and arresting the RS fighters, negotiations ensued; some of them involving directly or indirectly Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko himself and his Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, who implemented the policy of forming volunteer battalions to include a large component of neo-fascists, including RS members and its then leader Dmitrii Yarosh (who also became an advisor to Ukraine’s Defense Minister), given their ‘patriotic enthusiasm.’ RS refused to disarm in the wake of the attack and convened demonstrations in Kiev at the presidential administration and some ten provincial capitols in Mukhachevo’s wake. Other neo-fascist groups and their battalions backed RS. The recently fired head of Ukraine’s intelligence service, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Valentin Nalyvaichenko, also backed RS against the Porosehnko-led factions of the Maidan regime (;; and This allowed the attack to go with full impunity for the RS.

Lviv (Lvov)

Days after the Mukachevo attack, RS’s Lviv branch took down the European Union flag flying at the Lviv Oblast Administration’s building and replaced it with RS’s red and black (blood and soil) flag ( RS forces and activists began to set up checkpoints on the outskirts of some cities, including Lviv, where, according to reports, several RS checkpoints have been set up to prevent “titushki” from entering the city. On the next morning, two headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) in Lviv were mined and the detonations wounded two policemen. One had his foot amputated and kidney removed, and another is now blind from their wounds. RS Lviv has denied any connection with the bombings but has used them as a pretext for sending its goons across Lviv and setting up checkpoints ( In response, RS’s Lviv branch announced its intention to establish a presence and presumably act in response to any events in the city ( The MVD stated it regards the likely RS attack in Lviv as being connected with the conflict in Mukachevo, meaning it too suspects RS, and categorized it as a “terrorist attack” ( and

The next month, a demonstration led by the Svoboda Party and its anti-Semitic and Russophobic chairman Tyahnibok attempted to storm the hall of Ukraine’s parliament, the Supreme Rada. Svoboda was ‘demonstrating’ against the Rada’s passage of constitutional amendments that ostensibly would have given the Donbass regions Donetsk and Luhansk power-sharing with, or autonomy from the central government in Kiev. Video and photos showed Svoboda leader Tyahnibok and his deputy Yurii Sirotyuk acting aggressively towards riot police and then Sirotyuk beating a path to the building using a rubber truncheon on police ( Tyahnibok’s fighters then tossed a grenade and shot firearms at police. The grenade explosion caused one policeman to lose part of his foot, and fifteen police were reported wounded and injured as a result of the battle ( and In evening MVD chief Arsenii Avakov reported the clash left 125 wounded “siloviki”, including one in a coma (, and held Tyahnibok responsible. However, as with the history of RS’s neo-fascist terrorism, Tyahnibok and Svoboda faced no consequences.

Right Sector apparently played a separate game on this day, setting up a road block on a Kiev street leading to parliament in a failed attempt to prevent deputies from getting to the Rada to vote ( After the violence, Right Sector and Yarosh came out in full support for Tyahnibok and Svoboda ( The news from Kiev became even worse, when the more ‘moderate’ nationalist party ‘Self-Help’ defended Svoboda’s action. Self-Help is led by the mayor of Lviv (Lvov), a hotbed of Ukrainian nationalism (

Kyiv (Kiev)

In April 2018, the neofascist C14 group carried out a violent attack on a Roma camp in Kyiv, initially producing a non-reaction from police until a video of the attack emerged (

Rivne (Rovna)

In June 2018, neo-fascist from an obscure group with a surprisingly large following on the Internet carried out a pogrom of a camp of Roma, killing one and wounding four, including a 10-year old boy ( The group, known as ‘Sober and Angry Youth’ (‘Tvereza ta zla molod’ in Ukrainian, ‘Trezvaya i Zlaya Molodezh’ in Russian or TZM), has been behind numerous attacks against immigrants and property of minority provenance. TZM’s ideology includes neo-Paganist symbols and practices and the ultranationalist and neofascist themes similar to Ukraine’s C14 and the Azov Battalion and its affiliated structures, the NatsKorpus political party and the National Druzhina ( The Azov-affiliated NatsKorpus (or National Militia) also has been implicated in attacks on ethnic Roma settlements and the LGBT community (“White Supremacy Extremism: The Transnational Rise of the Violent White Supremacist Movement,” The Soufan Center, September 2019, or 33; see also and

Targeted Terrorism: Assassinations Plus

Numerous other smaller attacks such as murders of journalists, former Yanukovich regime officials, and just anti-Maidan citizens have occurred; many going unsolved and unpunished. For example, RS has been at the forefront of efforts by ultra-nationalist elements in and outside of the Poroshenko government to harass independent media organs, such as Vesti-Ukraine. In one case, the driver of one of the newspaper’s truck drivers was killed (see; and

Oles’ Buzina Assassination

The suspects in the 16 April 2015 murder in Kiev of independent journalist Oles’ Buzina are two ultranationalists, Andrey Medvedko and Denis Polishchuk. Some sources report that Medvedko operated under the nickname ‘Manson’, was the actual murderer, and once headed the Pecherskii District Branch of Tyagnibok’s Svoboda Party. He is said also to be a founder of C14 and fought in Donbass under the ATO in the volunteer Battalion ‘Kiev-2.’ Polishchuk (nickname ‘Allah’) is reported to have been a candidate to the Verkhovna Rada from the ultranationalist Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA-UNSO) in 2012 and also fought in Donbass (;;;; and Both likely have ties to both Right Sector and C14. Members of RS attempted to provide an unsubstantiated alibi, claiming the suspects Medvedko and Polishchuk were at the RS training camp in Dnepropetrovsk at the time of the murder, and RS, C14, the organization ‘Freedom to Patriots’, and ‘Dnepr’ volunteer battalion commander Semyon Semyonchenko have held protests outside the courtroom during preliminary hearings and at the General Prosecutors’ Office (;;;; and Medvedko has charged the murder was committed by an RS member, who is said to be the person in a video claiming responsibility for Buzina’s assassination and another political murder (

The trial of Medvedko and Polishchuk for the murder of Buzina has still not commenced five years after the crime, and both defendants were released from custody (Medvedko was returned to custody while Polishchuk is under house arrest). The Ukrainian authorities did ban a film about Buzina’s life, and in September 2019, Medvedko was voted to the public council of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) ( and NABU is close to the U.S. State Department and George Soros’s Open Society Institute’s five offices in Ukraine (e.g., good overview with links, This is well-known in Ukraine as well (see, for example,

Pavel Sheremet Assassination

Five ultranationalist former volunteer battalion fighters with ties to nationalist groups were detained and charged in December 2019 with the high profile assassination of famous Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was killed when his car exploded as he left home. Sheremet lived in Kiev and was a host for a morning show on Radio Vesti and a journalist at the pro-Maidan website Ukrainskaya Pravda.  Among the charged in the assassination is ATO fighter and rock musician Andrei Antonenko, said to be a favorite of former President Petro Poroshenko, who noted the popularity of one of Anotonenko’s songs among the volunteer battalions making it the ATO’s “anthem.” ( and Likely the leader of the group, Antonenko is “well-known in nationalist circles,” was a frequent guest of RS, and was defended by C14 after being accused of participation in assassination ( The prosecutors’ dossier on Antonenko notes his “ultranationalist ideas” and “cultivation of the greatness of the Aryan race” (

Excerpt from Indictment of Antonenko, Dugar’, et al

The group apparently wanted to use the murder or some other act to destabilize the country presumably to ultranationalists’ benefit. One of the group proposed firing Grad rockets on Kiev to destabilize the country. ( The accused have been supported by the neofascist organizations, C14 and National Corps (Natsionalniy korpus);; and

In July 2019, someone fired a grenade launcher at the television headquarters of channel 112 in Kiev, damaging the building. The channel had scheduled showing Oliver Stone’s film on the Maidan which, among other things, discusses the ultranationalist and neofascist origins of the February 2014 Maidan snipers’ terrorist massacre. After the attack, the broadcast was cancelled  (

It should be added that ultra and neofascist groups not only carry out political terrorism and criminal murders, they also engage in acts of political intimidation, storming city or regional council meetings or court sessions to force resignations of officials or induce certain decisions (see, for example,

PART 2 of this report will address Ukrainian ultranationalist and neofascist groups’ and their members’ or supporters’ attacks abroad as well as their ties to and influence on foreign ultranationalist, neofascist, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist groups.



(1) See “Odesskaya tragediya: Po itogam 20 mesyatsev rassledovaniya,” 2 May Group Blogspot, 14 January 2016, Perhaps the most comprehensive compilation, more than four hours of raw footage beginning from the street fighting in the city center, can be found at “Odessa. Tragediya 2-ogo maya 2014 goda. Ot nachal i do…kontsa,” YouTube, 19 December 2014,, last accessed on 27 March 2016. For a similarly long, raw video beginning after the city street fighting from the storm of Kulikovo Field, see “Odessa dom profsoyuzov POLNOE VIDEO,” YouTube, 2 May 2014,, last accessed on 28 March 2016. A good collection of links to videos and other material can be found at “Ne 46, a 189 chelovek unichtozheno v Odesse 2 maya…,”, 5 May 2014,, last accessed on 27 March 2016. An early journalistic account with photographs and video is available at “Massovyie besporyadki v Odesse. Khronika sobytii,” Ekho Moskvy, 2 May 2014,, last accessed on 28 March 2016. For an eyewitness account just after the events by one of the people trapped in the building see, “04.05.2014, Odessa Osvobozhdennyi iz GorUVD activist antimaidana,” YouTube, 4 May 2014,, last accessed on 27 May 2016.

Several documentary films seek to sort out the facts and contain much of the same footage. See Ulrich Heyden, German documentary film “Lauffleuer,” at “lauffleuer – Rassledovanie zlodeyanii Odesse 2 maya 2014 (Nemetskii s subtitrami na russkom yazyke),” YouTube, 13 March 2015,, last accessed on 27 March 2016 and Paul Moreira, French documentary film ‘Ukraine – Les Masques De La Revolution,’ The Daily Motion, 2 February 2016,, last accessed on 27 March 2016.

See also and


About the Author – Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, Dr. Hahn is the author of the forthcoming book: The Russian Dilemma: Aspiration, Trepidation, and the West in the Making of Russia’s Security Culture (McFarland, 2021). Previously, he has authored four well-received books: Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.

Dr. Hahn has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and has been a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, and the Hoover Institution.

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