"General Strike and Revolution"
Oleh Tiahnybok, the leader of the ultra-rightwing Svoboda (Freedom) party is quoted saying "a revolution is beginning in the Ukraine." Tiahnybok made this proclamation in Kiev during the current protest demonstrations. On the weekend, approx. 100,000 people took to the streets protesting against the current government's foreign policy course, and calling for the country to become associated with the EU. During their continuing - and increasingly violent - demonstrations, protesters are calling on the government to stop refusing to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. According to media reports, numerous activists from ultra-rightwing organizations are participating in the demonstrations, particularly activists from Svoboda. The party's leader Tiahnybok is basking in the attention he is receiving from the international press. He is planning a general strike to accomplish the "revolution" he announced last weekend. He can rely on ultra-rightwing forces, whose influence has grown over the past few years.
"National Liberation Movement"
The resurgence of the cult around the former Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, since the mid-1980s, has helped ultra-rightwing forces to enlarge their influence in western Ukraine and in Kiev. This cult focuses particularly on Stepan Bandera, a leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). The OUN joined forces with the Nazis during the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. "Along with German units, our militias are making numerous arrests of Jews," wrote the OUN's propaganda unit following the invasion of Lviv: "Before their liquidation, the Jews had used every method to defend themselves." While Lviv's Jewish population was falling prey to pogroms and massacres in the city, Bandera was proclaiming the establishment of a Ukrainian nation. One specialist explained in reference to Bandera's attempt to proclaim a nation, that today, Bandera and the OUN play a "very important" role in the "ethnic self-identity" of West Ukrainians. The OUN is seen "less as a fascist party" than "as the climax of a national liberation movement, or a fraternity of courageous heroes in Ukrainian national history." Since the beginning of the 1990s, numerous monuments to Bandera have been erected throughout the country. One such monument crowns the "Boulevard Stapan Bandera" in Lviv's center. According to analyses, a, "for the most part, informally functioning nationalist civil society" has been created around the Bandera cult, particularly in West Ukraine.
As far back as the 1990s, this milieu has produced various ultra-rightwing organizations. In 1990, the UNA Party ("Ukrainian National Assembly") was founded, forming a paramilitary wing (the "Ukrainian National Self-Defense" - UNSO) in 1991. Yuri Shukhevych, the son of Roman Shukhevych, a Nazi collaborator, was one of its first leaders. Soon the "Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists" (CUN) followed, which elected the former OUN activist Slava Stetsko to the Ukrainian Parliament in 1997. As President by Seniority, Stetsko had the honor of delivering the opening address at the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) after the 1998 elections. After 1945, Stetsko had continued to pursue her Ukrainian activities from her exile in Munich. It was also in Munich that, since 1948, the "Ukrainian National Council" had held its meetings - in the physical and political proximity of German and US intelligence services. The National Council considered itself to be the "core of the Ukrainian state in exile." Already in 1998, the CUN received - in electoral alliances with other parties - 9.7 percent of the votes in Lviv, 20.9 percent in Ternopil and 23.8 percent in Ivano-Frankivsk. At the time, the "Social National Party of the Ukraine" (SNPU), which was co-founded in Lviv in 1991 by Oleh Tiahnybok and had violent neo-Nazi members, was not yet successful in elections. In 1998 Tiahnybok was voted into the Ukrainian parliament with a direct mandate. Only after the SNPU changed its name to the "All-Ukrainian Union 'Svoboda' ('Freedom') in 2004, did it become more successful in elections and the leader of Ukraine's ultra-rightwing forces.
Heroes of the Ukraine
At the time, politicians, who had been closely cooperating with Berlin, particularly Viktor Yushchenko (Ukrainian President 2005-2010), had been engaged in activities aimed at forming a broad anti-Russian alliance to integrate the Ukraine into the German hegemonic sphere - thereby strengthening the ultra-rightwing forces. For the elections in 2002 and 2006, Yushchenko's electoral platform "Our Ukraine" cooperated with CUN and enabled that organization to win three seats in the national parliament in both elections. Oleh Tiahnybok (Svoboda) had temporarily been a member of the "Our Ukraine" parliamentary group. He was excluded in the summer of 2004, following his speech at the grave of a Nazi collaborator, in which he ranted against the "Jewish mafia in Moscow." That same year, Yushchenko announced that, if elected, he would officially declare Bandera "Hero of the Ukraine." This did not impede Berlin's support. With the "Orange Revolution," Berlin also helped him to ultimately be elected President. Yushchenko declared Nazi collaborator Roman Shukhevych on October 12, 2007, and Bandera on January 22, 2010 "Heroes of the Ukraine" - as a favor to the broad anti-Russian Alliance. At that time, Svoboda had just received its first major electoral success: In the March 15 regional parliamentary elections in Ternopil, with 34.7 percent and 50 out of 120 parliamentarians, including the president of parliament, it emerged the strongest party.
To secure the broadest possible base for their anti-Russian policy, the so-called pro-European Ukrainian parties are still cooperating with ultra rightwing forces. "Batkivschyna" (Fatherland), the party of imprisoned opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko has entered an electoral alliance with Svoboda in the run-up to the last elections. Thanks to this alliance, Svoboda was able to obtain 10.4 percent of the votes and twelve direct mandates and is now represented in the Verkhovna Rada with 37 parliamentarians. A firm opposition coalition was formed, which included Svoboda, Batkivschyna and Vitaly Klitschko's "UDAR" party. This coalition is not only closely cooperating in the Ukrainian parliament but also in the current protest demonstrations on the streets. Batkivschyna has "significantly aided Svoboda to become socially acceptable," according to an expert, but it cannot be ruled out that it thereby also "dug its own grave." Already at the 2012 elections, Tymoshenko's party lost some of its "voters to the radical nationalists" because of its cooperation with Svoboda. The dynamic of radicalization of the current protests could invigorate this development - aided by Berlin's active encouragement.
Party Cell Munich
With its growing strength, Svoboda is also gaining influence on a European level. Since the 1990s, the party has systematically developed contacts to various ultra-rightwing parties in other European countries. For quite a while, it had been cooperating closely with the French Front National until the FN began to cultivate a "more moderate" image. Up to the beginning of this year, Svoboda had participated in a network that also included the "British National Party" and Hungary's "Jobbik." It has been seeking closer ties to the neo-fascist "Forza Nuova" in Italy and the German NPD. But, it is also establishing its own party structures in other European countries. Last August, it founded a party cell in Munich chaired by a Svoboda city council member from Ivano-Frankivsk, who is currently studying in the Bavarian capital. Following its foundation ceremony, the new party cell visited the Munich Waldfriedhof, indicating a traditional link between Munich and the Ukraine: the two OUN leaders Jaroslav Stetsko and Stepan Bandera are buried in this cemetery. In a press release, the party's new cell announced that the visit had been made "in honor of those, who had died for the independence of the Ukraine." Subsequent to their unsuccessful Nazi-collaboration, both had continued their struggle for Ukraine's secession from the Soviet Union and integration into the German Federal Republic's hegemonic sphere of influence. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.)