Euros for Bandera

BERLIN/LVIV | | ukraine

BERLIN/LVIV (Own report) - The German government has supported the reconstruction of a street named after the Nazi-collaborator Stepan Bandera in the Ukrainian town of Lviv. As was confirmed by the government’s response to a parliamentary interpellation, the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) granted €72,000 for this project. Bandera was the leading Ukrainian Nazi-collaborator. Members of his group, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) had participated in the mass murder of 4000 Jews in Lviv in late June - early July 1941. Today Bandera is widely revered in Ukraine and the commemoration of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which had participated in the Shoah, is state-supported. The government in Kiev, which is closely cooperating with Berlin, is also supporting fascist organizations that attack and destroy Roma settlements. Endorsed by the administration, one of these organizations ("C14") is on patrol in a district of Kiev. It has also been granted state financing for a youth camp - as a contribution to "national-patriotic education."

"Street for All"

The German government has supported the reconstruction of a street named after the Nazi-collaborator Stepan Bandera in Lviv, Western Ukraine, as confirmed by its response to a parliamentary interpellation posed by Andrej Hunko MP, (The Left). Through its intermediary organization "Engagement Global", the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development granted €72,000 for the "Street For All"-project in Lviv. Using the "example of remodeling a city street, " the project seeks to strengthen "participatory planning approaches."[1] Another of the ministry's intermediary organizations, the Center for international Migration (CIM), placed a "consultant" for the project. For its "participatory" activities, the project that is accompanied by Berlin, has chosen the Bandera street, named after the Nazi-collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose OUN-militia participated in Nazi-Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. It also played a part in the mass murder of at least 4000 Jews in late June - early July 1941 in Lviv.[2] In the following years, Bandera's supporters from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) participated in the mass murder of Jews in the occupied Soviet Union and murdered more than 90,000 Poles in their fight for an "ethnically pure" Ukraine.[3]

"Combatant for Independence"

Already in the 1990s and 2000s, the Nazi-collaborator Bandera was popular in Western Ukraine, particularly in Lviv and its surrounding regions, where dozens of Bandera monuments were erected and streets given his name. Following the February 2014 coup, a street in Kiev was also named after him. The government has declared October 14 "Defender of Ukraine Day" - the day, on which the Ukrainian right-wingers traditionally commemorate the founding of the UPA. On October 14, 2018, thousands of Ukrainian fascists, accompanied by German neo-Nazis from the "National-Democratic Party of Germany's" youth organization and "The 3rd Path" organization, demonstrated through Kiev commemorating the UPA. In April 2015, the Ukrainian parliament classified the OUN and UPA as "combatants for Ukraine's independence." In June 2015, the ministry of education issued a directive calling on teachers to "emphasize the patriotism and the high morals of the liberation movement's activists" and to also revere the UPA as "a symbol of patriotism and the spirit of self-sacrifice."[4] On October 4, 2018, the parliament introduced a new salutation for the army and police: "Glory to the Ukraine - Glory to Heroes." The salutation, which became popular at the Maidan, is the historic Nazi-collaborator OUN salute.[5]

Patrols and Torchlight Marches

Since the 2014 putsch, the Ukrainian government, with which Berlin is closely cooperating, has not only been promoting commemoration in honor of Bandera and the UPA, but has also been openly supporting fascist organizations. This has been the case for some of the volunteer battalions that have been fighting in eastern Ukraine since the beginning of the civil war. The battalions were either under the command of the ministry of the interior or the defense ministry. As has been noted in "Ukraine Analyses," published by the University of Bremen, they are "recognized as soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces." They "are paid by the state."[6] According to a poll taken in July 2018, approximately half of the population expressed confidence in them, even though, according to the "Ukraine Analysis," "their access to weapons and their military experience" have made these militiamen "coveted hit men for businessmen's competitors, oligarchs or rival politicians." One of the militias, the Azov Battalion is known for its openly fascist orientation. It has its own political wing (the "National Corps") and together they run the "National Militia," which operates as a self-appointed substitute police force, patrolling Ukrainian cities, and staging "rather neo-Nazi-like ... torchlight marches." Its more than 1000 members are reportedly active in 13 regions of Ukraine. According to "Ukraine Analyses" "National Militia" members were also involved in the attacks on Roma settlements.

"National-Patriotic Education"

C14 ("Sich"), which also receives state financing, is one of the organizations that had attacked Roma settlements in Ukraine last year. (Several of the settlements were devastated, one Rome was killed.) C14 began as the youth wing of the ultra-nationalist political party Svoboda in 2010, and was one of the far-right groups active during the Euromaidan putsch of 2013-2014. Its leader, at the time, declared that C14 aims to fight the groups that controlled Ukraine politically and economically, "Russians, Jews, and Poles."[7] Currently C14 not only attacks Roma settlements, it has reached an agreement with the Holosiyiv district authorities in Kiev, allowing it to patrol the district. In October 2018, a group of C14 activists drove Roma out of the area of Kiev's Southern Railway Station in cooperation with the police.[8] In February 2018, two C14 members went on trial for the murder of Oles Buzyna, a pro-Russian journalist. A UN report notes how that trial is being systematically prolonged.[9] It became known in June 2018 that C14 was being financially supported by the government. The organization has received US $16,900 for a children's summer camp - as a contribution toward "national-patriotic education."[10]

Attacks on Minorities

Last June, four human rights organizations felt compelled to address a protest letter to Minister of the Interior Arsen Avakov concerning the reinforcement of violent fascist organizations in Ukraine. As Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders and Freedom House wrote at the time, violent attacks against anyone, who does not uphold what the fascists consider "traditional values," are becoming more widespread. On March 8, International Women's Day, the participants of the Women's March in Kiev, were physically assaulted, and attacked with pepper spray. Ethnic minorities, such as Roma are persecuted by the Ukrainian right-wingers and LGBT are assaulted.[11] With the approaching elections, experts are not ruling out that there will be a renewed escalation of violence. Even the US Congress-financed United States Institute of Peace (USIP) warns there is a great danger that extreme-rightwing groups will physically threaten "voters and candidates, ethnic or religious minorities and left, LGBT or human rights activists."[12] The danger is by no means less acute, now that on January 11, the election commission of Kiev has granted the "National Militia" a permit to serve as an official poll observer during the presidential elections.

 

[1] Deutscher Bundestag, Plenarprotokoll 19/82. Berlin, 20.02.2019.

[2] Hannes Heer: Blutige Ouvertüre. zeit.de 21.06.2001.

[3] See also "Ein Sammelpunkt der OUN".

[4] See also The Era of Revisionism (I).

[5] Ukraine führt umstrittene Grußformel für Armee und Polizei ein. spiegel.de 04.10.2018.

[6] Huseyn Aliyev: Bewaffnete Freiwilligenbataillone: Informelle Machthaber in der Ukraine. In: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 205. 25.09.2018. S. 2-4.

[7] A Fine Line: Defining Nationalism and Neo-Nazism in Ukraine. en.hromadske.ua 10.05.2018.

[8] Halya Coynash: Neo-Nazi C14 vigilantes appear to work with Kyiv police in latest "purge" of Roma. khpg.org 25.10.2018.

[9] Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine. 16 May to 15 August 2018.

[10] Christopher Miller: Ukrainian Militia Behind Brutal Romany Attacks Getting State Funds. rferl.org 14.06.2018.

[11] Joint Letter to Ukraine's Minister of Interior Affairs and Prosecutor General Concerning Radical Groups. hrw.org 14.06.2018.

[12] Michael Colborne: Ukraine's Far Right Is Growing Increasingly Violent - Why Aren't Local Jews Concerned? haaretz.com 04.02.2019.