JRL NEWSWATCH: “Militaristic and anti-democratic, Ukraine’s far-right bides its time.” – Christian Science Monitor/ Fred Weir
There are few countries in Europe that don’t have a problem with the far-right. But for Ukraine, where political stability is tenuous, the defiance and impunity of ultra-nationalist groups pose an acute concern.
“… few in number … far-right groups operate with a high degree of impunity in Ukrainian society, allowing them to harass and attack minorities and human rights advocates without repercussions. Some worry that such groups, given their anti-democratic ideals, paramilitary discipline, and freedom to operate, could have an outsize influence should Ukraine return to political instability. …. Many Ukrainian analysts argue that these new rightist groups are not ‘nationalist,’ but rather racist, intolerant, and extreme social conservatives. But it may be a problem that more mainstream Ukrainian nationalists, such as the Svoboda party – which does not participate in street violence – tend to make heroes of 20th-century ‘fighters for Ukrainian independence.’ …. Tensions over … historical issues are real enough, especially in the more Russified eastern Ukraine … and they may be part of … the very high first round vote for Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a Russian-speaker from eastern Ukraine who plays down nationalist themes. … More significant is the strong attraction these new radical right groups seem to exercise over Ukrainian youth. They articulate a cause. They have slick promotional materials and maintain a big infrastructure of sports clubs, training camps, and regular activities. …”