Friday, April 29, 2022

Oleksiy Honcharuk at Stanford, and the Atlantic Council.

Bellingcat, 2019, "How to Mainstream Neo-Nazis: A Lesson from Ukraine’s New Government" 

On October 13, photographs started circulating across social media showing a man resembling Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk on stage at the “Veterans Strong” concert event in Kyiv. This was, however, no ordinary concert — it was organized by a far-right figure accused of murder, and headlined by a neo-Nazi band.

As later posts throughout the evening would show, including the prime minister’s own post on Facebook the next day, the politician did indeed attend and take the stage at an event organized by Ukrainian far-right groups. The Prime Minister wasn’t the only cabinet member from Ukraine’s new government to be there — the Minister of Veteran Affairs, Oksana Koliada, joined Prime Minister Honcharuk at the concert, and even promoted the event in a Facebook post (archive) the day before it took place.

In the week following the event, Honcharuk has defended his appearance at the “Veterans Strong” concert, and has not issued an apology or expressed regret. In his Facebook post, Honcharuk complained about “some media outlets putting forth ambiguous theses” and that “politicization” of the event was “absolutely inappropriate.” He added that he didn’t support any “hateful ideologies, whether Nazism, fascism or communism.” In further comments at a cabinet briefing, Honcharuk added that “many people” are trying to “split [our] society.” “They can make any of you into a Nazi fascist,” he said.

The episode is a further example of how Ukraine’s far-right continues to be normalized by top leaders in the country. Not only are Ukraine’s top ministers attending events organized by far-right figures, they have also had a literal seat at the table with Zelenskyy discussing his plans for de-escalating the war in eastern Ukraine. Simultaneously, far-right organizations across Ukraine have taken the lead in organizing “No capitulation!” protests against Zelenskyy’s soon-to-be-launched talks with Russia, thus wielding an out sized level of influence in Ukrainian society despite the fact that Ukrainian far-right organizations lack any popular or electoral support.

CATV News. April 28, 2022

With mounting evidence pointing to the Canadian Armed Forces having trained members of Ukraine’s military who are also reported to be part of extremist groups, experts say Ottawa needs to strongly bolster its investigation and vetting of the soldiers it trains and arms in the embattled country.

The Department of National Defence promised a thorough review of Canada’s mission in Ukraine after CTVNews.ca approached them for comment in October 2021, regarding a report from George Washington University that found extremists in the Ukrainian military were bragging about being trained by Canadians as part of Operation UNIFIER.

The group in question – which calls itself Military Order Centuria, or simply Centuria, has links to the far-right Azov movement.

The Canadian military said they were alarmed by the report and denied any knowledge that extremists had taken part in training, adding that it does not have the mandate to screen the soldiers they train from other countries.

In the month that followed, an investigation by the Ottawa Citizen found that not only did Canadian officials meet and get briefed by leaders from the Azov Battalion in 2018, they did not denounce the unit’s neo-Nazi beliefs – despite being warned about their views by their colleagues-- and their main concern was that media would expose that the meeting had taken place. Officers and diplomats allowed themselves to be photographed with battalion officials which was then used online by Azov as propaganda.... 

read the whole thing. new tag for Ukraine

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