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National Identities in Ukraine and in Euromaidan

Antony Penaud

June 21, 2014

1 Introduction
In this essay, we are going to document and highlight the dierent identities in
Much has already been said on language (Russophones in Ukraine), and here
we are going to focus on historical narrative.
We are going to show that the dierent identities can be seen geographically,
and on the electoral map.
We are going to focus particularly on Western Ukraine (where Ukrainian na-
tionalism is the strongest).
We will also highlight the role of nationalism in Euromaidan, and its represen-
tation in the post Yanukovich government.
The plan for our essay is the following:
2. Political and identical map in short
3. Historical narratives
4. Svaboda
5. Euromaidan
6. What came out of Euromaidan
7. Conclusions
2 Political and identical map in short
Main political parties The two main political parties in recent Ukrainian
history have been
- the Party of Regions: it was led by Yanukovich who is from the Donetsk re-
gion (Donbass, part of Eastern Ukraine), and in short it is seen as the party
protecting Russophones and willing closer ties with Russia.
- Fatherland: Yushchenko was president of Ukraine before 2010 and member
of the Our Ukraine party which was ideollogicaly close to Fatherland. Our
Ukraine is now dissolved. Tymoshchenko is Fatherlands leader and was PM
under Yushchenko. Yatseniuk belongs to this party and supported Yushchenko
in the past. In short, Fatherland can be seen as the opposite as the Party of
Extremes Because we want to focus national identities, we introduce the far
right and the far left:
- Svaboda (far right nationalist party, electoral base in Western Ukraine - we
have a full section about it later).
- The Communist Party (Soviet identity and anti nationalist in short, strongest
scores in the South and in the East).
Again, to summarise: in a second round of presidential elections between the
Party of Region and Fatherland, Svaboda sympathisers would vote for Father-
land and Communist Party sympathisers would vote for the Party of Regions.
We have included electoral maps of dierent elections at the end of this essay.
2nd round of the 2010 presidential elections The electoral map of the
2010 presidential elections shows a clear and strong separation: in the South
and the East (where there are more Russophones and people who want closer
ties with Russia), Yanukovich had more votes in every region. In particular, in
the Donbass (Lugansk region and Donetsk region) Yanukovich had more than
80%, and in some parts more than 90%.
On the other hand, Tymoshenko had her best scores (near 90%) in the West of
Ukraine, in particular in the Lviv region.
These patterns can be found in previous presidential elections too (see electoral
maps at the end).
Svaboda and the Communist Party In the rst round of the 2010 elec-
tions both parties did not do well:
- Svabodas score was 1.43% nationally (its highest score was 5.35% in the Lviv
region, but interestingly it did 34.98% in another Western Ukraine region in the
local elections later that year, which might mean that Svaboda sympathisers
vote for the Fatherland party in presidential elections).
- The Communists Partys score was 3.5% nationally.
In the 2012 parliamentary elections both parties made much higher scores:
- Svabodas national score was 10.44%. In the Lviv region (Lviv is the largest
city in Western Ukraine) it did 38.01%. It made a breakthrough in Kiev with
17.33%. Its lowest scores were in Crimea (1.05%), and in the Donbass (around
- The Communist Partys national score was 13.2%. It was 25.14% in the
Lugansk region (one of the two regions of the Donbass, Eastern Ukraine) and
29.46% in Sevastopol (home to the Russian naval base in Crimea). Its lowest
score was in one region of West Ukraine (1.78%).
Summary To summarise, Western Ukraine and the Donbass region (Eastern
Ukraine) are at the two extremes in terms of Ukrainian politics. The Centre of
Ukraine is closer to Western Ukraine while the remaining of the East and the
South are closer to the Donbass region.
Finally, the extreme South of Western Ukraine is dierent from Western Ukraine
(it was not part of Poland before 1939), and Crimea was part of Russia until
1954 and the majority of Crimean people identify themselves as Russians.
3 Historical narratives
In this section we are going to tell the dierent historical narratives, with a
focus on Western Ukraines historical narrative.
Western Ukraines dierent history in short Western Ukraine only be-
came part of the USSR in 1939 following the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact (it was
occupied by Germany after Operation Barbarossa in June 1941). Before 1939
it was part of Poland, and before WW1 part of the Austro Hungarian Empire.
Unlike the rest of Ukraine, it is not Orthodox.
In other words, Western Ukraine was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1939.
Many people from Western Ukraine fought against the Red Army during the
WW2 (and alongside Nazi Germany), as opposed to other Ukrainians (see
, Ottawa University) .
3.1 Bandera and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army
According to Katchanovski, in independent Ukraine, particularly since the
Orange Revolution of 2004, WW2 has become a major political battleground.
There are signicant divisions concerning policies, views, denitions, and com-
memoration of this conict in comtemporary Ukraine.
3.1.1 Why the revival of national myths in Ukraine should alarm us
Below, we cite extracts of the 19 May 2014 article Why the Revival of National
Myths in Ukraine Should Alarm Us
by Amar (Assistant Professor in History
at Columbia University) and Rudling (Associate Professor in History at Lund
University, Sweden):
Historian Omer Bartov has long pointed out a fundamental problem which
substantial parts of Ukrainian society, in and outside Ukraine, still nd hard to
acknowledge: it is not possible to glorify ethnic nationalists as freedom-ghting
heroes and examples for today and, at the same time, to be honest about their
anti-Semitism, ethnic and political mass violence, and collaboration with Nazi
Germany. It is true that this collaboration was less extensive than what it could
See The Politics of WW2 in Contemporary Ukraine, available on the internet.
have been, had Nazi Germany accepted the Ukrainian nationalists as allies the
way it did with Slovakian and Croatian ones. Moreover, some Ukrainian nation-
alists also periodically clashed with the Germans and were persecuted by them.
Yet there is no doubt or room for argument about a simple fact: the record of
Ukrainian WW2 nationalism includes massive, politically motivated, and delib-
erate violence against civilians, including participation in the Holocaust and the
mass-murderous ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Poles.(...)
Seeking ideological hegemony for this mythical version of history in todays
Ukraine, it was, in fact, Yushchenko who, ironically, also helped spread a stereo-
type equating Ukrainians with Ukrainian nationalists. In reality, the Organiza-
tion of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA),
controlled by the Bandera wing of the OUN, were within the context of WW2
comparatively small and strongly regional organizations. Their massive, brutal
eects during the war did not reect popular support throughout Ukraine but
the opportunities oered by the war and the nationalists ruthless, premedi-
tated will to capitalize on them. In fact, far more Ukrainians fought against
Nazi Germany as part of Soviet forces than for Ukrainian ethnic nationalism.
By equating ethnic nationalists with the nation Yushchenko not only accepted
the nationalists own unfounded claims at face value. He also contributed to
the polarization of Ukraine. Moreover, for observers at home and abroad, he
burdened the image and substance of pro-western policies with a legacy of au-
thoritarianism and mass murder that is, in fact, irreconcilable with them. In
particular, his policies complicated Ukraines relationship with Poland; it was
a Polish initiative, led by Members of the European Parliament from the oth-
erwise pro-Ukrainian Platforma Obywatelska party that nally led to an EU
protest against Yushchenkos most egregious provocations. Only larger geopo-
litical interests ultimately outweighed these concerns: the glorication of the
violent legacy of ethnic nationalism went largely unchallenged during the nego-
tiations for the EU Association Agreement.(...)
While Yushchenko no longer matters, his legacy of state glorication of eth-
nic nationalists has left Ukraine with one more burden to carry or, perhaps, shed.
Volodymyr Viatrovych, under Yushchenko director of the archives of the
former KGB, is now the head of Ukraines Institute of National Memory. He has
long been a key proponent of an uncritical and glorifying interpretation of the
OUN and UPA. His publications, often written for a broad audience and little
known in the West but inuential in Ukraine have consistently downplayed the
OUNs anti-Semitism and the UPAs anti-Polish massacres. Viatrovych has also
publicly belittled the murder of civilians in Belarus by Ukrainian nationalists
serving there as German auxiliaries.
3.1.2 Geographical divide
A poll In a 2009 survey from the Kiev Interrnational Institute of Sociol-
ogy (KIIS), in Galicia (the part of Western Ukraine with Lviv, Ternopil and
IvanFrankivsk), 63% of Ukrainians had a positive attitude towards Bandera
(of which 37% very positive), 12% had a negative attitude (of which 6% very
In the Centre of Ukraine, 13% had a positive attitude towards Bandera (of
which 3% was very positive) , and 38% a negative attitude (of which 21% was
very negative).
In Eastern Ukraine (Donetsk, Lugansk but also Kharkov, Dniepropetrovsk and
Zaporizhia), 2% had a positive attitude towards Bandera (of which 1% was very
positive) , and 59% a negative attitude (of which 46% was very negative).
In the South of Ukraine, 1% had a positive attitude towards Bandera, and 45%
a negative attitude (of which 30% was very negative).
The view of a Donbass resident The following 11 April 2014 interview
(in Le Courrier de Russie) of a Donetsk (Donbass, Eastern Ukraine) policeman
summarises it all: Here in the Donbass, we have nothing in common with Lviv -
the only thing that still unites us, is the country. It was Vatunin [Soviet general
in WW2] who liberated my city. And six months later, he was assassinated by
the soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Over there, in Lviv, their heroes
are the people from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army; but for me, it is Vatunin
the hero. That man who led the Red Army and who freed my city from the
fascists. What do we have in common with Lviv people? We have a dierent
History and a dierent culture.
3.2 Holodomor
3.2.1 Yushchenko
Amar and Rudling wrote:
During Viatrovych rst tenure as head of the SBU, he allied himself publicly
with Yushchenkos memory politics. The SBU presented an absurdly selective
list of the 19 people responsible for the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine. Two
fths of the names on it were presented in the classically anti-Semitic fashion
of decoding family names by adding the real Jewish name in parenthesis.
Under his tenure, the SBU also produced an ocial number of 10,063,000 million
victims of the 1932-33 famine in the Ukrainian SSR, a tripling of the consensus
number by historical demographers. Such manipulation of what are terrible
gures anyhow is not a minor issue but reects a long-standing tendency to
compete with the Holocaust..
3.2.2 Solzhenitsyn
A few months before his death in August 2008, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (whose
mother was Ukrainian) wrote:
The great famine of 1921 shook our country, from the Urals, across the Volga,
and deep into European Russia. It cut down millions of our people. But the
word Holodomor [meaning murder by hunger] was not used at that time. The
Communist leadership deemed it sucient to blame the famine on a natural
drought, while failing to mention at all the grain requisitioning that cruelly
robbed the peasantry.
And in 1932-33, when a similar great famine hit Ukraine and the Kuban
region, the Communist Party bosses (including quite a few Ukrainians) treated
it with the same silence and concealment. And it did not occur to anyone to
suggest to the zealous activists of the Communist Party and Young Communist
League that what was happening was the planned annihilation of precisely the
Ukrainians. The provocative outcry about genocide only began to take shape
decades later at rst quietly, inside spiteful, anti-Russian, chauvinistic minds
and now it has spun o into the government circles of modern-day Ukraine,
who have thus outdone even the wild inventions of Bolshevik agitprop.
To the parliaments of the world: This vicious defamation is easy to insinuate
into Western minds. They have never understood our history: You can sell them
any old fairy tale, even one as mindless as this.
3.3 Memory politics (memory wars?)
3.3.1 Bandera
Hero of Ukraine Shortly before the 2010 presidential elections, Yushchenko
awarded to Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine. Later that year, under
Yanukovich, a Donetsk court declared unlawful that decree
(they argued Ban-
dera only lived in the USSR, not in the Ukrainian independent state).
Monuments In 2010 and 2011, many Western Ukrainian cities named Ban-
dera honorary citizen of their city.
As far as we know, there are 25 Bandera statues, 5 Bandera museums, and 14
Bandera streets in Ukraine: all are recent, and all are in Western Ukraine.
The rst monument for the victims of the UIA and nationalists was erected
in Simferopol (Crimea) in 2007. In May 2010 in Lugansk (Eastern Ukraine),
another monument for the victims of the UIA and nationalists was erected
There is another monument in Kharkiv (Eastern Ukraine).
Outside Ukraine, there are monuments to the victims of the UIA in Poland
(tens of thousands of thousands of Poles were ethnicaly cleansed by the UIA).
In Canada and the US, there are monuments honouring the UIA in cemeteries.
9 May On 9 May 2011, for the celebration of the end of WW2 (because of
the time dierence it is not celebrated on 8 May in post Soviet countries), a
group of people including WW2 veterans was attacked in Lviv by nationalists
That day Svaboda members stormed the oce of the regional administration
(Mikhailo Tsymbaliouk) and forced him to sign a resignation letter.
3.3.2 Holodomor
Yushchenko Since 2006, Ukraine have a Holomodor memorial day (on 25
November). In 2007, there was a 3-day commemoration in Kiev, and in 2008 a
memorial was erected in Kiev.
In 2009, Ukrainian schoolchildren took a more extensive course on the History
of the Holodomor, as well as on the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists and
Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA)
Yanukovich In 2010, the new president Yanukovich visited the Holodomor
Earlier that year he had stated in Strasbourg: The Holodomor was in Ukraine,
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It was the result of Stalins totalitarian regime.
But it would be wrong and unfair to recognize the Holodomor as an act of
genocide against one nation.
The Fatherland party reacted by stating By his statement, Yanukovych directly
violated the norms of the Ukrainian law of November 28, 2006 on the Holodomor
of 1932-1933 in Ukraine, the rst article of which clearly states: The Holodomor
of 1932-1933 in Ukraine is genocide against the Ukrainian people.
Summary While both main parties want to remember the Holodomor, they
disagree on how to remember it. Fatherland have exaggerated the number of
victims and see it as a genocide directed by Russians against Ukrainians, while
the Party of Regions insist the famine happened in other parts of the Soviet
Union too.
Causality? One should note that Bandera and the UIA were essentially from
the West of Ukraine, and that in 1932-33 what we now call Western Ukraine
was in Poland, and there was therefore no famine there. Therefore, the UIA
was not a consequence of the famine, there was no causal relationship - they
were unrelated. The East and Centre of Ukraine were the most aected part of
See for example
Ukraine unity Beyond the fact that the glorication of Bandera is morally
questionable, many Ukrainians in the South and the East of Ukraine do not see
Bandera as a hero, and on the contrary see him as a nazi collaborator. It seems
logical that such a choice for a national hero would not unify Ukrainians, but on
the contrary divide them. Bandera is quite simply a divisive gure in Ukraine.
Anti Russian There is however a common factor between the UIA and the
Holodomor. In both cases, the ennemy (from contemporary Ukrainian nation-
alists point of view) is the Russians. This is in fact historically not that simple:
the UIA hated more the Poles than the Russians (they have an almost religious
worship of their nation and distrust anything foreign: rst and foremost, Polish,
then Russian; then German
), and Stalin was Georgian.
The role of the EU (and the US)? Also, we think it worth pondering
on the following sentence in the Amar and Rudling article: the glorication
of the violent legacy of ethnic nationalism went largely unchallenged during the
negotiations for the EU Association Agreement. Indeed, it is possible that the
EU (and the US) judged that it was in their interest to encourage (or at least
tolerate) strong nationalistic anti Russian sentiment in Ukrainian politics.
3.5 The CIAs assessment on Bandera
Just after the end of WW2, the US made a bond with Ukrainian nationalists:
a CIA declassied (under the Nazi war crimes disclosure act) document reads
As relations between the US and the Soviet Unions deteriorated, the CIA
expanded its ties with these emigres(...).
many Ukrainians despised Poles and Jews as well as Soviet Communists. Ukraini-
ans served in the German army and had been linked to Nazy atrocities on the
Eastern Front(...)
Bandera led the largest faction of the OUN (which split when the war broke out),
and Melnik led the smaller one. Both factions participated in terrorist activities
against Polish ocials before the war, and Ukrainian nationalists allied them-
selves with their Nazi liberators during the rst days of Operation Barbarossa
in 1941. Even though OUNs enthusiasm diminished after the Nazis failed to
support Ukrainian statehood, many Ukrainians continued to ght alongside the
Germans until the end of the war.(...)
The Soviet Unions demand for repatriating all its citizens suspected of war
crimes and collaboration with the Nazis complicated Aradis and Holtmans
work with the Ukrainians while they established initial contacts with OUN and
ZPUHVR. American acquiescence with Soviet demand would damage relations
with the Ukrainians. At the same time, Nazis rounded up OUN members and
See Cold War Allies: the origins of CIAs relationship with Ukrainian Nationalists, CIA
declassied document.
See Cold War Allies: the origins of CIAs relationship with Ukrainian Nationalists, CIA
declassied document.
placed them in concentration camps(...)
The Soviets wanted Stefan Bandera. American intelligence ocials recognised
that his arrest would have quick and adverse eects of US operations with the
The CIA recognised that Banderas extradition would be a blow to the un-
derground movement, but noted that his organisation is, as the eld agrees,
primarily [original emphasis] a terrorist irgnisation.
Note that the original CIA document reads primarily [original emphasis] .
4 Svaboda
In this section we focus on the Ukrainian nationalist party, with its electoral
base in Western Ukraine.
4.1 Party history
Social National Party Svaboda was founded in 1991 in Lviv (Western Ukraine)
as the Social-National Party of Ukraine. According to Olszanski
, its symbol
was the letters I+N (Idea of the Nation), that is graphically identical with the
Wolfsangel rune one of the symbols of European neo-Nazi organisations.
It established in 1999 in Lviv a paramilitary organisation called Patriot of
Svaboda The Social-National Party changed name to Svaboda in February
2004 and dropped the Wolfsangel logo when Oleh Tyahnibok became its leader.
According to Olszansk, The radical neo-Nazi and racist groups were pushed
out from the party. However, Tyahnybok never concealed that these changes
were made primarily for image purposes. The party remains associated with
the wide social nationalist movement comprised of numerous organisations (and
websites) and gathered around the Social- Nationalist Assembly which was set
up in 2008.
Tyahnibok Tyahnibok (who was born in Lviv, West Ukraine) became mem-
ber of the Social-National Party in 1991 and became an MP in 1998. In 2002 he
was reelected as part of the coalition led by Yushchenko (Yushchenko became
president in 2005). He was expelled from that coalition after a speech in the
summer of 2004 in which he talked of: the Moscow-Jewish maa rulling our
Ukraine and celebrated the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists for having
fought Moscovites, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away
our Ukrainian state.
Svoboda party - the new phenomenon on the Ukrainian right-wing scene by Tadeusz
Olszanski in issue 56 of the Centre for Eastern Studies (04 July 2011).
Paramilitary The relationship between Patriot of Ukraine and Svaboda was
ocially ended in 2007. At the end of 2013, Patriot of Ukraine joined forces with
other nationalist groups to form the Right Sector (Pravi Sector). University of
Ottawas Ostriitchouk
wrote that Svaboda retains close links with far right
paramilitary organisations trained to ghting, that we will see on the front at
the Maidan.
4.2 Policies
Policies In terms of policies, Svaboda opposes abortion and gay rights (the
Kievpost dated 11 December 2011 reads The ultra-nationalist Svoboda Party
has admitted that their activists attacked gay community and human rights ac-
tivists who were holding a protest in central Kyiv on 8 December to commem-
orate international Human Rights Day)
, keeping and bearing arms should be
allowed, Ukrainian children should not be adopted by non-Ukrainians, ethnic
origins should be specied on passports.
Historical narrative Svaboda has organised commemorations of Stepan Ban-
dera and of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA). They have organised marches
(in Lviv) to celebrate the Waen SS Galicia division.
According to Ostriitchouk, most of the UPA momunents have been erected by
Svabodas inititiative or by Svaboda funding, and often organise the removal
of Soviet monuments (Lenin statues in particular are the object of another
memorial war: Svaboda sympathisers try to topple them and Communist Party
sympathisers get organised to guard them).
4.3 Views on Svaboda
4.3.1 Jewish organisations and Israel MPs
Wiesenthal Centre In 2012, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre ranked Svaboda
number 5 in its top 10 anti-semitic list, just ahead of Greeces Golden Dawn
World Jewish Congress In 2013 the World Jewish Congress labelled the
party as neo-nazi.
Dr Ostriitchouk is originally from Ternopil, [Western] Ukraine and worked ans
studied in Kiev. Dr Ostriitchouk is now at the University of Ottawa with the
Chair of Ukrainian Studies. Her main area of research focuses on identities issues in
Ukraine. (from Ostriitchouks ar-
ticle Dune contestation civique a une guerre identitaire is in French and available on
Kneesset In 2013 too, thirty MPs of the Israeli Knesset (there are 120 MPs
in total) sent the following letter to the president of the EU parliament:
Dear Mr. President!
First of all, let us thank you for your activities to strengthen the values of
justice and democracy in Europe and the whole world. We want to note that
Europe is a more welcoming and tolerant place now, thanks to your initiatives
and to the spirit you bring to the continent.
However, it has been more than half a year we receive alarming reports
on the new nationalistic trend in Ukraine stirred up by the Neo-Nazi Svoboda
Party, which won more than ten percent of votes in the last parliamentary elec-
tions. We are aware of the threats and slander hurled by members of that party
against the Jews, the Russians, and others. These are the people who draw
their inspiration from the Nazis and openly glorify the mass murderers of the
SS Ukrainian Divisions.
We were also shocked by the fact, that this party is not isolated at all but
enjoys full cooperation of the two main opposition parties in Ukraine. Unfor-
tunately, these parties did not protest at all against the actions and statements
of their extreme partner, but even have compromised themselves by their own
public glorication of Ukrainian Nazi war criminals.
We can not stand idly by the phenomenon of neo Nazism in any part of
the world. Our duty is to speak out and to contact our colleagues around
the world to join the eorts and to eliminate the symptoms which take us to
the darkest times of humanity. We appreciate the strong position which the
European Parliament expressed on this issue in December last year. We also
want to thank you for the refusal of the EP to have any working relations with
the Svoboda party and for the clarication to all forces operating in Ukraine,
that no attempt of Nazism glorication will be tolerated by Europe. We hope to
work together for the better and safer future of Europe and the whole world.
4.3.2 The EU U-turn
Racist, anti-semite and xenophobic On 13 December 2012 the Euro-
pean Parliament adopted a text in which one paragraph read
Parliament goes on to express concern about the rising nationalistic sentiment
in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is
one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada [The Ukrainian parlia-
ment]. It recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the
EUs fundamental values and principles and therefore appeals to pro-democratic
parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions
with this party..
U-turn Just over a year later, the EU associated with Svaboda in the toppling
of the democraticaly elected government, and then backed the new coalition, of
which Svaboda was the second most important political party. When the EU
signed the trade agreement with Ukraine, Svaboda was part of the Ukrainian
4.4 Introducing some Svaboda MPs
Igor Miroshnichenko Svaboda MP Igor Miroshnichenko is Deputy Head
of the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information. He
had made news in the West in 2012 by calling Ukrainian actress Mila Kunis a
dirty jewess.
On 19 March 2014 he made news again by storming with four others the
oce of the head of National TV, Oleksandr Panteleymonov
. They assaulted
Panteleymonov, forced him to sign a resignation letter, and abducted him for
several hours. Astonishingly, Miroshenko then posted online the video of the
assault. The message he wanted to send was clear. We do not know what
happened after this assault. On Panteleymonov wikipedia page, it says Acting
CEO of National Television Company of Ukraine from 20 February 2013 to 25
March 2014).
Olha Ostriitchouk reported Tyanhiboks reaction: If yesterday such meth-
ods were justied (for example the take over of regional administrations and
peoples pressure on high ocials to sign resignation letters), today we dont
need them (other methods, legal, can be used).
Oleg Pankevich From the Nation and Foreign Policy in Focus: Svoboda
has always had a soft spot for the [Waen SS] Galicia Division, and one of
its parliament members, Oleg Pankevich, took part in a ceremony last April
honoring the unit. Pankevich joined with a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox
Church near Lviv to celebrate the units seventieth anniversary and rebury some
of the divisions dead.
Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn He was number one of the Svaboda list for the 2010
Lvivs municipal elections. In 2005 he established a Joseph Goebbels Political
Research Centre (he changed the name in 2008). The url was
Apparently, following a mistake by a releasing editor, the Crimea Red Square concert had
been broadcasted during 5 minutes, see
On 28 April 2014, the mayor of Kharkov Gennady Kernes was shot while cycling. The
Guardians Luke Harding wrote Kharkiv journalist Zurab Alasania blamed Russia for Mon-
days shooting. He noted in a Facebook post that the mayor had not changed his routine of
going for a morning lake swim, despite the deteriorating security situation in the East. The
Russian Federation is identifying and liquidating key centres of resistance, Alasania said..
The reader was led to think that Zurab Alasania was an independent local journalist. In fact
he was the pro-Maiden journalist who replaced Panteleymonov as head of National Television.
(see Olszanskis article). The number 88 refers to Heil Hitler in neonazi termi-
nology (H is the 8th letter in the alphabet), and the Nachtigal battalion was the
name of one of the two Ukrainian SS divisions that sided with Nazi Germany
prior and during the June 1941 attack on the Soviet Union.
Mykhalchyshyn has referred to the Holocaust as a period of Light in history.
Iryna Farion After the 2 May 2014 Odessa massacre in which about 40 people
died after a building was set on re, she wrote on her website Bravo, Odessa.
Pearl of Ukrainian spirit. City of the great nationalists Ivan and Youri Lipa.
Let the demons burn in hell. Football fans are the best. Bravo.
Crimea It is important to realise that the presence of Svaboda in the post
Yanukovich government happened before the Russian intervention in Crimea.
Given that before February 2014 Russia had shown no sign of their intention to
reunite with Crimea, we can deduce that it is the February 2014 regime change
and its new government (we will look in more details at its composition in the
next section) that triggered Russias decision.
The radicalisation of the Fatherland party Svaboda is often presented
as the ultra-nationalist party, as opposed to Fatherland. But, as said by Amar
and Rudling in their article, While Yushchenko no longer matters, his legacy of
state glorication of ethnic nationalists has left Ukraine with one more burden
to carry , he helped spread a stereotype equating Ukrainians with Ukrainian
nationalists, and he contributed to the polarization of Ukraine.
- Until 2004 and his speech, the Svaboda leader was part of the Fatherland
parliamentary faction.
- MPs from the Timoshenko party supported the 1 January torch procession in
Kiev, marking the 103rd anniversary of Bandera
- Andry Paruby (former member of the Social Nationalist Party and commander
of the Maiden armed protesters) is now a member of Fatherland.
- On 3 May 2014, the day after the Odessa massacre, MP Lesya Orobets posed
pictures of herself on facebook and twitter. She was posing with a rie and
characterised the massacre as a great victory and an adequate response to
the pro-Russian demonstrations.
- In a March 2014 leaked conversation
, Tymoshenkos interlocutor said He
asked What should we do now with the 8 million Russians that stayed in
Ukraine? They are outcasts!, she allegedly replied They must be killed with
nuclear weapons.. When the conversation was revealed, Tymoshenko said The
conversation took place, but the 8 million Russians in Ukraine piece is an edit.
In fact, I said Russians in Ukraine are Ukrainians.. However, given that her
interlocutor replied I wont argue with you here, because what happened is ab-
solutely unacceptable, Tymoshenkos version just does not work. This shows
what the leader of the Fatherland party thinks of the population in Eastern
- In June 2014, Yatseniuk (Ukrainian PM) called separatists backers subhu-
EU nationalist political parties Some Western commentators have down-
played Ukrainian nationalism, comparing it to EU far right parties such as UKIP
(Farage, UK) and FN (Le Pen, France). We think the reader of this essay will
agree that Ukrainian nationalism is of a totally dierent nature. Passmore
argues that Le Pen is not fascist (but national-populist): Le Pen has not at-
tempted to use violence to lever himself into power, The FN does not possess
a mass paramilitary wing comparable to historical fascists.
5 Euromaidan
5.1 Direct cause of Euromaidan: the trade agreement
Here we step back from our focus on national identities in order to introduce
some background on the trade agreement negociations.
5.1.1 Trade agreement
Negociations On 21 November 2013, Yanukovich announced that he would
postpone a trade agreement with the EU. This triggered the start of the protests.
On 17 December, Yanukovich signed the trade agreement with Russia, Belarus
and Kazakhstan.
During the long negociation process, Yanukovich had been talking to both or-
ganisations (EU and the Russia union). Jose-Manuel Barroso said in February
2013: one country cannot at the same time be a member of a customs union
and be in a deep common free-trade area with the European Union.
After his 21 November decision to postpone the EU deal, Yanukovich still said
he wanted a deal that would include both the EU and Russia: on 29 Novem-
ber 2013 the Daily Telegraph reported: Yanukovych said he was now seeking
a trilateral deal which would also include Russia as a player, a notion imme-
diately dismissed. When we make a bilateral deal, we dont need a trilateral
agreement, said Barroso.
The trade agreements Lets have a closer look at the the two dierent oers
Ukraine had to choose from.
The EU option oered Ukraine a USD 838m loan and (together with the
He said killed by invaders and sponsored by subhumans, see t1
Fascism, a very short introduction
IMF) asked the Ukrainian government to increase gas bills by 40% and make
big budget cuts (austerity).
The Russia option oered Ukraine a loan 18 times that size (USD 15bn) plus
33% discounts on gas prices (Ukraine imports gas from Russia).
Given the better Russia oer, and that Yanukovich had been elected as a
pro-Russia candidate (his party claims to defend the rights of ethnic Russians
and speakers of the Russian language in Ukraine), it is not surprising that he
decided for the Russia option.
5.1.2 Public opinion and East-West divide on the trade agreement
A 04-09 December 2013 KIIS poll
said that 48% of Ukrainians thought Yanukovich
had been right not to sign the EU trade agreement. 35% thought he had been
82% of Western Ukrainians were in favour of signing the EU trade agreement,
and 18% of Eastern Ukrainans supported the EU agreement.
5.2 A Western backed revolution
5.2.1 EU and US leaders
Since our focus is on national identities, we do not want to spend too much time
on Western support for the Euromaidan and the government that came out of
John McCain, Victoria Nuland, Cathryn Ashton and others went to Kiev and
basically participated in the revolution.
One could debate about their exact responsibility in the revolution, we do not
want to discuss this here. It is sucient to say that they actively supported it.
5.2.2 The Ukrainian diaspora
Amar and Rudling wrote:
Last but not least, a signicant section of the Ukrainian diaspora abroad, have
too often reexively taken a right-or-wrong-our-freedom-ghters approach to
wartime and postwar ethnic nationalists.(...)
Some emigre scholars selectively omitted compromising statements from na-
tionalist pronouncements. In some cases the OUNs deliberate forgeries have
been circulated as authentic evidence to refute allegations of anti-Semitism.
One of these consisted of an autobiography of a ctitious Jewish woman, Stella
Krentsbakh or Kreutzbach, titled I am Alive thanks to the Ukrainian Insur-
gent Army, presented as evidence to disprove any and all genuine survivor
For example
testimony to nationalist anti-Semitism.A similar tactic has been used, with
Yushchenkos direct involvement, to deny nationalist involvement in pogroms
in 1941. A popular rhetorical strategy to counter scholars querying nationalist
narratives has been to implicitly or explicitly, publicly or more quietly denounce
them as neo-Soviet, deceived by or pandering to former Soviet or current Rus-
sian propaganda.(...)
Ostriitchouk wrote:
The Ukrainian diaspora is an actor too important to be ignored, as is shown
by the many pro-Maidian actions (including nancial backing), the debates it
started in Canada and the US, the way it inuences their foreign policies and
watches all public interventions.
This direct and long dated implication on Ukrainian politics is explained, amongst
other things, by the fact that the most active part of the diaspora comes from
the third wave of immigration of the 1950s, which was essentially made of West-
ern Ukrainians and actors of the nationalist struggle, strongly opposed to the
communist regime.
5.3 A West Ukrainian revolution
Because of our focus on national identities, we are not going to document the
violence. We still should say that according to Ostriitchouk, violence took place
on both sides. Also, it is far from sure that Yanukovich gave the orders to the
snipers (see Paet Ashton leaked conversation, and the investigation by the Ger-
man TV channel ARD).
Right Sector The paramilitary organisation Right Sector was founded in
November 2013 (note that it was formed early in the Euromaidan timeline) as
a coalition of dierent ultranationalist groups and was one of the main actors
of the violent stages. Many people had come to Kiev from the Lviv region (and
other regions, mainly from the West) in December or January.
On 21 January, Alec Luhn
wrote in The Nation
Spearheading the clashes
with police was Right Sector, a group with ties to far-right parties including
the Patriots of Ukraine and Trident, which BBC Ukraine reported is largely
comprised of nationalist football fans. In a statement the next day, the group
claimed credit for Sundays unrest and promised to continue ghting until Pres-
ident Viktor Yanukovich stepped down.
Ukraine above all Alec Luhn: Svoboda is the most visible party on the
square, it has essentially taken over Kiev City Hall as its base of operations,
and it has a large inuence in the protestors security forces.
Young American journalist Alec Luhn writes mainly for The Guardian and The Nation.
He is based in Moscow but has spent many of the last few months in Ukraine.
It also has revived three slogans originating in the Ukrainian nationalist move-
ment of the 1930s [the UIA] that have become the most popular chants at
Euromaidan. Almost all speakers on Independence Squareeven boxer-turned-
opposition-leader Vitaly Klitschko, who has lived mostly in Germany and has a
US residence permitstart and end with the slogan, Glory to Ukraine!, to which
the crowd responds To heroes glory! Two other nationalist call-and-response
slogans often heard on the square are Glory to the nation! Death to enemies!
and Ukraine above all!.
Other nationalist symbolic Ostriitchouk: For those who wanted to see
and listen, the ultranationalist symbolic of Maidan had quickly supplanted and
marginilised the EUs symbolic. At the beginning of the rallyes, the red and
black ags of Bandera were on Maidan next to other ags of the far right like the
ones of Svaboda, KUN, UNA-UNSO, Banderas trident and Patriot of Ukraine.
The large poster of Bandera was put at Kievs city hall as soon as the protesters
took control of it. Later, the funerals of the rst deads took place among those
Memorial dates Ostriitchouk: All commemorial dates going in that direc-
tion [threat of Russian imperialism, or indeed Soviet] and falling during Euro-
maidan were exploited to feed popular anger, starting with the 80th anniversary
of Holodomor, followed closely by the celebration of the Orange revolution, to
the 200th anniversary of Taras Chevtchenko, but with also the 105th anniversary
of Bandera, the memorial pilgrimage on the battleeld of the heroes of Kruty
who died in the struggle against the bolsheviks defending the young Ukrainian
nation on 29 January 1918.
Pro EU or anti-Russian? In the same article, Alec Luhn describes Sv-
abodas tactics: How can the slogan Ukraine above all! sound on Indepen-
dence Square alongside the slogan Ukraine in the EU!, Ukrainian progressive
activist Olga Papash asked in a recent piece on the politics and culture website
Korydor. (...) Even Yury Noyevy, a member of Svobodas political council,
admitted that the party is only pro-EU because it is anti-Russia.
5.3.1 Public opinion and East-West divide on EuroMaidan
A 04-09 December 2013 poll
said 49% supported Euromaidan, and 45% didnt
support it.
But what was interesting was that the country was geographically divided: 84%
in the West of Ukraine supported it (against 11%), 66% in the Centre supported
it (against 27%), 33% in the South supported it (against 60%), and only 13%
in the East supported it (against 81%).
6 What came out of Euromaidan
6.1 The post Yanukovich government
Lets move on to the coalition government, after Yanukovich ed Kiev. The
PM was Fatherlands Yatseniuk (he had done 6.96% in the 2010 presidential
elections), and the rest of the government was made of:
6 members of Fatherland.
4 members of Svaboda (Oleksandr Sych as vice PM, Ihor Tenyukh, Andrei
Mokhnyk, Ihor Shvaika, ).
1 (Serhiy Kvit, Minister of Education and Science) member of the far-right
Ukrainian paramilitary organisation the Stepan Bandera Tryzub (this organi-
sation is one of the founding organisations of Right Sector).
4 people from Lviv with unclear aliation (the Minister of Foreign Aairs,
Finance, Health, Economy).
2 Euromaiden activists (the Euromaiden podium presenter became Minister
of Culture, another one became Minister of Youth and Sports)
1 former minister under the former Timoshenko government (before 2010).
6.2 Focus on Kvit, the new Minister of Education and
Lets quote Amar and Rudling:
What is worrying at this moment and has, unfortunately, come to be linked
to the Maidan Revolution is that several key promoters of nationalist memory
politics have come into high oce. Thus, Serhy Kvit, head of Kyiv Mohyla
Academy, Ukraines most prestigious university, is now the Minister of Edu-
cation. Kvit insists that the nationalists of WW2 can serve as examples for
todays Ukraine, demanding that this should be strictly separated from what
he considers Russian propaganda. He is the author of an admiring biography of
Dmytro Dontsov, one of the key theoreticians of Ukrainian ethnic nationalism.
It denies and rationalizes Dontsovs anti-Semitism and marginalizes his enthu-
siasm for Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. It also denounces John-Paul Himka
as one of the leaders of an academic Internationale of Ukrainophobes. Such
statements show that nationalist memory production deliberately cuts itself o
from up-to-date international scholarship, in particular on the role of Ukrainian
ethnic nationalism in the Holocaust.(...)
Kvit has also participated in robustly nationalist public activism, promoting
Dontsovian ideology through the Dmytro Dontsov Research-Ideological Cen-
ter. In the 1990s Kvit was a member of the Presidium of the Congress of
Ukrainian Nationalists and the organization Tryzub imeni Bandery, a wing
of KUN which split from the party in 2000. He is open about the fact that he
does not regard Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector as an extremist.
6.3 Lets have a look at other nominations that took place
Oleh Mahnitsky (Svaboda MP) was named General Prosecutor.
Tetiana Chornovol (member since aged 17 of the UNA-UNS organisation, a far
right organisation of which the political wing merged with Right Sector in May
2014) was appointed head of Ukrainian governments National Anti-Corruption
Committee on 5 March 2014.
Andry Paruby (former member of the Social Nationalist Party and commander
of the Maiden armed protesters) became head of the National Security and
Defense Council on 27 February 2014.
Egor Sobolev became head of the new lustration committee. He said in
interviews that the goal of the lustration la will be to ban Yanukovich and his
closest allies from politic for life
. The Svaboda bill mentioned in the article
that public servants at all levels, as well as applicants for state jobs will have to
undergo a screening procedure. Those who fail the screening will be dismissed
from their positions.. We dont know if the bill pas passed.
On 2 March 2014, new governors were named in the following regions: in the
Dnieproptrovsk region the olligarch Ihor Kolomoisky (second or third richest
man in Ukraine, 337th richest person in the world according to Forbes 2011),
in the Donetsk region the olligarch Sergei Taruta (billionaire in dollars too).
The new government in short The new government had no representant of
the Party of Regions, it was a coalition Fatherland+Svaboda+people from Lviv+
Euromaidan activists. There was no representent from the East of Ukraine.
The rst day of the new government On 23 February 2014, only the
day after Yanukovich ed Kiev, with no debate, the parliament voted to remove
Russian as a second ocial language (a week later, probably because of Western
advice, the interim president vetoed it).
We ask the reader to step back and reect. Even if the law was later vetoed,
the fact that on the very rst day it is this that they wanted to do is enough to
understand the nature of this government.
6.5 Elections
Polls at the end of January 2014 The last polls that were made with
Yanukovich in them were made in the period 24 January - 1 February 2014
He was top of the polls with 29.2%. Second was boxer turned politican Klitschko
(22.8%), then Tymoshenko (19.1%) and Poroshenkos rise had already started
See wikipedia, 2014 Ukraine presidential elections.
After Yanukovichs ousting, the Party of Regions, representing the South and
the East of Ukraine, desintegrated.
6.5.1 Election of Poroshenko
Poroshenko The olligarch Poroshenko was elected in the rst round of the
elections with 54.7%.
Svaboda Svaboda did a low national score, but as we saw before (low score
at 2010 presidential elections followed by very high scores at the 2010 local
elections), it seems that Svaboda sympathisers prefer to vote for the closest
popular candidate at presidential elections.
It is also crucial to notice that Poroshenko has kept the same government. All
the new jobs (in government and outside goverbment) gained by Svaboda at the
end of February 2014 were kept. The presence of Svaboda in the government was
not temporary. Its presence in the government is based on a coaltion between
close political parties.
Lyashko It is also worth mentioning the relatively high score (8.32%) of Oleh
Lyashko, the candidate for the Radical Party. During the Crimea crisis he tried
pass (but failed) to pass a bill in parliament that would give death penalty to
separatists. Later he took matters into his own hands. On 23 May the KievPost
reported Paramilitaries from a group organized by presidential candidate Oleh
Lyashko stormed a local government building in a sleepy eastern Ukrainian
mining city and killed a pro-Russian separatist while maiming another in a
gangland-style shooting on May 23. One man was shot in the head and ab-
domen, while a second man sustained three gunshot wounds to his neck and
abdomen and was ghting for his life in a nearby hospital after the attack.
6.5.2 Ukraine still divided
Poroshenkos totall number of votes was 9,857,308. In the 2nd round of the 2010
elections, Yanukovichs number of votes was 12,481,266, and Tymoshenkos was
Turnout The turnout was much higher in the West of Ukraine (and in the
Centre), than in the South and in the East (see turnout electoral map at the
end, as well as the map of turnout dierences between 2014 and 2010). In the
Donbass most people just couldnt vote.
Odessa 2010 and 2014 We have picked a random disctrict of Odessa (the
rst Odessa district, district 135)
. In the rst round of the 2010 elections,
there were 65.7% valid ballots. Yanukovich got 44.6% in the rst round, i.e.
53,978 votes. In the 2010 elections, there were only 48.9% valid ballots. The
42.8% obtained by Poroshenko represented 36,563 votes.
Now, in the 2nd round of the 2010 elections, participation was stable and
Yanukovich got 87,807 votes (74.4%), which is more than the total number
of people who (validly) voted in 2010! (the total number of valid votes was
Earlier referendums Here we should also mention the other referendums
that took place after Euromaidan:
- Crimeans voted for joining Russia in March 2014 . The referendum was organ-
ised by Crimeans and Russians against the will of the Ukrainian government.
While some contest the gures, we are not aware of anybody contesting that a
majority of Crimeans wanted to be part of Russia. A Pew Research poll (April
2014) showed that 92% of Crimeans think that Russia is playing a positive role
in Crimea, and 2% think that the US are having a good inuence on the way
things are going in Crimea.
- People in the Donbass voted for independence in early May 2014. This referen-
dum was organised by separatists. Polls organised on the day of the referendum
by Western journalists, as well as the reporting of journalists on the ground
tend to show that a large majority wanted separation (for completion: accord-
ing to a LA Times article Opinion polls conducted in April by both foreign and
domestic agencies showed a sizable majority - at least 70% even in the eastern
regions - opposed to secession from Ukraine or union with Russia. But the re-
cent violence has turned many against the Kiev government, Scores of deaths
during confrontations in Odessa on May 2 and in Mariupol on Friday appear to
have spurred the massive turnout Sunday, there were huge queues of people,
almost all of whom said they were voting yes to separatism.
, note also that
in the Donbass people are more likely to be for separation than in other parts
of Eastern Ukraine, and that the Pew April poll also showed that 67% of East
Ukrainians had a negative opinon of the new coalition).
Again, to those who sympathised with Ukrainians who went to the street
during Euromaidan because they were fed up with corruption, with bad gov-
ernance, or who wanted closer ties with the EU, we ask them to look at the
composition of the government, to the rst thing they tried to do as they came
into power, and to the nominations that were made shortly after the formation
of the Yatsenyuk government.
7 Conclusions
National identities We have highlighted and documented the strong correla-
tion between: geographical location in Ukraine, political support, and national
identity. In particular we have highlighted the two poles: Western Ukraine
(Ukrainian nationalism, strong popularity of Bandera, anti Soviet and anti Rus-
sian feelings), and the Donbass region (Soviet identity, sympathy for Russia,
Bandera seen as an ennemy). The South and the rest of the East are closer to
the Donbass, while the Centre is closer to Western Ukraine.
Polarisation As Amar and Rudling wrote, Yushchenkos legacy of state glo-
rication of ethnic nationalists has left Ukraine with one more burden to carry,
he helped spread a stereotype equating Ukrainians with Ukrainian national-
ists, and he contributed to the polarization of Ukraine.
Euromaidan As Ostriitchouk wrote, The Maidan revolution is rstly a prod-
uct of Western Ukraine, of a nationalist Ukrainianian West and of its Western
backers, among which the Ukrainian diaspora is too important a factor to be
Poroshenko election By looking in details at the 2014 election results, we
have seen that Proshenkos election in the rst round was not due to him being
a unifying gure, but to the fact that many Ukrainians in the South and in
the East stayed home (the Party of Regions had desintegrated). We looked in
details at the Odessa results (district 135) and found that the total number of
people who went to vote in 2014 was smaller than the number of people who
voted for Yanukovich in 2010.
Ukraine We have shown that the new government represents West Ukraine
nationalism, and that this nationalism is a strong divisive factor in Ukraine.
Given the disintegration of the political party representing South and East
Ukrainians, and the measures taken by the new government (eg the new lustra-
tion committee), we are pessimistic for Ukraine, and non nationalist Ukrainians.
Ostriitchouk talks of a witchhunt against those who were connected (closely
or remotely) to Yanukovich (how far would it be extended to East and South
Ukrainians?) and of a will to ban political opposition (Svaboda want to ban
the Communist Party).
EU and US The reason why the EU and the US have backed this revolution
and this new government (part of it described by the EU as xenophobic in 2012)
cannot be known for sure - we can only speculate. It is of course not impossible
that the support given by the US and the EU to the new Ukrainian government
is due to blindness.
Emmanuel Todds original hypothesis is that the US have lost control of Ger-
many, and that it is Germany that led the West into this (the US didnt want
to show public disagreements with Germany).
We think it is more likely that the Wests decision to support Ukrainian nation-
alists was US led, and that it was based on what they thought was in their best
interest, which they think has to be (because of old cold war thinking?) oppo-
site to Russias interest. As Hudson wrote the aim of a Ukrainian anti-Russian
turn thus is not to help Ukraine, but to use that unfortunate country as a pawn
in the New Cold War.
Historical parallel 1 We cannot help but remember the Soviet-Afghan war,
in which the US supported Mujahideens, and in the process created Al Qaeda.
In the Ukrainian situation there was no war though.
Historical parallel 2 Fom the Ukrainian nationalists point of view, a parall
can be drawn with their predecessors in WW2. In WW2 they sided with Ger-
many in order to ght against the Soviets (and the Poles). Todays nationalists
have sided with the EU and the US to make sure Ukraine has no link with Rus-
sia economically, to drive away East Ukrainians from power, and to put in place
their nationalist agenda. Again, in the 2014 situation, there was no occupation,
Ukraine was an independent state.
Historical parallel 3 The last parallel is simply between the US and Ukrainian
nationalists just after WW2, as mentioned earlier in our essay. The CIA de-
scribed then Banderas organisation as terrorist. Less than seventy years
later, the US (and the EU) had no moral issue backing their heirs . And had no
moral issue eithers when these heirs called terrorists
East Ukrainians who
refused to be part of the new nationalist Ukraine, or when the Ukrainian PM
called people supporting the separatists subhumans
See Michael Hudson, The New Cold Wars Ukraine Gambit.
The Ukrainian government call ATO (anti terrorist operation) the civil war in the Donbass.
See t1
Figure 1: 1994 presidential elections.
Figure 2: 2004 (2005?) presidential elections.
Figure 3: 2010 presidential elections (Yanukovichs score).
Figure 4: 7 February 2010 presidential elections. Yanukovich (Party of Regions)
won in the 2nd round with 51.84%.
Figure 5: 2012 parliamentary elections (Svaboda).
Figure 6: 2012 parliamentary elections (Communist Party).
Figure 7: TurnOut in the 2014 presidential elections.
Figure 8: TurnOut dierence between the 2014 and 2010 presidential elections.