During upheavals, the greatest risk is not that one of two sides could lose, but that a third, an opportunistic and authoritarian party, could make with the spoils.

Ukrainians are currently fighting for their independence and their democracy.  But amidst the terrifying scenes of protest and suppression, is emerging as the most radical - and dangerous - of the factors in the civil war equation, a far right wing party with a very dark past.

There is always the risk that a right wing group could appropriate the cause and usurp the power and freedom gained by popular protest.  In Ukraine's case, the Svoboda Party is just such an ominous force.

The Svoboda, furthermore, is pushing for all out conflict, and wishes to push Ukraine to the brink, only to rescue it and appropriate for itself all power and advantages such an outcome could afford.  If this is reminiscent of another dark period, that of pre-Hitler Germany, the impression would be correct. 

The push for Ukraine to become part of the EU was born of a wish to create an even deeper separation from former ruler Russia.  But such separation was quickly repressed.  And this is where the Svoboda party comes in.


To make matters worse, the Svoboda has allied itself with Vitaly Klitschko's Udar party, and the Fatherland party, which was Yulia Tymoschenko's party.  Such an inclusion gives the Svoboda immediate legitimacy.  

Interestingly enough, the Svoboda's leader, Myroshnychencko successfully blocked amendments to recently passed anti demonstrations laws that would have made the legislation even more draconian.  But what is not positive about Svoboda is their commitment to exacerbate the civil strife, until all out conflict and government change is achieved.  While Myronshnychencko asserts that he is worried about the barricades being erected in Kyiv and the potential for bloodshed, he is in effect fomenting that very anger and violence.

Yanukovich, the sitting president, however, comes from a region in Ukraine where the commercial holdings of the Russian oligarchs that own the mining and energy interests have long suppressed any local attempt at freeing themselves from the yoke of the oligarch's corruption. In fact Yanukovich has been convicted of theft and graft in the past, and is widely believed to have rigged the elections that saw him to power.  Yanukovich comes from Donetsk, and he is the very embodiment of the corrupt businessman who will do Putin's bidding and will employ the worse and most repressive tactics to stop the Ukrainian's people struggle for democracy, or at least less autocratic rule. 

Compared with Yanukovich's rule and the frightful possibility that he will adopt the same repressive tactics employed by Putin, even Svoboda might seem palatable for change seeking Ukrainians. And that is exactly the same mechanism that allowed Hitler to ascend to absolute power.


However, a violent evolution of the civil unrest will only play into the hands of Yanukovich, and will give him the perfect excuse to enact more abusive laws and crack down on the demonstrations. 

With Svoboda and Yanukovich both restless in their expectation of all out violence, the remaining opposition is at a loss at how to steer the protests peacefully and more importantly, in a constructive, productive manner.  But Svoboda has a significant, 10%, approval from the people, and therefore can count on it being included in any emerging coalition.

In fact, Svoboda has already forged alliances with France's extreme right wing Font National, and the Fiamma Tricolore from Italy, an unabashed revival of the Fascist party.  To top it all, Svoboda falls in line with Putin when it comes to the rights of homosexuals.  Even more ominously, The Svoboda is virulently anti-Semitic, as are all right wing groups.  Until 2004, the Svoboda was called Ukraine's Social-National party, in a shameless homage to Hitler's own National-Socialism.

What all the party in the opposition want, however is inclusion in the EU and by reflection, in NATO, something that would truly challenge Putin's efforts. 

The role Svoboda could play however, in the civil unrest is crucial.  They are the ones who want violence, and all out conflict. And that, would only strenghten Yanukovich's grip on the country. 

Source : Spiegel international/ 12.8.14


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