Where are the fascists?

As both Russia and Ukraine prepare to mark Victory Day (May 9), the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group continues to monitor the spread of fascist and neo-Nazi groups and ideas in eastern Ukraine.

Contrary to official Russian propaganda, the most visible neo-Nazis are Russians whose connections to the pro-Russian eastern Ukrainian separatists are incontrovertible. See Halya Coynash’s “Neo-Nazis in Moscow’s service,” as well as the links at the bottom of that article. Like Aleksandr Dugin (whom I’ve posted about before), Aleksandr Barkashov is well known to those who monitor fascism in the former Soviet Union.

For a little more on the phenomenon of Russian fascists (and their fellow travelers) calling others fascist, see Cathy Young’s “Who are you calling fascist?.” And for historical context on Western and Russian meanings of the word “fascist,” Andreas Umland’s 2005 article “Concepts of fascism in contemporary Russia and the West” is still one of the best starting points.

This is not to deny that there are both fascists and neo-Nazis among Ukraine’s pro-Maidan nationalists — as the same monitors (Viacheslav Likhachev, Andreas Umland, and others) have long described – but only to contest the misrepresentations coming from Russian state media, where “fascists” and “neo-Nazis” are almost exclusively found elsewhere but not within.

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