January 1, 2016
The headline of an article of The Jerusalem Post is quite descriptive: “Local Jews in shock after Ukrainian city of Konotop elects neo-Nazi mayor”. The story is about the behavior of newly chosen Mayor Artem Semenikhin of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party.
According to reports, Semenikhin drives around in a car bearing the number 14/88, a numerological reference to the phrases “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and “Heil Hitler”; replaced the picture of President Petro Poroshenko in his office with a portrait of Ukrainian national leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera; and refused to fly the city’s official flag at the opening meeting of the city council because he objected to the star of David emblazoned on it.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
“The reaction of [the] community is shock. People are shocked it could happen in [a] city and nobody believed it could happen here but it happened somehow,” community activist Igor Nechayev told The Jerusalem Post. For the most part, relations between the Jewish community and their non-Jewish neighbors are cordial, he said. However, while the mayor attempts to make sure his statements never cross over into outright anti-Semitism, many things he says can be interpreted in such a way, he continued. As an example, he referred to a recent statement by Semenikhin in which the mayor refused to apologize for anti-Jewish actions taken by far-right nationalists in World War II, intimating that it was because those responsible for the Holodomor famine of the 1930s were largely Jewish.
Source: The Jerusalem Post
The case of neo-Nazism in Konotop is only one example about right-wing activism in Ukraine. Here some other examples from December 2015:
- Members of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi Azov volunteer battalion and their ultranationalist civilian sympathizers have conducted a torchlit procession in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, held under the slogan “coming after you!” According to its organizers, up to 5,000 ultranationalist activists marched through the central avenue of the city alongside the Azov fighters carrying burning torches and Azov flags with the battalion’s insignia – “Wolfsangel” or wolf hook, which was used during WWII by two of Nazi Germany’s SS divisions. Source: RT
- An anti-communist hysteria is prevailing in Kiev. After banning Soviet symbols earlier this year, a court has now outlawed the Communist party of Ukraine, preventing it from organising and taking part in elections. The ban has been criticised by civil liberties campaigners, who say it contravenes the European Convention of Human Rights, to which Ukraine is a signatory. Source: The Guardian
- Ukrainian nationalists are cooperating with the so-called ‘militant’ arm of the Islamic State. Currently, some of them are even being transferred from Syria to Ukraine. Nine thousand Ukrainian passports were sent to ISIS. Source: New Eastern Outlook
- The Russian Foreign Ministry has called the seizure of an Orthodox church near Rivne by Ukrainian radical nationalists a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion…The ministry noted that the situation near Rivne was a continuation of a series of similar seizures of churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. According to it, ten cathedrals have been fully destroyed, 77 others severely damaged and at least three Orthodox priests have been killed. “Several churches have been seized because of inactivity and sometimes direct involvement of Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “Many priests fled to Russia trying to save themselves from threats by extremists.” Source: TASS
Fortunately in Russia some opposite actions are taking place: