By DR. INNA ROGATCHI, ROGATCHI FOUNDATION—
The most worrisome and largely overseen factor of the ongoing Ukrainian tragedy, to me, is the mighty presence among the opposition hard-core militants from ultra-right nationalistic parties and movements there. The threat which is posed by those forces shall be not under-estimated, especially in the context of rapidly rising ultra-national forces all over Europe, a new ugly ‘fashion’ of nowadays.
Ukraine now has become a tragic ‘show-case’ of this alarming threat. The civic society world-wide simply has no luxury neither does it have moral right for allowing the repetition of the Nazi-like nightmares. When the Holocaust has happened, just three generations back, there had been no precedent for such total horror and absolute crime committed during 12 years non-stop all over Europe, and – as it worth of remember – being allowed to start by the weak governments and inept leaders.
But today, 75 years after the Holocaust has begun, there is no way of playing ignorance as a main card covering indifference, often simple cowardice, and strangely aloof attitude towards recently risen clear and palpable threat of the determined race hatred which is swiping all over Europe, – and about which neither European Parliament, nor Council of Europe, or any other supposed-to-be powerful international organisations doing anything real to stop and eradicate it as they must.
“I have been six times in Ukraine during last two month, what a tragedy is going on there”, a senior European politician told me another day. I asked him: “Have you noticed the activities of ultra-right radicals there? Have you heard what they are proclaiming and under which slogans they are ‘fighting for democracy’, so to say?” –“Yes, that Svoboda ( Freedom) party, I know, it is a nightmare, by the way”.
Well, it is not what I would attest as ‘by the way’, – I replied, and asked my friend further on – “That nightmare is just one of the parties of that direction in Ukraine; do you know how many violent racist movements in Ukraine are operating today? Sixteen more additionally to Freedom party plus seven more of the extreme-radical character, making it twenty three in total. Do you know that together with 10,44% of the seats in the current Ukrainian parliament occupied by Freedom party, those 23 more parties would cover for at least 20% of the population of that huge country of 45,5 million?” – “Yes, it is very serious” – my friend sounded alarmed, – “it should be taken into serious consideration, of course”. – I continued: “Do you know that these big Ukrainian radical movements are working in close co-operation and are having very close ties to the infamous Hungarian Fascist Jobbik party?” – “ Really?.. No, I did not know that. Oh, that’s very important. That’s really bad”, – now he was alarmed.
My friend flew to Ukraine the next morning for the seventh time in two months. He has joined there the urgent summit of the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland as the highest level of the European diplomacy had been urgently trying to save the situation that has come out of control and has went beyond of the point of no return. We already know that the summit was another dialogue between a deaf and a blind. But I do hope that as an honest man and an efficient international politician, my friend will continue to pursue the case that he and I were discussing with mutually shared serious worry not for Ukraine only, but regarding also the face and destiny of Europe in a near future, after the coming European elections in May 2014. During these elections, pan-European ultra-right radicals will try to hijack Europe once again; and the situation had been not that serious in the Europe since the pre-WWII time, indeed.
Why it is people so stubborn in their persistent drive to reject reality? Why our brains are so weak? And our eyes are so comfortably blind, always and repeatedly?
In Ukraine, the Janukovich-lead regime has been massively corrupt, the president himself happened to be a convicted criminal, and his clique fully corresponds to those marvellous qualities. Still, it is the same Ukrainian people who did vote for him; the same as people in Venezuela had been voting for their Orwellian presidents, the one after another. Any expert on Ukraine would tell you that all the previous Ukrainian regimes were quite similarly utterly corrupted, as it has been always the case for this country. Only names and groups of influence had been changing during the 22 years of the country’s independence, but not their mottos, ways and methods of actions.
Janukovich who is a weak and unable leader did not react adequately when his special forces has violated the protesting students in early December in what had been the turning point of the change of peaceful protest into the growing and uncontrollable violence. Infamous “Berkut” troops and the other Ukrainian security troops, their state militia and the special force units are notoriously anti-Semitic as it can be seen from their own pages in Facebook, their sites and their videos placed on YouTube.
What we are having in the case of Ukraine it is ugly, uncivilised and large enough groups of hard-core nationalists and militant racists – from the both sides, importantly. And this double-fold of violent nationalism is only increasing the threats to normal, terrorised now, citizens of Ukraine, and those who are visiting the country.
The genie of hatred has been freed out of the bottle, and it will be extremely difficult to put it back. But without doing it, there will be no peace in that big and important country. And the inflammatory situation would be threatening all of many neighbours of Ukraine, from Poland to Moldova, including Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, all them but Moldova being members of the European Union; with Russia and Belorussia among the Ukrainian neighbours, as well. Who on the earth needs such threatening open fire in one neighbour’s courtyard?.. But to handle a smoke, one needs to extinguish the fire. And the fire is that provocative, open and dangerous ultra-radical nationalism blossoming today in Ukraine.
RACIAL HATRED AS YEAST FOR RIOTS
It is crucial to realise that sheer and ugly racism has become the yeast of the Ukrainian riots – from the both sides, importantly. Why is none of the European, and the Western world leaders are not pointing out to that vital direction? Why it has been over-seen once again?
My close friend living in Ukraine has written to me a few days ago on how her West-based fiancée is very nervous about the situation and ‘is praying that democracy will win in Ukraine’ – “Poor naive man”, writes my Ukrainian friend. If things will be unfolded in the way they are unfolding now, we all would become poor and ridden by the race- based hatred all over Europe, and it might happen soon.
NEO-NAZIS AS ‘FREEDOM FIGHTERS’
A little bit than a year ago, in the Autumn 2012, ultra-right nationalist, fervently and openly anti-Semitic Freedom party had received over 10% of the seats in the Ukrainian parliament and is having a solid 37 seats in 450-member parliament there. Just over a year since the legitimisation of that party which initially had proudly called itself as National-Socialist party, the protests in Ukraine that has turned into the bloody riots and are very close to the civil war, has started.
Since the very beginning, the heavily racist element has been present in the rhetoric of the protests. Why nobody in the West did not react adequately on these non-stop proclamations of hatred and calls for violence? Why nobody spoke about it in a plain language, not for once?
If any of the MPs of almost any of the Western countries – except of Hungary, obviously – would allow him- or herself a pale shadow of the speeches which were repeatedly heard from the podium of the Ukrainian parliament , the speeches produced by the Freedom party MPs, those Western parliamentarian would find him- or herself in jail instantly.
But to make the Ukrainian customary sur-reality completely bleak, today the Freedom party leader is one of the three most visible, officially recognised leaders of the Ukrainian opposition. To accept it means the same as to sign a decree that “since today we are leaving in a barbarian age again, happily.”
German government seems to be the only one that has made a distinction between the leader of open neo-Nazis and the acceptable to the West other Ukrainian opposition leaders. Germany has no alternative on that, clearly.
But what about all and every other Western government, the European Parliament and the European Commission who are so very active – and so very unsuccessful – in the solving the Ukrainian drama? Are they deaf? Blind? Illiterate? Not interested in details, most probably – hurrying up in a non-stop shuttling to intermediate the peace process in Ukraine which comes as another fiasco, so far; very similarly to the Egyptian and Thailand ones.
In 2012, Anti-Defamation League has officially listed the Ukrainian Freedom party as neo-Nazi party. How it is possible in the civilised and the after Second-World-War world that this party is accepted as a part of an official opposition and a partner in the negotiations by anyone who is not Nazi and neo-Nazi ideology supporter?.. The European and Western leaders do owe us the answer to that simple question.
THE RIGHT SECTOR OF ARMED DEBAUCHERS
People who are following the situation in Ukraine know that the notorious Freedom party looks almost as a boy’s church choir in comparison with 23 more ultra-right radical organisations in Ukraine, several of them being recently united into Right Sector alliance comprised of highly aggressive militants. The reality of the day is that those thousands of militants are well equipped with weapons and ammunition and are determined to run the war, according to their leader’s repeated statements. It is those people who are happily taken responsibility for multiplied arsons, increasing daily terror and limitless violence. It is those people who were beaten severely a newly appointed official in Volyn, put him on his knees, hand-cuffed him publicly on the city square, and brought his family in front of him. Those people call themselves fighters for freedom. Is it the understanding of freedom that the European leaders are happy with?
Those are not ‘separate occidental cases’ as we are hearing in some official comments. This is the position and practices of the absolutely real, serious, big, well organised and well prepared part of the Ukrainian protesters, and this truth shall be realised and acted upon without delay.
There is no secret of the real political agenda and programmes of ultra-nationalist parties in Ukraine – there is nothing close to the European values and goals there. One just should opened the existing documents and also hear what the representatives of those parties are proclaiming daily. They are sharply anti-European, and highly racist. They have nothing to do with the values and practices of the civilised world. Why the European leaders are embracing such forces so indiscriminately?
THE THREAT TO THE UKRAINIAN JEWRY
Ukrainian Jewry is facing a real and serious threat, and it is simply chilly to write about it on the eve of the commemorating of 70th anniversary of the destruction of the Hungarian Jewry. The Hungarian government is putting the commemoration very much aside of their agenda, expectedly but unacceptably so.
Twenty five years ago, in 1989 there had been almost a half of a million Jewish people in Ukraine. In the period of just over decade, 80% of them had left the country. This fact alone tells a lot about the country’s attitude and atmosphere there for the Jewish people. In ten more years, the number has diminished by the third. Now there is less than 70,000 Jews are citizens of Ukraine, according to the official statistic.
That enormous shrinking of the Jewish population has become the one of the most tangible characteristics of the independent Ukraine, one has to face it. And now there is palpable and increasing danger to the Jewish people and Jewish institutions in the country. The world community should become vigilant and alerted on this threat. It also should act immediately in order to preserve and guarantee all necessary safety to those people and institutions. There is no ‘tomorrow’ for that.
PRE-CONDITION FOR THE CIVILITY
There is no doubt that the only way out of the heavily escalated bloody conflict in Ukraine is early elections. On the ground of the current situation in the country, and general outside silent acceptance of the radical ultra-right nationalistic parties and movements, there is a high enough probability of their serious gain in the early elections. Europe simply cannot afford adding gasoline into already started fire. As European leaders are so active these days with trying to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, they should make it absolutely clear to all parties involved that Europe and the world will not tolerate legitimisation of race-hatred. This has to be the precondition of any further development in Ukraine and their coming early elections.
To enforce the openly neo-Nazis movements in Europe by ignoring the threat they are posing is utterly risky business. People should not pay that terrible price – again – for the meekness and indifference of their leaders. As Ukraine today has become the tragic show-case to all Europe for breeding and allowing race-hatred to become a violent and uncontrollable force, to handle the situation there in accordance with the existing international law and norms of civilization.
Never again, you’ve said?
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Dr INNA ROGATCHI
President of The Rogatchi Foundation
Dr Rogatchi’s forthcoming book is Stars of Despair, Stars of Hope: Personal Reflections on the Holocaust in the Modern Times.