Who are Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis?

Azov Battalion

Azov Special Operations Department or Azov Battalion, as it is commonly known, is a right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi unit of the National Guard of Ukraine. Formed in 2014 as a volunteer militia during the Odesa clashes, the Azov Battalion was soon incorporated into the National Guard of Ukraine, serving in the state capacity despite having allegiance to and drawing inspiration from the supremacist Nazi beliefs.

Right Sector

Another infamous group is the Right Sector, originally set up as an alliance between Ukraine’s nationalist groups in November 2013. It subsequently announced that they had formed a special “Donbass” battalion for its paramilitary operations in the breakaway region. The group-turned-political party says it wants to help build a “nationalist Ukrainian state and stage a nationalist revolution” in the county.

Svoboda

Svoboda (“Freedom”) was founded in 1991 as the Social National Party of Ukraine. The party idolizes Stepan Bandera, whose followers fought on the side of the Nazis during World War II against the Red Army and Ukrainian communist militias. Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) had direct support from the Germans: Hitler wanted them to police Ukraine after the Germans took it, and the OUN organized volunteer militias that actively participated in the Holocaust.

Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok, now a top official of the Ukrainian Parliament, is an unrepentant anti-Semite. In the summer of 2004, he made a speech to his followers at the gravesite of a Banderist commander in which he declared: “You are the ones that the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine fears most.”

Information collected from The Sleuth Journal, Al Jazeera and Sputnik International.

Background image via The Sleuth Journal, modified by me.

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