Fascism in Ukraine

by Theo Russell

FASCISTS have taken positions of state power in a European country for the first time since 1945. The rehabilitation of fascism in Ukraine began after Viktor Yushchenko took power, with support and funding from the United States and European Union members, in the 2004-5 Orange Revolution. Yushchenko posthumously awarded the title “Hero of Ukraine” to Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych, the leaders of the main faction of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

During the Second World War the UPA actively supported the Nazi genocide of between five and seven million people, a quarter of Ukraine’s population that included 1.5 million Jews, and the deportation of two million people to Germany. The UPA also carried out mass murders of tens of thousands of Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Soviet officials and communist party members. The rehabilitation of its leaders as “national heroes” would have been unthinkable in Soviet times.

On 21st February 2014 a violent and openly fascist coup took place in Kiev. The coup took place only in Kiev; it was not a national event and had no mass support in Ukraine. It ushered in a reign of terror against communists, socialists, trade unionists, Jews and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. This included widespread murders, the effective banning of communist parties, beatings and assassinations of opposition politicians, journalists and lawyers, a series of unexplained suicides of opposition politicians and the killing of peaceful protesters.

The White House was forced to admit, after leaks in the Russian media, that barely three weeks after the coup CIA Director John Brennan visited Kiev to meet senior Ukrainian intelligence officials and “foster mutually beneficial security cooperation”.

In an interview on Russian television just after Brennan’s visit, the deposed president Viktor Yanukovych said Brennan had “sanctioned the use of weapons and provoked bloodshed,” adding: “The US bears its share of responsibility for starting a civil war in Ukraine, not only through diplomatic influence, but its security forces, which do not only meddle, but issue orders.”

The head of Ukrainian intelligence under Yanukovych, Aleksandr Yakimenko, said his post-coup successor, Valentin Nalivaychenko, was a double agent working for the CIA. He told Russia’s Channel One TV station: “Nalivaychenko was recruited by the US when he was Ukraine’s Consul General in Washington in 2001-2003. The US is currently creating a sort of controlled chaos that is helping to blow up the bridges between Russia and Ukraine.”

Barely a week after Brennan’s visit, Ukraine’s “acting president”, Aleksandr Turchinov, declared that “an anti-terrorist operation” would be launched against anti-fascist protesters who had occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine. Since April 2014 this all-out conventional military operation, according to UN figures, has cost over 8,000 lives, including 2,500 civilians killed in indiscriminate bombing and shelling by the Ukrainian army and air force, and the displacement of two million refugees, mainly to Russia.

Since the Ukraine coup we have seen the election of dozens of fascists, including convicted murderers only released from prison weeks before the coup, on the lists of the three main parties who now form the illegal government in Kiev.

We have seen top EU and US, officials, including US Vice President Joe Biden, US assistant secretary Victoria Nuland, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton stand side by side with the leaders of these parties for photo opportunities.

We have seen the wholesale incorporation of fascist militias into a US-trained and equipped national guard, and fascists put in charge of the Kiev police and the national intelligence service. It is very likely that the 150 British troops sent to help train Ukrainian forces have been involved in training members of the former fascist militias.


We have seen communist party and trade union offices ransacked and burnt by fascist mobs, and including the deaths of at least 42 anti-fascist protesters, but probably far more, at the Odessa Trade Unions House fire three weeks after the coup.

EU and US leaders have turned a blind eye to the fascist terror in Ukraine. But what is far worse, to their eternal shame, avowed socialists and anti-fascists in Britain, including the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign (backed by Labour MP John McDonnell and several trade unions), the [Searchlight] anti-fascist organisation, and Hope not Hate, have recycled reports by pro-Kiev groups and the bourgeois mass media, whitewashed the role of fascists, pointed the blame towards Russia and president Putin, and falsely labelled all those who have fought to defend the breakaway Donbas region from fascism as themselves fascist or terrorist.

The forces defending the Donbas (the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics) do indeed include some reactionary and even fascist elements, but they also include communist revolutionaries who have had to be reined in by Putin. He favours the rule of local capitalist oligarchs. These communists are the backbone of struggle against fascism not only in the Donbas but also in the underground resistance in the rest of Ukraine.

The simple truth is that for the first time since 1945, fascists have taken key positions of state power in a major European country with a population of over 45 million people, under a thinly disguised veneer of western-approved “democracy”. The coup bears all the hallmarks of US-backed government overthrows from Guatemala to Chile to Indonesia.

The events in Ukraine are a warning to the working class and progressive people in Europe and around the world. They are another manifestation of the deep crisis of world capitalism, which has led to reactionary Islamists being paid and armed to spread death and chaos across the Arab world, the surrounding of Russia’s borders with bases and offensive weapons, and a US-led drive to war, if necessary even world war.

The New Communist Party, along with many communist, socialist and other progressive organisations around the world, can take pride in having worked with various political organisations in Britain, supported by the Rail Maritime and Transport union, in the Solidarity with the Anti-fascist Resistance in the Ukraine campaign (SARU).

SARU and the NCP, have denounced the US and Nato- backed fascist coup, extended political solidarity to anti-fascist fighters in Ukraine, and defended Russia’s limited but vital support for the Donbass region, and will continue this campaign until democratic rights are fully restored and a legitimate government is restored to power in the whole of Ukraine.