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Pepe Escobar put me onto these pictures, both taken a few weeks before the new ruling troika’s accession to power in late February. Victoria Nuland in the first, Baroness Ashton in the other. Pretty clear from these formal portraits that a formal anointment by the US and the West was underway. The three are Yarsenyi Yatsenyuk, Vitali Klitschko, and Oleh Tyahnybok.
Tyahnybok, the one least familiar to Western readers—and for very good reason, as shall be seen– is the leader of the Svoboda Party and a real piece of work, according to his Wikipedia entry:
In October 1991 Tyahnybok became a member of the Social-National Party of Ukraine. He is characterised as representative of Ukraine’s far right. From 1994 till 1998, Tyahnybok served as a member of the Lviv Regional Council. In 1998, Tyahnybok was first elected to the Ukrainian Parliament as a member of Social-National Party of Ukraine, in the parliament he became a member of the People’s Movement of Ukraine fraction. In 2002, Tyahnybok was reelected to the Ukrainian parliament as a member of Victor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine bloc. In parliament he submitted 36 motions for debate, but the parliament adopted only four of them. In the majority of his motions he opposed the introduction of the Russian language as the second official state language, proposed recognition of the fighting role of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Ukrainian Insurgent Army during World War II, called for the lustration of former communist officials, security service officers and undercover agents, and demanded the prohibition of communist ideology. None of these motions were adopted.
On July 20, 2004, Tyahnybok was expelled from the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction after he made a speech in the Carpathian Mountains at the gravesite of a commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. In the speech, which was aired on television in the summer of 2004, he made comments like:
“[You are the ones] that the Moscow–Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine fears most“
“They were not afraid and we should not be afraid. They took their automatic guns on their necks and went into the woods, and fought against the Moskali, Germans, Kikes and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.“
In his defence Tyahnybok said he had not offended Russians by calling them an occupying force as this was based on historical fact. He also denied that he was anti-Semitic, saying he was rather pro-Ukrainian. The head of the State Committee of National Migration (Derzhkomnatsmihratsia) Hennadiy Moskal published an open letter with insulting content towards the head of the AU Freedom. The Prosecutor’s office filed criminal charges of inciting ethnic hatred, but later closed the case for lack of offense. Since that time Mr. Tyahnybok has won nine court cases in that regard. By the decisions of courts it was recognized that the criminal case was raised unlawfully, and the actions of TV-channel “Inter” that showed the footage of the Tyanybok’s speech as well as the Head of the Derzhkomnatsmihratsia H. Moskal were recognized as ones that insult the honor and dignity Oleh Tyahnybok and caused him a moral damage. The actions around that issue led to creation of the “Program in defense of Ukrainians”. Tyahnybok stated in 2012 “this speech is relevant even today” and “All I said then, I can also repeat now”.
Since February 2004 Tyahnybok has headed the All-Ukrainian Union “Freedom”.
In April 2005, Tyahnybok co-signed an open letter to President Yushchenko calling for a parliamentary investigation into the “criminal activities of organized Jewry in Ukraine.”
Tyahnybok stood as a candidate for the post of Mayor of Kiev during the Kiev local election in 2008. In the elections Leonid Chernovetskyi was reelected with 37.7% of the vote, while Tyahnybok received 1.37% of the vote.
Tyahnybok’s results in the presidential elections of 2010
Tyahnybok was a candidate for President of Ukraine in the 2010 presidential election for the All-Ukrainian Union “Freedom”. He received 352,282 votes, or 1.43% of the total. Most of his votes he received in the historic Halychyna oblasts – Lviv oblast, Ternopil oblast and Ivano-Frankivsk oblast accounted to 5% of the vote. In the second round, Tyahnybok did not endorse a candidate. He did presente a list of some 20 demands second round candidate Yulia Tymoshenko had to fulfil first before gaining his endorsement – which included publicizing alleged secret deals Tymoshenko had with Vladimir Putin and ridding herself of what he called Ukraine-haters in her close circles.
During the 2010 Ukrainian local elections his party won between twenty and thirty percent of the votes in Eastern Galicia where it became one of the main forces in local government.
During the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election Tyahnybok was (re-)elected (he was top candidate on his party list) into the Ukrainian parliament; when his party won 38 seats. Tyahnybok was elected leader of the party’s parliamentary faction.
In December 2012 Tyahnybok was voted Person of the Year by readers of Ukraine’s leading news magazine, Korrespondent.
Tyahnybok regards Russia as Ukraine’s biggest threat. He has accused the Medvedev presidency of “waging virtual war on Ukraine along many fronts – in the information sphere and the diplomatic sector, within the energy trade and throughout the world of international PR spin.”. He is pro-NATO and critical of the European Union, but supports a Europe of free nations. According to polls both stances put him at odds with the majority of Ukrainians. Tyahnybok also wants to deprive Crimea of its autonomous status and Sevastopol of its special status.
Tyahnybok wants to introduce a “nationality” section into Ukrainian passport, a visa regime with Russia, and for Ukrainians to pass a Ukrainian language test to work in the civil service.
Tyahnybok wants to re-establish Ukraine as a nuclear power. He believes this would stop the “Russian virtual war on Ukraine” (mentioned above).
Here’s a picture of Tyahnybok doing what looks like national socialist, excuse me, social-national calisthenics:
Thanks, Wikipedia. I guess Khodorkovsky neglected to read Wikipedia before he declared there were no fascists or Nazis in Maidan.
As to why Victoria Nuland and Catherine Ashton cherish Tyahnybok, or at least hold their noses, ignore his blatant anti-Semitism, Ukraine ethnic chauvinism, and flirtations with fascism, the explanation can be found within the final passage in his Wikipedia entry:
In an opinion poll conducted on December 7–17, 2013, respondents showed that in a hypothetical presidential election between Viktor Yanukovych and Tyahnybok, results found that Tyahnybok would win with 28.8% of the popular vote, versus Yanukovych’s 27.1%. Another poll taken on January 42–February 2, 2014 across all regions of Ukraine showed that in a presidential race between Tyahnybok and incumbent Yanukovych, 54.% of the population would vote for Tyahnybok.
In other words, with pro-Russian candidates off the ballot, Tyahnybok is a dominant political power in Ukraine. He certainly is a bigger votegetter than Yatsenyuk, whose main responsibility is to negotiate with the West over financial aid and the EU package, and Vitali Klitschko, who is seen as a political tyro. In recognition of Tyahnbyok’s clout, Svoboda members got the posts of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Ecology, and a acting prosecutor general. A founder of the Social Nationalist party was made secretary of the Ukraine National Security and Defense Council.
Looks like Ukraine might be in for a prolonged session of Strategic Patience (TM), my shorthand for the US persisting with spectacularly flawed policies because
1) the pain and cost is mostly borne overseas
2) the United States can step in and claim credit for confronting the problems itself created, but without ever addressing or removing the underlying causes and
3) there is always the hope that things will get so bad that everybody will just give up and America will get its way.
Peter Lee edits China Matters. His ground-breaking investigation into the NSA, The NSA and Its Enablers, appears in the October issue of CounterPunch magazine. He can be reached at: chinamatters (at) prlee. org.