• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

We are inching along, but not as quickly as we (or you) would like. If you have already donated, thank you so much. If you haven’t had a chance, consider skipping the coffee this week and drop CounterPunch $5 or more. We provide our content for free, but it costs us a lot to do so. Every dollar counts.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Racism, Terror and Tuberculosis in Ukraine

On February 9 in the heart of Kiev, a Swedish extreme nationalist, Michael Skildt, and fighters of the Ukrainian paramilitary volunteer battalion ‘Aidar’ arrested two men who were crossing Maidan [Independence] Square in the center of the city. The two were just walking down the street and allegedly talking out loud on the phone “about the Ukrainian army, namely, how many Ukrainian soldiers should be killed,” the Aidar fighters told the Ukrainian television channel Espresso-TV.

Alert patriots and the Swedish volunteer, who happened to be there, immediately arrested the “separatists”. They searched the “arrested” and claimed to find on them… medals of the “terrorist organizations of DPR and LPR”.

In fact, under the law, members of volunteer battalions do not have a right to arrest, interrogate or search people (though, many of the members of these battalions are officially listed as employees of the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior). However, they do it regularly. For instance, in September of 2014, Amnesty International published a report in which the Aidar battalion was accused of frequent abductions, torture, racket and even executions of people.

Tatiana Montyan, an opposition politician and leader of the party ‘Spilna Diya’ (Common Action) in a conversation with Swedish magazine Aftonbladet said she does not believe that the arrested were separatists. “This is a tale from the Vienna Woods”, she said. In Kiev, no one would talk out loud about sympathizing with the rebels; still less would they carry medals issued by “the other side”.

According to Tatiana, this episode could be anything, including plain robbery in broad daylight, slightly disguised as a “patriotic action.” Such cases, she said, are becoming more and more frequent in Ukraine. People with guns feel full impunity and openly commit unlawful actions, while the police are afraid to get involved. There was a recent case when armed “patriots” threw a grenade at police.

“There is an increasing chaos in the country; all state institutions are collapsing,” says Montyan.

But if the victims of the Aidar fighters were most likely passersby who happened to be there, the fighters’ presence on the main street of the city was by no means accidental. They had come downtown to hinder “pro-Russian provocateurs”, which is how they describe protesters against the doubling of fares on the subway and other public transportation.

According to the memorandum which the Ukrainian government has signed with the IMF, the government pledges, beginning this year, to increase the pensionable retirement age to 65 years, raise by four to six times the price of natural gas, fire some 230,000 public sector employees (primarily doctors and teachers) and implement a number of other unpopular austerity measures. All this, coupled with rising unemployment and the highly unpopular mobilization (conscription) to the army, puts Ukraine on the brink of social explosion.

Under such circumstances it is quite natural that radical, nationalist guards appear at social protest actions. The so-called volunteer battalions (some of them flaunting ultra-rightist ideology) are financed in Ukraine by big businesses – for example, by the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, billionaire Igor Kolomoisky.

“They all belong to the oligarchs, politicians and officials, confirms Tatiana Montyan, “and they will execute any order, regardless of whether it is in accordance with the law.”

In a situation of acute social crisis, these well-armed and trained detachments may become the mainstay of the power holders in Ukraine who are rapidly losing their popularity. Today, patriotic rhetoric is becoming openly mixed with social racism and discrimination. “I arrested two separatists and it turns out one of them has tuberculosis. Now I will have the shivers every time I cough,” Michael Skildt complained recently in his Twitter account.

One of his readers explained how the disease of the poor is associated with “separatists”: “Most of them are criminals and tuberculosis is a common thing in Rus prisons,” he wrote.

But Michael Skildt, the Swedish fighter for the white race, is not discouraged. He says, “Vikings do not die from such shit.”

Alexei Sakhnin is a Russian opposition activist living in exile in Sweden and a coordinator of Left Front. Originally published in the Ukraine left-wing web journal Liva.com on February 22. Translated into English by Halyna Mokrushyna.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 22, 2019
Gary Leupp
The Kurds as U.S. Sacrificial Lambs
Robert Fisk
Trump and the Retreat of the American Empire
John Feffer
Trump’s Endless Wars
Marshall Auerback
Will the GOP Become the Party of Blue-Collar Conservatism?
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Trump’s Fake Withdrawal From Endless War
Dean Baker
Trump Declares Victory in China Trade War
Patrick Bond
Bretton Woods Institutions’ Neoliberal Over-Reach Leaves Global Governance in the Gutter
Robert Hunziker
XR Co-Founder Discusses Climate Emergency
John W. Whitehead
Terrorized, Traumatized and Killed: The Police State’s Deadly Toll on America’s Children
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A World Partnership for Ecopolitical Health and Security
Binoy Kampmark
The Decent Protester: a Down Under Creation
Frances Madeson
Pro-Democracy Movement in Haiti Swells Despite Police Violence
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Challenges Logging and Burning Project in Methow Valley
Chelli Stanley
Change the Nation You Live In
Elliot Sperber
Humane War 
October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Poll Projection: Left-Leaning Jagmeet Singh to Share Power with Trudeau in Canada
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail