“Ukraine has emerged as a hub in the broader network of transnational white supremacy extremism, attracting foreign fighters from all over the world. Where the jihadis travel to fight in places like Syria, white supremacists now have their own theater in which to learn combat – Ukraine, where the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces has been raging since 2014, attracting fighers from around the globe who are fighting on both sides. Recent research shows that around 17,000 foreigners from 50 countries, including the United States, have gone to fight in that conflict.
An advertisement for “Fortress Europe” in Kyiv in May 2020, featuring a number of neo-Nazi bands
While the lineup is still incomplete, bands already slated to perform in Kyiv include Italian band Bronson, affiliated with the neo-fascist CasaPound movement, German “National Socialist hardcore” (or hatecore) band Path of Resistance and anti-Semitic Slovak band Krátky Proces, whose former singer ran for far-right extremist Marian Kotleba’s party in 2016 elections in Slovakia. Of course, both Bilodub and Levkin’s bands, Sokyra Peruna and M8L8TH, will be playing too, and some of the same fans who posted photos from Asgardsrei will likely be doing so from Fortress Europe.
In several instances analyzed by Bellingcat, organizations that were approved for and apparently received state NPE projects funding share leadership with C14 and National Corps; both of these groups attracted international attention in 2018 because of their reported roles in attacks on members of Ukraine’s Roma minority, LGBT populations, feminist activists, and journalists. Furthermore, in 2019, these same groups made headlines due to violent clashes they had with Ukrainian law enforcement in separate incidents that led to charges against these organizations’ members. For example, in March 2019, clashes between National Corps and police in Cherkasy left 22 members of law enforcement with injuries, according to a statement by Ukraine’s National Police.
Documents analyzed by Bellingcat suggest that Ukraine’s government apparently earmarked 845,000 hryvnias — over $30,000 — for projects by organizations linked to National Corps and C14.
Radio Free Europe reports that axes and hammers were used on 7 June by neo-Nazis from the Azov National Militia to perpetrate yet another assault on Romani people in Ukraine. Their entire 7 June pogrom in Holosiyivskiy Park in Kyiv was broadcast live by them on Facebook without police ever intervening.
The organized assault was the fourth of its kind to be committed against Romani people in Ukraine during the last six weeks. The National Militia was created by veterans of the ultra-right Azov Battalion in January and on 6 June issued an ultimatum, again through Facebook, to these particular Romani people instructing them to vacate their camp within 24 hours.
Neo-fascist Ukrainian groups like Right Sector and Svoboda played a major role in this Western-backed regime change operation. In the violence following the putsch, these forces cohered into neo-Nazi militias like the Azov Battalion and C14 (named after the white supremacist “14 words” slogan).
In 2014, the Azov Battalion was directly incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard, merging the explicitly fascist militia with the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior and military.
The United States strongly backs Ukraine and has given it significant military support. Many of the weapons provided by Washington have ended up in the hands of avowed neo-Nazis.
The Grayzone has repeatedly reported on the US government’s support for these neo-Nazis forces, including both Azov and C14.
“Our organization is designed to take power. If circumstances warrant, that could happen by nondemocratic methods. Believe me, we are very capable of acting in extreme situations,” he adds. “At the Maidan we had only 300 activists, and look what we did. In fact, if you consider that there was never more than 1 million people participating in the Maidan altogether, out of a population of 42 million, it shows how things really work. The active minority always leads the passive majority. Scenarios change, and we are ready. Our purpose is to save Ukraine.”
The Right Sector, and other militant street groups such as C-14 and the newly created National Corps, already pose a real and present danger to vulnerable groups of the population, such as gay and transgender people, women’s activists, Roma, as well as any dissidents who might, rightly or wrongly, be viewed as “pro-Russian.”
Azov has also gained itself a reputation far beyond its military exploits as a unit however. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR, 2016) declared Azov Battalion guilty of war crimes on multiple accounts. In 2014 Azov was documented engaging in mass looting from civilian homes in the down of Shyrokyne, as well as targeting civilian areas with artillery and small arms fire. The OHCR report also detailed the rape and torture of a mentally disabled man, claiming “A man with a mental disability was subject to cruel treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence by 8 to 10 members of the ‘Azov’ and ‘Donbas’ battalions in August-September 2014. The victim’s health subsequently deteriorated and he was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital.” In a later report from 2015, it was reported that a captured suspected supporter from the Donetsk People’s Republic was tortured via electrocution and waterboarding until he confessed to allegedly spying for the rebel governments.
Azov Battalion also has strong ties to fascism and uses neo-Nazi symbolism. Azov Battalion members were filmed displaying neo-Nazi and SS symbols and iconography, In one widely-circulated instance, the German ZDF television channel filmed an Azov fighter who had a swastika and SS symbol engraved into his helmet (NBC News, 2015). Azov Battalion has had so much coverage associated with their unapologetic following of Nazi ideology that in 2015 both the United States military and Canadian forces stated that Azov would no longer be directly trained by the two respective nations (Conyers, 2015). Tellingly however, these conditions were quickly removed when Azov became a regular military unit in the Ukrainian armed forces, as opposed to the militia status they had been operating under beforehand (Sokol, 2016).
Amidst the ongoing military confrontation with Russia, reports have emerged proving that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seeking to appoint the far-right Serhiy Sternenko as head of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) in Odessa, in an attempt to further his alliance with neo-Nazi forces.
As the former head of the neo-Nazi Right Sector in Odessa, Sternenko was directly implicated in the 2014 Trade Unions House massacre of 46 people. He is a convicted criminal and currently under investigation for murder.
Founded in 2010, C14 is named after the 14-word slogan “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children” of American Nazi David Lane. C14 is regularly involved in numerous attacks against civilians, students, journalists, lawyers, social activists, foreigners, minorities, LGBT activists, they often conduct hate crimes and often go unpunished.
Related: October 14: Ukraine’s far-right Intercession
This is not the first C14’s pogrom against Ukraine’s Romani community.
April 20, 2018, C14 filmed themselves carrying out a pogrom in the Lysa Hora nature reserve near Kyiv, where they drove fifteen families from their homes. C14 gangs, carrying weapons, attacked the Roma. A video posted days later showed whole families with small children fleeing in terror, chased by masked men who hurled stones and sprayed them with gas canisters, before setting their tents ablaze. In July 2018, far-right C14 member Serhiy Mazur, was convicted for attacks against Roma settlement; he has received a two-month suspended sentence.
“The World Economic Forum agrees that banks and financial institutions should lead the path forward for digital I.D