On September 10th the founding congress of the “People’s Front” political party in the Ukraine was held. The new party is led by Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and speaker of the Rada, Oleksandr Turchynov. It also includes two current government ministers, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, and Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko. Other well known members are former National Security and Defense Council Secretary, Andriy Parubiy, and the former head of the National Anti-Corruption committee, Tetiana Chornovol. Both resigned from the current government in recent months. We will return to them later.
The new party has been viewed as a splinter of the Batkyvschyna party of former prime minister and oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko.
The first noteworthy thing about the new party is that media sources have suggested it is being funded by the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. Business News Europe for example states:
Oleh Lyashko’s success with his Radical Party is widely attributed to his backing by former head of the presidential administration Serhiy Lyovochkin and the TV channel Inter that Lyovochkin co-owns with gas oligarch Dmitry Firtash. Pundits say that Yatsenyuk has struck out on his own with People’s Front after being promised support by Firtash’ bitter rival, oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, owner of Ukraine’s largest bank Privat and one of Ukraine’s largest TV channels 1+1, and currently also governor of the wealthy Dnipropetrovsk*region. *Kolomoisky has funded volunteer battalions fighting in the east, commanders of which were present at the founding of People’s Front on September 10.
As the article notes, Kolomoisky is closely associated with the fascist paramilitary battalions.
Kolomoisky’s Dnipro Battalion “securing” a public building
His name has also cropped up with regards to the tragic events in the Trade Union Building in Odessa.
Interesting photos from the founding congress of the Peoples Front can be viewed here.
These photographs illustrate a second noteworthy thing about the party, namely the number of prominent paramilitary leaders who attended the launch. These have apparently been formed into a “military council”. Why a political party would require a military council is not readily understood.
The most significant of these leaders is Andriy Biletsky, the head of the “Azov” battalion, the most openly fascist of the paramilitary battalions. Biletsky is also the leader of the Social-National Assembly of Ukraine and it’s paramilitary wing Patriot of Ukraine. According to wiki:
The Patriot of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Патріо́т Украї́ни) is a Ukrainian nationalist organization with racist and neo-Nazi political beliefs. It constitutes a paramilitary wing of the Social-National Assembly of Ukraine (S.N.A.), an assemblage of neo-Nazi organizations and groups founded in 2008 that share the social-national ideology and agree upon building a social-national state in Ukraine. Both the “Patriot of Ukraine” and the S.N.A. engage in political violence against minorities and their political opponents. The leader of the “Patriot of Ukraine” and of the Social-National Assembly is Andriy Biletsky.
The political ideology of the SNA has been summed up by the analyst Anton Shekhovtsov as follows:
The SNA is a neo-Nazi movement, which has always been too extreme for the Right Sector. According to its official documents, its ‘nationalism is racial, social, great-power imperialist, anti-systemic (anti-democratic and anti-capitalist), self-sufficient, militant and uncompromising’. Its ideology ‘builds on maximalist attitudes, national and racial egoism,’ while glorifying the Ukrainian nation as part of the ‘White Race.’
At the time of the February coup Biletsky was languishing in jail along with other prominent Patriot of Ukraine members, Ihor Mykhailenko and Vitaliy Kniazhesky, for a gun attack on a prominent anti-fascist journalist Serhiy Kolesnyk. Within days the three (along with other imprisoned Nazis) were freed on foot of a special Rada bill.
Azov Battalion volunteers swearing in
The open incorporation of a Nazi like Biletsky into the party of Yatsenyuk and Turchynov shows that it is no longer possible to separate “liberal democrats” from fascists in the Ukraine. Any lines of distinction have now been blurred. Platforms are shared, political parties are shared, etc.
Launch of the People’s Front: Chornovyl and Yaatsenyuk, below party symbol
This can also be seen in the Radical Party of Lyashko’s which is tipped to gain anything up to 20% of the vote in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Lyashko has lured many SNA activists from the Right Sector in recent months and in the May 2014 Kyiv city council elections the following SNA members ran for the Radical Party: Oleh Odnorozhenko (SNA’s main ideologue), Ihor Mosychuk (second in command of the Azov), Ihor Kryvoruchko, and Volodymyr Shpara.
Establishment Politics in the Ukraine has moved sharply to the right. Extreme nationalism is now espoused by all the bourgeois parties. The Banderaite slogans “Hail Ukraine” and “Glory to the Heroes” are now main stream. Within this, however, there are various groupings representing different oligarchs, with differing connections to “western” imperialism and prepared to embrace far right extremism to differing degrees. Lyashko represents the oligarch Firtash, in the People’s Front we have linked Yatsenyuk (Washingto’ns man), the oligarch Kolomoisky and various paramilitary forces. Many of the Nazis in the Ukraine have recognised the collapse of barriers between themselves and “liberals” and availing of open doors have abandoned party building and moved into “mainstream” parties.
Aside from Andriy Biletsky and the other paramilitary leaders there are two other prominent individuals associated with the People’s Front which, to my mind, mark it as a clear and present danger to the Ukrainian working class. These are Andriy Parubiy and Tetiana Chornovol. Parubiy I described early this year during the Maidan protests as possibly the most dangerous individual in the Ukraine. He was the founder of the Social-National Party of the Ukraine (the forerunner of Svoboda) and is also a former leader of the Nazi paramilitary Patriot of Ukraine group. He left these organisations in 2004 to infiltrate the establishment parties. He was one of the main leaders of the “Orange Revolution” in 2004 and was a commander and in charge of “security” during the Maidan protests. His name has often appeared in discussions of the sniping attacks on the Maidan. After the coup he was appointed Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council which oversaw the “ATO” against Eastern Ukraine. Chornovol, who is often described as an anti-corruption activist is also of the far right and cut her political teeth in the Nazi UNA-UNSO organisation which was notorious for sending fighters to the Transnistrian, Abkhaz and Cechen conflicts. Her husband, Nikolai Beryozovoi, was killed last month in the fighting in east Ukraine. Not surprisingly, he was a member of the openly fascist, Azov Battalion.
Both Parubiy and Chornovol resigned from the government recently. He refused to give a reason while she stated that no inroads were being made in tackling corruption. It is interesting, therefore, that both have seen fit to set up a new party with prominent members of the government. It is possibly because this party will be placed significantly to the right of the Poroshenko Bloc, as shown by Yatsenyuk’s recent attacks on cease fire initiatives, and who knows what plans US imperialism has for it and it’s “military council” if the situation the Ukraine continues to deteriorate.
Sam Lord 13 September 2014
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Yatsenyuk, Ukraine P.M., with Obama in the Oval Office, March 2014