By Tash Shifrin
Fascists are now part of Ukraine’s government. Oleksandr Sych, of the fascist Svoboda party, has been appointed as deputy prime minister of Ukraine.
He will take the post under prime minister Arseniy Yatseniuk of the neo-liberal, conservative Batkivshchyna (“Fatherland”) party.
Sych is one of Svoboda’s 36 MPs and has made a particular name for himself with an attempt to ban all abortions.
Svoboda also has Andriy Mokhnyk as ecology minister and Ihor Shvaik as agriculture minister in the new administration.
A Svoboda MP, Oleg Mokhnytsky, already runs the general prosecutor’s office.
The appointment of fascist ministers by Ukraine’s parliament does not mean that this is a fascist government, nor that Ukraine is now a fascist state.
Coalition of neoliberals and fascists
The new government is in effect a coalition of neoliberals and fascists. This situation has happened before, for example in Italy, where the Alleanza Nazionale – formed from the fascist MSI, the heirs of Mussolini – joined coalition governments under Berlusconi. Former MSI leader Gianfranco Fini held the positions of deputy prime minister and foreign secretary.
The remainder of the new Ukraine government is made up of Fatherland MPs and unelected figures drawn from the Euromaidan movement, plus rear admiral Ihor Tenyukh, a former commander of Ukrainian Navy, as defence minister.
But entry into the government is another huge step forward for fascists in Ukraine. They have made a major breakthrough both in parliament and on the streets as a result of the leading role that fascist organisations have played in the Euromaidan movement.
The nominations for members of the new government announced to the Euromaidan crowds on Kiev’s main square last night also included Andriy Parubiy, the commander of the paramilitary Samooborona, or Self Defence, as the new head of the national security council.
[UPDATE 28 February: Parubiy’s appointment is now confirmed.]
Parubiy and Yarosh
Parubiy is now an MP for the Fatherland party. But he has a fascist past – he was one of the original leaders of the Social-National Party of Ukraine, with current Svoboda boss Oleh Tyahnybok. He later moved to the conservative Our Ukraine party, and then to Fatherland.
The leader of the hardcore nazi Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), Dmytro Yarosh, was also reported to have been nominated as a deputy to Parubiy. The Right Sector’s fighters have been a major component of the Self Defence paramilitaries – but they remained independent of Parubiy’s leadership, with Yarosh as their commander.
It remains unclear whether Yarosh has accepted his nomination, or whether this will go to a parliamentary vote. But, worryingly, the BBC reported that there were calls for Yarosh to be given a government post from the Euromaidan crowd.
Right Sector fighters are more popular with a section of Euromaidan than the traditional parties in Ukraine’s corrupt political system, where a tiny number of super-rich oligarchs pull the strings.
Also in the list of nominees, but so far unconfirmed by parliament, is the appointment of Tetyana Chornovol to head a new anti-corruption bureau. Chornovol is known as a journalist – but her background is in the hardcore nazi UNA-UNSO group, now part of Right Sector, where she was formerly head of its press department.
Svoboda – originally known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine – is fascist. It is allied with the British National Party, Hungary’s Jobbik and the Front National in France.
Like many fascist organisations across Europe, Svoboda dumped its old name and its traditional nazi Wolfsangel logo and formally distanced itself from its paramilitary wing, the Patriots of Ukraine – a strategy that succeeded as it won 10.4% of the votes in the 2012 elections.
Svoboda militants gained respect during Euromaidan, taking initiatives such as the seizure of Kiev’s city hall. They were at the core of the Euromaidan Samooborona or “Self Defence” paramilitaries, making up a significant chunk of its “hundreds”, or squadrons.
Euromaidan has been in effect a mass mobilisation behind the pro-EU faction of the ruling oligarchy. Neither the pro-Europe parties, nor Yanukovych’s pro-Russia Party of Regions has anything to offer Ukraine’s working class.
The new government takes office in Kiev as the armed seizure of Crimea’s government building ratchets up tensions in a deeply divided Ukraine, and the threat of military intervention by Russia has increased massively.
>> In depth: no tears for Yanukovych, no cheers for new regime or fascists in its midst
Analysis including the tensions now wracking Ukraine, “Antimaidan” protests in the south and east, unrest in Crimea and the role of the EU and Russia