Share |

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taking a Few Shots at Imported Racism in Ukraine

Skinhead, speaking in Russian: Let’s take a straight look at whom we have in our country…uh…uh…at who comes to our country. This is not America, where they have Arabs coming, professors, scientists, medics and so on. What we have coming to us is the regular kind of trash. They come, and then we start thinking why we have so much AIDS and so on. That’s the guys who spread it: those Georgians, those Negroes. They create no value. That’s what we’re fighting against. There’s this phrase that we skinheads do what the police fails to do.

Minister of the Interior, Yuriy Lutsenko, speaking in Ukrainian: Often, these are regular street robberies and assaults. But I have to admit that today, in Ukraine, and in Kyiv specifically, there are large racist teenage groups. In our two months of work this year, we found more than 500 members of the skinhead movement in Kyiv alone.

Most of the blame for not doing enough to combat hate crime lies with law enforcement.

Yet much of the blame also lies with the media for lack of awareness-raising efforts. The Ukrainian media often under-investigate hate crime, viewing it strictly through a social prism, without properly examining its cultural undercurrents and organizational structure.

Russian Nationalism v Ukrainian Nationalism
In many cases, if not in most, perpetrators of hate crime draw inspiration from Russian-influenced nationalism and extremism. The rule of thumb is that Ukrainian nationalists define themselves by opposition to Russian neo-imperialism. Therefore, when portraying hate crime in Ukraine, care should be taken to distinguish Russian nationalism from Ukrainian nationalism.

However, using language as a cue may not always work when it comes to more sophisticated organizations — the new wave of imported racism. Once in Ukraine, these racist organizations mask themselves as “Ukrainian.”

Here’s how their “Ukrainization” works. First, they steep themselves in Ukrainian nationalist slogans. And then, the trick comes. Instead of taking on the Kremlin, they redirect the anger of their Ukrainian converts/partners at Africans, Asians, and former Soviet republic nationals.

This retargeting technique unleashes an array of lethal isms against them: white supremacism,
Moscowcentric pan-Slavism, neo-imperialism, monarchism and neo-Nazism. (All of this in a country that lost more lives to Nazism than any Western country.)

Until recent years, violence against non-Slav immigrants could be traced to a number of isolated incidents. It was with the arrival of imported ideology that hate crime climbed to a statistically significant level in Ukraine.

If you study these organizations’ frontline messages, you almost start feeling as if Stalin, Russification and Russian neo-imperialism never existed in the first place. (These issues traditionally — and legitimately — make the top of the list in the vocal but rarely violent Ukrainian nationalist community.)

Now, if you do a little thinking, you start realizing which way the wind is blowing.

What’s in a Name?
Vestiges of such infiltrative retargeting can be publicly observed. In their expansion strategies, some organizations prefer to Ukrainize without completely erasing their non-Ukrainian identity.

Take UDPNI (Ukrainskoye Dvizheniye Protiv Nelegalnoi Immigratsii), or the Ukrainian Movement Against Illegal Immigration. UDPNI makes no effort to conceal its striking brand-name similarity to DPNI (Dvizheniye Protiv Nelegalnoi Immigratsii), its putative Russian mother ship.

Below are some non-standard Cyrillic brand extensions of those acronyms:

NDPNI (Rus. Narodnoye Dvizheniye Protiv Nelegalonoi Immigratsii)

NRPNI (Ukr. Narodny Rukh Proty Nelegalnoyi Imigratsiyi)

Here's another one, the Ukrainian Eurasian Movement, a local affiliate of the Moscow-based Eurasian Youth Movement (ESM).

Patriot Ukrayiny, which positions itself as a "social nationalist" party, pretty much resembles Russian-based national socialist organizations. Alas, Patriot Ukrayiny almost has no quarrel with Russian neo-imperialism. Instead, the organization specializes in issues of race and illegal immigration.

In a country that will host Euro 2012, it is this kind of ideological “immigration” that must be made illegal. Ukrainian law enforcement must stop turning a blind eye to hate crime and must act vigorously, setting an example for our neighbors to follow.

Video uploaded from:


Anonymous said...

Excellent post - thank you so much.

"All of this in a country that lost more lives to Nazism than any Western country."
Have never understood how anyone could be a neo-Nazi in any Eastern European country esp. RF or UA, when over twenty million died on the Eastern front mostly civilians.


Anonymous said...

What an excellent blog site.
Taras, my compliments to you. I am a foreign national , but a Ukranian patriot. I Love Ukraine and I trust Ukraine may become a strong, successful independent nation taking its rightful place amongst its fellow European nations. Truly strong nations do not need to persecute minorities, nor bend to the threats of any neighbours.

Taras said...

Thank you, Anonymous! Thank you, Luida!

Thank you for your kind words! There’s hardly a family in Ukraine and Russia that did not lose someone dear in WW II. Who would have believed that Nazism — among our own kind — would come back to haunt us? Didn’t we suffer enough from Nazism?

The immigration issue requires an in-depth discussion. Like any other country, Ukraine needs to have a well balanced immigration policy. In Ukraine, this issue looms particularly large, since our geography makes us a passageway for millions of people trying to reach the EU.

That raises the stakes in our need to build a healthy, tolerant society, one based on the rule of law and respect for all races. As we confront this challenge, we can do better without the "ideological imports" outlined in my post. Such imports must have no place in our society.

The bolder we are in confronting them, the healthier society we will build, and the better spillover effect it will have on our neighbors.

Pawlina said...

This is absolutely bone-chilling, Taras. But what a great analysis of the situtation.

It is exactly like the UPA days when the Red Army set up a fake partisan army to confuse Ukrainians who wanted to join UPA and fight off the invaders from both east and west. It also, of course, served as an effective infiltration mechanism to undermine UPA.

It's a good thing that you are aware of it and that the blogosphere allows brilliant minds like yours to expose such deliberate malice and chicanery. Hopefully other bloggers will do the same, thereby helping the Ukrainian media to clue in ...

Buffalo Expat said...


Once again I am so impressed with your journalism. As the days go on, and the police do nothing to stop the violence that is ensuing against foreigners, these groups are growing more bold and the members are becoming less obvious. They dress like ordinary people, but will violently attack someone in broad daylight. So far in 2008, over 30 people have reported violent attacks with racial motivations and, as we know, three people have been murdered. And yet not one violent crime has been investigated or prosecuted under Article 161 of the criminal code.

If people are looking for more information or would like to get involved in projects related to this topic, they should contact the Diversity Initiative, which is a coalition of over 30 Ukrainian and international organizations that are working to gather data, provide aid to victims, and pressure the government of Ukraine to equally protect people on their territory. For more information, contact

Taras said...

Thank you, Pawlina!

You brought up a very good analogy — the struggle between the NKVD and the UPA from the mid 40s to the mid 50s.

Since the collapse of the USSR, there have been numerous publications about the NKVD resorting to false flag terrorism to undermine local support for the UPA.

In present-day Ukraine, one can see false flag racism taking root. The builders and operators of racist networks in Ukraine have been experimenting with the tactic for a while.

The two graffiti pics I posted merely scratch the surface. Today, one can hear skinheads screaming “Slava Ukrayiny!” at soccer games. Many of them are the same youths who post “white pride worldwide” messages online and worship the gods of pan-Slavic Nazism.

The media, including the blogosphere, has an important enlightening and coordinating role to play.

As the fourth estate, the media should reinforce education and law enforcement efforts to bring racism under control in Ukraine.

Thank you, Elise!

I wish I could impress you even more if the bad things I blog about got better. So far, the progress has been painfully slow — three steps forward, two steps back.

With more people like you — people who know and care — we can better analyze our country’s problems and organize ourselves to solve them.

By the way, this blog post has been visited from the U.S. Department of State, UNDP Kyiv Office and Amnesty International.

Anonymous said...

What about the following? home grown or imported?
Карпачова вимагає від МВС і СБУ реакції на ксенофобський марш у ”Політеху”

I may not think highly of Karpachova as she is a political tool but when she is right ...

More ought to be done by the police, imo.


PS the policeman states categorically in the following that the stabbing was 'hoolaganism'. Yes, it may bit the big one to serve a sentence on a kid and send them to jail for years with chances that it will only perfect them as a criminal but could not other options exist? or be created? de-programming? outreach centers?

Taras said...

These are the grave issues she should be tackling, instead of freelancing for the Party of Regions.