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.
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