The role neo-Nazi extremists play in Ukraine


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The last few days have seen Ukraine's far right groups in action again: violently dispersing an anti-government protest on Maidan Square hours after they violently dispersed an attempt to hold a gay pride parade in Kiev.

The two incidents taken together illustrate the role of far right groups in today's Ukraine.

Western governments and media try to minimise the importance of these groups by pointing to their very limited election success.

In reality, as I explained when I discussed the outcome of Ukraine's last parliamentary elections back in October (see Western Media Get Ukraine Elections Wrong. There's Big Trouble Ahead, , 31st October 2014) lack of support in elections scarcely matters to groups that are by definition anti-democratic and which are therefore in principle hostile to democratic elections. These groups are however important to the Maidan regime because they can be used to suppress the regime's enemies and to control the streets:

Given the economic crisis in Ukraine and the widespread disaffection it has caused, popular protests on Maidan Square might easily evolve into a serious challenge to the Maidan regime. After the trauma of the Maidan coup, the police and security services probably cannot be relied on. The militants of the far right groups however can, and they were quickly brought in to disperse the protests, which they did, just as they did in Odessa in May last year.
In return the Maidan regime has to tolerate the violence and criminal behaviour of these groups, the violence against Ukraine's LGBT community being a case in point.

Every so often things go just a bit too far, provoking the odd crackdown on the groups' wilder members.

Thus in March last year we saw the killing by the police of the Right Sector militant Aleksandr Muzychko (also known as Sashko Bilyi) and in May this year we saw the arrest following an attempted hold-up of the Aidar Battalion's Vita Zaveruha (the subject of a now notorious feature in ).

However the reality of today's Ukraine is that street-level violence and criminality have now become an integral element of its political system.