Can you introduce yourself and the website?
Yes, please. Kolesnik Dmitry – co-editor of Ukrainian left site Liva.com.ua. It’s one of the largest Ukrainan leftwing resources. We have been working for more than three years and focused mainly on such issues as modern left theory, international union and anti-fascist struggle, issues of economy and culture as well.
We translated many modern Marxist thinkers. We have a wide range of writers all over Ukraine and Russia as well. Although, the last months we focus mainly on Ukrainian events and we have quite substantial reasons for that as our country appeared recently at the hub of political and economic turmoil. So, here I’ll also focus mostly on the internal impact of the current Ukrainian crisis rather than on the international dimension or the issues of the West-Russia tug of war.
What is your general appraisal of the character of the Euromaidan movement? What role did the extreme nationalists and fascists play in it?
The Euromaidan movement started when the then government declined to sign the free-trade agreement with the European Uunion because it was attached to International Monetary Fund demands to impose austerity measures and raise prices (as the government quite reasonably was afraid of the potential social unrest it would cause). Euromaidan gained a support of some layers of society after the dispersal of protesters. In general rightwing and reactionary forces dominated there from the very beginning. Moreover, it was supported by Western-backed NGOs that tried to provide a necessary cover for the media. We should also not ignore the role of the media of some oligarchs that promoted the movement which gave attention to the real anger directed against the corrupt regime of the government.
As for politicians and big businessmen that backed the Euromaidan movement — they were mostly those of the so-called “Orange” clan formed in the process of the “Orange revolution” but later ousted from power. Extreme nationalists and fascists played actually the role of the core that attracted ordinary people, therefore the far-right could impose its agenda on the whole movement as other groups (pro-democracy or liberal) were not so significant and served mainly as a cover helping to whitewash the image of the protests in the media. While liberal groups provided the needed “look” in coverage, the ultra-rights organised and formed their own structure.
I would rather admit that without extreme nationalists and Nazi paramilitaries the whole Euromaidan movement still could be a peaceful camp of protesters ignored by the authorities. And a large part of the peaceful protesters understands this quite well; therefore, many legitimise and tolerate Nazis. Insofar as extreme nationalists were the most organised coalition – determined to fight and gain victory by any means possible – they have effectively succeeded in attracting popularity in the mass of protesters and we see as a result the general rise of far-right sentiments in society. Thus, we see that even a certain part of progressive groups or individuals were influenced by a right-wing agenda – either nationalist or neoliberal.
We can compare the movement partly to the opposition in Venezuela, to the “pro-democracy’ and nationalist movements in Eastern Europe in 1989-91 or to the viral nationalism in ex-Yugoslavia in 1990’s. But what’s new is a common rise of more radical far-right movements all over Europe and I think we should consider the movement in this context too. And another aspect that has also contributed to the rise of the far right is the fact that the ex-government for too long exploited official ‘ant-fascist” positions. As far as it was really rather corrupt, such a position discredited anti-fascism, pushing sentiments to the opposite stance – to the far right. Mainstream media try to ignore it or dismiss the phenomena as mere propaganda from Putin, therefore taking into account only the geopolitical issues of superpowers and almost completely ignoring the impact of the current crisis inside Ukraine.
Actually it’s the worst tactics – to ignore the rise of the far-right just because Putin talks about it. If he would say, for example, that Greece is hit by austerity measures, it doesn’t mean that in reality it is quite the opposite. So, the Western media are caught in a trap. Meanwhile, Ukraine falls apart, Russian nationalism rises in response, Putin gets Crimea and the media try to ignore those who have mostly contributed to it – our far-right radicals.