— Florian Irminger (@FlorianIrminger) March 4, 2014
Yes, there were some Jews, and there were some gays, in this revolution. And this was exploited by both the Russian and Ukrainian regimes in their internal propaganda. The Russian press presented the protest as part of a larger gay conspiracy. The Ukrainian regime instructed its riot police that the opposition was led by a larger Jewish conspiracy. Meanwhile, both regimes informed the outside world that the protestors were Nazis. Almost nobody in the West seemed to notice this contradiction.
In fact, according to Professor Snyder, it's been "a classic popular revolution," one initiated, by the way, by a leading investigative journalist, Mustafa Nayem, "who is a Ukrainian Muslim of Afghan origin. "Using social media, he called students and other young people to rally on the main square of Kiev in support of a European choice for Ukraine," after Yanukovych rejected a trade offer from the European Union that, while it "would have opened the way for [badly-needed] loans," also " would have meant the risk of the application of the rule of law within Ukraine," a problem for the oligarch-in-chief and his son, a dentist who "was suddenly one of the wealthiest men in Europe."
Yanukovych's prime minister, following a Russian lead, "began to explain to his population that Ukraine could not have closer cooperation with Europe, since the EU was interested chiefly in gay marriage."
"When riot police were sent to beat the students," Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet army who had fought in Afghanistan "came to defend 'their children,' as they called the students." By the end of 201, "millions of people had taken part in protests, all over the country.
Journalists were beaten. Individual activists were abducted. Some of them were tortured. Dozens disappeared and have not yet been found. As the New Year began the protests broadened. Muslims from southern Ukraine marched in large numbers. Representatives of the large Kiev Jewish community were prominently represented. Some of the most important organizers were Jews. The telephone hotline that people called to seek missing relatives was established by gay activists (people who have experience with hotlines). Some of the hospital guards who tried to stop the police from abducting the wounded were young feminists.In February, "mass killings by the regime" began.
Who was killed? Dozens of people, in all about a hundred, most of them young men. Bohdan Solchanyk was a young lecturer at the Ukrainian Catholic University, a Ukrainian speaker from western Ukraine. He was shot and killed. Yevhen Kotlyov was an environmentalist from Kharkiv, a Russian speaker from eastern Ukraine. He was shot and killed. One of the people killed was a Russian citizen; a number of Russians had come to fight—most of them anarchists who had come to aid their Ukrainian anarchist comrades. At least two of those killed by the regime, and perhaps more, were Jews. One of those “Afghans,” Ukrainian veterans of the Red Army’s war in Afghanistan, was Jewish: Alexander Scherbatyuk. He was shot and killed by a sniper. Another of those killed was a Pole, a member of Ukraine’s Polish minority.But the propaganda campaign against this popular revolution has not stopped. In flight to Russia, Yanukovych "stopped somewhere to record a video message, in Russian, claiming that he was the victim of a Nazi coup. Russian leaders maintained that extremists had come to power, and that Russians in Ukraine were under threat."
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The people were victorious as a result of sheer physical courage. The EU foreign ministers who were supposed to be treated to a bloody spectacle saw something else: the successful defense of the Maidan. The horrifying massacre provoked a general sense of outrage, even among some of the people who had been Yanukovych’s allies. He did something he probably had not, when the day began, intended to do: he signed an agreement in which he promised not to use violence. His policemen understood, perhaps better than he, what this meant: the end of the regime. They melted away, and he ran for his life. Power shifted to parliament, where a new coalition of oppositionists and dissenters from Yanukovych’s party formed a majority. Reforms began, beginning with the constitution. Presidential elections were called for May.
A collective statement by 40 experts on Ukrainian nationalism and far right groups in the Ukraine protest movement puts the lie to Putinite propaganda. The signers "are a group of researchers who comprise specialists in the field of Ukrainian nationalism studies, and most of the world’s few experts on the post-Soviet Ukrainian radical right."
As a result of our professional specialization and research experience, we are aware of the problems, dangers and potential of the involvement of certain right-wing extremist groupings in the Ukrainian protests. Following years of intensive study of this topic, we understand better than many other commentators the risks that its far right participation entails for the EuroMaidan. Some of our critical comments on nationalist tendencies have triggered angry responses from ethnocentrists in Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora living in the West.
Both the violent and non-violent resistance in Kyiv includes representatives from all political camps as well as non-ideological persons who may have problems locating themselves politically. Not only the peaceful protesters, but also those using sticks, stones and even Molotov Cocktails, in their physical confrontation with police special units and government-directed thugs, constitute a broad movement that is not centralized. Most protesters only turned violent in response to increasing police ferocity and the radicalization of Yanukovych’s regime. The demonstrators include liberals and conservatives, socialists and libertarians, nationalists and cosmopolitans, Christians, non-Christians and atheists.In light of Russian threats and past actions, for example, intervening militarily in Georgia in 2008, the signers
True, the violent and non-violent protesters also comprise a variety of radicals of both the far right and far left. Yet, the movement as a whole merely reflects the entire Ukrainian population, young and old. The heavy focus on right-wing radicals in international media reports is, therefore, unwarranted and misleading. Such an over-representation may have more to do with the sensationalist potential of extremely ethnonationalistic slogans, symbols or uniforms than with the actual situation, on the ground.
call upon commentators, especially those on the political left, to be careful when voicing justified criticism of radical Ukrainian ethnonationalism. The more alarmist statements on the EuroMaidan are likely to be used by the Kremlin’s “political technologists” for the implementation of Putin’s geopolitical projects. By providing rhetorical ammunition for Moscow’s battle against Ukrainian independence, such alarmism unintentionally helps a political force which is a far more serious threat to social justice, minority rights and political equality than all Ukrainian ethnocentrists taken together.Professor Snyder, one of the statement's signers, comments:
We also call upon Western commentators to show empathy with a nation-state that is very young, unconsolidated and under a serious foreign threat. The fragile situation in which Ukraine’s nation still finds itself and the enormous complications of everyday life in such a transitional society give birth to a whole variety of odd, destructive and contradictory opinions, behaviors and discourses. Support for fundamentalism, ethnocentrism and ultra-nationalism may sometimes have more to do with the permanent confusion and daily anxieties of the people living under such conditions than with their deeper beliefs.
Whatever course the Russian intervention may take, it is not an attempt to stop a fascist coup, since nothing of the kind has taken place. What has taken place is a popular revolution, with all of the messiness, confusion, and opposition that entails. The young leaders of the Maidan, some of them radical leftists, have risked their lives to oppose a regime that represented, at an extreme, the inequalities that we criticize at home. They have an experience of revolution that we do not. Part of that experience, unfortunately, is that Westerners are provincial, gullible, and reactionary.Below, I list the signers' names and organizational identification:
S I G N A T U R E S:
Iryna Bekeshkina, researcher of political behavior in Ukraine, Sociology Institute of the National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine
Tetiana Bezruk, researcher of the far right in Ukraine, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine
Oleksandra Bienert, researcher of racism and homophobia in Ukraine, PRAVO. Berlin Group for Human Rights in Ukraine, Germany
Maksym Butkevych, researcher of xenophobia in post-Soviet Ukraine, “No Borders” Project of the Social Action Center at Kyiv, Ukraine
Vitaly Chernetsky, researcher of modern Ukrainian and Russian culture in the context of globalization, University of Kansas, USA
Marta Dyczok, researcher of Ukrainian national identity, mass media and historical memory, Western University, Canada
Kyrylo Galushko, researcher of Ukrainian and Russian nationalism, Institute of Ukrainian History, Ukraine
Mridula Ghosh, researcher of human rights abuses and the far right in Ukraine, East European Development Institute, Ukraine
Olexiy Haran, researcher of Ukrainian political parties, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine
John-Paul Himka, researcher of Ukrainian nationalist participation in the Holocaust, University of Alberta, Canada
Ola Hnatiuk, researcher of right-wing tendencies in Ukraine, University of Warsaw, Poland
Yaroslav Hrytsak, researcher of historic Ukrainian nationalism, Ukrainian Catholic University at L’viv, Ukraine
Adrian Ivakhiv, researcher of religio-nationalist groups in post-Soviet Ukraine, University of Vermont, USA
Valeriy Khmelko, researcher of ethno-national structures in Ukrainian society, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, Ukraine
Vakhtang Kipiani, researcher of Ukrainian nationalism and samizdat, “Istorychna pravda” (www.istpravda.com.ua), Ukraine
Volodymyr Kulyk, researcher of Ukrainian nationalism, identity and media, Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies at Kyiv, Ukraine
Natalya Lazar, researcher of the history of the Holocaust in Ukraine and Romania, Clark University, USA
Viacheslav Likhachev, researcher of Ukrainian and Russian xenophobia, Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Israel
Mykhailo Minakov, researcher of Russian and Ukrainian political modernization, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine
Michael Moser, researcher of languages and identities in Ukraine, University of Vienna, Austria
Bohdan Nahaylo, researcher of ethnic tensions in Eastern Europe and the CIS, formerly with UNHCR, France
Volodymyr Paniotto, researcher of post-Soviet xenophobia, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, Ukraine
Olena Petrenko, researcher of war-time Ukrainian nationalism, Ruhr University of Bochum, Germany
Anatolii Podolskyi, researcher of genocide history and antisemitism, Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies at Kyiv, Ukraine
Alina Polyakova, researcher of radical right movements, University of Bern, Switzerland
Andriy Portnov, researcher of modern Ukrainian, Polish and Russian nationalism, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
Yuri Radchenko, researcher of war-time Ukrainian nationalism, Center on Inter-Ethnic Relations in Eastern Europe at Kharkiv, Ukraine
William Risch, researcher of Ukrainian nationalist thought and politics, Georgia College, USA
Anton Shekhovtsov, researcher of West and East European right-wing extremism, University College London, United Kingdom
Oxana Shevel, researcher of Ukrainian national identity and historical memory, Tufts University, USA
Myroslav Shkandrij, researcher of inter-war Ukrainian radical nationalism, University of Manitoba, Canada
Konstantin Sigov, researcher of post-Soviet discourse strategies of the “Other,” Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine
Gerhard Simon, researcher of contemporary Ukrainian history and nationality affairs, University of Cologne, Germany
Iosif Sissels, researcher of hate speech and antisemitism, Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities (VAAD) at Kyiv, Ukraine
Timothy Snyder, researcher of historic Ukrainian nationalism, Yale University, USA
Kai Struve, researcher of Ukrainian radical nationalism and the Holocaust, University of Halle, Germany
Mykhaylo Tyaglyy, researcher of genocide and antisemitism, Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies at Kyiv, Ukraine
Andreas Umland, researcher of the Russian and Ukrainian post-Soviet extreme right, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine
Taras Voznyak, researcher of Ukrainian intellectual life and nationalism, Magazine “JI” (L’viv), Ukraine
Oleksandr Zaitsev, researcher of Ukrainian integral nationalism, Ukrainian Catholic University at L’viv, Ukraine
Yevgeniy Zakharov, researcher of xenophobia and hate crimes in today Ukraine, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Ukraine