Understanding Ukraine

A group of researchers and specialists in the field of Ukrainian nationalism studies, headed by Andreas Umland, has posted a statement and petition addressed to journalists, commentators and analysts writing and broadcasting about the EuroMaidan protest movement.

In particular, the statement focuses on the role of far right groups in Ukraine’s protest movement, and a warning about the Russian imperialism-serving effects of some supposedly anti-fascist media reports from Kyiv.

The statement notes that

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.

We even suspect that, in some semi-journalistic reports, especially those in Kremlin-influenced mass media, the inordinate attention to far right elements in Ukraine’s protest movement has nothing to do with anti-fascism. Paradoxically, the production, biases and dissemination of such reports may themselves be driven by an imperial form of ultra-nationalism – in this case, its Russian permutation. By fundamentally discrediting one of the most impressive mass actions of civil disobedience in the history of Europe, such reports help to provide a pretext for Moscow’s political involvement, or, perhaps, even for a Russian military intervention into Ukraine, like in Georgia in 2008.

On his blog the researcher and editor Anton Shekhovtsov has provided a detailed analysis of the pro-Kremlin network behind the anti-Ukrainian defamation campaign now being conducted in various branches of media and online. Shekhovtsov writes that

There has been a huge tide of false, incorrect and bloated reports that exaggerate or over-emphasize the significance of the far right in the current Euromaidan protests in Ukraine. A Moscow-based journalist Alec Luhn writes in The Nation about “the Ukrainian nationalism at the heart of ‘Euromaidan’“, a leftist Seumas Milne argues in The Guardian that “in Ukraine, fascists, oligarchs and western expansion are at the heart of the crisis“, while a self-styled “independent geopolitical analyst” Eric Draitser, in his nauseatingly misleading piece for his own Stop Imperialism (later re-published by The Centre for Research on Globalization), even goes so far as to claim that “the violence on the streets of Ukraine […] is the latest example of the rise of the most insidious form of fascism that Europe has seen since the fall of the Third Reich”.

These and many other similar articles are all written according to the same pattern, and their aim is to discredit the Euromaidan protests as the manifestations of fascism, neo-Nazism or – at the very least – right-wing extremism.

 

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