Staunton, August 30 – Iosif Zisels, the head of Vaad Ukrainy, the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine, says that neo-Nazi organizations from Russia” are taking an active role in the pro-Moscow forces in eastern Ukraine, a reflection of the fact that “Russia is infected with the ideas of revanchism, which is very closely connected with fascism.”
Speaking in Kiev, Zisels says that there has existed in Russia “for more than 20 years a developed system of various neo-Nazi fascist organizations which come to the fore during times of rising tensions such as in Russia during the mid-1990s and [more recently] in Moldova and Georgia.
“Now,” he says, “they are operating in Ukraine.”
The most powerful of them is Russian National Unity under Aleksandr Barkashov. They have formations and symbols that recall those of Nazi Germany. Zisels says that he has information that Barkashov himself visited Ukraine in March and May and is currently in Donetsk. Along with him in the pro-Moscow formations is “fighting his son.”
In addition to Barkashov’s group, the Ukrainian Jewish leader continues, other Russian fascist groups are now operating in Ukraine as well, including the Eurasian Youth Union of Aleksandr Dugin, the Other Russia of Eduard Limonov, the Black Hundred “and also individual activists” not affiliated with these groups.
The Russian neo-Nazis “do not have their own military units, but their members are included within other units,” a situation that in many ways is more ominous because it suggests that the views of such extremists are acceptable to the commanders of these entities and their Moscow backers.
Moreover, Zisels points out, “Russia in its interests is using also European neo-Nazis from various countries,” including as “observers” during the Crimean “referendum.” At that time, 33 of the 40 people Moscow brought in to support its position were “representatives of neo-Nazi organizations.”
Since the beginning of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, Moscow propagandists have accused Ukraine of being “neo-Nazi” or worse. But the facts on the ground as Zisels and scholars like Andreas Umland have pointed out are that the neo-Nazis are to be found on the Russian side.