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article imageOp-Ed: Why leftists snub Ukraine

By Gene Kosowan     Apr 28, 2014 in World
We’ve been besieged by leftist-led protests concerning everything from Darfur to Montsano, yet when it comes to the crisis in Ukraine, nary a placard has been raised from that same instigating contingent supporting the country’s sovereignty.
It’s a convenient oversight for much of the left, which, when cornered about the issue, quickly point out the presence of a neo-Nazi, fascist element in Ukraine, which after losing Crimea earlier this year, struggles to keep its Russian-dominated, eastern territories within its borders. The burr in the leftist saddle is apparently inflicted via the presence of six members of the Svoboda Party in Ukraine’s interim 21-person cabinet, a party which has roots in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationals, formed in 1929 and led by Stepan Bandera, a radical independence fighter whose anti-Semitic leanings are widely documented.
The argument of fascistic influence in Ukrainian sovereignty is as exaggerated as the impact of Bolshevism on the left, notwithstanding the red-star fashion statements adorned by some of its more vocal supporters. Granted, Svoboda captured 40 percent of seats in western Ukraine in the country’s 2012 election won by now-deposed president Viktor Yanukovych (thanks to overwhelming eastern support).
But the party has been long-deplored by most Ukrainian nationalists, given the fact it only garnered 10 per cent of the popular vote. Leftists also expediently ignore the ethnic background of current leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whose own heritage is Jewish-Ukrainian. And although blogs and articles are rife with accounts that Svoboda-influenced right-wingers were responsible for the riots in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city late in 2013 and made up as much of 30 per cent of the protesters demanding the removal of Yanukovich, the evidence seems anecdotal at best.
Any lack of support from the extreme left for Ukraine’s struggle to retain independence in the wake of losing Crimea and standing on the verge of losing more principalities, certainly plays into the public relations strategy of Russia, which earlier this year declared that “political power in Kiev has been concentrated in the hands of far-right extremist elements that do not hide their xenophobic, anti-Semitic, neo-fascist credentials."
It also seems to be a foregone conclusion that Russia is overjoyed, not only over the lack of protests drawing attention to Ukraine’s internal and external struggles, but of some movements condemning administrations in the U.S., Canada and western Europe hinting that more decisive action must be taken.
As a Ukrainian living in Edmonton, home to one of the largest Ukrainian communities in Canada, this writer must confess that the inspiration for this piece came from a recent argument surrounding a protest held by an organization dubbed the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism (ECAWAR). When the group posted on Facebook one of its rallies condemning Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a warmonger (Oddly enough, one of those rallies took place March 15, the very day Harper withdrew the last of Canada’s troops from its tours of duty in Afghanistan), I pointed out that Harper’s condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine was among one of the few things the PM got right during his currently turbulent term in office. I was immediately accused by one ECAWAR stalwart as being in league with Ukraine’s neo-Nazi movement, of which I only had passing knowledge. It was an interesting response, considering that in a Canadian Parliamentary vote held earlier this year, every member of the New Democratic Party, a political faction that receives the greatest level of support from leftists in this country, supported the government’s stance against Russia’s encroachment on Ukraine.
Regardless of this unpleasant chapter in Ukraine’s political history and hyperbole surrounding Svoboda, additional stories have surfaced indicating Ukraine’s Jewish contingent hasn’t noticed any escalated hostilities towards them. In a feature by David Frum, who interviewed several Jewish-Ukrainians, instances of anti-Semitism were rare. Frum couldn’t find more than a half-dozen incidents since February, most of them involving vandalism. “These incidents have alarmed Jewish communities worldwide,” he wrote. “In Ukraine, however, they are regarded with unanimous skepticism, if not outright disbelief.” If anything, Frum discovered that any mistreatment experienced by most senior Jewish-Ukrainians was at the hands of the Russians, back when Ukraine was under Soviet control.
This position may be all for naught as at this writing, with the presence of more than 40,000 Russian troops amassing on Ukraine’s eastern border, salivating to carry out Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to stake a claim on his version of the Sudetenland. At any rate, regardless of the circumstances that lay ahead, it’s probably safe to say that granola crunchers who buy into the fascistic fabrications adding to Ukraine’s complicated crisis aren’t likely to protest Putin’s actions anytime soon.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about ukraine crisis, neofascism, Russian
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