repression of anti-fascists in ukraine

Dear friends and colleagues,

I wish to draw to your attention an increasingly worrying situation which is developing in Ukraine as regards repression of Anti-Fascist Action following the death of a neo-Nazi. These neo-Nazis have operated freely for years and been linked to numerous racist murders – this has provoked none of this hysteria which is been launched against the anti-racists.

Please express your concern and solidarity with AFA as best you can. I shall if necessary be organising a demonstration in London.
Chris Kane

Official statement by the Ukrainian President on April 22: the beginning of persecution of antifascists in Ukraine?”

On April 22 the president of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko made an official statement that there is «an extremist organisation “Antifa”» in Ukraine and demanded from SBU (Ukraine Security Service) – «to check all the information concerning coordination of its activity by the foreign anti-Ukrainian organizations». This is an exceptional incident: the president points out to the law enforcing services that there are extremists in Ukraine, names them, and insinuates who their real organizers and patrons are.

But where did the president get such information?

On April 17, in Odesa during the skirmish between ultra-rightists and antifascists one of the far rightists (Maksim Chaika) was  injured and later died. In spite of the evidence that ultra-rightists attacked a smaller group of antifascists, who simply defended themselves, nobody – neither journalists, nor politicians – have used the term “self-defense”. Instead antifascists were labeled as “pro-Russia militants”, who consciously killed “an activist from a patriotic civic association” (the mass-media’s statement). The attack by one side and self-defense by the other have become an instrument of political PR for those who want to use this tragedy to score certain points or to eliminate opponents.

The president’s statement was the culmination of this. From his words we got to know about the organization “Antifa”, which is extremist and which, of course, is coordinated by hostile ‘foreign centers’. Nevertheless, “antifa” is not an organization but a network-movement; not Ukrainian or anti-Ukrainian but worldwide; and, of course, the president has not produced any proof. And what do we know about the other side of the skirmish?

The deceased Maksim Chaika was a leader of Odessa’s far rights, a member of the organization “SICH” (“Glory and Honour”) and a football fan of FC “Chornomorets”. Partly because of “Chornomorets” fans the city of Odessa periodically appears in human rights monitoring reports concerning racial or national hate crimes. We mean not only vandalism of the Jewish cemetery but also attacks with human victims. In the last few days many Internet-users have received access to photo and video materials confirming that the force which the attackers of April 17th belong to  is not just “patriotic”. In particular we could see so called ‘roman’ (Nazi) salutes, Nazi symbols, stories about participating in “actions” against “foreigners”.

The “SICH” civic association, which Maksim Chaika belonged to, is a member of the so called ‘Social-nationalist assembly’ together with the odious “Patriot of Ukraine” association. Materials published both on the “Assembly” and “Patriot of Ukraine” web-sites leave no doubts in neo-fascist and paramilitary character of these organizations. But the president Yushchenko, in spite of the stated above, has decided to choose young antifascists as a target, relying on the invalid data from prejudiced politicians.

In the last few days it was repeatedly mentioned that inquiry has got a video record of the attack on April 17th. We are afraid that this record could be destroyed, in particular, because of  political pressure – its content contradicts to the Nazi-attackers’ version of events. Not to let this happen, we publicly declare our concern and demand the record is kept safe.

We are receiving information about use of pressure on the witnesses by the law enforcement officials – both psychological and physical – as to only give testimonies corresponding to the attackers’ version.

Events in Odessa could highlight the fact that youth fascism in Ukraine has existed for a long time, as well as confrontation between activists of the far right and antifascist movements. Instead, we see politicized hysteria which only disgraces its participants.

We demand aninvestigation of the facts without any distortion, manipulation and pre-election persecution.

by Antifascist action