Vitrenko Describes Physical Threats, Exposes Sophistry of the Ukrainian Parliament’s “Neo-Nazi” Laws
An interview with Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (PSPU) leader Dr. Natalia Vitrenko was included in a Channel One Russia TV segment Sunday night on the adoption of drastic laws against freedom of expression in Ukraine. Vitrenko described how it is currently impossible for her, a former member of Parliament and Presidential candidate, to organize politically in her country:
“I cannot have contact with the population. I am never allowed on Ukrainian television channels. I cannot hold a rally, because it’s immediately taken over by goons, who come with sticks, chains, and stones, and maim people taking part in the rally.”
On April 10, the day after passage of the new laws, Vitrenko released a video analyzing them (a video link to the Russian-language presentation can be found here.). She and PSPU co-leader Vladimir Marchenko have called on President Petro Poroshenko not to sign them. In the 45-minute talk, Vitrenko declared that these are “neo-Nazi laws, no matter what anybody says.” In a point-by-point analysis, she exposed the sophistry of the law “On the condemnation of communist and national-socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and the prohibition of propaganda of their symbols,” which pretends to be “anti-Nazi” as well as “anti-Communist,” coupling the two as “totalitarian” systems. But the “Nazism” that is banned is only the symbols of the German Third Reich in 1933-1945, thus leaving, for example, today’s Azov Battalion in Ukraine free to march under the Wolfsangel symbol. The Third Reich, Vitrenko pointed out, was already thoroughly condemned by the Nuremberg Tribunals, which convicted the Nazis and their accomplices. Yet the Supreme Rada, in another of the new laws, has now elevated the Nazis’ accomplices from the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) organization to the status of “fighters for Ukraine’s independence during the 20th century.”
As soon as the laws are signed, said Vitrenko,
“I could get 10 years in prison, for saying that I am proud of my grandfather and my father,” who served in the Soviet Red Army. She detailed how the laws violate an array of European conventions on human rights and freedom of expression, to which Ukraine adhered when it signed the Association Agreement with the European Union, as well as Ukraine’s own 2000 law on the perpetual commemoration of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45.
Last week, the PSPU denounced a new media campaign to target and frame Vitrenko as “pro-separatist” and a Russian agent. Her associates have expressed concern that the media smears are intended to make her an enemy in the eyes of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi and Banderite radicals, who would then move to eliminate her physically. In 1999, as a Presidential candidate, Vitrenko and 40 others were injured in a grenade attack on her campaign rally.
During the Rada session, which adopted the laws with minimal discussion, testimony on behalf of their passage was given by Yuri Shukhevych, son of Roman Shukhevych, a commander in the German Abwehr’s Nachtigall Battalion, and in 1943 a key figure in the UPA’s Volhynia massacres of Poles living in western Ukraine. Long the head of UNA-UNSO, which became a component of Right Sector, the younger Shukhevych is now an MP from Oleg Lyashko’s Radical Party. Also testifying was Volodymyr Viatrovych, the “historian” assigned in the 2000s by then (and now) Ukraine Security Service (SBU) head Valentyn Nalyvaychenko and then-President Yushchenko to rewrite history, whitewashing the OUN-UPA. (See Per Anders Rudling, “Warfare, or War Criminality?”)
Amid the renewal of artillery shelling around Donetsk, this past Orthodox Easter weekend saw night-time attacks in which statues of Soviet-era figures were torn down in the city of Kharkov. Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh, now a Defense Ministry official, posted on his Facebook page images of grenades, decorated as Easter eggs and captioned with a call for divine help in achieving “Victory in the Holy War with the Russian-terrorist bands.”
In the Channel One Russia broadcast, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, who himself was hauled in for 11 hours of interrogation last week, told an interviewer,
“There is now a dictatorship in the country – of one opinion and one ideology; a dictatorship of those who came to power through the Maidan, and that excludes any pluralism of views.” The report also highlighted the case of Ukrainian Labor Party leader Alexander Bondarchuk, currently on trial and facing five years in prison for “infringing the territorial integrity of Ukraine” through articles published last August in the newspaper he edits.