Ukraine | 10/31/2021

Ukraine 2021 October

Key developments


UPA March

On October 14, the traditional Ukrainian Insurgent Army (abbreviated UPA from Ukrainian “УПА” or “Українська повстанська армія”) March took place in Kyiv, the main event of the year for Ukrainian nationalists. Since 2015, this day has been a state holiday, “Day of the defenders of Ukraine”, previously celebrated according to the Soviet tradition on February 23. This year, about 5,000 participants representing both nationalist and neo-Nazi organizations took part in the march. The march was attended by All-Ukrainian Union “Freedom” (Svoboda party), the National Corps, Centuria (a paramilitary formation within the Azov Movement), the Right Sector, Dmytro Korchynsky’s Bratstvo (“Brotherhood”) party, and others. Representatives of the National Resistance, one of the most active far-right organizations in the street, walked in a separate column with a banner “White lives matter”. Their second banner called for the death of “all enemies”, such as Putin, Soros, the left, LGBT, the European Union, etc.

On Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), the capital’s main square, participants of the rally from the National Corps burned an effigy of a clown symbolizing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a former comedian and actor. In this way the National Corps once again declared its transition to the opposition to the current government.

A group of young people from the LGBT+ community who had chosen to participate in the march were also attacked during the rally. Despite the Ukrainian flag and the UPA flag, which they carried, the company was still attacked because of the rainbow symbols. The Ukrainian branch of the international neo-Nazi network Blood And Honour claimed responsibility for the attack. That night, the attackers also posted a photo of them with a Totenkopf symbol flag saluting Sieg Heil in front of the Independence Square.


Street Politics

In October 2021, Irpin, a satellite town of Kyiv, became a hotbed of anti-Roma actions initiated by the ultra-right. According to the far-rightists themselves, the reason was a conflict between an employee of Military Coffee Pavlo Polishchuk and Roma teenagers who attacked him. Military Coffee is a chain of coffee shops owned by a well-known far-right activist, one of the leaders of the Basis for the Future organization (former C14), Andriy Medvedko. Medvedko is also a key suspect in the murder of writer Oles Buzyna in 2014, but the courts in that case are de-facto frozen. Polischuk is also an active supporter of C14 and a member of one of its branches.

On October 17, more than a hundred far-right activists marched through the town to Roma houses, where they staged a rally with torches and anti-Roma slogans. The nationalists also launched a public campaign against a local councilwoman who criticized the actions of the ultra-right. On October 20, members of C14 and the Right Sector met with the councilwoman in person and publicly insulted her. In 2018, it was with the pogrom of the Roma settlement on Lysa Hora in Kyiv, committed by members of C14, that a series of Roma pogroms began throughout the country (8 incidents), ending only after the murder of David Pap during the pogrom near Lviv.

On October 16, the SSU (Security Service of Ukraine) reported the detention of 3 people responsible for attacks on collection trucks in 2016. The gang, which had close contacts with Azov, committed a series of attacks from 2014 to 2016. The gang consisted of eight people, three of whom served in the Azov battalion, and four others were mercenaries from Russia and Latvia. In 2016, there was an attempt to liquidate the gang, during which two members of the gang were killed in a shootout with law enforcement officers, two were detained, and three more managed to escape. They had been hiding from the police at a military base in the Donetsk region near the front line for almost 5 years, using the names of dead fighters or fighters who had been released from service. An arsenal of weapons was seized from the detainees, which included firearms, in particular, a machine gun and grenades.