A far-right movement is likely to enter Ukraine’s parliament in the upcoming elections, polls indicate – for the first time.
Yet the “Svoboda” party has historic origins. Its programme is focused on protecting the rights of Ukrainians as a national group, with tough anti-immigrant provisions.
The party’s leader Oleh Tyahnybok explained why.
He said: “We want to pass a law on citizenship like the one they have in Israel.”
Our correspondent in Kiev asked if he thinks Ukraine bears a geopolitical similarity to Israel.
Tyahnybok said: “Absolutely. Even worse, because Ukrainians have lived through mass political repression. More than 20 million Ukrainians were killed in the 20th century, for ethnic reasons.”
“Svoboda” wants formal recognition as legitimate veterans for the Ukrainian Insurgents who fought in World War Two and afterwards against both the Nazis and the Soviet Red Army. The east of the country, however, identifies closely with its Soviet past and Russian cultural heritage.
German political expert and researcher of far-right movements Andreas Umland says: “Ukrainian nationalism is ambiguous. It doesn’t represent the whole Ukrainian political nation. It is mainly concentrated in the Western part of Ukraine, the region of Galicia.”
Ironically, the far right has knitted an alliance of expedience with the centre-left, in spite of sharing no ideological common ground.
The far-right-centre-left link is confined to their desire to defeat the parties which currently govern the country: the dominant Party of Regions, the Communist Party and the centrist People’s Party.