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Readers Debate Promotion of Ukraine’s Extreme-Right by Canada’s Globe and Mail

Canada’s largest national daily newspaper has published two articles in recent days extolling the ‘Army SOS’ and ‘Patriot Defense’ fundraising efforts being conducted in Canada on behalf of the extreme right-wing battalions engaged in the illegal and terrorist war in eastern Ukraine

MORE: Ukraine

This article originally appeared at New Cold War


The first of those articles was a front-page feature in the February 27 edition of the Globe, written by the newspaper’s correspondent in Ukraine, Mark MacKinnon. He describes ‘Army SOS’ as “a volunteer organization that aids Ukraine’s warriors in the field”. He writes further, “Ukraine’s myriad volunteer battalions are famed for their bravery, as well as for their sometimes-extreme nationalism.”

<figcaption>Extremist thugs in Kharkiv prepare to destroy a Lenin monument in the center of the city on Sept 27, 2014</figcaption>
Extremist thugs in Kharkiv prepare to destroy a Lenin monument in the center of the city on Sept 27, 2014

A second article along the same lines was published on March 2 by commissioned writer Sahar Fatima. She reports on a fundraising dinner for ‘Army SOS’ in Toronto on February 28 that raised $52,000. She writes, “Throughout Saturday’s event, speakers and organizers tried to drill home the message that Ukraine is a David fighting a malicious Goliath, Russia, bent on snatching its freedom and autonomy. The only way Ukraine stands a chance is if organizations such as Army SOS help level the playing field using donations from the public, attendees heard.”

The two Globe articles have each prompted a flood of online comments. The comments indicate a broad awareness among Canadians of the origin of the war in eastern Ukraine and of the role of extreme-right battalions which the neo-conservative government in Kyiv has welcomed into its war effort and to which Kyiv is beholden in many important ways. The majority of the comments indicate that, unlike the writers and editors at the Globe and Mail, many Canadians do not buy the ‘blame Russia’ narrative explaining the war nor do they support the extremists waging that war.

Enclosed are three items:

  • A letter to the Globe and Mail by Kirill Kalinin, press secretary, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada, published on March 3, 2015.
  • Online published comments in the Globe and Mail in response to the February 27, 2015 article by Mark MacKinnon.
  • Online published comments in the Globe and Mail in response to the March 2, 2015 article by Sahar Fatima.

1. Kiev’s war effort

Re How Private Canadians Are Aiding Kiev’s War Effort (Feb. 27): Canada could have played a more positive role in bringing authorities in Kiev to political dialogue with representatives of Donbas, rather than encourage “party of war” politicians and warmongers in Ukraine.

It is obvious that Ukrainian nationalists with their incendiary rhetoric and actions, like the actual coup d’état in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, and unleashing de facto civil war against the people in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, are enemies of Ukraine and its statehood. Encouraging the “party of war” in Kiev and supplying arms is an invitation to more killings and the resumption of a fratricidal bloodbath.

It may sound like heresy to many in Canada, but people in Eastern Ukraine do not share a nationalist vision of a Ukrainian state where former Nazi collaborators (Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych) are deemed as heroes and Russophobia is proclaimed a new religion.

There is no military solution to the internal crisis in Ukraine. The only way out of this mess is full implementation of the Minsk II accords, including a stable ceasefire and heavy weaponry pullout, followed by constitutional reform and appropriate legislation approved by conflicting sides – Kiev and Donetsk/Lugansk.

It’s high time for diplomacy and not for sabre rattling.

– Kirill Kalinin, press secretary, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada
Published in the March 3, 2015 edition of the Globe and Mail

 

2. Online comments in response to ‘Bypassing official channels, Canada’s Ukrainian diaspora finances and fights a war against Russia ‘, by Mark MacKinnon, published in the Feb. 27, 2015 Globe and Mail (selection from the 340 posted comments)

My Canada is not at war with the people of Eastern Ukraine.

So let me understand this, Canadians leaving to fight with ISIS in Syria are being stopped at the border, banned from returning, having their passport seized, vilified in the media but Canadians leaving to fight with the neo-fascists in Ukraine are heroes?

UCC is fueling the conflict. UCC was established and funded by the Canadian government. UCC claims it represents all Ukrainians in Canada. It does not.

Seems to me you are actively trying to draw Canada into a war and I have to wonder if that isn’t incitement to war crimes and punishable in this country even without Billc-51. Canada has not declared war on Russia. The closest we’ve come to that is a snide PM Harper berating Putin at a recent world conference where it was seen as shallow humour by all but Harper and drew a broad smile from the Russian leader.

‘Ukrainians go abroad to kill other Ukrainians and Mackinnon makes it out to be a bold and heroic act’. Ridiculous article. Glad that at least the comments make more sense.

1.) Less than a year ago in the Globe’s comments section I was informed by several people that there is no “Ukrainian community” as such because Ukrainians have been here for generations and are well integrated into Canadian society. Yet now I read that “there is a large and organized Ukrainian-Canadian community that brings it to the attention of politicians”.
2.) If Viktor Yanukovych was an elected politician what was Canada doing providing cash and advice to protestors? What if Kiev provided cash and advice to protestors trying to overthrow a Canadian government? Has anyone proven that the election of Yanukovych was tainted by cash and advice from Moscow? Not to my knowledge. Like him or not, Yanukovych was an elected president and Ottawa helped overthrow him.
3.) The far-right battalions to which these “Canadians” are providing aid use Nazi symbols and there is always something behind the symbols. Are Canadian citizens going abroad to provide aid to neo-Nazi groups? What if groups like the Azov Battalion decide to march on Kiev and bring down the current government? Will Canada be seen as complicit in a far-right coup in Europe?

The war in Ukraine is a Slavic civil war with very deep, intertwined roots and Canada should not be involved officially or unofficially. It would be nice if we could send humanitarian supplies to the displaced civilians but I doubt that would be possible given the circumstances so Ottawa should adopt a hands-offs policy. But then there’s that “nonexistent” Ukrainian community that the Conservatives want to exploit. It’s a shame because we’re just adding fuel to a very dangerous fire.

McKinnon treats the ‘Ukrainian diaspora’ as if it was a single monolith, where all, without exception think and act the exact same way. That is a bold faced lie, or an intentional distortion or both; not even in Ukraine proper, not even in the Western-most parts of the country do all people support the current Kiev government. It is only a loudmouthed minority that managed to grab the attention and support of the current government that cynically believes that this loud, bullhorn-style ‘support’ will be reciprocated in absolute numbers and votes for them, come election time. I am convinced, that they are wrong. As for the ‘Canadians fighting in Ukraine’ – finally a tacit admission, that ‘volunteers’ are not only fighting on the rebel side and not only Russians.

Excellent! Our very own Canadian nazi mercs. Do they do the moskol hop too? [The ‘moskol hop’ is the hopping up and down which far-right protesters in Ukraine demand observers of their street marches to perform. Those who fail to do so are insulted and roughed up.–NCW editors]

I’m of Hungarian descent, and so am familiar with how people feel about the countries they’ve emigrated or fled from. My parents were Hungarian refugees, who never stopped thinking of Hungary as ‘home’, though my father never returned there before he died, and my mother did for the first time only 38 years after she came to Canada. They hated the Russian occupation of Hungary after the war. They would have supported any government who would have offered to drive the Russians out, including perhaps sending money for supplies (and arms). However it was the cold war, and after the ’56 revolution, no one heard much of a peep about Hungary again for many years.
The Ukrainian diaspora described in this article, and the sentiments of the people interviewed, reminds me of the Hungarian emigres I knew in my youth. They still have a feeling of connection to the culture of their or their parents’ homeland. They are stirred by the idea of a righteous fight. Historically they abhor the Russians, whom they see as killers and oppressors of their people (this goes all the way back at least to the early 1930s, when under Stalin, over a million Ukrainian farmers died). They are convinced (and it’s hard not to be) that Russia’s Putin is behind the attempt to take a part of Ukraine back (and perhaps all of Ukraine back). They may have family still in Ukraine. And so on. So they seek to support the people they consider their own in a variety of ways.
While I sympathize with them, I do believe that it is no place of the Canadian government to be involved in these partisan issues. The Ukrainian ‘diaspora’ in Canada are Canadians. If privately they wish to send money to help family and friends in Ukraine, that’s their right. It is not their right however to expect Canada to take sides in this conflict, and to possibly end up declaring war on their behalf. If Canada seeks to take action on foreign soil, it must be to meet Canada’s needs, not the needs of individual factions/ethnicities within Canada.

How are these guys any different than the ones going to Syria and Iraq to fight in the civil war there? The distinction is getting blurrier by the day, with the U.S. now getting concerned about the Shias defeating ISIS. (See article elsewhere in today’s Globe and Mail). Should we seize the passports from these Ukranian-Canadians too? Or start calling ISIS freedom fighters?

This war is killing Ukranians.

MacKinnon comes awfully close to saying Ukraine is about to be split in two by its own internal forces. The extreme right has the most committed and capable fighting forces in the Azov brigade and others and is also the most likely to overthrow Poroshenko if they don’t like what they see. Coup in 3 months? Six months? All depends how quickly the economy collapses.

“Many of the most active members of the 1.2 million Ukrainian-Canadian diaspora had parents and grandparents who fled Ukraine either during the Stalin-engineered famine of the 1930s or the crackdown on Ukrainian nationalism that followed the Second World War”. Let’s not forget that those so called ‘nationalists’ who fled USSR after the WWII were Nazis supporting Hitler who were scared of being prosecuted by Soviets for killing their own people (burning them alive and hanging them) for their support of the Soviet regime and Soviet army fighting Germans. They should have been taken to Nuremberg trials together with Goring, Hess, von Ribbentrop, etc. Let’s not also forget the role of the Soviets in the defeat of the Nazis in 1945. Get a history lesson, people! Those ‘Ukrainians’ who fled to Canada in 1945 have their own skeletons in the cupboards and should refrain from portraying themselves as some kind of freedom fighters.

Will these blood-thirsty ethnic Canadians encourage Ukraine to violate the ceasefire?
 
[Ukrainian] Nazis, do NOT say you are Canadians. My forefathers died fighting your fascist OUN scum during WW II. Shame on Harper for even going near this genocidal NAZI fascist ethnic cleansing campaign against the Donbass Russians. It’s a disgrace. I hope you all end up in front of the ICC.

Kiev fascists attack and disrupt a lecture in Spain: http://rt.com/news/194864-madrid-university-ukraine-nationalists/ 
Human Rights Watch condemns Ukraine junta abuse of journalists:http://www.hrw.org/europecentral-asia/ukraine 
Law and order, Maidan-style (Olyskandr Muzyckinm, later killed in confrontation with security forces after Ukraine coup): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dpgz1FRTZlY

I still don’t understand what being a Ukrainian really means….what are their values, beliefs, culture. From what I understand, there is no such ethnicity, before 1917 there was no such country, the word “Ukraine” doesn’t seem to have a meaning. The values that existed in the newly created country called Ukraine, post 1917, were essentially Soviet values… then the Soviet Union collapsed in early 1990s, and Ukraine went into a complete tailspin and anarchy, so what values it had in 1990s we can only imagine. Then Ukraine went from one corrupt government to another… and now “Ukrainians” from Canada are going to fight for “Ukraine”…. but which Ukraine? I understand that 20 mln Russians living there are just that – Russians, and they have lived there for centuries. So who are these “patriotic Ukrainians” are what values they stand for is still a mystery to me. Being “anti-Russian” is hardly a value.
 
Seeing Harper’s minister Chris Alexander being interviewed with a Right Sector fund raising booth and flags fluttering behind him while he said he had no knowledge of such things and was proud to be at a Ukrainian Canadian event was priceless. Jason Kenney was also in attendance.
The ministers are no doubt aware that the Right Sector fascists in Ukraine place a great deal of political importance on promoting and rehabilitating the reputations of the Ukrainian nationalists who collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War Two, including the fascist Stepan Bandera. That rehabilitation effort involves much of the Ukrainian nationalist political spectrum. In January 2010, President Victor Yushchenko conferred Ukraine’s highest honor, ‘Hero of Ukraine’, on Bandera. President Victor Yushchenko was of course the Washington / Western NGO backed fellow of Orange Revolution fame.
http://rogerannis.com/ukraine-independence-day-celebration-in-toronto-features-appeals-favouring-war-and-fundraising-for-fascism/. 
More here. Journalist integrity is running short. ‘Toronto Star is Running with the Extreme Right in Ukraine': http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/30/toronto-star-is-running-with-the-extreme-right-in-ukraine/
 
“Richard Hareychuk, a 59-year-old Toronto optometrist…says the effort to buy lethal weapons is just getting started.” Mr. Hareychuk is freely stating his intent to send lethal weapons into an armed conflict. How is this even legal in Canada? For a fact, if you were to send so much as a single loonie to ISIS, you are guilty of the criminal offence of aiding terrorism and subject to a penalty of more than a decade in prison.
 
As a Canadian you may lawfully join any foreign armed group that isn’t a “banned entity” under the Criminal Code of Canada. This is true regardless of the group’s politics and activities, and is true even when the group commits war crimes or other offences. (War crimes are committed in every armed conflict, without exception.) The distinction between lawfully going abroad to fight for a foreign group, and doing so unlawfully, is solely a matter of whether the group appears on the Canadian government’s list of banned entities. You can see the list here: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx 
In other words, as a Canadian you could travel to Ukraine and join the infamous Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi group fighting for the Kiev government. You could likewise travel to Ukraine and fight on the side of the separatists. That’s because neither of those groups appear on Canada’s list of banned entities.
Why do some foreign armed groups appear on the list of banned entities while others don’t? Fundamentally, because being assigned to the list is purely a political process under the control of whatever party is in power at the time. Some banned entities richly deserve the designation. But in other cases the government will either put a group on the list or refrain from doing so for political reasons, rather than reasons based on the practical circumstances of the conflict itself. Put another way, the group’s cause could be just but if it conflicts with an allies interests, then Canada might well ban the group. Once a group’s on the list, getting off is virtually impossible. The short story? It’s all about that “banned entities” list.
Anyone thinking of going abroad to participate in an armed conflict must be very careful not to join or aid a banned entity. Likewise, anyone thinking of even peripherally supporting a group that’s involved in a foreign conflict must be careful. If the group you’re joining or supporting is on the banned entities list, you are liable to criminal prosecution and very serious penalties. You must also be aware of the possibility that you could join a group that isn’t on the list, only to have the Canadian government ban it later.
 
The dangerous game of diaspora politics , by David Carment and Yiagadeesen Samy, in The Globe and Mail, Feb 12, 2012: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-dangerous-game-of-diaspora-politics/article544912/
 
Pro-Ukrainian terrorists that should have their Canadian passports revoked. That’s how it works, right?
 
West’s offer to rebuild Ukraine faces reality check:http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/26/us-ukraine-crisis-eu-insight-idUSKBN0LU1JS20150226
“There is just one problem: foreign governments and international financing institutions are not willing to pour money into a dysfunctional state. Only this week the businessman brought in by the new authorities to clean up the tax service was himself suspended pending a corruption inquiry.”
“Ukraine needs to reform its judiciary. Companies dread going to court in Ukraine,” said an official at a development bank. “The chances of them losing a case is 99 percent because the judiciary is in the pocket of whoever is in power.”
According to a new study by insurer Willis Group Holdings and consultancy Oxford Analytica, firms are likely to lose more money in Ukraine over a 10-year period than in Venezuela. It is only a slightly safer bet than North Korea.”
Note: “Asked by Reuters about overcoming corruption and modernizing the bureaucracy, Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko said Kiev needed more time. ” It certainly appears Jaresko has some experience when it comes to corruption based on her time working with US funded NGO’s. Up close and personal experience. Also noteworthy, Pinchuk’s lawsuit against his fellow oligarch is being heard by a UK court.
 
Eritrean diplomats are involved in shakedown to get Eritrean Canadians to support their war effort and John Baird kicks them out of the country. Diaspora based NGOs in Canada support Palestinians and have their funding revoked by John Baird. Canadians head eastward to join the fight with ISIL and god knows who else and Kenney talks about revoking their citizenship. Israeli- Canadians serve in the IDF and engage in wars against the people of the west Bank and Gaza and the Cons say nothing. Tamil Tigers commit crimes against humanity and are implicated in the deaths of Torontonians and Kenney tells them they never should have been labelled a terrorist organisation. Ukrainians go abroad to kill other Ukrainians and Mackinnon makes it out to be a bold and heroic act. Expect Kenney to declare it perfectly acceptable – perhaps even good clean fun. For the Cons their diaspora-pandering depends on how much they can leverage these people for votes, money and influence back home. You don’t count if you don’t deliver votes.
 
Speaking of hypocrisy, how is that Ukrainian government investigation into the burning of the “cockroaches” in Odessa [May 2, 2014] going? I understand that in spite of mountains of video and photographic evidence, there have been no arrests, except some surviving protesters. Does the Ukrainian Canadian diaspora not care about social justice? Or is it just that justice for some is more important than for others.
 
Atta boy, Mark. Encourage another source of terrorism , in Canada !!! That’s all we need !!!
 

3. Online comments in response to ‘Canada’s Ukrainian diaspora raises $52,000 for troops at Toronto event, by Sahar Fatima, published in the March 2, 2015 Globe and Mail(selection from 55 online comments)

It is deeply wrong to send money to support violence against the people of eastern Ukraine. Why in God’s name should they die merely because they don’t want to live under Kiev?

Congratulations, more money for war crimes! Perhaps they should tell the Ukraine Army to stop shelling civilians in their homes. Oh, and how’s that Odessa Massacre investigation going? 100 ethnic Russian civilians killed, all caught on video. Still no arrests?

 

SOS Army is a fundraising effort of the extreme right paramilitaries in Ukraine. Shameful to see the Globe and Mail supporting this and shameful to see a young writer apparently accepting of it. Is it or legal in Canada to promote and fundraise for an illegal, undeclared war (there is a reason why Kyiv calls its war an ‘anti-terrorist operation’) and for groups which by any reasonable measure can be considered terrorist? It is certainly morally outrageous.

 

Why doesn’t the anti-terrorism bill apply to these individuals who are raising funds for an fascist right-wing group in the Ukraine?

 

“It’s these stories that had about 400 attendees reaching deep into their pockets to raise a total of $52,000 Saturday, according to Richard Hareychuk, one of the event organizers.”

 

400 people donating $52,000 works out to $130 per person. I’d hardly call that ” reaching deep into their pockets”.

 

For those who do not know the “Givi” video with the captured Ukrainian [soldiers] that is referenced in the opening paragraphs, here it is:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo7E_b2ESwg . If the event presenters think this represents the “severity of this war”, they have led very sheltered lives. These dudes are the lucky ones.

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