The same British press which, before the UEFA Euro 2012 championship crucified Ukrainian football fans as racists and neo-Nazis, now covers up actual Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitaries
Remember the neo-Nazis of Ukraine? They were everywhere. Sky warned – Euro 2012: Neo-Nazi Threat To England Fans –
The Mail made it sound like England fans were walking into an actual ambush – Nazi mob lies in wait for England fans
Even broadsheets got in on the neo-Nazi action, with the Telegraph noting "Monday night’s BBC documentary showed widespread monkey chanting at games, routine
Nazi saluting, violent attacks on Asian spectators at a match in Ukraine" – that referencing the BBC documentary so shocking, it had former England footballer, Sol Campbell, fearing that England fans who made the trip to Euro 2012 could end up "coming home in a coffin."
Three years later, there’s an actual war being waged in the former part of Ukraine, Donbass, with many of Ukraine’s forces unashamedly drawn from the very neo-Nazi groups of Ukraine’s west so pilloried by the western press in 2012. Here are Ukraine’s notorious Azov Battalion, open exponents of Nazism:
Yet the western press, in a rush to condemn neo-Nazism in 2012, finds itself in a more forgiving mood in 2015. From the Daily Mail (text actually taken from Reuters), I’ve highlighted parts of note:
URZUF, Ukraine, March 25 (Reuters) – The far-right Azov battalion, whose symbol resembles a black swastika on a yellow background, is preparing to defend the port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine against a widely expected attack by pro-Russian separatists.
The 1,000 strong ultra-nationalist militia has a reputation as a fierce pro-government fighting force in the almost year-old conflict with the Russia-backed rebels in east Ukraine, and is disdainful of peace efforts.
But the radical views of the commanders of a group affiliated to Ukraine’s national guard which works alongside the army, and the use of symbols echoing Nazi emblems have caused alarm in the West and Russia, and could return to haunt Kiev’s pro-Western leadership when fighting eventually ends.
In 2012, football fans doing a "sieg heil" were a "Nazi mob;" now, a battalion going into battle bearing swastikas, whose members could hardly be more overt in their reverence of Nazism (photo left) merely ‘resemble’ and ‘echo’ Nazism. Of course they do, any more than that hardly fits with them as "fierce fighters," "defenders’ against the eternal evil, those ‘pro-Russian separatists’" – the favourite ‘bad guy’ of the western media.
The Azov desire to extol Nazism is so extreme, they actually fake photos. Fake photos to include swastikas. Scans show the swastika to have been photoshopped into this photo, then proudly displayed on the social networking site of Azov member Oleg Penya.
Just think, if these neo-Nazis of Ukraine were even as bad as the Nazi saluting football fans of 2012, suddenly the "pro-Russian separatists" might just have a point… In truth, of course, they are infinitely worse. What happens when you unleash neo-Nazis on a war zone, fire them up with hatred of Russia, belief that everyone in Donbass is a "pro-Russian separatist," give them the full support of their own, the western media… they do things like this: neo-Nazi member of Aidar Battalion, Vita Zaverukha, picks up a rocket launcher, fires on a village and civilians in Donbass.
Any luck finding that in western media? Hardly, but you can easily find Vita Zaverukha; she’s a centrefold in the French Elle, described as a "special kind of fighter" in an article which couldn’t have been more glowing if it was written by Vita’s own mother.
Here, a couple more photos of the "special fighter."
Of course, the western press do have to, at some level, acknowledge the neo-Nazism rampant among Ukrainian forces. But how can they do that, without re-designating them as the "bad guys"? Simple; speak to them, then print the most mitigating of their self-absolutions.
In an interview with USA TODAY, he admitted he is a Nazi and said with a laugh that no more than half his comrades are fellow Nazis. He said he supports strong leadership for Ukraine, like Germany during World War II, but opposes the Nazis’ genocide against Jews. Minorities should be tolerated as long as they are peaceful and don’t demand special privileges, he said, and the property of wealthy oligarchs should be taken away and nationalized….
Andriy Diachenko, a spokesman for the Azov Brigade, said only 10% to 20% of the group’s members are Nazis. “I know Alex is a Nazi, but it’s his personal ideology. It has nothing to do with the official ideology of the Azov,” Diachenko said. “He’s a good drill sergeant and a good instructor for tactics and weapons skills.”
So, the western press answers its own question, one of the key ones of the war in Donbass: What do you do when it’s not convenient to call the people you called neo-Nazis neo-Nazis anymore? Try not to call them that at all, but if you absolutely must, find a sympathetic photo of them, and make them nice neo-Nazis!