Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Crushing Gays and Maidan 3.0: How Right Wing Gang Violence Works in Ukraine

Maidan regime obliged to tolerate violence of far right groups it depends on to suppress its enemies.


This post first appeared on Russia Insider


The last few days have seen Ukraine’s far right groups in action again: violently dispersing an anti-government protest on Maidan Square hours after they violently dispersed an attempt to hold a gay pride parade in Kiev.

The two incidents taken together illustrate the role of far right groups in today’s Ukraine.

<figcaption>Not so "European" after all...</figcaption>
Not so "European" after all...

Western governments and media try to minimise the importance of these groups by pointing to their very limited election success.  

In reality, as I explained when I discussed the outcome of Ukraine’s last parliamentary elections back in October (see Western Media Get Ukraine Elections Wrong. There's Big Trouble Ahead, Russia Insider, 31st October 2014) lack of support in elections scarcely matters to groups that are by definition anti-democratic and which are therefore in principle hostile to democratic elections.  These groups are however important to the Maidan regime because they can be used to suppress the regime’s enemies and to control the streets:

“As for the Right Sector and various Nazi groups, the fact that they have little electoral support (a point endlessly made by the regime’s apologists) does not reduce their real political role.  This is not to win elections; as militantly anti-democratic organisations they have little interest in doing so.  It is to actively terrorize and intimidate the regime’s enemies.” 

Given the economic crisis in Ukraine and the widespread disaffection it has caused, popular protests on Maidan Square might easily evolve into a serious challenge to the Maidan regime.  After the trauma of the Maidan coup, the police and security services probably cannot be relied on.  The militants of the far right groups however can, and they were quickly brought in to disperse the protests, which they did, just as they did in Odessa in May last year.

In return the Maidan regime has to tolerate the violence and criminal behaviour of these groups, the violence against Ukraine’s LGBT community being a case in point.  

Every so often things go just a bit too far, provoking the odd crackdown on the groups’ wilder members.  

Thus in March last year we saw the killing by the police of the Right Sector militant Aleksandr Muzychko (also known as Sashko Bilyi) and in May this year we saw the arrest following an attempted hold-up of the Aidar Battalion’s Vita Zaveruha (the subject of a now notorious feature in Elle).

However the reality of today’s Ukraine is that street-level violence and criminality have now become an integral element of its political system.


Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Anyone is free to republish, copy, and redistribute the text in this content (but not the images or videos) in any medium or format, with the right to remix, transform, and build upon it, even commercially, as long as they provide a backlink and credit to Russia Insider. It is not necessary to notify Russia Insider. Licensed Creative Commons


Our commenting rules: You can say pretty much anything except the F word. If you are abusive, obscene, or a paid troll, we will ban you. Full statement from the Editor, Charles Bausman.

Add new comment