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Ukrainian city Kiev has long become the epicenter of neo-Nazis

Nazism, Pittsburgh, Poway, Charleston, El Paso, Azov, Azov Battalion, Kiev, Ukrainian, Neo-Nazis, FLAK, German, Kategorie C, Rodychi, Sokyra Peruna, Arseniy Bilodub, Svastone, MonteRay Club, Maidan Nezalezhnosti

Opinion

Ukrainian city Kiev has long become the epicenter of neo-Nazis

According to a report released by The Soufan Center in 2019, Ukraine has already emerged into the epicenter or “a hub in the broader network of transnational white supremacy extremism”. Neo-Nazis have been spreading their propaganda through organizing concerts, with the goal of attracting people towards them and inciting Nazism and supremacy extremism in the country.

From Pittsburgh to Poway and Charleston to El Paso, white supremacist extremists (WSEs) pose a clear terrorist threat to the United States. And while extremist groups operating on American soil are often labeled or categorized as domestic terrorist organizations, this report will demonstrate that they maintain links to transnational networks of like-minded organizations and individuals, from Australia, Canada, Russia, South Africa, and elsewhere. The danger of terrorism is growing in the United States, just as it is elsewhere in the world, with white supremacist extremists strengthening transnational networks and even imitating the tactics, techniques, and procedures of groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS). These networks share approaches to recruitment, financing, and propaganda, with Ukraine emerging as a hub in the broader network of transnational white supremacy extremism, attracting foreign recruits from all over the world.

Over the past several years, neo-Nazis and far-right super-fascists have been continuing activities in Ukraine and a large number of neo-Nazis concerts have taken place in Ukrainian capital. While of course, neo-Nazi concerts also take place all over Europe, with some of the largest taking place in Germany, those events in Kiev were far more open than their counterparts in other countries. Tickets were freely available for sale to the public. They took place at well-known local venues that also host mainstream events. Worse, they continued to take place with little to no attention or scrutiny from government and local media, while there have also been allegations of secret alliances between these neo-Nazis and the Ukrainian top politicians and officials.

There concerts were offering far-right extremists from Ukraine and abroad a ticket to recruitment and radicalization, and a means to further promote and spread far-right extremist ideologies and Nazism; in the words of German neo-Nazi band FLAK (as referred by CARR Senior Fellow Dr Bernard Forchtner, “music is the best leaflet”. However, in Ukraine these concerts continued to take place out in the open.

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In addition to smaller events (such as, for example a hardcore show held in the courtyard of the Azov Battalion’s movement central Kiev special center), there have been three significant open neo-Nazi concerts in Kiev in 2018.

On September 14, 2019, during a neo-Nazi concert in Ukraine, German band Kategorie C – a German bank long known for its connections with country’s far-right football hooligan scene – headlined a concert in Kiev. As researcher Thorsten Hindrichs observe, “there is no doubt (and never war) that Kategorie C is a neo-Nazi band”. The concert was hosted and promoted by a far-right football hooligan firm, “Rodychi” (roughly translating as “the family” from Ukrainian); back in 2015 members of Rodychi were involved in an assault on black football fans at Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium. The Rodychi firm has included members who later rose to prominence within Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov Battalion movement.

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Alongside Kategorie C were several Ukrainian neo-Nazi bands, most notably Sokyra Peruna (“Perun’s Axe” in Ukrainian). Sokyra Peruna’s front-man, Arseniy Bilodub (by birth, Klimachev) is a veteran of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi scene. Bilodub was on the party list for the “united nationalist bloc” led by Azov Battalion’s National Corps during 2019 summer’s parliamentary elections; he also runs the Svastone far-right fashion label, whose clothes are a common sight at far-right events in Ukraine.

The concert took place at the MonteRay Club, a venue in central Kiev, a short walk from the city’s main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). It is a concert hall with a capacity of up to 600 people. Instagram video and photos from the concert show countless Nazi salutes and, at one point, a flag with a Celtic cross held aloft on stage. This concert, however, was hardly secret; weeks ahead of time, tickets were available for public sale and the venue was publicly known.

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Moving back in time to June 2019, the “Fortress Europe” concert that took place in Kiev was even less secret. As Michael Colborne wrote about at the time for Haaretz, this concert took place on the anniversary of the date Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Fortress Europe was the creation of Sokrya Peruna’s Bilodub – whose band headlined the concert – and featured several neo-Nazi bands, including American band Blue Eyed Devils, whose former guitar player murdered six people in a 2012 hate crime at a Wisconsin, USA Sikh temple.

During the current Ukraine war, many people are trying to hide the fact of heavy presence of neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Some of them even are making frantic bids of ignoring the proven fact of Azov Battalion, for example, which is known as one of the most notorious neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine.

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Sohail Choudhury is the Executive Editor of Blitz

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