Svoboda (political party)
|All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda"
Всеукраїнське об'єднання "Свобода"
|Parliamentary leader||Oleh Tyahnybok|
|Slogan||"20 Years of Fight"|
|Founded||October 13, 1991
Registered as political party on October 16, 1995.
|Preceded by||Social-National Party|
|Political position||Right-wing to Far-right|
|European affiliation||Alliance of European National Movements (observer status)|
|Colors||Blue and Yellow|
|Politics of Ukraine
The All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" (Ukrainian: Всеукраїнське об’єднання «Свобода», Vseukrayinske obyednannia "Svoboda"), translated as Freedom, is a Ukrainian nationalist political party, and currently one of the five major parties of the country. Five members of the party hold position's in Ukraine's government.
The party was founded in 1991 as the Social-National Party of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Соціал-національна партія України) and acts as a populist proponent of nationalism and anti-communism. It is positioned on the right of the Ukrainian political spectrum, and has been described by some scholars as far-right. Svoboda’s socioeconomic platform has been described as similar to that of the Republican Party for the United States, and its approach to ethnic relations as mirroring policy in the Baltic states.
During the 2009 and 2010 local elections in Galicia, the party made significant gains and became a major force in local government. In the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary elections, Svoboda won its first seats in the Ukrainian Parliament, garnering 10.44% of the popular vote and the 4th most seats among national political parties; this transposed into 37 parliamentary seats. In October 2012, Svoboda joined a formal coalition with the centre-right Batkivshchyna and UDAR parties to form the parliament's collective opposition, now a majority.
- 1 History
- 2 In government
- 3 Ideology
- 4 Stances
- 5 Criticism
- 6 Electoral results
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Social-National Party of Ukraine
The Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU) was registered as a party on October 16, 1995; although the original movement was founded on October 13, 1991, in Lviv. The name of the party was an intentional reference to the Nazi Party in Germany. Membership was restricted to ethnic Ukrainians, and for a period the party did not accept atheists or former members of the Communist Party. The party also recruited skinheads and football hooligans.
The SNPU's official program defined itself as an "irreconcilable enemy of Communist ideology" and all other parties to be either collaborators and enemies of the Ukrainian revolution, or romanticists. According to Svoboda's website, during the 1994 Ukrainian parliamentary elections the party presented its platform as distinct from those of the communists and social democrats.
In the 1998 parliamentary elections the party joined a bloc of parties (together with the All-Ukrainian Political Movement "State Independence of Ukraine") called "Less Words" (Ukrainian: Менше слів), which collected 0.16% of the national vote. Party member Oleh Tyahnybok was voted into the Ukrainian Parliament in this election. He became a member of the People's Movement of Ukraine faction.
The party established the paramilitary organization Patriots of Ukraine in 1999 as an "Association of Support" for the Military of Ukraine. The paramilitary organization, which continues to use the Wolfsangel symbol, was disbanded in 2004 during the SNPU's reformation and reformed in 2005. Svoboda officially ended association with the group in 2007, but they remain informally linked, with representatives of Svoboda attending social campaigns such as protests against price increases and leafleting against drugs and alcohol. In 2014, Svoboda was noted for clashing with the far-right group Right Sector, a coalition which includes Patriot of Ukraine.
In 2001, the party joined some actions of the "Ukraine without Kuchma" protest campaign and was active in forming the association of Ukraine's rightist parties and in supporting Viktor Yushchenko's candidacy for prime minister, although it did not participate in the 2002 parliamentary elections. However, as a member of Victor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine bloc, Tyahnybok was reelected to the Ukrainian parliament. The SNPU won two seats in the Lviv oblast council of deputies and representation in the city and district councils in the Lviv and Volyn oblasts.[third-party source needed]
In 2004 the party had less than 1,000 members.
All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda"
The Social-National Party of Ukraine changed its name to the All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" in February 2004 with the arrival of Oleh Tyahnybok as party leader. Tyahnybok made significant efforts to moderate the party's extremist image. The party not only replaced its name, but also abandoned the "I + N" ("Idea Natsii" Ukrainian "idea of a nation") Wolfsangel logo (a symbol popular among neo-Nazi groups) with a three-fingered hand reminiscent of the 'Tryzub' pro-independence gesture of the late 1980s. Svoboda also pushed neo-Nazi and other radical groups out the party, distancing itself from its neofascist past while retaining the support of extreme nationalists.
In 2004, Tyahnybok was expelled from the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction for a speech calling for Ukrainians to fight against a "Muscovite-Jewish mafia," and celebrated the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists for having fought "Moscovites, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state." The speech was delivered at the grave-site of a commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army where Tyahnybok praised its struggle against "Moskaly", a derogatory term for either Russians or pan-Russian nationalists; Germans; and "Zhydy", an archaic but controversial term for Jews in Ukraine due to it being a slur when used in the Russian language.
In the 2006 local elections the party had obtained 4.2% of the votes and 4 seats in the Ternopil Oblast Council, 5.62% of the votes and 10 seats in the Lviv Oblast Council and 6.69% of the votes and 9 seats in the Lviv city council.
In the 2007 parliamentary elections, the party received 0.76% of the votes cast, more than double their share during the 2006 parliamentary elections, when they received 0.36%. It was ranked eighth out of 20 parties (in the 2007 elections) and the non-participation of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists made the party the only far-right party to participate in the 2007 parliamentary elections.
2009 Electoral breakthrough
The party's electoral breakthrough was the 2009 Ternopil Oblast local election when they obtained 34.69% of the votes and 50 seats out of 120 in the Ternopil Oblast Council. This was the best result for a far-right party in Ukraine’s history.
The party leader Tyahnybok's candidacy in the 2010 presidential election did not build on the 2009 Ternopil success. Tyahnybok received 1.43% of the vote. Most of his votes he gained in Lviv oblast, Ternopil oblast and Ivano-Frankivsk oblast accounted to 5% of the vote. In the second round, Tyahnybok did not endorse a candidate. He did present a list of some 20 demands for second round candidate Yulia Tymoshenko had to fulfil first before gaining his endorsement - which included publicizing alleged secret deals Tymoshenko had with Vladimir Putin and ridding herself of what he called Ukraine-haters in her close circles.
During the 2010 Ukrainian local elections the party won between 20-30% of the votes in Eastern Galicia, where it became one of the main forces in local government. The 2009 provincial elections in Ternopil had previously been the greatest success of the Svoboda party, when it won 34.4 per cent of votes cast. During the 2010 Ukrainian local elections, Svoboda surpassed this figure, accounting for 5.2% of the vote nationwide. Analysts explained Svoboda’s victory in Galicia during the 2010 elections as a result of the policies of the Azarov Government, who were seen as too pro-Russian by the electorate. According to Andreas Umland, Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Svoboda's increasing exposure in the Ukrainian media has contributed to its recent successes.
As of 2011, Svoboda has factions in eight of Ukraine's 25 regional councils, and in three of those Svoboda is the biggest faction. Umland and novelist Andrey Kurkov have accused the Party of Regions of giving "unofficial support" to Svoboda to make their main opponent, BYuT, weaker. Reportedly, the members and supporters of Svoboda are predominantly young people.
Several clergymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church are Svoboda members and have stood for election as Svoboda chosen candidates. According to the party, they were chosen on election lists "to counterbalance opponents who include “Moscow priests” in their election lists and have aspirations to build the “Russian World” in Ukraine". Per the party's desire to separate the clergy from politics, all churchmen will be recalled if a draft Constitution of Ukraine proposed by the party is approved.
2012 elections: further support
In July 2012 the party agreed with Batkivshchyna on the distribution of the candidates in single-seat constituencies (its share was 35 constituencies) in the October 2012 parliamentary elections. In the run up to these elections various opinion polls predicted the national vote (in a parliamentary election) of the party to sixfolded or sevenfolded which would make it possible that the party would pass the 5% election threshold. But the party's results in the elections where much better than that with 10,44%[nb 1] (almost a fourteenfold of its votes compared with the 2007 parliamentary elections) of the national votes and 38 out of 450 seats in the Ukrainian Parliament. The lion's share of these votes votes were won in Western Ukraine (30-40% in three Oblasts), while in Eastern Ukraine it won 1% of the votes. At the at 116 foreign polling stations Svoboda won most votes of all parties with 23,63% of all votes. In Lviv the party reportedly won over 50% of the votes. In Kiev it became the second most popular party, after Fatherland. Voting analysis showed it was the party most popular among voters with a higher education (about 48% of its voters had a higher education). Oleh Tyahnybok was elected leader of the party's parliamentary faction (also) on 12 December 2012. On 19 October 2012 the party and Batkivshchyna signed an agreement "on the creation of a coalition of democratic forces in the new parliament". The party is also coordinating its parliamentary activities with Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR).
In recent years, the BBC writes that "Svoboda" has "tapped a vast reservoir of protest votes" because of its anti-corruption stance and because it has softened its own image. According to Sociological group "RATING" the percentage of the party's electorate who only use the Ukrainian language decreased from 75% to 68% between September 2012 and March 2013.
Post-2012 elections and Euromaidan campaign
|This section requires expansion. (January 2014)|
In an opinion poll conducted on December 7–17, 2013, respondents showed that in a presidential election between Viktor Yanukovych and Svoboda leader Tyahnybok, results found that Tyahnybok would win with 28.8% of the popular vote, versus Yanukovych's 27.1%.
After the Vladimir Lenin monument in Kiev was toppled during the ongoing Euromaidan protest, MP Igor Myroshnychenko officially accepted responsibility for this action on behalf of the Svoboda, though it is unclear whether the party organized and/or planned it.
- Oleksandr Sych - Vice Prime Minister
- Andriy Mokhnyk- Minister of Ecology
- Ihor Shvayka - Minister of Agriculture
- Ihor Tenyukh - Minister of Defence
Svoboda's ideological base emanates from Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists leader Yaroslav Stetsko's "Two Revolutions" doctrine (written in 1951). The essence of this doctrine states: "the revolution will not end with the establishment of the Ukrainian state, but will go on to establish equal opportunities for all people to create and share material and spiritual values and in this respect the national revolution is also a social one". A crucial condition for joining Svoboda is that its members must belong to the Ukrainian nation.
Svoboda is a party of Ukrainian nationalism and in 2011 was noted for favoring a solely presidential regime. In 2013, however, the party pushed for constitutional reform which would limit the president's powers and return power to parliament.
The party's agenda is set out in an article entitled "Nationalism and pseudonationalism" published on the official website of the party. Svoboda member Andriy Illienko calls for a "social and national revolution in Ukraine," a "major shift in [the] political, economic, [and] ethical system", and the "dismantling [of] the liberal regime of antinational occupation". Illienko explains that "only the revolution can now prevent Ukraine from the brink, and make it the first modern nationalist state that will ensure continuous development of the Ukrainian nation, and show other nations the path to genuine sovereignty and prosperity."[third-party source needed]. Illienko continues that cultural details are not important for a nationalist who "must wake up with the idea that he is a metal political soldier of Nation." ("Націоналіст... забов'язаний просинатися з думкою, що він – залізний політичний солдат Нації..."). This document sets up the enemy of Svoboda, a pseudonationalist, a person who wants "all-ukrainian values" ("українськість","щоб все було українське") and adheres to "conventional liberalism [of] 'civilized' Western democracy and capitalism". Another attribute of a pseudonationalist is the belief in "Free market", "democracy", "fighting authoritarianism" [the quotes are from the original document].
The party views the dominating role of Ukraine's oligarchy as "devastating".[third-party source needed] While oligarchs have typically played a major role in the funding of other Ukrainian parties, Svoboda claims to receive no financial support from oligarchs, but rather from Ukraine's small and medium-sized businesses.[third-party source needed]
The party seeks to put a stop to immigration into Ukraine, and to make sure that only ethnic Ukrainians can be employed as civil servants.
On February 16, 2013, police in Ukraine opened a criminal case on charges of hooliganism against nationalist activists lead by Svoboda Supreme Rada deputy Ihor Miroshnychenko for the dismantling of a statue of Vladimir Lenin in Okhtyrka, Sumy Oblast. "There is no place for Communist symbols and ideology in European Ukraine and if the authorities cannot get rid of them, we will do it ourselves", said Miroshnychenko. According to police, Miroshnychenko climbed the statue and put a rope around Lenin’s figure, which was then pulled down by a truck.
|This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (November 2012)|
Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok (in January 2011) has described the Azarov Government and the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych "a Kremlin colonial administration", referencing Svoboda's opposition to perceived Russian influences in Ukrainian politics.
Before the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election most of the radical points which were present on the Svoboda’s original party platform vanished from the official election program that Svoboda filed with the Central Election Commission of Ukraine. In its place, a tamer, populist program focused on the impeachment of President Viktor Yanukovych and the renunciation of the 2010 Kharkiv agreements that let Russia’s Black Sea Fleet stay in Crimea through 2042 was used. In its campaign for the 2008 Kiev local elections the party also used less ethnic nationalist terms and it relied more on a strong anti-establishment, populist and anti-corruption rhetoric.
Points in the Svoboda party programme (have) include(d):
- Ukraine—a presidential republic, head of state is the head of government
- Lustration of state authority: publication of lists of all Soviet KGB agents that served or continue to serve in Ukraine, dismissal of such people as well as members of the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union from state leadership positions, replace them with graduates of the Ukrainian universities
- Criminal prosecution for “Ukrainophobia”
- Only those born in Ukraine can become Ukrainian citizens, with the exceptions for those who have lived in Ukraine for more than 15 years, know the Ukrainian language, culture and Ukrainian Constitution
- Renunciation[nb 2] of the 2010 Kharkiv agreements
- Impeachment of President Viktor Yanukovych
- Ban on abortion, except in cases of medical necessity, or rape; and imprisonment from three to seven years for those who violate this ban
- Criminalization of public promotion of abortions or calls for abortions (by introducing a fine for doing so)
- The right to keep and bear arms
- Cancelling taxes on Ukrainian language products — films, music and literature — and instead imposing taxes on non-Ukrainian language products. The proceeds obtained this way will be channeled into developing Ukrainian language products
- Nationalization of major enterprises, greater state control of the banking system and a ban on privatization of land
- Energy independence for Ukraine
- The development of competitive industries, particularly food processing and aircraft engineering, shipbuilding, machine-tool construction, machine manufacturing, the military industrial complex and the aerospace industry
- Ban on the import of the food products that are also produced inside Ukraine and import only exotic food that is not domestically grown
- The restoration of the Soviet practice of indicating ethnic origin on passports and birth certificates
- Proportional representation on executive bodies of ethnic Ukrainians, on the one hand, and national minorities, on the other
- Ban on adoptions by non-Ukrainians of Ukrainian children
- Preferential treatment for Ukrainian students in the allocation of dormitory places, and a series of similar changes to existing legal provisions
- Ordained persons should have no right to be elected to state authorities or local self-government authorities
- Abolition of Crimean autonomy
- Abolition of value added tax
- Farmlands are to be state-owned and given to farmers in hereditary use
- The state is to implement a firm pro-family policy
- Dismissal of employees of state structures who had been active in the Soviet apparatus before 1991
- Decommunization of public space (monuments, names of streets and places)
- Russia should apologize "for its communist crimes"
- Ukraine is to leave the Commonwealth of Independent States "and other post-Soviet structures"
- An explicit guarantee of accession to NATO within a set period of time
- Ukraine should again re-acquire tactical nuclear weaponry
Svoboda also states in its programme that it is both possible and necessary to make Ukraine the “geopolitical centre of Europe”. The European Union is not mentioned in the programme. According to Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok the programme is a worldview based on Christian values of the rejection of various deviations.
Member of parliament Ihor Miroshnychenko asked the head of the Kiev City State Administration Oleksandr Popov on 7 March 2013 to ban an LGBT march that was held the next day because he believed it would "contribute to promoting sexual orientation" and he further stated in his request "homosexuality provokes sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS". The 8 March rally was in fact not an LGBT march but organized by feminist organizations.
Late January 2013, Svoboda urged Ukrainians to boycott revised Ukrainian history textbooks and give up the teaching of the Russian language in school, calling Ukrainians "to categorically refuse to study in school the language of the occupier – Russian, as a further reliable means of the assimilation of Ukrainians". On 23 February 2014, following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the law on regional languages was abolished, making Ukrainian the sole state language at all levels.
Allegations of xenophobia and racism
Svoboda has been described as an anti-Semitic and sometimes a Neo-Nazi party by international newspapers, organizations that monitor hate speech, Jewish organizations, and political opponents.
Political scientist Tadeusz A. Olszański writes that the social-nationalist ideology which Svoboda formerly adhered to has included "openly racist rhetoric" concerning 'white supremacy' since its establishment, and that comparisons with National Socialism are legitimized by its history; however, Svoboda’s policy documents contain no racist elements. According to Der Spiegel, "anti-Semitism is part of the extremist party's platform," which rejects certain minority and human rights. The paper writes that Svoboda's earlier "Social-National Party" title was an "intentional reference to Adolf Hitler's National Socialist party," and that a Svoboda youth leader distributed Nazi propaganda written by Joseph Goebbels in 2013. According to journalist Michael Goldfarb, Svoboda's platform calls for a Ukraine that is “one race, one nation, one Fatherland,”[dubious ] and criticized the party for honoring the Waffen-SS Galicia (of which the historical role of the unit is contested).
In 2004, party leader Tyahnybok was expelled from the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction for a speech calling for Ukrainians to fight against a "Muscovite-Jewish mafia." Svoboda advisor Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn established a "‘Joseph Goebbels Political Research Centre" in 2005, later changing "Joseph Goebbels" to "Ernst Jünger." Mykhalchyshyn wrote a book in 2010 citing works by Nazi theorists Ernst Röhm, Gregor Strasser and Goebbels. Elsewhere Mykhalchyshyn referred to the Holocaust as a "period of Light in history".
Andreas Umland, a political scientist at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, has asserted that "Svoboda is a racist party promoting explicitly ethnocentric and anti-Semitic ideas". He also believes that internally, Svoboda "is much more radical and xenophobic than what we see”. However, Umland has also stated that he believes the party will continue to become more moderate over time, stating that "there's a belief that Svoboda will change, once in the Verkhovna Rada, and that they may become proper national democrats". Olexiy Haran, also a political science professor at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, says “There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding Svoboda" and that the party is not fascist, but radical.
Svoboda members have denied the party is anti-Semitic. Party leader Tyahnybok stated in November 2012 “Svoboda is not an anti-Semitic party, Svoboda is not a xenophobic party. Svoboda is not an anti-Russian party. Svoboda is not an anti-European party. Svoboda is simply and only a pro-Ukrainian party”. In defense of these accusations, Tyahnybok has stated "I have repeatedly said that Svoboda is not an anti-Semitic organization. If you have any comments on our views, go to court. But nobody will, because everyone understands that even biased Ukrainian courts cannot pass any sentence against Svoboda because we do not violate Ukrainian laws." Tyahnybok says a criminal case was opened against him for promoting racial rights, but he managed to win all the court cases and protect his name.
Prominent Ukrainian journalist and president of TVi Channel Vitaly Portnikov defended criticisms towards Svoboda, as he noted he is often questioned for supporting party leader Oleh Tyahnybok despite himself being Jewish. Portnikov said, "I [stand with them] with great pleasure, because Oleh wants Ukraine to be part of the European Union" and that "presently Svoboda is acting in a very decent way, and I see no problem there. Right-wing parties function in every European country."
Support for controversial figures
The party has also been criticized for their honoring historical figure Stepan Bandera, considered a Ukrainian hero by Svoboda members and some Ukrainians, but a Nazi collaborator by others, especially in Russian-speaking cities. Bandera is a controversial figure for his role in leading the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought the Soviets and Nazi Germany for an independent Ukrainian state but also, according to some historians, contained members who cooperated in the killing of thousands of Jews during Nazi occupation; Tyahnybok has commended the UPA for fighting "Russians, Germans, Jewry and other crap."
Though Svoboda's leader has publicly endorsed the activities of the UPA, historian Serhy Yekelchyk contends that among protesters, the use of UPA imagery and slogans is more of a symbol of protest against the current government and Russia rather than praise for the insurgents themselves. "The reason for the sudden prominence of Bandera's portraits in Kiev is that it is the strongest possible expression of protest against the pro-Russian orientation of the current government," he said. According to Christopher Miller of the Kyiv Post, Bandera was instead the target of a heavy smear campaign by Soviet propaganda which portrayed him as an anti-Semite and Nazi collaborator.
Criticism as device by opponents
Overt attempts to use anti-Semitism as a propaganda weapon against the EuroMaidan movement have been noted, and reports of widespread anti-Semitism dismissed by authoritative analysts, historians and human rights activists. Ukrainian media associated with the Party of Regions, the Communist Party of Ukraine, and Russophile groups contribute to a trend to demonize Svoboda as a "Nazi menace." Olszański writes that voters from southern or eastern Ukraine, especially those poor, less educated, or attached to the "Soviet historical narrative," are hostile to the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, and easily convinced that Svoboda is the inheritor of Nazi invaders, a threat to peace, and that the Party of Regions should be voted for as the only force capable of stopping a ‘brown revenge’. According to political scientist Taras Kuzio, the label "nationalist" is "disastrous" in Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine and used as an epithet by political opponents. Attempts to present all opposition to the ruling regime as “nationalist” and all nationalists as “fascists” date back to Soviet era. Kuzio writes that former president Viktor Yushchenko's decision to allow Svoboda to participate in the Ukrainian opposition coalition allowed opponents to brand them as "anti-Semitic" and "following in the footsteps" of Nazi collaborators." Svoboda leader Tyahnybok's 2004 "Muscovite-Jewish mafia" comment was widely circulated on the three TV channels controlled by the head of the Presidential Administration, Viktor Medvedchuk: State Channel 1, 1+1 and Inter, however, Kuzio notes that Ukrainian authorities of the Party of Regions also make anti-Semitic comments, but these are not publicized. In contrast, Svoboda's popularity has been attributed to popular dissatisfaction with xenophobic, anti-Ukrainian, and Russian supremacist policies pursued by the Party of Regions since early 2010.
In 2011, the party was accused by some Ukrainian media and political analysts of being used by Party of regions to split the vote of its main national opponents Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and other civic nationalist parties; this has been denied by the party.
In December 2012, the European Parliament expressed concern regarding Svoboda's growing support, recalling "that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU's fundamental values and principles," and appealed "to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with" Svoboda. Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok stated in March 2013 that the EU warning against Svoboda's influence was the result of "Moscow agents working through a Bulgarian socialist MP". Referencing a similar resolution made by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Tyahnybok claimed it to be a result of a mud-slinging campaign by political opponents, stating: "When we did not have a parliamentary faction or normal channels for contacting influential groups in the European Union, a very negative image of Svoboda was created and in an extremely crude fashion." However, after speaking to European MP's he stated they "admitted that they had received completely different information about us." Tyahnybok furthermore stated that "spin doctors who are working against Svoboda" cover up the non-controversial points in the party's election programme "by promoting some clearly secondary issues through mass media outlets controlled by pro-government forces".
Member of parliament with the pro-presidential Party of Regions, and president of the Jewish Committee of Ukraine Oleksandr Feldman criticized Svoboda as a "party which is notorious for regularly injecting anti-Semitism into their speeches and public pronouncements" and accused the party of "rallying behind this recognition and exploited mistrust of Jews to gain popularity among some in the lower class who painfully welcomed the chance to be a part of campaigns of hate". Feldman also writes that Svoboda has helped erode the shame associated with open expressions of anti-Semitism and other ethnic hatreds. Feldman has been an advocate for the Party of Regions and president Viktor Yanukovych, reportedly also funding the latter's public relations firm. During the Euromaidan protests, Feldman said the protests had degenerated into “ultra-nationalism and anti-Semitism,” and called for opposition leaders Arseniy Yatseniuk and Vitali Klitschko to distance themselves from Svoboda. Four groups, including the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, said they have seen no upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks. “We call on Ukrainian citizens and foreign observers to remain calm and critically assess the panic-mongering statements in the media regarding anti-Semitism in the country,” the groups said in a statement on the website of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. Paul Robert Gregory, an expert in Soviet & Russian affairs, has noted fraudulent Russian-state sponsored criticisms of the Euromaidan protests which categorize supporters as 'radical nationalists' and 'Nazis' who hold ethnic hatred towards Russians and Jews.
During a Party of Regions support rally in Kiev counter to the Euromaidan protests, MP Olena Bondarenko said during a speech that Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok was a "traitor" and one "who helps the Kremlin and Moscow." Her words were controversially altered to read on her party's website that he was instead a "Nazi" and that "Nazis are not just disrespected, they are outlawed in Europe and throughout the civilized world". During the Euromaidan protests, which Svoboda helped organize, Prime Minister Azarov of the Party of Regions called protesters "Nazis and extremists".
According to party leader Oleh Tyahnybok, Svoboda is not an ‘extremist’ party; he said that "depicting nationalism as extremism is a cliché rooted in Soviet and modern globalist propaganda". He also stated that "countries like" Japan and Israel are fully nationalistic states, "but nobody accuses the Japanese of being extremists". According to Tyahnybok, the party's view of nationalism "shouldn’t be mixed with chauvinism or fascism, which means superiority of one nation over another", and that its platform is called “Our Own Authorities, Our Own Property, Our Own Dignity, on Our Own God-Given Land”.
Incidents drawing international attention
In early 2012, Svoboda was criticized after party member Yuri Sirotyuk said that Ukrainian pop star Gaitana, who is of African descent, was a poor choice to represent Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 because "she does not represent Ukrainian culture." Sirotyuk stated that "It looks like we don't want to show our face, and Ukraine will be associated with a different continent, somewhere in Africa."
Ihor Miroshnychenko, Svoboda deputy leader and member of parliament drew criticism in December 2012 for writing on his Facebook wall that American actress Mila Kunis, who was born in the Ukrainian SSR and is of Jewish descent, is ”not Ukrainian but a "jewess (zhydivka in Ukrainian)." Svoboda argued that in the Ukrainian language the word does not have the anti-semitic connotations that it always does in the Russian language; the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice declared that Miroshnichenko's use of the word was legal because it is an archaic term for Jew, and not necessarily a slur. Svoboda has repeatedly stated that it will not stop using such words, which it says are legitimate Ukrainian parlance.
On March 19, 2013, Svoboda members booed a speech delivered by Party of Regions parliamentary leader Oleksandr Yefremov in Russian. Yefremov accused the Svoboda deputies of being neo-fascists, who then charged the speaker, sparking a fistfight between both sides in parliament.
Condemnations by Jewish organizations
Ukraine’s Chabad-affiliated chief rabbi Moshe Azman explained the situation: “They know anti-Semitism is preventing the good relations they seek [...] But Svoboda is not a uniform entity and I’m not sure the leaders control the rank and file.” Yaakov Bleich, Ukraine’s chief rabbi, said “Svoboda is an enigma in many ways,” calling it “a right-wing, nationalist party with anti-Semitic elements in it.” Jewish leaders in Ukraine believe Svoboda’s success in the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election owes more to frustration with the establishment than to its anti-Semitic statements.
Ihor Kolomoyskyi, president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, stated in 2010 that the party has clearly shifted from the far-right to the center. Vyacheslav A. Likhachev of the Eurasian Jewish Congress, said that the “party has a very anti-Semitic core in its ideology,” and that it leads to “symbolic legitimization of neo-Nazis and anti-Semitic ideology in the eyes of society.”
Thirty members of the Israeli Knesset condemned the party in a signed letter addressed to the President of the European Parliament. In the letter the Israeli politicians accused Svoboda of "openly glorifying Nazi murder" and "Nazi war criminals". In May 2013 the World Jewish Congress labelled the party as "neo-Nazi" and called for European governments to ban them.
Criticism within Svoboda
Former members of Svoboda have criticized the organization for requiring prospective members to submit their birth certificates and internal passports in order to verify their ethnicity.[clarification needed]
|Parliamentary since 2002|
Representation in regional councils
|Svoboda %||Svoboda individual seats won||Svoboda total seats won|
|Ternopil oblast council||
|Lviv oblast council||
|Ivano-Frankivsk oblast council||
|Volyn oblast council||
|Rivne oblast council||
|Chernivtsi oblast council||
|Kyiv oblast council||
|Khmelnytskyi Oblast council||
Change in party voting
- An electoral result similar to results of far-right parties in countries neighboring Ukraine in previously held elections since 1990.
- In June 2013 Ukraine’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Ruslan Demchenko stated an unilateral denunciation of the 2010 Ukrainian–Russian Naval Base for Natural Gas treaty was not possible from a legal point of view.
- Oblast Council demands Svoboda Party be banned in Ukraine, Kyiv Post (May 12, 2011)
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- (Ukrainian) Депутатські фракції і групи VII скликання Deputy fractions and Groups VII convocation, Verkhovna Rada
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- After the parliamentary elections in Ukraine: a tough victory for the Party of Regions, Centre for Eastern Studies (7 November 2012)
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- Kramer, Andrew (17 December 2013). "Unease as an Opposition Party Stands Out in Ukraine’s Protests". New York Times.
- Radzina, Natallia (7 February 2014). "Vitaliy Portnikov: First Belarus, then Russia will follow after Ukraine". Charter '97.
- Shekhovtsov, Anton (2011)."The Creeping Resurgence of the Ukrainian Radical Right? The Case of the Freedom Party". Europe-Asia Studies Volume 63, Issue 2. pp. 203-228. doi:10.1080/09668136.2011.547696 (source also availablehere)
- Rudling, Per Anders (2012), "Anti-Semitism and the Extreme Right in Contemporary Ukraine", Mapping the Extreme Right in Contemporary Europe: From Local to Transnational (Routledge): 200
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- Tiahnybok reelected Svoboda party head, Kyiv Post (8 December 2012)
- Local government elections in Ukraine: last stage in the Party of Regions’ takeover of power, Centre for Eastern Studies (October 4, 2010)
- (Ukrainian)Генеральна репетиція президентських виборів: на Тернопільщині стався прогнозований тріумф націоналістів і крах Тимошенко, Ukrayina Moloda (March 17, 2009)
- Ukraine election:President Yanukovych party claims win, BBC News (29 October 2012).
- Party of Regions gets 185 seats in Ukrainian parliament, Batkivschyna 101 - CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (12 November 2012)
- (Ukrainian)Всеукраїнське об'єднання «Свобода», Database ASD
- Spiegel Staff (27 January 2014). "The Right Wing's Role in Ukrainian Protests". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- Umland, Andreas; Anton Shekhovtsov (September–October 2013). "Ultraright Party Politics in Post-Soviet Ukraine and the Puzzle of the Electoral Marginalism of Ukrainian Ultranationalists in 1994–2009". Russian Politics and Law 51 (5): 41. "It is noteworthy that of these various Ukrainian nationalist parties the SNPU was the least inclined to conceal its neofascist affiliations. Its official symbol was the somewhat modified Wolf’s Hook (wolfsangel), used as a symbol by the German SS division Das Reich and the Dutch SS division Landstorm Nederland during World War II and by a number of European neofascist organizations after 1945.33 As seen by the SNPU leadership, the Wolf’s Hook became the “idea of the nation.” Moreover, the official name of the party’s ideology, “social nationalism,” clearly referred back to “national socialism”—the official name of the ideology of the National-Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) and of the Hitlerite regime. The SNPU’s political platform distinguished itself by its openly revolutionary ultranationalism, its demands for the violent takeover of power in the country, and its willingness to blame Russia for all of Ukraine’s ills. Moreover, the SNPU was the first relatively large party to recruit Nazi skinheads and football hooligans. But in the politi- cal arena, its support in the 1990s remained insignificant."
- Rudling, Per Anders (2013). Ruth Wodak and John E. Richardson, ed. The Return of the Ukrainian Far Right: The Case of VO Svoboda. New York: Routledge. pp. 229–247.
- "About party". Svoboda. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
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- Shekhovtsov, Anton (2013). Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse. A&C Black. p. 256. "Svoboda also seems to benefit from the increasing popularity of extreme-right youth movements and organizations like the Social-National Assembly (SNA), 'Patriot of Ukraine' and Autonomous Resistance, whose aim is to create 'a uniracial and uninational society.' The activities of these groups are not limited to physical or symbolic violence against ethnic and social minorities, as they also take an active part in numerous social campaigns - generally along with representatives of Svoboda - ranging from mass protests against price rises to leafleting against alcohol and drug use. Needless to say, members of these extreme-right movements are often members of Tyahnybok's party. Interestingly, 'street combat movements' like the SNA no longer focus on ethnic issues: in contrast to the older Ukrainian far right, the new groups are, first and foremost, racist movements. Their disregard for the perceived 'Ukrainian versus Russian' ethno-cultural cleavage allows them to gain support from many 'white' ultra-nationalists. Once drawn to these movements, 'white racists' also contribute to the organizational efficiency of the Svoboda party, which is, to reiterate, considered the only representative of 'white racism' in the Ukrainian electoral sphere."
- Umland, Andreas; Anton Shekhovstsov. "Ultraright Party Politics in Post-Soviet Ukraine and the Puzzle of the Electoral Marginalism of Ukraine Ultranationalists in 1994-2009.". Russian Politics and Law 51 (5): 33–58.
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Batkivschyna United Opposition, Svoboda agree on single-seat constituencies among their candidates, Kyiv Post (26 july 2012)
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(Ukrainian)Динаміка виборчих орієнтацій громадян України, Razumkov Centre (February 10, 2011)
Electoral moods of the Ukrainian population: September 2011, Sociological group "RATING" (September 30, 2011)
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Batkivschyna plans to cooperate with Svoboda in parliament, Kyiv Post (13 December 2012)
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- Monument to Lenin was opened with scandal, UNIAN (November 27, 2009)
- Police detain two persons who threw bottle of paint at Lenin monument in Kyiv, Kyiv Post (November 27, 2009)
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- Svoboda activists questioned due to explosion of monument to Stalin, Kyiv Post (January 3, 2010)
- Kyiv cannot denounce Kharkiv accords unilaterally, says Foreign Ministry, Interfax-Ukraine (19 June 2013)
- Rada fails to support bill on denunciation of Kharkiv accords on Black Sea Fleet basing in Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine (19 June 2013)
- Svoboda MPs propose legislatively banning abortions in Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine (8 April 2013)
- Oleh Tyahnybok: “The three opposition parties should not be required to act completely in sync”, The Ukrainian Week (31 March 2013)
- Alarm at rise in Ukraine ultra-nationalist popularity, BBC News (7 January 2012)
- (Ukrainian) "Свободівець" попросив Попова заборонити марш сексуальних меншин "Svobodivets" Popov asked to ban the march of sexual minorities, Ukrayinska Pravda (7 March 2013)
- (Ukrainian) У Києві марширували феміністки In Kyiv marched feminists, Ukrayinska Pravda (8 March 2013)
- Traynor, Ian (24 February 2014). "Western nations scramble to contain fallout from Ukraine crisis". The Guardian.
- Goldfarb, Michael (12 April 2012). "Ukraine's nationalist party embraces Nazi ideology". Global Post. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
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- Sokol, Sam (19 January 2014). "Attacker stabs kollel student in Kiev". Jerusalem Post.
- Feldman, Oleksandr (13 January 2014). "The Sad Progression of the Ukrainian Protest Movement From Democracy and the Rule of Law to Ultra-nationalism and Anti-semitism". The Huffington Post.
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|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- Ukrainian party picks xenophobic candidate, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (May 25, 2009)
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- A fascist hero in democratic Kiev. Timothy Snyder. New York Review of Books. February 24, 2010.
- http://www.thenation.com/article/178013/ukrainian-nationalism-heart-euromaidan "Stepan Bandera, the controversial leader of the wartime Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which fought the Soviets for an independent Ukrainian state"
- Katchanovski, Ivan (June 2010). "Terrorists or National Heroes? Politics of the OUN and the UPA in Ukraine". Annual Conference of the Canadian Political Science Association. Retrieved 23 February 2014. "Viktor Yushchenko, his bloc “Our Ukraine,” and other nationalist parties, such as the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, which considers itself a successor of the OUN-B, have much higher popular support in Western Ukraine than in other regions. For example, Svoboda, a radical nationalist party, whose leader publicly endorsed all activities of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, won the snap elections to the provincial parliament in 2009 and formed a ruling coalition with pro-presidential parties in the Ternopil Region in Galicia."
- (Ukrainian)Кого насправді "розкручує" влада? Факти проти міфів, Ukrayinska Pravda (June 14, 2011)
- 13/12/2012 Text adopted by Parliament, single reading, European Parliament (13 December 2012)
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- 2012 Top Ten Anti-Israel/Anti-Semitic Slurs:Mainstream Anti-Semitism Threatens World Peace, Simon Wiesenthal Center (27 December 2012)
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- World Jewish Congress calls Svoboda a neo-Nazi party, Ukrinform (14 May 2013)
- Український погляд [Ukrainian Opinion, "Свобода" зсередини [Inside "Svoboda"], 28 December 2009. The passports Svoboda require are internal Ukrainian passports - not international passports allowing travel abroad.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to All-Ukrainian Union "Freedom".|
- Svoboda official website
- (Ukrainian) Tyahnybok prevents return of Zakarpattya under the Hungarian influence on YouTube