Social-National Assembly (S.N.A.)
|Paramilitary Wing||"Patriot of Ukraine"|
The Social-National Assembly of Ukraine (S.N.A.) was an assemblage of the ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi radical organizations and groups founded in 2008 that share the social-national ideology and agree upon building a social-national state in Ukraine. It is located on the far right of the Ukrainian politics and built around the "Patriot of Ukraine". In late November 2013 both the S.N.A. and the "Patriot of Ukraine" entered in an association with several other Ukrainian far-right groups which led to the formation of the Right Sector. The S.N.A. is also reported to be close to Svoboda, and Yuriy Zbitnyev, the leader of the nationalist political party "Nova Syla" (New Force). The S.N.A.'s activities are largely Kiev-based.
In short, the S.N.A. is an aggregation of small and large groups of the Ukrainian Neo-Nazis, right-wing nationalists, direct action radicals, violent street extremists and also some patriotic youth with militaristic and authoritarian leaning which was created by Andriy Biletsky, who leads both the S.N.A. and the "Patriot of Ukraine", to fulfill his long-reaching political aspirations.
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The S.N.A. was founded in 2008 and maintained relations with the wider social-nationalist movement in Ukraine. In the late 2000s, Ukrainian president Victor Yushchenko and the Our Ukraine bloc bolstered the S.N.A. and other far-right groups by supporting an explicitly nationalist view of Ukrainian history. Following the 2009 death of Maksym Chaika, an S.N.A member who was killed in a fight with antifascists in Odessa, Yushchenko supported the far-right interpretation of Chaika's death, describing him and others as heroes and victims driven to violence for a just cause.
In 2010, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union reported on attacks by the S.N.A and "Patriot of Ukraine" against Vietnamese and other foreign market stalls in Vasylkiv. Most attacks were carried out by youth and targeted Vietnamese, Uzbeks and Gypsies. According to the S.N.A website, they drove foreigners from the market within two weeks and replaced them with Ukrainians. The S.N.A states that some of their victims were hospitalized. Later that year, Ukrainian authorities shut down an S.N.A music festival near Kiev that promoted neo-Nazism and chauvinism among Ukrainian youth. The music glorified the skinhead movement, Nazi aesthetics and the harassment of minorities.
In August 2011, the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights warned about the growth of extremist organizations including the S.N.A and "Patriot of Ukraine", noting repeated attacks against foreigners and visible minorities. The institute also noted the government's inability or unwillingness to deal with extreme-right movements in Ukraine.
In August 2011 Ukrainian police announced that they thwarted a bomb attack planned for the commemoration of Ukrainian Independence. The "Patriot of Ukraine", a part of the S.N.A, declared that some of their members had been detained by police but maintained no connection with any terrorist plan. Spokespersons for the S.N.A and "Patriot of Ukraine" insisted that criminal action against them was a pretext for SBU repression against their organizations.
Involvement in Maidan
In 2013, the S.N.A, "Patriot of Ukraine" and Autonomous Resistance all increased in popularity, contributing to the growth of Svoboda as well. The Social National Assembly helped to create an umbrella radical organization - the Right Sector (Pravy Sector). Other openly radical anti-semitic groups operating in Ukraine including the "White Hammer" and "C14", a neo-Nazi wing of Svoboda, joined it.
During the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the militants from the S.N.A and the "Patriot of Ukraine" were on the front lines of the street riots in Kiev. According to Igor Krivoruchko, the leader of the Kiev's S.N.A. branch, its members started clashes with the police near the Presidential Administration Building (Kiev) and also initiated the Hrushevskoho Street riots. They seized and burned on 18 February 2014 the central office of the ruling party - the Party of Regions - in Kiev. A bystander, 57-year-old IT engineer who tried to stop the attackers from entering the server room, was beaten to death.
Oleh Odnoroshenko, the S.N.A and "Patriot of Ukraine" ideologue and also one of the "Right Sector" leaders, stated in February 2014 that the "Right Sector" would be hesitant to enter into the government following the departure of Viktor Yanukovych. Odnoroshenko thought that the politicians would try to use the Right Sector credibility and popularity while pursuing their own agendas.
At the end of April 2014, S.N.A members marched with burning torches to the Independence Square and came into conflict with the Self-defense of the Maidan units. During the fight, the S.N.A. and Self-defense of the Maidan activists used rubber bullet guns and tear gas, and ambulances later arrived to treat wounded.
Oleh Odnoroshenko volunteered to the press that the S.N.A members organized the attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev on 14 June 2014.
In March 2014 the Social-National Assembly created a volunteer group, Azov Battalion. In April, members were wounded in combat against separatists in eastern Ukraine. During the first week of May, Kiev granted it official status and began delivering weapons.
On 6 May, the Azov Battalion captured Donetsk People's Republic defense minister Igor Kakidzyanov. The next day the S.N.A. announced that it was interrogating the captive, and Radical Party (Ukraine) leader Oleh Lyashko posted photographs of him naked and bound. Lyashko confirmed that Azov had captured Kakidzyanov and some other separatist leaders.
According to the founder of the organization, Biletsky states that Social-Nationalism is based on three pillars: Racism, Socialism and Great Power. The ideology stands in a strong opposition to any form of liberalism or democracy. Under Socialism in Social Nationalist ideology means third position in economics, authoritative power, and fair distribution among national producers. According to Biletsky, the main distinction between Nazism and Social Nationalism is the fact that Nazism is more socialist, while Social Nationalism is more nationalist. At the same time justification in Social Nationalism over Nationalism lays in importance of a social revolution to achieve national revolution.
Political scientist Anton Shekhovtsov, Foreign Policy journalist Alec Luhn and Haaretz journalist Lolita Brayman describe the S.N.A as a far-right, neo-Nazi or racist group. The S.N.A is also a "street combat movement" hostile to ethnic and social minorities: according to researchers and its own website it has carried out physical attacks against them.
Over half the membership of the Azov Battalion, a Social-National Assembly military group, is composed of Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians. A ministerial adviser, Anton Gerashchenko, denies neo-nazi allegations, stating, "The Social-National Assembly is not a neo-Nazi organization… It is a party of Ukrainian patriots."
- Brayman, Lolita (28 February 2014). "Ukrainian nationalists strive to shake off allegations of anti-Semitism". Haaretz. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
Some Pravy Sektor protesters on the Maidan sported yellow armbands with the wolf hook symbol revealing their specific political party affiliation—that of the Social National Assembly (S.N.A), a largely Kiev-based neo-Nazi organization. Other more openly anti-Semitic parties are White Hammer and C14, the neo-Nazi youth wing of the Svoboda party.
- All-Ukrainian party "New Force" Archived 2014-05-23 at the Wayback Machine., Official site. (in Ukrainian)
- Shekhovtsov, Anton (2013). "17: From Para-Militarism to Radical Right-Wing Populism: The Rise of the Ukrainian Far-Right Party Svoboda". In Ruth Wodak. Right-Wing Populism in Europe. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 249–263. ASIN 1780932456. ISBN 1780932456.
At the same time, Nova Syla's Yuriy Zbitnyev is one of the leaders of the neo-Nazi group Social-National Assembly, an organization that is also close to the younger members of Svoboda, but Nova Syla itself, while remaining on the fringes of Ukrainian politics, is not much influenced by these relations.... Svoboda also seems to benefit from the increasing popularity of extreme-right youth movements and organizations like the Social-National Assembly (S.N.A), '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 youth movements' like the S.N.A no longer focus on ethnic issues: in contrast to the older Ukrainian far right, the new groups are, first and foremost, racist movements.
- Volodymyr Batchayev; Oleg Martynenko; Yevhen Zakharov. "12. Protection against discrimination, racism and xenophobia". ANNUAL HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTS • HUMAN RIGHTS IN UKRAINE 2009-2010. Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
As a result of the raid, several Vietnamese containers were closed, together with the goods of the aliens, and the counters of Uzbeks and Gypsies were removed. The majority of Ukrainians, who were at the open air market at that time, were approving of the actions of national-socialists. As it was already mentioned before, Ukrainians entrepreneurs who sell at the market are firmly against aliens, in particular Vietnamese, Gypsies, and Uzbeks, etc., selling their goods there. Ukrainian entrepreneurs were supported by Social National Assembly, and by the organization «Patriot Ukraiiny». With joint efforts, the patriots and the entrepreneurs forced out the majority of aliens from the open air market of Vasylkiv during the last 2 weeks.... On the public request, the authorities stopped the musical festival «Traditions of Spirit» near Kyiv, scheduled for 26-27 June, 2010, under the aegis of the radical «Social Nationalist Assembly» with the goal to promulgate among the youth the ideas of neo-Nazi and chauvinism. During the festival, the performances of ultra-right musical bands were planned («Sokyra Peruna», «Seitar», «Nachtigall», «White Lions»), who in the lyrics of their songs openly approve and show in romantic light the skinhead movement, promote Hitlerist aesthetics, and encourage to harass national minorities.
- Olszański, Tadeusz (2011). "Svoboda party – the new phenomenon on the Ukrainian right-wing scene". OSW Commentary. Centre for Eastern Studies (56).
- Ishchenko, Volodymyr (21 Oct 2011). "Fighting Fences vs Fighting Monuments: Politics of Memory and Protest Mobilization in Ukraine". Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe. Routledge. 19 (1–2): 369. doi:10.1080/0965156X.2011.611680.
Framing them as “just” Ukrainian patriots, forced to violate the law for a just cause, concealed their authoritarian and xenophobic ideas reflecting the tendency to ignore the problems of the rise of xenophobia (O‘l‡mqqm 197–214) and a splash of racist attacks in 2007–2008 (Kht‘veb 12). After the notorious death of Maksym Chaika in a fight with antifascists in Odessa in April 2009, Yushchenko unambiguously supported the far right interpretation of the accident claiming the victim to be “an activist of a patriotic civic association” consciously murdered by “pro-Russia militants” ignoring Chaika’s connections with rightist football hooligans and his membership in the “SICH” (“Glory and Honor”) organization, a participant in the Social-Nationalist Assembly (http://sna.in.ua/) together with the neo-Nazi group “Patriot of Ukraine.”
- "Migrants thrown out Vasylkivsky market". The Social National Assembly of Ukraine. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- Committee of the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights. "CERD/C/UKR/CO/19-21". Netherlands Institute of Human Rights. Utrecht School of Law. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
In light of the resurgence of activities by extremist organizations such as "Social National Assembly" and "Patriot of Ukraine", the Committee notes with concern the repeated attacks against foreigners and members of "visible minorities" by young extremists and the information contained in paragraph 85 of the State party's report to the effect that the extreme right-wing movements are "in some respects beyond the Ministry of the Interior's legal competence"
- "Ukraine says thwarts holiday 'terrorist' bomb". Reuters. 22 August 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- "SBU opens criminal case against 'Vasylkiv terrorists'". Ukraine General Newswire. 23 August 2011.
- (in Russian) Маргарита Чимирис, Анастасия Браткова (Margarita Chemeris, Anastasia Bratkova). Кто шагает с правой: Радикалы Майдана хотят продолжения революции. Власть называет их провокаторами Archived 2014-04-06 at the Wayback Machine. (Who walks right: Maidan radicals want to continue revolution. Authorities call them provocateurs), Internet-newspaper Vesti.ua, № 12(30), 4–10 April 2014.
- Radical protesters burst into Party of Regions' Kyiv office, Kyiv Post, February 18, 2014.
- "Right Sector will watch new govt, plans to stand for parliament". Ukraine General Newswire. 28 February 2014.
The Right Sector considers it inexpedient for itself to be in the current Ukrainian government, said Oleh Odnoroshenko, a member of this radical organization's political council and the chief ideological aide in Social National Assembly and Patriot of Ukraine. "We shall be watching these authorities. Then the presidential election will be held, and after that the parliamentary ones, in which we shall be taking part: we shall definitely put forward candidates. And based on how much confidence is placed in us, we shall be taking part in government formation and demand that we take charge of certain spheres," Odnorozhenko said in an exclusive interview with Interfax.
- "Ukraine Crisis: Rally Turns into Massive Brawl on Kiev's Maidan". Independent, Macedon. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
According to eye witnesses, 100 people, reportedly members of the far-right Social-National Assembly, marching with burning torches towards Maidan – the epicenter of the massive uprising that removed former President Yanukovich from power. The marchers came to commemorate those killed during anti-government protests in December–February… Maidan self-defense units blocked the rally at the barricades across from the main post office, prompting a massive fight. The far-right protesters reportedly used firecrackers, traumatic guns, and tear gas. Many of them carried bats and sticks.
- МИД Украины назвало погром под посольством РФ провокацией (The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine called the pogrom at the Russian Embassy a provocation), Internet-newspaper Vesti.ua, 15 June 2014
- Chazan, Guy (1 August 2014). "Ukrainian volunteer fighters with a luxurious seaside residence". Financial Times. London.
Azov was created in March by the Social National Assembly…. Azov was granted official status as a volunteer battalion…. Azov stormed the rebels’ barricades, seizing control…. Since then, its main role has been to keep an eye on Mariupol and patrol the Azov coastline, preventing arms smuggling from Russia.
- Neistat, Anna. "Dispatches: A Damning Silence From Kiev". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
...Igor Kakidzyanov, a “defence minister” of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk Republic” that has rejected Kiev’s authority… On the morning of 7 May 2014, a spokesperson for the Social-National Assembly, a coalition of radical Ukrainian parties, told journalists that he was “personally interrogating” Kakidzyanov. A few hours later, Oleh Lyashko, leader of the radical party and a presidential candidate, announced on his website and social media accounts that his team managed to capture a group of separatists, including Kakidzyanov. He posted the gruesome photos of Kakidzyanov – including one showing him hooded. “Would like to exchange Kakidzyanov to Yanukovich,” he said on Twitter.
- Biletsky, A. Word of the White Leader. Kharkiv
- Luhn, Alec (30 August 2014). "Preparing for War with Ukraine's Fascist Defenders of Freedom". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- "Driven by far-right ideology, Azov Battalion mans Ukraine’s front line - Al Jazeera America". Retrieved 2014-09-06.
- Alec Luhn (30 August 2014). "Preparing for War With Ukraine's Fascist Defenders of Freedom". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- Rico, R.J. (10 September 2014). "The ultras, Azov Battalion, and soccer from inside Ukraine". VICE Sports. Archived from the original on 25 November 2014.
[The] members of Azov Battalion … have been labeled patriots by some, neo-Nazis by others…