Ivan Katchanovski https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/10161/all cached version 14/02/2019 10:19:44 en Sizing up Ukraine's Euromaidan https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ivan-katchanovski/sizing-up-ukraines-euromaidan <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves ></w> <w:TrackFormatting ></w> <w:PunctuationKerning ></w> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas ></w> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF ></w> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>JA</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables ></w> <w:SnapToGridInCell ></w> <w:WrapTextWithPunct ></w> <w:UseAsianBreakRules ></w> <w:DontGrowAutofit ></w> 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<!--EndFragment--></p><p><img style="float: right; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Priest%20Plee%20CC%20Ivan%20Bundera.jpg" alt="" width="160" /></p><p class="Body">Mass protests against President Yanukovych and his government are continuing in Kyiv and throughout Ukraine<span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">.</span><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;Ivan Katchanovski assesses their size and the likely outcome.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body">Over the last few days, Ukrainian protesters have come out on to the streets to rail against their government&rsquo;s failure to put its final signature on an agreement which would have led to closer integration with the EU. The response has been numerically impressive: p<span>reliminary estimates of crowd sizes country-wide run at a few hundred thousand. But there is some disagreement over the exact figures.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="Body"><span></span><span>An opposition video uses Google Earth maps to show protesters occupying some 40,000 square metres on Kyiv&rsquo;s Independence Square and the main street, Khreshchatyk. If average density is calculated at more than two people per square metre, then peak numbers would have been at least 100,000 at the Kyiv demonstration on December 1st. These numbers are comparable with the scale of the demonstrations during the 2004 &lsquo;Orange Revolution&rsquo;, when the crowds were protesting against the falsification of the election results in favour of the current president, Viktor Yanukovych. </span></p><p class="Body"><span>This time around, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry played down the number of demonstrators, estimating the crowd at some 40,000. And opposition leaders and many leading Ukrainian and Western mass media outlets did the opposite, putting numbers in the several hundred thousand range, or in some cases, such as the </span><em>New York Times</em><span> and</span><em> </em><span>Inter, more than a million.</span></p><p class="Body"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Big%20View%20Square%20CC%20Nessa%20Gnatoush%20.jpg" alt="" width="460" /><br /><span class="image-caption">Both opposition and government estimates distorted the number of protestors for their political reasons. The turnout may have been around 100,000 at the December 1st protest. Photo CC Nessa Gnatoush.</span></p><h2>Protests: the provinces</h2> <p class="Body">Media reports and telephone interviews with local residents indicate that mass anti-government protests took place in many of Western Ukraine&rsquo;s regional centres, such as Lviv and Lutsk, as well as in the capital. Analysis of the same sources indicates that large numbers of people from Western Ukraine, specifically Galicia and Volhynia, travelled to Kyiv to join in the mass protests. Probably the largest group of protesters in the hundred thousand strong crowd at the December 1st demonstration in Independence Square included residents of Kyiv city and the Kyiv region, students and migrants from Western Ukraine.</p><p class="pullquote-right">In western Ukraine, militia commanders and government officials openly sided with the mass protests.&nbsp;</p> <p>Anti-government protests, where they happened, were much smaller in more populous cities in Eastern, Central (with the notable exception of Kyiv), and Southern Ukraine. The special police forces, which brutally dispersed the demonstrators, were predominantly from Eastern and Southern Ukraine; in Western Ukraine, however, militia commanders and government officials openly sided with the mass protests, stating that they would refuse to obey any orders from the Yanukovych government to suppress them. The demonstrations have emphasised regional political divisions, even though Ukrainians in all regions have very low levels of confidence in the police.&nbsp;</p><h2>Protests: for and against</h2> <p class="Body"><span>Polls show similar divisions on the issue of support for EU integration. A November 2013 poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology showed equal (38%) levels of support for membership of the EU and the Russia-led Customs Union. While the absolute majority of Western Ukrainians and a relative majority of residents of the Centre, which includes Kyiv, preferred EU membership, the majority of their counterparts in the East and the South preferred the Customs Union. The younger generation was much more likely to back EU membership and the older generation more in favour of the Customs Union, though the generational differences were less significant than the regional divide. &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p><p class="Body"><span></span><span class="pullquote-right">Violence could spiral further if the Yanukovych government resorts to force or if the radicals do the same.</span></p><h2><span>Protests: why and who</span></h2> <p class="Body">The mass protests started in response to Yanukovych&rsquo;s refusal to sign Association and Free Trade Agreements with the EU in Vilnius, but it was <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/andrey-chernikov/ukraines-black-saturday">the violent dispersal</a> by special police forces of a few hundred protesters in a pro-EU sit-in that triggered the biggest protests. These events were subsequently overshadowed by radical nationalist opposition demonstrators&rsquo; violent attempts to seize the presidential headquarters, and their successful seizure of the Kyiv city administration building. Svoboda activist Oleksander Aronets ran a live online broadcast of the confrontation between demonstrators and special police forces near the presidential headquarters. Analysis of this and other evidence indicates that the violence was led by activists from radical nationalist organizations like <a href="mailto:http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/radical-youth-leader-beats-war-drum.html?flavour=mobile">Dmytro Korchyns'ky&rsquo;s</a>&nbsp;'Bratstvo' (Brotherhood, religious and political organisation of Orthodox Christians), 'Tryzub' (Trident), and '<a href="mailto:http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ivan-katchanovski/ukrainian-%2525E2%252580%252598freedom%2525E2%252580%252599-party-should-be-ringing-alarm-bells">Svoboda</a>'&nbsp;(Freedom, a Ukrainian nationalist party), neo-Nazi organisations, and football fans. Many of them, if not all, regard themselves to a greater or less extent as ideological successors to <a href="mailto:http://ukraine.globalmuseumoncommunism.org/ukraine/bios/bandera">Stepan Bandera's</a> Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, although Bratstvo leaders do also reportedly toe the government line. </p><p class="Body">The violence could spiral further if the Yanukovych government resorts to force or if the radicals do the same. This would intensify the violent conflict and growing regional divisions, leading possibly to the ultimate break up of Ukraine.</p><p class="Body"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Priest%20Plee%20CC%20Ivan%20Bundera.jpg" alt="" width="460" /><br /><span class="image-caption">An Orthodox preist pleads for calm after a smoke bomb is thrown. Far-right elements reponsible for Sunday's violence threaten to destabilise the situation further. Photo CC Ivan Bundera.</span></p><p class="pullquote-right">Like its Orange predecessor, today&rsquo;s protest movement will probably not manage to achieve fundamental revolutionary change in Ukraine.</p> <p class="Body">Ukrainian media have largely become cheerleaders for the mass protests: web-based <em>Ukrainska Pravda</em>&nbsp;(Ukrainian Truth) openly changed its name to <em>Europeiska Pravda</em>&nbsp;(European Truth). These media outlets speculated that the violent attacks should be attributed to Bratstvo or unknown provocateurs. At the same time they suppressed evidence of radical nationalist and neo-Nazi groups inciting their football fans to violence among the largely peaceful protests, and inflated anti-government numbers at the biggest rally on 1 December. The TV channel <a href="mailto:http://inter.ua/en/">Inter</a>, for example, is controlled by oligarch <a href="mailto:http://en.dmitryfirtash.com/page/biography">Dmitry Firtash</a>, whose deputies deserted the Yanukovych Party of Regions. It claimed that there were more than one million protesters and published statements by opposition leaders, specifically <a href="mailto:http://en.svoboda.org.ua/oleh-tyahnybok/">Oleh Tyahnybok</a> (head of Svoboda).</p><h2>The way forward</h2> <p class="Body">The current protests are in many ways quite similar to the &lsquo;Orange Revolution&rsquo; - in the use of the term &lsquo;revolution&rsquo; or &lsquo;euro-revolution&rsquo;, for example. But, like its Orange predecessor, today&rsquo;s protest movement will probably not manage to achieve fundamental revolutionary change in Ukraine, nor EU membership. In the unlikely event that the protests result in a change of heart for Yanukovych and he, or an opposition government, signs the Association Agreement, the prospects for Ukraine joining the European Union would still be dubious. This is because the Agreement refuses to recognise Ukraine&rsquo;s potential right to join the EU. The key difference is that, as distinct from the peaceful &lsquo;Orange Revolution,&rsquo; this time first the Yanukovych government, and then a radical wing of the opposition protesters, have resorted to violence. This development could set a potentially dangerous precedent for Ukrainian politics, which, unlike most other post-Soviet countries, such as Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, has so far managed to avoid violent internal conflict.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/anton-shekhovtsov/provoking-euromaidan">Provoking the Euromaidan </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/nataliya-gumenyuk/from-euromaidan-in-ukraine">From a #euromaidan in Ukraine</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/andrey-chernikov/ukraines-black-saturday">Ukraine&#039;s Black Saturday</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/valery-kalnysh/is-ukraine-its-own-master">Is Ukraine its own master? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ukraine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Creative Commons </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Ukraine Ivan Katchanovski Politics Economy Conflict Tue, 03 Dec 2013 18:46:58 +0000 Ivan Katchanovski 77536 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ukrainian ‘Freedom’ party should be ringing alarm bells https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ivan-katchanovski/ukrainian-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99-party-should-be-ringing-alarm-bells <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Svoboda_party_Ukr_reduced.jpg" alt="" width="160" align="right" />Ukrainian politics have gone through several major upheavals: the alleged poisoning of Yushchenko, the Orange Revolution and, more recently, the hounding of Tymoshenko. The rise of the far-right seems to have ruffled few feathers, but it would be a mistake to ignore them, argues Ivan Katchanovski.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>A far-right Ukrainian party, misleadingly called <em>Svoboda </em>[Freedom], became involved in an international scandal when it employed threats of violence to cancel a series of public lectures on the party&rsquo;s ideological origins<em>, </em>which were to have been given by <a href="http://blog.hitlersforeignexecutioners.com/2012/03/distorting-nationalist-history-in-ukraine-interview-with-grzegorz-rossolinski-liebe/">Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe</a>, an academic historian of Polish origin from Germany. <em>Svoboda </em>succeeded in forcing all Ukrainian institutions to cancel lectures about the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its leader <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/roman-kabachiy/stepan-bandera-divisive-national-icon">Stepan Bandera</a>: the only lecture that went ahead was in the German Embassy in Kyiv, in spite of the public protest organized by the party. When a black singer, Gaitana, was selected to represent Ukraine in the Eurovision contest this year, one of the leaders of <em>Svoboda</em>, Yuri Syrotiuk, went public with his contention that her race makes her unfit to represent Ukraine in the European contest.</p><blockquote><p><em>'This rise of radical nationalism threatens the already bleak prospects for liberal democracy in Ukraine.'</em></p></blockquote> <p>These are just the latest cases of controversial and extremist public pronouncements that have put this ultranationalist party in the spotlight in Ukraine. The rising threat to democracy and freedom represented by the so-called &lsquo;Freedom&rsquo; party has attracted little attention or concern from Western media and politicians. In Ukraine itself this party, or movement as it styles itself, encounters almost no criticism from politicians and parties that were heralded in the West as champions of democracy and the &lsquo;Orange Revolution.&rsquo; Indeed, one of the provisions of the election pact signed at the end of January 2012 by <em>Svoboda</em> and the Orange parties prohibits criticism of other pact participants.</p> <p><em>Svoboda </em>may have abandoned its Nazi-like swastika logo and changed its name from the Social-National Party of Ukraine to the politically more emollient &lsquo;Freedom,&rsquo; but the organization continues to promote an illiberal, anti-democratic ideology and to glorify its radical nationalist and fascist predecessors. It receives support from the opposition parties that are regarded as pro-Western and democratic, as well as from the camp of&nbsp; President Viktor Yanukovych.</p><p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Svoboda_party_Ukr.jpg" alt="Svoboda_party" width="460" /></p> <p class="image-caption">The 'Svoboda' party rally in the city of Lvov, January 2012. The party has become an important player on the Ukrainian political scene. It reflects the growing demand of Ukrainian society for a new right-wing movement with a nationalist agenda (photo: www.svoboda.org.ua)</p><p>The party came to power in several regions of Western Ukraine after the 2010 local elections and is almost certain to enter the national parliament in the <a href="http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/116269/">elections scheduled</a> to take place later this year. While its national popularity is nearing the 5% threshold needed to gain parliamentary seats for a party list, the election pact dividing single-member electoral districts between <em>Svoboda</em> and the Orange parties means that it is highly likely to win many seats in its strongholds in Western Ukraine.</p> <h3><strong>Nationalist opposition</strong></h3> <p>&lsquo;Freedom&rsquo; tries to present itself as an ideological nationalist opposition to the Yanukovych government and to occupy the political space vacated by the previous President Viktor Yushchenko, whose personal popularity, together with the popularity of his party, is in tatters.</p> <p>Ironically, it was Yushchenko, hailed at the time in the West as leader of the democratic &lsquo;Orange Revolution,&rsquo; who helped to pave the way for the illiberal &lsquo;Freedom&rsquo; party. A&nbsp; cornerstone of his policy was his promotion as national heroes of the OUN, <em>Svoboda</em>&rsquo;s ideological predecessor, and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), established by the OUN during World War II. &nbsp;</p> <p><em>Svoboda,</em> like Viktor Yushchenko, hails the OUN and the UPA as freedom fighters and national liberation movements, but these organizations bore the same relationship to freedom as the Taliban and Al-Quaida do in Afghanistan. The OUN was a semi-totalitarian organization combining elements of radical nationalism and fascism. Both organizations relied on terrorism, murdering tens of thousands of Polish and Ukrainian civilians. A significant proportion of OUN and UPA leaders and members were involved in the Nazi genocide. While serving in various police formations, they assisted the Nazis in the mass annihilation of hundreds of thousands of Jews, Ukrainians, Russians, Poles and Belarusians.</p> <blockquote><p><em>'Ironically, it was Yushchenko, hailed at the time in the West as leader of the democratic &lsquo;Orange Revolution,&rsquo; who helped to pave the way for the illiberal &lsquo;Freedom&rsquo; party.'</em></p></blockquote> <h3><strong>Svoboda on prime</strong><strong>-time TV shows</strong></h3> <p>Despite differences in ideology, <em>Svoboda</em> appears quite similar to Yanukovych&rsquo;s Party of the Regions and Tymoshenko&rsquo;s &lsquo;Fatherland&rsquo; party, both of which represent the interests of the oligarchs. Allegations that politicians and oligarchs from the Yanukovych camp covertly finance the &lsquo;Freedom&rsquo; party are difficult to verify, but the party and its leader <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/andreas-umland/ukraine-right-wing-politics-is-genie-out-of-bottle">Oleh Tiahnybok</a> undeniably derive considerable benefit from their regular and prominent presence on prime-time TV shows on major national channels controlled by oligarchs from the Yanukovych camp or by the government. In addition, several leaders of the &lsquo;Freedom&rsquo; Party in regions of Western Ukraine, like their counterparts from the Eastern Ukraine-based Party of the Regions, are reputed to have a background in organized crime. The support of the avowedly pro-Russian Party of the Regions for the nationalist <em>Svoboda</em> party can be regarded as an attempt to tighten their grip on power for a long time by turning radical nationalists, unlikely to win national parliamentary or presidential elections, into the main opposition force.</p> <p>This rise of radical nationalism threatens the already bleak prospects for liberal democracy in Ukraine. <em>Svoboda&rsquo;s</em> extremist ideology and policy, particularly in respect of ethnic and linguistic minorities and immigrants, together with its threats of violence against both its political opponents and academics are far from unique in Ukrainian or European politics. But the implicit or explicit support for <em>Svoboda </em>from both the opposition parties, which present themselves as beacons of democracy, and from the government camp, which publicly presents itself as the ideological alternative to <em>Svoboda</em>, should set the alarm bells ringing about the state of politics in one of Europe&rsquo;s largest countries.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.osw.waw.pl/en/publikacje/osw-commentary/2011-07-05/svoboda-party-new-phenomenon-ukrainian-rightwing-scene">Svoboda party</a> – the new phenomenon on the Ukrainian right-wing scene, by Tadeusz A. Olszański, Centre For Eastern Studies, Warsaw, Poland, 2011</p> <p><a href="http://blog.hitlersforeignexecutioners.com/2012/03/distorting-nationalist-history-in-ukraine-interview-with-grzegorz-rossolinski-liebe/">Distorting nationalist history in Ukraine</a>: interview with Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, by Christopher Hale, hitlersforeignexecutioners.com blog, March 15th, 2012</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/andreas-umland/ukraine-right-wing-politics-is-genie-out-of-bottle">Ukraine right-wing politics: is the genie out of the bottle?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/andreas-umland/kyiv%E2%80%99s-next-image-problem">Kyiv’s Next Image Problem</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/roman-kabachiy/latest-on-ukraine%E2%80%99s-history-wars-orange-fighter-down">Latest on Ukraine’s history wars: Orange fighter down</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/roman-kabachiy/stolen-memory">Ukraine&#039;s Stolen Memory</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/roman-kabachiy/stepan-bandera-divisive-national-icon">Stepan Bandera: a divisive national icon</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/ethan-s-burger/could-partition-solve-ukraine%E2%80%99s-problems">Could partition solve Ukraine’s problems?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/olesya-gerasimenko/mother%E2%80%99s-boys-conversations-with-parents-of-russia%E2%80%99s-neo-nazis">Mother’s boys: conversations with the parents of Russia’s neo-Nazis</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ukraine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Ukraine Civil society Democracy and government ukraine Ivan Katchanovski Politics Wed, 21 Mar 2012 19:25:01 +0000 Ivan Katchanovski 64979 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ivan Katchanovski https://www.opendemocracy.net/author-profile/ivan-katchanovski <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ivan Katchanovski </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ivan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Katchanovski </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-country"> <div class="field-label">Country:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Canada </div> </div> </div> <P>Ivan Katchanovski teaches at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa.</p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ivan Katchanovski teaches at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. </div> </div> </div> Ivan Katchanovski Wed, 26 Oct 2011 16:57:33 +0000 Ivan Katchanovski 62296 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Owning a massacre: 'Ukraine's Katyn' https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ivan-katchanovski/owning-massacre-ukraines-katyn <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/istpravda-pavlo-solodko-160.jpg" width="160" align="right" />A WWII mass grave was recently found in western Ukraine, pointing to a horrific massacre. Yet with German bullet casings unearthed and evidence pointing to Nazis as perpetrators, Ivan Katchanovski asks why the dominant theory to emerge is of Soviets murdering Poles. </div> </div> </div> <p>A mass-grave containing the remains of at least several hundred (and possibly thousands) of people has been uncovered in the small western Ukrainian town of Volodymyr-Volynskyi, near the border with Poland. This discovery is hardly surprising since the lands of Ukraine, dubbed by Yale history professor Timothy Snyder as 'bloodlands', are full of mass graves dating back to World War II. These lands endured a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09668136.2010.489265">Nazi genocide</a>&nbsp;that claimed about seven million lives, and a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09668136.2010.489265">Soviet genocide</a>&nbsp;and mass murder of several million other peasants, 'class enemies' and political prisoners.</p><div><p>What is surprising, however, is the rush-to judgment and near unanimity of Polish and Ukrainian politicians, experts, and journalists. Their conclusion they have all reached is that that the unearthed remains are of Poles murdered by the Soviet secret police (NKVD), even though the uncovered evidence and other sources indicate that these are Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide. Although both Polish and Ukrainian officials acknowledged recently that the Jewish victims of the Nazi executions might be among people buried there, they continued to advance the idea of 'Polish victims of the NKVD' as the main theory. On 13 October, Ukrainian and Polish officials and priests oversaw the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.itvl.pl/news/pogrzeb-ofiar-masowego-mordu">reburial</a>&nbsp;of the remains of 367 people&nbsp;at a local cemetery with a sign referring to the victims of the Soviet mass terror.</p><h3>A Soviet or Nazi massacre?</h3><p>The finding of remains of hundreds people in the mass grave, which was only partly exhumed and which likely contains many more remains, has already been dubbed the 'Volyn Katyn<span>'</span>. This is in reference to a hugely controversial mass murder in Katyn forest, Russia, of Polish POWs by the Soviet NKVD in 1940, which the Soviets misrepresented as a Nazi massacre. </p><p>The Volyn massacre case can actually best be described as the Katyn in reverse. Its similarity with the Katyn massacre lies in the misrepresentation of historical facts. It is claimed the Volodymyr-Volynskyi massacre was committed by the Soviet NKVD, yet the evidence indicates the opposite: that it was committed by the Nazis and the local Ukrainian police. The evidence, which includes spent German bullet casings, previous studies, eyewitness testimonies, archival documents, and analysis of Nazi and Soviet methods of mass murder would seem to indicate that the victims most likely were Jewish civilians, executed in 1941 by the Nazis on the grounds of the Volodymyr-Volynskyi prison.</p><p class="image-right"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/massacre.jpg" alt="Mass grave in Volodymyr-Volynskyi" width="300" /><span class="image-caption">There is no shortage of WWII mass graves in Ukraine, but if&nbsp;<br />this one is seen to reveal a Soviet crime, it will serve the&nbsp;<br />historical narratives of Ukrainian nationalists.&nbsp;<br />(Photo:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.istpravda.com.ua/columns/2011/08/31/53489">Istorychna Pravda / Pavlo Solodko</a>)<br /></span></p><p>Little time passed before the "NKVD massacre of Poles" became the dominant explanation following discovery of the mass graves in Volodymyr-Volynskyi in spring of 2011. Polish and&nbsp;<a href="http://1tv.com.ua/uk/news/2011/09/19/8193">Ukrainian television</a>&nbsp;reports and&nbsp;<a href="http://ukrainianweek.com/Investigation/32076">media publications</a>&nbsp;talked in near-unanimity about 'victims of the NKVD'. In contrast, there was only one TV report and newspaper<a href="http://spr.net.ua/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=919%3A2011-09-29-07-41-57&amp;catid=1%253">&nbsp;article</a>&nbsp;that challenged the NKVD version. </p><p>One Polish expert, Professor Andrzej Kola, who initially suggested that the victims were Poles executed by the Soviet NKVD, has since&nbsp;<a href="http://www.itvl.pl/news/prof.-andrzej-kola-o-zbrodni-we-wlodzimierzu-wolynskim">admitted</a>&nbsp;in an interview after the reburial that they were in all probability Jews executed by the Nazis.</p><h3>German bullets: it must have been the Soviets...</h3><p>The consensus theory put forward was that the victims were Polish POWs, and the prime evidence offered in support was in the form of two Polish police badges, found not in the mass grave but in its vicinity. Yet the theory is inconsistent with NKVD documents which show quite clearly that Polish POWs were transferred from the Volodymyr-Volynskyi prison to other prisons and murdered there. The two Polish policemen were most likely executed by the Soviet secret police at the time of the Katyn massacre along with thousands of other Polish officers and policemen in Kalinin and Ostashkiv camps.</p><p>The badges, however, continue to be used as evidence of a Polish execution, even though remains of women, small children, and elderly uncovered in the summer and the fall of 2011 indicate that most victims were not military but civilian.</p><p>Neither is the Polish-POW theory is consistent with evidence from the only other known large-scale execution by the NKVD in the Volodymyr-Volynskyi prison in 1941. The said massacre is discussed in many studies, archival documents, and eyewitness reports of its survivors. They describe how at least 36 out of about 300 prisoners &mdash; mostly local Ukrainians &mdash; were executed by the retreating NKVD when the Soviet forces abandoned the frontline town on the second day of the war on 23 June 1941. Their remains were discovered, identified, and reburied at a local cemetery immediately after the arrival of the German troops. </p><p>In contrast, the newly found victims in Volodymyr-Volynskyi were clearly executed in large groups, and almost no remains of clothes or footwear were found. They included many small children, women, and elderly. Both of these are consistent with Nazi executions and not Soviet executions.&nbsp;There are eyewitness reports from Jewish survivors about Nazi executions carried out with assistance of the Ukrainian police in the area of the Volodymyr-Volynskyi prison in 1941 and 1942.</p><p>Quite remarkably, it is claimed the discovery of not Soviet but 9-mm German bullet casings from 1941&nbsp;Walther P38 pistols&nbsp;is&nbsp;"evidence" of the NKVD being the perpetrator of the massacre. The German army and the security police adopted this type of a handgun in large numbers from 1940 onwards. The Soviet NKVD used other types of guns and other caliber bullets, specifically during its murder of the prisoners in Volodymyr-Volynskyi. The use of German pistols and bullets in the Katyn massacre by the NKVD executioners was largely an exception. Those weapons were, moreover, of a different make and caliber, and produced before the Nazis came to power in 1933.</p><blockquote>'The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army are celebrated as national heroes in western Ukraine, while their involvement in the Nazi genocide is ignored or downplayed. Similarly, the Katyn massacre is used as a political symbol in post-communist Poland and its relations with Russia.'</blockquote><p>An old Russian rifle found at Volodymyr-Volynskyi has also been cited as evidence of the NKVD role. Such logic ignores the documented fact that the Ukrainian police, which assisted in Nazi mass executions, was often armed with such trophy rifles. There are plenty of&nbsp;<a href="http://spr.net.ua/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=919:2011-09-29-07-41-57&amp;catid=1:newsukraine">eyewitness reports</a>&nbsp;that suggest the local Ukrainian police helped to carry out massacres of Jews in Volodymyr-Volynskyi. Indeed, archival documents that I personally examined during my recent visit to the region show that the commander of the police at the time (Summer 1941) was installed by the local administration controlled by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). </p><p>A large proportion of policemen from Volodymyr-Volynskyi deserted their posts on the OUN orders in spring 1943 and joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Konstantyn Berezovsky, one of the town's police commanders, became the head of the Security Service of the OUN-UPA in the Volodymyr-Volynskyi district. There are uncorroborated reports that Ivan Klymiv, one of the leaders of the Bandera faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, became a deputy commander of the police in Volodymyr-Volynskyi in 1942, at a time when some 20 thousand Jews and other civilians were murdered. Finally, there are also accounts&nbsp;that Polish police,&nbsp;who replaced Ukrainian police who defected in spring 1943, assisted in&nbsp;Nazi executions in the area of the Volodymyr-Volynskyi prison.&nbsp;</p><h3>Convenient histories</h3><p>It is, therefore, simply a matter of political convenience for Western Ukraine and Poland to claim a mass murder of Poles by the Soviet NKVD in Volodymyr-Volynskyi, and ignore or downplay the much clearer evidence of the massacre of Jews and other civilians by the Nazis and the local police. Even after the defeat of pro-OUN President Yushchenko, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army continue to be celebrated as national heroes in Western Ukraine. The OUN and UPA leaders are commemorated with monuments and street names, while their involvement in the Nazi genocide is ignored or downplayed. Similarly, Katyn is used as a political weapon in post-communist Poland and its relations with Russia.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Incidentally, the small town of Volodymyr-Volynskyi already has a site that is much more similar to the real Katyn than the mass grave recently uncovered. This site is a former POW camp, and contains the remains of&nbsp;&nbsp;Soviet officers &mdash; mostly Russian, Ukrainian, and Jewish &mdash; who were executed or killed during the Nazi occupation. The number killed exceeds the number of the imprisoned Polish officers executed in Katyn and other POW camps in Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine. In contrast to Katyn, however, the mass murder of POWs in the Volodymyr-Volynskyi camp is almost completely unknown in the West, because of the Cold War and other political reasons. It is of great irony, therefore, that Volodymyr-Volynskyi will come to be remembered for a Katyn-style misrepresentation of the real perpetrators of a massacre. &nbsp;</p></div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/openrussia/russia-poland-and-the-history-wars">Russia, Poland and the history wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/alexei-levinson/after-plane-crash-russian-attitudes-to-katyn">After the plane crash: Russian attitudes to Katyn</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/roman-kabachyi/star-of-david-vs-ukrainian-trident-fake-conflict">Star of David vs Ukrainian Trident: a fake conflict</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ukraine </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Ukraine Second World War Nazis history NKVD massacre mass grave Ukrainian nationalism Ivan Katchanovski USSR-20 Politics History Wed, 26 Oct 2011 16:29:30 +0000 Ivan Katchanovski 62177 at https://www.opendemocracy.net