How a century of political violence in Ukraine is linked to the atrocities of today

May 15, 2022 Olga Sukharevskaya

Troops shot in the legs screaming in pain. Others dying from blood loss and shock. With no one around to provide medical assistance. A Russian soldier crucified on an anti-tank barrier, chained to a metal ‘hedgehog’ and then burned alive…

For many, graphic footage of Russian servicemen tortured and killed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and nationalist battalions, came as a real shock. But this did not surprise those who are familiar with the ‘traditions’ of Ukraine’s ‘fighters for national freedom’, as they have more than a century of history in this sort of thing….

Perhaps the most horrific crime committed by Ukrainian nationalists was the creation of a prison in the refrigerator at the airport in Mariupol in June of 2014, which the jailers called the ‘library’. There, Mariupol residents were subjected to beatings, death by torture, and rape for even the suspicion of harboring sympathies for Russia or the unrecognized eastern republics. The ‘library’ was headed by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), whose chief, Valentin Nalivaichenko, was a friend of the leader of the Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh. And Nalivaichenko’s assistant, Yuri Mikhalchishin, a member of the nationalist Svoboda party who goes by the pseudonym ‘Nahtigal88’ (in honor of a sabotage battalion that was part of the Third Reich’s counterintelligence division and the letters ‘NN’ denoting Heil Hitler), was responsible for the ideology of the special service. Mikhalchishin openly asserts that Mein Kampf has been his guidebook since the age of 16. After being dismissed from the SBU, he went to fight as part of the Azov Regiment.

***

The ideology of racial superiority has a long criminal history grounded in hate. When its bearers get their hands on power, national pride invariably turns into ruthless violence, and the radicals reveal their willingness to employ bestial cruelty and exterminate ‘outsiders’. The true foundations of their worldview will be seen more than once until this lesson in history is finally learned.

Olga Sukharevskaya is an ex-Ukrainian diplomat

Corpses of Polish victims of the massacre brought for identification and burial, March 26, 1943. Photo: Wikipedia

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