Massacre in Odessa: The Inevitable Result of a Government Full of Ukranian Neo-Nazis

The U.S. has fully supported a right-wing government which glorifies fascist leaders and is tied to the recent killings in Odessa.

Right Sector security forces in Kiev, Ukraine.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

May 9 is the day in which Russia celebrates its victory over Nazism for which 27 million Russians paid the price. So this is an opportune time to ask some serious questions about US funding and support for the unelected ‘government’ in Kiev that contains members of the neo-Nazi parties Svoboda and Right Sector in key positions.

Andriy Parubiy, who founded, along with Oleh Tyahnybok, the Social-National Party of Ukraine--subsequently renamed Svoboda (Freedom)--is now Kiev’s National Security Chief and in charge of military operations against Ukrainian civilians who oppose the unelected junta in Kiev. These actions are being termed an “anti-terrorism operation” while the terrorism that accompanied the Maidan coup in Kiev, which included throwing Molotov cocktails on police, neo-Nazis patrolling Kiev in armed groups, and serious allegations regarding Maidan activists hiring snipers who fired on crowds, is accepted as legitimate by the West and not questioned.

John McCain and Victoria Nuland had no qualms meeting with Tyahnybok, although his party, Svoboda, glorifies fascist leaders such as Stepan Bandera, the infamous Ukrainian Nazi, whose Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists was responsible for massacres of tens of thousands of Poles and Jews. ‘Right Sector’ leader Dmytro Yarosh is the security deputy of the interim government. He claims that it is Ukraine’s destiny to be in eternal war with Russiaand espouses Nazi ideals. Members of his group are now an official part of the National Guard and are sent to fight East Ukrainians who do not feel represented by the Kiev government. Right Sector neo-Nazis also received police training in Poland two months before the Maidan coup. US support for Ukrainian Nazis has been taking place for over 70 years.

The Odessa Massacre on May 2

On May 2, 2014, following a match between two football teams, radical football fans along with Right Sector neo-Nazis brought in from outside Odessa joined forces. According to various testimonies and videos, the pro-Kiev protesters set on fire the tent of federalization-supporters of citizens who want to ensure that their rights will be protected in a federal Ukraine. The pro-Federation activists rushed into the historical trade union building hoping to find a refuge and barricaded themselves. The perpetrators ran into the building and beat people. They attempted to break into one of the rooms, but failed. They then left the building only to continue to throw Molotov cocktails (prepared by Ukrainian nationalist girls), shot at survivors who attempted to jump out from the windows, and beat to death those who managed to make their way out. Ambulances did not arrive to treat the survivors for hours and Israeli medical students offered first aid. The Odessa police did not stop shooters from firing at those trapped in the building. Some of the police were wearing the same red bands worn by Right Sector members and were seen talking to them. At the same time, however, Reuters and BBC falsely portrayed fascists who shot at pro-Federation activists inside the Trade Union building as “pro-Russian militants”.

Those who managed to survive were held on absurd charges while the perpetrators walked away. Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko suggested pro-Kiev activists continue and attacked World War II veterans. Official estimates of the number of the dead begin at 42, while the numbers may be much higher and reach as many as 160 victims. Many bodies are still missing. A pro-Kiev website claimed that events started when pro-Russians attacked pro-Kiev people. It also claimed that there was no reason for the anti-Maidan protesters to enter the Trade Building, and that they are to be held responsible for barricading themselves there. However, a video showing hooligans enter the building with sticks indicates that anti-Maidan activists had a valid reason to fear for their lives. One of the survivors says that Right Sector thugs entered the building later and shot whoever remained alive. Various bodies were later discovered with bullet marks, and one woman was left exposed without garments covering her lower body.

In a two hour long video of the event, masked men are seen firing on pro-Maidan and anti-Maidan crowds from the roof, while wearing both red (Right Sector) bands and Saint George (anti-Fascist) banners. The head of the Security Service of Ukraine claimed that Russian agents shot at protesters and argued that pro-Federation protesters were paid by friends of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. The unelected Kiev prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, blamed Russians citizens of Odessa for "provoking the unrest". However, no evidence was offered to back any of these claims. The visit of National Security Chief Parubiy to Odessa and his meeting with police officials merely two days earlier; the silence and complicity of the police; the fact that Right Sector fascists were brought into the city from outside; and the existence of shooters who were firing from the roofs of building, as was done in Maidan while wearing red ribbons, all suggests that this was a planned massacre by the Kiev junta. Indeed, the deputy head of the Odessa Police appears to be standing peacefully behind one of the shooters at the people in the Trade Union building. In this vein, it should also be mentioned that Right Sector neo-Nazis received training in Poland two months before the coup.

A female survivor of the massacre said that people from outside the city were brought to kill them and that they had no mercy, not even on children and elderly women. The New York Times, on the other hand, made the baseless claim that the people inside the building were ‘Russian militants’. The Telegraph suggested that the building caught fire without mentioning that extremists were throwing Molotov cocktails at it. Victims included women and children and all were citizens of Odessa. Indeed perpetrators who were searching for Russian passports found none.

On the following day, when survivors were freed from the police station by their friends, fellow residents of Odessa, the liberators were described as “a mob” by the New York Times, and those freed were termed “pro-Russian militants”. In addition, the same New York Times article claimed that “many in the pro-Russian group carried bowie knives, photographs show” but failed to acknowledge the fact that Right Sector fascists fired at people who jumped from the burning building. Perpetrators who threw Molotov cocktails at the trade building were chanting “death to the enemies” according to a survivor.

In light of the blatant neo-Nazism of Right Sector and Svoboda, none of this should be too surprising. Stepan Bandera, a hero to Ukrainian fascists, advocated an ethnically pure Ukraine. Svoboda’s current leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, can be seen in this video calling along with other fascists ‘Hail to Bandeira’. While the US sees the referendum that expresses the will of citizens of East Ukraine on May 11 as “illegal”, it is the US that supports an unconstitutional government with neo-Nazis in various key positions, including security, that was never elected.

The Kiev junta cannot escape its responsibility for the massacre in Odessa even though it fulfilled Nicholas Kristoff’s wish for “bear-hunting”. Indeed, Ukraine’s acting Prosecutor General Oleh Makhnitsky confirmed that “this action was not prepared at some internal level, it was a well-planned and coordinated action in which some authorities’ representatives have taken part”. 

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Joshua Tartakovsky is an American-Israeli independent researcher and a graduate of Brown University and LSE.