Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Right Wing in Ukraine

Right Sector and Svoboda are two different things. Since the parliamentary elections in 2012, Svoboda's support has been haemorraging, and they've been scrambling to move to the center right. All the same, it's probable they wouldn't get past the 5% electoral threshold to win seats in parliament, if the elections were held next week. Support for the right is not strong in Ukraine. Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of Right Sector, is best described as a radical revolutionary. Politically, you could say he was a Christian Democrat, with a nationalist bent (remembering that nationalism doesn't necessarily equate to right-wing politics).

Right Sector does contain some organizations that you could fairly describe as far-right, but the group as a whole covers a broad political spectrum. The only thing that they all agreed on was that the Yanukovych regime had to be overthrown, by force if necessary. Their position pretty much coincideed with the three main opposition parties, except that the latter only wanted to use peaceful methods. That proved impossible once it became clear that Yanukovych was prepared to use deadly force to maintain his regime.

Since, politically, Right Sector is so fractured, now that the uniting factor of wanting to overthrow the Yanukovych regime has been achieved, there is little to keep them united, and they will probably split, with the extremists and far-right marginalized, and perhaps some of the more politically moderate elements (which could even include Yarosh himself) managing to gain entry to the political establishment. Certainly, as in any democracy, the far-right is worth keeping a close eye on, but it is not as strong in Ukraine as it is some Western European countries, and certainly far less strong than it is in Russia.

The Maidan as a political entity is, like Right Sector, hugely diverse, and you could accurately describe it as a broad cross-section of the Ukrainian public, with political views ranging from the far right to the far left. Like in any population, the extremists at both ends of the spectrum are very few. The bulk of Ukrainians, politically, appear to tend to Social Democracy, similar to the Scandinavian model - parties that espouse a strong welfare state, social responsibility, and democratic values gain the most support from the electorate in free elections.

Author, British Ex-pat in Kyiv.