While I was exploring the vast complex of right wing political groups in Ukraine I came upon a bizarre, seemingly impossible group that I had to know more about. Avtonomniy Opir (AO), “Autonomous Resistance” hosted this 11 Feb 2011 interview with molotoff.info on their website:
Autonomous Nationalists? Lviv Society? National Democrats? What does any of this mean? And why is there a Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Wolfsangel rune at the top of the page?
Perhaps these questions are all answered by the interview. Let’s read on:
The National Democrats are of course the activists of the Perestroika era who fought for a Post-Soviet Ukraine which respected human rights and liberal democracy. AO characterizes liberal groups like Pora as tools of “American imperialism and local capitalists.” Anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism? Those sound like good things! They continue:
Ukraine has long needed new youth and revolutionary trends. We needed an alternative to the existing declining organizations, something new, beautiful, creative and interesting, a movement that will cultivate a healthy lifestyle, raise both national and environmental, social issues.
Healthy lifestyles? Environmental and social issues? These all sound like good causes. AO says that their main activity is agitation and propaganda. So how do they advance their cause?
Well, it’s not that big, right?
In 2011 AO was claiming that they recruit young men and women to build a “society within a society” (thus they are “autonomous”). They credit their growing membership to their emphasis on impactful propaganda events. That may be, but what exactly is the subject of their propaganda? What beliefs are they disseminating to the public?
“We are revolutionary social nationalists.”
Right from the start of their interview AO attacks the National Democrats as having paved the road for open “Ukrainophobes” to take power in the 2005 Orange Revolution. These liberal political forces are accused of serving domestic and foreign capitalist exploiters who deceive the youth with the ideologies of democracy and tolerance:
“…various “anti-regime” grantoids, liberal movements like “Pora”, funded by American imperialism and local capitalists from the previous government, will deceive and exploit patriotic youth, offering activities within “Western Democracy and Tolerance”. Young people will be on the same rake again, and the result will be thousands of disappointed patriots.
They further say that as of 2011 “an outright terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most Ukrainophobic, and most criminal elements of financial capital has been established in Ukraine.” AO blames Ukraine’s oligarchs for their role in the system, but how exactly are Ukrainian capitalists Ukrainophobic? How is tolerant, liberal democracy Ukrainophobic?
Our answer comes in response to the interviewer’s question: How do you think nationalism, internationalism and cosmopolitanism relate to each other?
Ukrainian nationalists are neither chauvinists nor imperialists. We value, respect and strive for true friendship and cooperation with all peoples, including the Russian and Polish peoples. We hate and fight only against those imperialist forces that enslave us or want to enslave us.
Today, the main enemy of all nations is globalization. It is conducted by the exploiting “golden” international. And only the Liberation International, composed of revolutionary-nationalist movements of all the peoples of the world, will be able to overcome it. This is the right balance between nationalism and internationalism, which in itself precludes cosmopolitanism, which denies love of country and nation, expressing globalism’s desire for world domination, because it hinders national identity and the struggle for independence.
This is just The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion but replacing “Jews” with “Globalists.” A golden International of cosmopolitans that hates and enslaves all nations? A Black International that stands against them? This is pure and simple neonazi mythology, blended with the language of anarchism.
AO was not only recycling antisemitism but advancing a broader racist view of their role in the world:
Europe is a civilizational concept, the main source of universal culture, and Europeans are an ethno-political concept – to them we include all the indigenous peoples of Europe. We are convinced that the demise of Europe and the Europeans will be the end of progress and the cause of the demise of humanity in general.
The ideology of racial purity seethes beneath the surface of these words. Like the more infamous neonazis in C14 and Patriot of Ukraine the Autonomous Resistance prizes bodily purity and physical fitness. They also recruit from the same subcultural groups: skinheads, football Ultras, and straight-edge fans of rock and rap.
This devotion to healthy bodies seems to be directed in a very specific way. In a post from 3 July 2014 AO says that the “material base” of their movement is a Mixed Martial Arts gym at a social center called “Citadel” («Цитадель»). The 29 January 2011 event that drew “thousands” in Lviv was itself a fighting tournament organized by AO.
That same 2014 post shows the purpose of their training with more clarity, as AO requests money from domestic and international sympathizers for “the rearmament of all our activists… I.e. money is spent on both weapons and permits for their acquisition.”
Citadel also played host to the Free School, where AO provided political and historical education. Combat and ideological training in the same location? Provided by ardent neonazis? Are they training their own SS?
The answer is no. AO is anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-Semitic, anti-government, anti-party, and anti-state. They denounce the view of Stepan Bandera as a bourgeois nationalist and claim to continue the Social-Nationalist traditions of the UPA. They wish to build a classless society where nobody gains by the exploitation of another, and every individual owns his own labor. They observe Nestor Makhno’s birthday and work to rehabilitate Makhnovschina.
They have successfully synthesized black-flag anarchism with Black International fascism.
There is something else that AO shares in common with their authoritarian cousins in that they step in to provide social services where the state has failed. In this case it is “Sincere Heart“, an organization that provides for orphans of the war in Donbas:
This is a very responsible business, if someone decides to do it, he must be aware of all the responsibilities, because children get used to you, you become like foster parents to them, they open up to you, and if you leave them, for some reason, you will be nothing. not better than their biological parents who once abandoned their children. As a result, children become angry at everyone around.
Who better to raise an orphan of war than a neonazi skinhead who trains race warriors?
Autonomous Resistance was reported to have taken a political left turn after 2014 and increasingly became a target of statist Nazis in C14, Azov, and Right Sector. We could ask whether AO really shifted to the left or whether the groups which formed after the Euromaidan were even further to the right, but AO’s anti-authoritarian propaganda had always targeted rightists who seek state power. I guess some things aren’t so surprising after all.
If you liked this article please subscribe by email below or follow our Twitter, @Liminal_States.
[ Featured image from Texty ]