National-Trudoviks

In their interview with Molotoff.info the organizers of Avtonomniy Opir named some of their ideological sources:

[ Interviewer ] Now a few ideological issues. Which ideological sites do you read the most?

Firstly, it is the magazine “Vatra” at vatra.org.ua , secondly, there are many interesting materials in the magazine “Strike” on the link ntz.org.ua , and finally we create our own information resource called “Landmarks” – orientyry.com .

Molotoff.info on Opir.info

The first source we will look at is “STRIKE.”

Ukrainian National-Labor Party (UNTP)

Header of “STRIKE National-Labor Journal.” Note the hammer and sword held up in the banner.

The logo used by STRIKE is not a rune used by German neonazis. It is the logo of a Ukrainian organization which founded Strike as its ideological journal: the Ukrainian National-Labor Party.

Flag of Украї́нська націона́л-трудова́ па́ртія, “Ukrainska Natsional-Trudova Partiya (UNTP).” From Wikipedia.

The symbol is apparently drawn from the name of the party, where “National-Trudova = NT” and the T is stylized as a hammer. However the N is plainly identical to the one used by the Social-National Party of Ukraine and its youth wing Patriot of Ukraine, which formed the Azov Battalion.

This is how STRIKE describes itself (emphasis added):

About us
Strike is an independent national labor magazine with a wide profile, the task of which we see the development and spread of revolutionary thought in Ukraine.

From the pages of our magazine you are watched by anti-systemic authors of the past and present: national socialists and social nationalists, progressive traditionalists and conservative revolutionaries, anarcho-fascists and national trade unions, right-wing socialists and left-wing nationalists – all who care about national and social justice. all over the world.

We find the Third Way in spite of materialist and reactionary ideologies, because we are convinced that this is the only way to reach freedom. The “strike” is our national blow against the cosmopolitan system of capital and exploitation, it is a crimson ray that dispels the darkness of bourgeois reality and illuminates the revolutionary progress of the working class, giving hope for a bright future.

We love the nation and want to revive it to a new life, we believe in work and want to throw off the oppression of the “golden calf” forever. We invite everyone who can help with writing and translating materials to join our Strike.

Our goal: People’s Community without classes and invaders!

They provided translations of this page into these languages: English, Syrian Arabic, Dutch, German (Second Reich flag), French, Belarusian, and Italian.

Their wiki page sounds like it was written by a member. This unsourced statement tells us where Autonomous Resistance (AO) came from:

Since the beginning of 2009, UNTP has virtually ceased to exist as a single organization. Some of its members (including ex-leader Yevhen Gerasimenko) radically changed their ideological position from the far right to the far left and became the founders of the movement of autonomous nationalists . The other part of the former members of the UNTP remained within the right discourse, this part for some time grouped around the national labor online magazine “Strike”

Yevhen Gerasimenko is named as the leader of both the UNTP and the AO, splitting from his own party to form the Anarcho-Nazi group.


Yevhen “Mole” Gerasimenko

A 10 June 2017 article by Right Sector claims that Yevhen Gerasimenko is a Russian agent codenamed Mole who infiltrated the Kyiv far right in 2003. The Right Sector author claims that Gerasimenko founded UNTP in 2006 to mislead nationalists into following national-socialist Pan-Slavism. This ideology is supposed to be more friendly to Moscow than the Ukrainian Integral Nationalism followed by the Banderists in Right Sector.

Yevhen Gerasimenko at a football match between Kyiv and Lviv. From Livejournal.

They also claim that he was given new orders in 2010 and changed UNTP into AO in order to cause strife on the right wing:

Then, after 2010, Mole’s policy changed dramatically. Apparently, Gerasimenko was instructed to start another tactic of struggle – to decompose the right movement intellectually. His task was to make the right left.

The UNTP ceased to exist, and an “autonomous right” movement was formed on its foundations. The center of their coordination was the site reactor.org.ua. Centers began to appear in various cities, including the Autonomous Resistance in Lviv, the Black Rat Society in Kyiv, and later the People’s Will in Vinnytsia.

Almost immediately, this movement began to move rapidly left.

This leftward movement consisted of “a bunch of letters about how they condemn their yesterday: chauvinism, racism, Hitlerism and so on. In it he highlights the foundations of his worldview: anti-chauvinism, anti-capitalism, anti-authoritarianism.” These letters of Gerasimenko were published in 2014, in the midst of the Euromaidan revolution. Right Sector provides its explanation for this change of heart:

Why did this happen? To make at least part of the nationalist movement beneficial to the Kremlin. In just a few years, Eugene has transformed several dozen active Ukrainian nationalists into communist-liberal cosmopolitans. And if then work in Russia (consciously or unconsciously) was not acceptable to them, now – why not? After all, now all nations (including Russia) are brothers to them, all states are hostile (including the Ukrainian one), and the common enemy with the Russian Communists is the bourgeoisie.

Although at the beginning of Eugene’s activity, probably, the task was set differently. However, when the prospect of turning the autonomists not only pro-Russian, but also leftists, Mole decided to try. And, as we see today, he succeeded.

And Gerasimenko’s previous tasks were performed instead by other FSB projects: “Slavic Unity” in Odessa, the “Resistance” movement and others.

According to Right Sector UNTP, AO, and several other neonazi groups in Ukraine are secretly funded and organized by the Russian FSB (Federal Security Service). Right Sector also claims that the funding for AO’s gym headquarters, “Citadel,” came from Russian sources.

Autonomous Resistance marches with UPA and Wolfsangel flags. From DSNews, 7 November 2016

In 2016 DSNews echoed the story of AO’s ideological transformation:

By our time, their ideology is being transformed completely. The place of the main idol of the nationalists, Stepan Bandera, is taken by Nestor Makhno. True, they do not renounce the UPA either, presenting the latter as primarily “socialists” leading a class struggle for the liberation of the Ukrainian peasants. This fight is in the version of “autonomous” looked quite Leninist – expropriation from the Polish owners of their lands and transfer to the Ukrainian peasants. At the same time, the “autonomists” call the right-wing Ukrainian nationalists nothing more than “Nazis” and see them no longer as ideological opponents, but as direct and main enemies.

DSNews also implies that AO was funded by Russian politicians, this time by Viktor Medvechuk:

Who pays for this entire national-communist banquet? Given that the organization holds its actions regularly, prints ideological pamphlets, has its own constantly updated website and a fight club that regularly holds competitions, big money is needed here. The only sufficiently rich person with whom the “autonomous” are associated is the well-known Viktor Medvedchuk, which, of course, the “autonomous” themselves categorically deny.

Medvedchuk, oligarch and leader of the country’s largest pro-Russian political party, was arrested by Ukrainian intelligence on orders from President Zelensky on 12 April 2022. From Twitter.

If these claims are true then Gerasimenko was a very specific kind of mole.


Ideology of the Mole

In an interview hosted on UNTP’s website Gerasimenko provided the ideology and political goals of UNTP. He added that their ideological ally was Patriot of Ukraine and suggested that the main difference between the two organizations was that UNTP was based in Kyiv while PU was in Kharkiv.

The second ideological source cited by AO is Nashe Vatra (“Our Fire”). Vatra’s “About Us” page provides the journal’s own ideological roots:

Integral Nationalism. Social Nationalism. German right-wing radical theory. Italian Corporatism. These are the ideological foundations of the Banderites, the Neonazis, the German National Socialists, and the Italian Fascists, respectively. They also emphasize that they “affirm the priority of spiritual values over material ones,” a common refrain in many reactionary ideologies as a refutation of Marxism’s dedication to material analysis and material gains for the working masses.

The fascists at Vatra may denounce capitalism and socialism as vulgar materialism, but do they tell us what their “spiritual values” are? Fortunately we do not have to look far for the answer:

From Vatra.

“Solar flags” is a reference to the Black Sun and to the notion of the Swastika as a solar symbol, with its arms representing the rays of the sun. “Our Fire” was promoting Nazi Occultism.

A Slavic equivalent of the Black Sun, the Kolovrat, depicted in a story about an antifascist football fan who joined the neonazi “Batman” Group of the Luhansk People’s Militia. From Bykvu.com.

Vatra bills itself as a “revolutionary nationalist journal” publishing articles on “revolutionary social nationalism.” One example is a post by Yuri Mikhalchyshyn, then a sitting deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the Svoboda party:

Sample writing. The full date on the video is “1918-1920.” From Vatra.

Unfortunately we cannot find much more on Vatra at this time. It is part of a network of affiliated websites, some of which have obvious relevance to the subject of “revolutionary social nationalism.” The website’s sidebar links to Deputy Mikhalchyshyn’s page, ecofascist poetry, a handmade trinket shop in Lviv, and more. Vatra calls itself a “revolutionary nationalist journal” but at this time we don’t know whether it was an outlet of a large network or if it was written by a small circle of correspondents. It is at the very least indicative of an actually-existing neonazi subculture.

From everything gathered here, it is reasonable to think that AO and UNTP were the work of a small number of dedicated activists who started recruiting for their own groups and away from traditional far right orgs.

This would be one reason for their friction with the Right Sector, which was based on the youth wing of the Banderite political party and on the old Integral Nationalists in the UNA-UNSO.

But the Right Sector didn’t just accuse Mole and AO of being in a rival camp of nationalism. They were accused of redirecting nationalist activists into left-wing ideologies. What was the substance of this left-wing turn?

[For Gerasimenko’s organization] Hitler’s National Socialism is not the right National Socialism, because it is too right. It was as if the better left-wing Nazis were like the Strasser brothers, whose symbol they began to use actively. Then Nazism itself was rejected as an ideology replaced by “left nationalism.” Today’s autonomists are no longer interested in national issues. They raise only “social” topics. Nationalist rhetoric was replaced by silence. And behind it – outright leftism. The Celtic crosses and “ideas of the nation” on the banners were replaced by red and black stars of anarcho-communism.

Kirilo Babentsov for Right Sector

As we have seen, AO did not really abandon the nationalism or the neonazi symbolics of the Social-National movement; Gerasimenko left the UNTP in 2009 or 2010 to adopt the methods of Germany’s Autonomen Nationalisten, recruiting anarchists to the nationalist cause.

Autonome Nationalisten with an anti-capitalist banner, wearing clothing typical of left-wing black blocs. From Wikipedia.

But who are the Strasser brothers, “whose symbol they began to use actively”?


Strasserism

The original National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) occupied a political space known as the “Third Way,” a merger of bourgeois nationalism and proletarian communism. The party was made up of conservative nationalists and labor organizers, a class-collaborationist party opposed to the class warfare thesis of the Marxists and to the market supremacy of the capitalists. Otto Strasser and his older brother Gregor were members of the NSDAP in the 1920s and belonged to its radical labor-oriented wing.

The flag of the Black Front shows a hammer and sword, crossed in imitation of the Soviet Union’s emblem. From Wikipedia.

The Strassers were leading opponents of Hitler within the NSDAP but were unable to take control of the party. Otto resigned from the Nazi Party in 1930 arguing that it had betrayed the socialist principles of its 1920 program. He formed the Black Front as a rival group of left-wing national socialists who opposed Hitler and his allies among the industrial elites. Otto fled the country in 1934 when his brother was murdered during the Night of the Long Knives. He would be granted refuge in Canada in 1941, writing against Hitler from a fascist perspective and assisting Allied intelligence from the town of Paradise, Nova Scotia.

Otto Strasser at his desk. From Otto Strasser In Paradise

The Right Sector author makes it seem like the UNTP was once a “Hitlerist” party and that Gerasimenko corrupted it and turned it into a Strasserist party. The truth is that the evidence suggests they were Strasserists from the beginning. The distinctive flag of the party was documented at its founding in 2005 and was supplanted by the NT symbol in 2007.

The Strasserist symbol on a UPA banner was the flag of the UNTP. From UNTP

The hammer and sword are also depicted in the banner for STRIKE, which was supposed to be the ideological web zine of the UNTP’s right-wing remnant after 2009. It appears that the UNTP was a Strasserist organization throughout its existence.

It isn’t necessary for their enemies’ claims to be true, that the organizers of UNTP and AO were paid Russian agents. They could believably lead “dozens” of activists away from traditional rightism without the intervention of state sponsors. It’s entirely possible that these dozens or hundreds of left-wing Nazis are genuinely drawn to Strasserism’s Third Way instead of acting on orders from Moscow.

So what happened to the UNTP after the party split in 2009?


Left of Azov

UNTP flag flying alongside a UNSO flag at a “Heroes’ Day” demonstration. Posted 15 October 2018, from UNTP.

Right Sector, DSNews, and the Wikipedia author agree that UNTP broke up in 2009 or 2010 when Gerasimenko and his Autonomous Resistance left the party he once led. The Azov Movement’s resident historian, Mykola Kravchenko, wrote a more detailed account on Censor.net. Kravchenko asserts that the right wing of the party found its way into the Patriot of Ukraine and its Social-National Assembly in the years just before the Euromaidan.

Network Map of the Social-National Assembly as of 6 January 2014. From Social-National Assembly.

It appears that the SNA, led by the Patriot of Ukraine, included a reorganized UNTP that served as the Assembly’s labor arm.

Sotsial-Natsionalny Profspilka Ukraini (SPNU) rebranded the UNTP with the acronym of the original Social-Nationalist party. From SNPU.info

The new SNPU was evidently an integral part of the growing Azov Movement. In 2016 the Azov Civil Corps published a new edition of Yaroslav Stetsko’s Two Revolutions which featured the Ukrainian Wolfsangel and the National-Trudovik symbol on its cover.

The Strasserist UNTP may have been too left-wing for Right Sector but they fit in just fine with the Social-Nationalist movement. Maybe RS’ animosity towards UNTP and AO is not so much about Gerasimenko and his alleged loyalties. Maybe they are a sign of the underlying tension between the Social-Nationalists and the even further right-wing Banderists?

For now it seems that the two strains of Ukrainian far right politics will stay united in the face of Russian aggression. Time will tell whether their coalition will stand the test of peace.


[ Featured image from ar25. UNTP demonstration at May Day 2008. ]

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