The Russian and German ignorance regarding Ukraine

It’s unlikely you are not aware of the most popular claim about Ukraine among pro-Russian trolls, the claim of neo-nazism supposedly reigning in Ukraine. It’s a claim that traces all the way back to when the conflict between Russia and Ukraine officially started, which is even used to attack Ukrainian Jews, as we supposedly would be standing with neo-nazis.

However, close to no one has named the problem with the claim. Which is actually not even surprising. As the problem behind the claim is a group of Slavic Pagans going by the name of Rodnovers. Rodnovers are believers of Rodnovery, also known as the Slavic Native Faith, although this name is regarded controversial among experts. Rodnovery is a form of neo-paganism, which claims to be following the belief system of the previous Slavic Paganism, which is opposed by many experts, hence the name of “Slavic Native Faith” being regarded controversial.

Regardless, they have a lot of peculiarities that take importance. Like the fact that Rodnovers are there in most Slavic countries, including both Russia and Ukraine. But more importantly, the fact that they truly hate Christians, hence people often not choosing to name them. And even beyond that, the fact that the Swastika is among their symbols, known by the Russian term “Коловрат”(Kolovrat).

Now, when you combine this with the people who are claimed to be neo-nazis, it shouldn’t be hard to be confronted with the problem I am referring to. As the most noteworthy is the Azov Battalion, one of the only 2 remaining organisations claimed to be neo-nazis, which does factually include some neo-nazis, but far more of them are actually Rodnovers. Obviously they use the swastika/kolovrat, as it is an important symbol in their faith. Hence it also shows up in both Ukrainian and Russian embroidery.

However, that could still be circumstantial, and therefore Ukraine could still having neo-nazism reigning in its country, and therefore the Russians could be said to be doing something good for the world by making them aware of this. And that’s why we actually need to shift our focus from Ukraine towards Russia.

As we could simply start with the fact that in 2014 – the same year as the Russian claim of neo-nazism reigning in Ukraine started – the Russian government officially recognized the Union of Slavic Communities of the Slavic Native Belief(Союз Славянских Общин Славянской Родной Веры), the first and only Rodnover organisation recognized by the Russian government. Obviously they were aware who the Rodnovers were, and probably the recognition of them connects to why the Russians started with the claim, as they finally got reminded of the symbology the Rodnovers used.

And we could afterwards move on towards the Russia-based far-right neo-nazi political and paramilitary organization Russian National Unity(Русское Национальное Единство). Unlike the Ukrainian organizations which are accused of neo-nazism, they have no connection to Rodnovery at all, even though you sometimes see them using Rodnover symbolism. They are all Christians, which is even proven by their logo, which is the combination of the Star of Bethlehem and the swastika. As previously noted, Rodnovers hate Christians, so quite obviously they wouldn’t be supportive of such symbolism. So, if we are talking about neo-nazis, you have just found them, but not in Ukraine, but in Russia. However, it gets worse, much worse.

As while parties like the Azov Battalion are accused of just having problems with Jews and Russians, the Russian National Unity has problems with a far larger group of people. Because when it comes to them, they have problems with literally anyone who isn’t “fully Russian”, which includes even their own people, as they have problems with Russians in the Far East of Russia, those living in the North of Russia, the Turkic people, the Uralic people, most of the Russian minorities, Russian Jews, Russian Muslims, the Rodnovers, and a long list afterwards. That while also hating literally everyone in Russia who doesn’t originate from Russia, like Armenians, Azeris, Georgians, Kazakhs, Ukrainians, and Belarusians. For an organization which uses the Christian Star of Bethlehem, they know little about Christianity, seeing their hatred of Armenians, but okay, let’s not stick at that, as it gets worse.

Yes, as we need to even go on beyond that, as the Russian National Unity actually is having a good standing among those of the Russian Orthodox Church. And beyond that, are among those fighting here in Eastern Ukraine.
In simplicity, the supposedly neo-nazis of the Azov Battalion are puppies compared to the wolves the Russian National Unity would be. After all, the Azov Battalion is only active in Ukraine, while the Russian National Unity is even active beyond the Russian borders. Including actually here in Ukraine without noting those fighting in the East. And worst of all, the Russian National Unity has factually killed people within their own country who were just trying to live their lives, like anyone would like to, once again the Azov Battalion hasn’t. In fact, even those of the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda”(Всеукраїнське об’єднання «Свобода»), the only other remaining party which is often accused of being filled with neo-nazis, haven’t done so either.

“But, Vadim, the Azov Battalion, and other nationalists, use the wolfsangel, even you have to admit that, right?”
Well, actually, you are wrong at that. This actually shows that people are quick to assume they are aware of every fact. As the symbol which is incorrectly named as a wolfsangel has the wrong proportions and is the wrong way around, and therefore isn’t actually a wolfsangel. It’s actually a “N” with an “I” through it, referring to “national idea”. Not nice either, but it affirms exactly what the Azov Battalion has never denied, which is that they are extremist nationalists. Also, even if it would have been the wolfsangel, there is the fact that many German municipalities still use the symbol as well. If you want to have a talk about controversial, you might want to note the usage of the wolfsangel in the country which used to be the homeland of the Nazis. Honestly, the fact that the whole claim about the Azov Battalion and the wolfsangel started by the German ZDF shows the ignorance of people even more. Germans might want to take awareness of the recently released song “Deutschland” by “Rammstein”, as the wolfsangel example is all but the only connection you still have to the Nazi past, and Rammstein ensured that this time you can’t state: “Wir haben es nicht gewußt”

Regardless, when the question is if Ukraine is reigned by Neo-Nazis, my answer has to be no. Not because there are no Neo-Nazis here at all, but because I have to look just beyond our border, as well as to the origin country of the ideology, to show locations where the Neo-Nazi ideology is factually reigning. Obviously I don’t feel happy with groups like the Azov Battalion either, but that is based on them going beyond what I regard to be acceptable. After all, they have been accused of war crimes. But lying about them is not going to resolve that, it probably will only make it all worse…

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Vadim Dovganyuk

Owner of this blog. Ukrainian Jew of Polish and Russian descent. Citizen of 8 countries, as well as the European Union. Of Karaim, Crimean Tatar, and Krymchak heritage. Currently still below the age of majority. Generally impartial at politics. Political syncretist. Opinionated but willing to listen to anyone's opinion. Certified mastering of 51 languages. Works in service of Sony and Vivendi. Active in support of orphans, foundlings, and other children without parental care in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan. Supporter of adoption and foster care. Mentor of 3 younger children. Previous foundling who now has been adopted. Diagnosed with health and mental health issues, but not disabled. Has a great love for anime, gaming, and TV series. Philanthropist. Social pedagogy student. Optimist in heart and soul.