Yuri Biryukov Poroshenko
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with his adviser Yuri Biryukov (Credit: Facebook)

An adviser for Ukraine’s president and defense minister wrote a neo-Nazi symbol on Facebook that means “Heil Hitler.”

This comes at a time when neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, some of which have received direct support from the Ukrainian government, are terrorizing ethnic minorities from the Roma and Jewish communities.

Ukraine’s billionaire oligarch President Petro Poroshenko, who is known as the “Chocolate King” due to his time in the confectionery industry, has campaigned for Kyiv to join NATO.

Since coming to power in 2014, the pro-Western Ukrainian leader has been advised by Yuri Biryukov, an extreme-right nationalist who also advises Ukraine’s defense minister.

Ukraine’s Glavred Media reported that Biryukov posted a neo-Nazi slogan on his personal Facebook page, where he has nearly 150,000 followers.

Biryukov wrote the Nazi symbol “” The latter half of this symbol, 88, is code for “Heil Hitler” (with H being the eighth letter of the Latin alphabet). The former half is a reference to the white supremacist slogan known as the “14 Words” (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”).

Biryukov later deleted this Facebook post, but only after Ukrainian journalist Anatoly Shariy captured a screenshot of it.

yuri biryukov 1488
A Facebook post in which Yuri Biryukov, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, wrote the neo-Nazi symbol 1488, meaning “Heil Hitler.”

Scholar Ivan Katchanovski, who teaches at the University of Ottawa’s School of Political Studies, commented in response to the story, “Like in most other cases, there is no official reaction in Ukraine and the West and no reports in Western media.”

Since rising to power after a 2014 coup that ousted Ukraine’s democratically elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, the new President Petro Poroshenko has pushed for closer relations with the West.

In this time period, the Ukrainian government has become increasingly infiltrated by fascists and right-wing extremists, who have used Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the pro-Russian separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine to garner support from the United States and European allies.

Max Blumenthal has reported at The Real News Network on how the U.S. has armed and assisted neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and how the fascist chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, Andriy Parubiy, was welcomed in the U.S. Congress.

The Ukrainian government itself has also directly funded neo-Nazi groups. The far-right political party Svoboda and fascist militia C14 were awarded grants from Ukraine’s Ministry of Youth and Sport, for “national-patriotic education projects.”

C14, which is notorious for carrying out terror attacks on Roma, Jews, and LGBTQ Ukrainians, is named after the same white supremacist “14 Words” cited by the president’s adviser Biryukov.

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Ben Norton is a producer and reporter for The Real News. His work focuses primarily on U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East, media criticism, and movements for economic and social justice. Ben Norton was previously a staff writer at Salon and AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.