Journalist Max Blumenthal asked why a fascist leader was welcomed in the US Senate building. He discusses Andriy Parubiy, the founder of two neo-Nazi organizations and the chair of Ukraine’s parliament, and the violent white supremacist movement against Russia
BEN NORTON: It’s The Real News. I’m Ben Norton.
In recent weeks in Ukraine, which is a close NATO ally, neo-Nazi vigilante groups have carried out attacks on ethnic and religious minority groups, including Roma, Jews, and also sexual minorities, including the LGBT community. At the same time while this is happening, the U.S. is actually welcoming fascist leaders from the Ukrainian government here in Washington D.C. The head of the Ukrainian Parliament, Verkhovna Rada, is himself a neo-Nazi who founded two neo-Nazi parties. He’s named Andriy Parubiy, and he was invited to speak at an event at the Senate which was hosted by the American Foreign Policy society. Parubiy previously founded two neo-Nazi organizations: the Social National Party, and also the Patriot of Ukraine, which are linked to violence against ethnic minority groups like the Roma, who have recently been attacked, and their villages have been burned down by neo-Nazi vigilantes in Ukraine.
I’m joined today by the journalist Max Blumenthal, who attended this event at the Senate, and asked why a Nazi was invited to speak in the U.S. Senate.
MAX BLUMENTHAL: Given that there’s been anti-Semitism on display in Ukraine and anti-Roma violence, you think it was a good idea to invite the founder of two neo-Nazi parties, the Social National Party and the Patriot of Ukraine? I’m referring to Mr. Parubiy.
BEN NORTON: Max wrote about this event for the Grayzone Project, which is a website he edits, and his article is titled “Congress Welcomes an Actual Fascist as Nazi Violence Rages in Ukraine.” Max has also previously reported here at The Real News Network on how the U.S. is arming the Azov Battalion, which is a neo-Nazi militia that’s part of the Ukrainian National Guard. Max is an award-winning journalist who edits the website the Grayzone Project, that you can find at GrayzoneProject.com. He also cohosts a podcast with me. Thanks for joining us, Max.
MAX BLUMENTHAL: Thanks for having me on.
BEN NORTON: So can you explain what happened at this Senate event?
MAX BLUMENTHAL: Yeah, I think you explained it pretty well. An open neo-fascist who founded two parties that could pretty much be safely described as neo-Nazi was welcomed on Capitol Hill. He had just met with Representative Paul Ryan, who is actually his counterpart as the Republican Speaker of the House. And he also met with the State Department officials, who were really so proud of their meeting with Parubiy that they tweeted about the good meeting they had. And you actually wrote a great piece for us at the Grayzone on Parubiy’s meetings last year with John McCain and also Paul Ryan. So this wasn’t the first time that, you know, Congress had rolled out the red carpet for Parubiy.
The two parties he founded, the Social National Party, which sounds a lot like the National Socialist Party or the Nazi party because it was inspired by it. Its symbol is the wolfsangle, which is now the symbol of the Azov Battalion. And the Patriot of Ukraine, the racist, violent militia that Parubiy helped found in the ’90s are now sort of at the heart of the extremist violence that is plaguing this country and has exploded into the open since Ukraine was destabilized by a U.S.-backed coup attempt in 2014.
And Parubiy was in Washington alongside three other speakers of parliament who were kind of making the rounds to kind of lobby for more aid, because their countries are sustained by aid on the condition that they act as de facto NATO bases, and to pledge to help the U.S. stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. This is a gas pipeline that will be, will run from Russia to Germany, and really represents a key threat in the minds of, in the minds of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment in Washington to American economic control over Western Europe. And so they’re doing everything they can to stop it, and they clearly don’t care. Parubiy’s host, the American Foreign Policy Society, which is not a right-wing group, and his hosts in Congress, and many of the people who are at this meeting, who are Hill staffers from both sides of the aisle, did not care about his fascist background, or about the hideous acts of violence. And we’re talking about lethal pogroms against Roma people that are consuming Ukraine.
And so, you know, it was pretty embarrassing when I showed up and asked this basic question. And I did not get a clear answer from the host of this event.
BEN NORTON: Yeah. Can you talk a bit about more a bit more about Andriy Parubiy, who is the head of the Ukrainian parliament? And he wrote a book a few decades ago which, in which he can be seen on the cover wearing a brownshirt-style uniform. And then also can you talk a bit about the situation, you mentioned the Azov Battalion. You’ve reported here at The Real News Network on how the U.S. has armed this militia. And of course, the reasoning that the U.S. has is that this is part of the Ukrainian government and they’re fighting Russia, which they say is the aggressor. Can you explain more about the situation?
MAX BLUMENTHAL: Yeah. I mean, Ukraine is sort of a key piece of the strategic chessboard for the West. And you know, Ukrainians have been kind of used as pawns for, for decades since World War II, when it was torn between German Nazi occupation and the Soviet Union. And so you have Ukrainians in the east who identify with Russia, speak Russian, and want nothing to do with Kiev. And in Kiev there there are these nationalist elements which are taking control of what was supposed to be sort of a technocratic government set up by the U.S., just kind of like this imperial vassal government which is completely mired in corruption right now.
And the warnings that there would be sort of a fascist putsch were very clear in 2014. Nationalism had exploded into the open. One of the key symbols of the forces in the Maidan was Stepan Bandera, who is a Nazi collaborator who founded the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. He was involved, along with Roman Shukhayvich, who is a hero in contemporary Ukrainian society, in the massacre, the pogroms against the Jewish community of Lviv in 1941. And Parubiy has been really at the heart of trying to resurrect Bandaraism, this sort of nostalgia for Nazi-occupied Ukraine, which is, you know, anti-Russian. Vigorously anti-Russian. So it supports American strategic interests at this point. You mentioned Parubiy’s book, “View From the Right.” He wrote this book I think in 1998 or ’99. And you can see him on the cover of the book in a literal brown shirt, like in a Nazi SA uniform, with a pistol on his waist in a holster. And in the book he blames, you know, the long-haired hippies and various immigrant untermenschen for, he didn’t use the term untermenschen, but he blames them for destroying Western civilization.
The party he cofounded, the Social National Party in 1995, pledged to, you know, save the white race, preserve the white race against the degradation of humanity. I mean, this is an explicitly white nationalist party. In the early 2000s, Parubiy was the chairman of the committee to build a monument to Stepan Bandera in the city of Lviv, where the Jewish population was wiped out by his forces. And since 2014, the forces that Parubiy oversaw in the Maidan, the right sector forces, who are these black-masked ultranationalists, many of whom were avowed neo-Nazis, have been militarized and incorporated into the National Guard under the watch of the interior minister who is in Parubiy’s current party, the People’s Front Party. And the interior minister his name is Arsen Avakov.
But the militarized version of the parties that he helped found is called the Azov Battalion. And they are kind of like the shock troops of the Ukrainian military in the east around the Donbass region in the fight against pro Russian separatists. As I reported earlier this year, they’ve been armed by the U.S. And they have an, they have an ideology which is explicitly white nationalist, along with a membership core that consists substantially of avowed neo-Nazis who wear the same Nazi symbols that we saw on the streets of Charlottesville when white nationalists marched through there.
Their ideology centers around the concept of the Reconquista, the reconquest of Europe on behalf of the white races led by the traditional white nations with Ukraine at the center. The chief idealogue now is named Andriy Biletsky, and he hates the current government in Kiev led by Petro Poroshenko, this corrupt technocrat. And he has sought to lead to start the reconquest by leading the Azov Battalion’s forces from eastern Ukraine into Kiev. That actually happened this year, with this terrifying show of force by a so-called national corps or national militia of Azov members, hardcore jackbooted thugs who deployed to Kiev to supposedly restore order. And this has complemented a wave of violence across the country by other neo-Nazi forces against Roma, against LGBT people, against left-wing dissidents, communists, and Jews. Amnesty International issued a it this year warning that no one is safe in Ukraine as long as these extremist forces are on the march. And one of the bands of Nazi thugs who are killing and attacking the Roma people at their encampments is called C14. The 14 is for the 14 words, which are the, which is the mantra of international neo-Nazism.
And they are state-funded. And it’s not us reporting that, it was Radio Free Europe. You know, the U.S. arm of the U.S. government’s media operation. Which reported that the C14 neo-Nazi militias killing Roma in Ukraine are funded by the state, which means that our aid money is going to neo-Nazis, while Parubiy is being hosted in Washington. It seems to me like an international scandal that should shock everyone, but unfortunately I was alone in issuing this one critical question upon Parubiy’s visit.
BEN NORTON: Yes. And Max, in the video you published at the Grayzone Project, you also can be seen questioning Michael Carpenter, who is a former Obama administration official who was the director for Russia on the National Security Council. And Michael Carpenter, in response to you, he implied that this is all just Russian propaganda. Here we’ll play a clip.
MAX BLUMENTHAL (VIDEO): Following the Senate event, I spotted Michael Carpenter, a former State Department official who helped encourage the 2014 Maidan coup in Ukraine alongside his boss, then-Vice President Joe Biden.
Did you think it was a good idea to bring Parubiy, who has founded two neo-Nazi parties, to the Senate for Paul Ryan to meet with him?
MICHAEL CARPENTER (VIDEO): Look, I think Andriy Parubiy is a conservative nationalist who is a also a patriot cares about his country. I don’t think he has any neo-national, neo-Nazi inclinations nor background. I mean, a lot has been made of this. Frankly, I think it’s mostly Russian propaganda.
BEN NORTON: So Max, can you briefly respond to this allegation that this is all just Russian propaganda?
MAX BLUMENTHAL: Well, it was like-. It was a remarkable defense of Parubiy by Carpenter, someone who played a really influential role in the Obama administration in the Defense Department and State Department in overseeing U.S. policy towards Ukraine and Russia. And he’s now, you know, out there as a kind of ferociously anti-Russian pundit dismissing, you know, he’s working at the NATO think tank in Washington, the Atlantic Council, dismissing all of this as Russian propaganda. Well, Eugene Robinson, who isn’t exactly a Kremlin propagandist, he writes a column for the Washington Post. And he’s mostly, usually writes fairly, you know, milquetoast liberal opinions, called Parubiy’s party openly neo-fascist. We also know, we also know that Congress has enacted a ban on weapons to the Azov Battalion through representative Ro Khanna, who is a Democrat in the House.
Is Congress controlled by the Kremlin? Or maybe perhaps Congress was troubled by some of what it learned about the Azov Battalion, which grew out of the party that Parubiy founded. I really see no sign that Parubiy has reformed his ultranationalism, his fascism. And it’s really incumbent on people like Carpenter and on Congress to start condemning the violence against minority communities in Ukraine that’s taking place on, under its watch.
BEN NORTON: We’ll have to end our conversation there. We were joined by Max Blumenthal, who is an award-winning journalist. He’s also the founder and editor of the Grayzone Project, which you can find at GrayzoneProject.com. I contribute to that website, and I also cohost a podcast with Max, Moderate Rebels. You can find his reporting at GrayzoneProject.com. And we were discussing a video that he published which you can also find on YouTube. Thanks for joining us, Max.
MAX BLUMENTHAL: Thanks for having me.
BEN NORTON: For The Real News, I’m Ben Norton.