News / Europe

Ukraine's Far Right Candidate Reflects Mainstream Nationalist Views

Ukraine's Far Right Candidate Reflects Mainstream Nationalist Viewsi
X
Brian Padden
May 16, 2014 8:49 PM
Ukraine’s Svoboda party, which means freedom in Ukrainian, espouses an ultra-nationalist, anti-Russian agenda, and its critics say Svoboda is an anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi organization. Oleh Tyahnybok, the Svoboda party candidate for president is not the front-runner in the race, but as VOA’s Brian Padden reports, during the current tense stand-off with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, many of his views reflect, now more than ever, the mainstream nationalist sentiment.
Brian Padden
Ukraine’s Svoboda party, which means freedom in Ukrainian, espouses an ultra-nationalist, anti-Russian agenda, and its critics say Svoboda is an anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi organization.  Oleh Tyahnybok, the Svoboda party candidate for president is not the front-runner in the race, but, during the current tense stand-off with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, many of his views reflect, now more than ever, the mainstream nationalist sentiment.  

Svoboda party candidate Oleh Tyahnybok supports building a strong military to resist any Russian incursions and to fight pro-Russian separatists.  While he endorses increased autonomy for regional governments, Tyahnybok says there can be no negotiations with what he calls the terrorists who advocate secession for eastern Ukraine.

“Today the government has to finish as soon as possible the anti-terrorist operation to isolate the terrorists, to disarm them, to initiate criminal investigations against the people who are causing this trouble," said Tyahnybok.

The Svoboda party was a force in the protests that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year. In recent years it has won 10 percent of the seats in Ukraine's parliament.  

But the party stirs controversy with its pro-ethnic Ukrainian stances, conservative Christian views and past anti-Semitic statements. In a 2004 speech before parliament, Tyahnybok said that Ukraine was controlled by a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.”

University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy politics professor Olexiy Haran says Tyahnybok and his party have moderated their views in recent years.

“They started from far right. He made some anti-Semitic and xenophobic statements, but, after 2004, I am watching very carefully because I criticized him for that. His rhetoric is, you know, is not xenophobic," said Haran.

Tyahnybok says he supports the interim government's ruling to make Ukrainian the only national language,  an issue that helped fuel discontent in Russian-speaking parts of the country.  

 “My position and the position of the Svoboda party is the following: the only national language is Ukrainian, and that’s not even under discussion, and we will not give in to any concession on that. But in everyday life people can use any language they like," he said.

And, like many Ukrainians, he regrets that the country gave up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for promises from Russia, the United States and Great Britain to respect Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and borders.

“In every meeting people stand up and say that was a mistake, that we got rid of our nuclear status because the U.S. is not fulfilling its agreement with Ukraine. If we had the nuclear button then Putin would never start a war," said Tyahnybok.

While Svoboda party candidate Oleh Tyahnybok may be seen as extreme on issues of race and religion, on national security issues his views are in sync with those of mainstream pro-Ukrainian nationalists.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid