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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs