Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov has long-term ties with Adriy Biletsky that stretch back at least a decade before Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine in 2014. There is little doubt that Avakov is using National Corps and National Druzhyny to oppose Petro Poroshenko’s election campaign and bring Yulia Tymoshenko to power.
Avakov is worried that NF will not enter parliament in the October elections leading to him losing his position as Minister of Interior. He has therefore formed an alliance with Tymoshenko to support her election and thereby maintain his government position. The Ministry of Interior and National Druzhyny, who have been registered as election observers, have been put at the disposal of Tymoshenko’s election campaign. As Serhiy Leshchenko said, ‘Тож гарантом підтримки Юлії Тимошенко став міністр Міністерства внутрішніх справ Арсен Аваков, який відмовився грати на стороні чинного президента Порошенко м’язами силовиків.’
In the 2000’s power was divided in Kharkiv between Avakov who headed the regional branch of Batkivshchina and Mayor Hennadiy Kernes who was backed by the Party of Regions. They both had their paramilitary forces – Patriot Ukrainy worked for Avakov and Oplot for Kernes.
Biletsky opposed Oleh Tyahnybok’s modernization of the Social National Party of Ukraine (SNPU) taking with him Patriot Ukrainy which had been the paramilitary wing of the SNPU. The Social National Assembly (SNA) was formed in 2008 as the political party of Patriot Ukraine. National Corps is the modern-day successor to the SNA and National Druzhyny the successor to Patriot Ukrainy. This is clearly seen in the SNPU’s Wolfhook symbol used by the Nazi SS which had been used by the SNPU and was adopted by the Azov battalion formed in 2014 from Patriot Ukrainy/SNA members, Bratstvo/Radical Party and football utltra’s.
Since the 2004 split of SNPU into Svoboda and Patriot Ukrainy/SNA, there have been two ‘nationalist’ camps in Ukraine, the former pro-European and the latter pro-Eurasian.
The first group of nationalists are the inheritors of OUN and include Svoboda, KUN (Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists formed in 1992 by the émigré OUNb) and Right Sector. These nationalist parties follow in the tradition of OUN and support the presidential candidacy of Ruslan Koshulynsky, a patriot who fought in the Donbas against Russian military aggression.
The second group of nationalists, Biletsky and National Corps, has greater ideological similarity with neo-Nazi and white supremacist racist groups in Europe and the US.
These two groups have different attitudes to language, statehood and foreign policy.
Firstly, language. Svoboda-KUN-Right Sector prioritise the Ukrainian language and culture. SNA and National Corps prioritise blood and race and do not emphasise the importance of the Ukrainian language.
Secondly, statehood. Nationalist parties supporting Koshulynsky follow in the OUN tradition of fighting for and building an independent Ukrainian state and view Russia as the mortal enemy of Ukraine.
Biletsky follows UNA-UNSO leader Dmytro Korchynsky in the 1990s in supporting an east Slavic union with Russia. In the early 1990s, UNA-UNSO fought on Russia’s side in the Trans-Dniestr region of Moldova.
In the late 1990s, Korchynsky left UNA-UNSO and formed Bratstvo which showed its pro-Russian ideology by joining the Highest Councils of the Moscow-based International Eurasian Movement and Eurasian Youth Movement. Both are led by Ukrainophobe Aleksandr Dugin who called in 2014 for Ukrainians to be ‘killed, killed, killed.’
Natalia Vitrenko’s Progressive Socialist party (also Ukrainohobic and in 2014 a supporter of separatism in the Donbas) joined Dugin’s bodies. After the Orange Revolution, Bratstvo and the Progressive Socialists created a narodno opposition. Korchynsky became a speaker at paramilitary training camps in Russia organised by Nashi (Putin’s ‘Komsomol’) and International Eurasian Movement. Korchynsky, who had been a vociferous critic of Viktor Yushchenko on 1+1 channel, held xenophobic anti-Western, anti-Orange and pro-Eurasian political views.
In the 2012 elections, the Party of Regions supported Korchynsky’s election to parliament. Korchynsky’s links to the Party of Regions and Russian intelligence could be seen in the 1 December 2013 provocations at the presidential administration which were suspiciously similar to those on 9 March 2001 in the same location. Both were organised by agent provocateurs to discredit bona fide nationalists.
After 2014, the Radical Party became the vehicle for Bratstvo members to be elected to parliament and local councils. Bratstvo/Rdical Party members were involved in the creation of the Azov battalion.
In the first half of the 1990s, Korchynsky argued that the UNA must propose that Ukraine be ‘the main defender of Slavonic interests and kernel of Slavic unity’ and in the 1994 elections, reminded Ukrainian voters that, ‘our people used to live in a superpower state. We will make Ukraine a superpower again so people won’t have to change their habits.’ Korchynsky believed Ukraine should propagate Pan-Slavism and ‘Ukrainian Imperial Spirituality.’ Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Russian Liberal Democratic Party supported his goals, saying: ‘The main thing is a great Slavic state, and then we will sort out the question of the capital (Kyiv or Moscow).’
Biletsky is the ideological heir to Korchynsky, saying: ‘Ми соціал-націоналісти маємо зовсім інші в цьому питання погляди. По-перше, геополітичні… Ми розуміємо, що сепарація від Росії є ідіотизм. Тому що наша ідея — потужна з центром в Києві конфедерація.” Biletsky є давнім прихильником союзу з Росією i вважає, що російські природні ресурси допоможуть Україні стати успішною державою.
Korchynsky’s Pan-Slavism prevented cooperation between UNA-UNSO and real nationalist parties, such as KUN and DSU. The same is true today with the impossibility of cooperation between the Pan-Slavic National Corps and nationalist Svoboda-Right Sector-KUN.
Thirdly, foreign policy. Koshulynsky’s election programme supports Ukraine’s membership of NATO and the EU and sees Ukraine – similar to OUN – as a part of Europe and its eastern border.
Meanwhile, the National Corps is opposed to Ukraine joining NATO and the EU and has greater interest in Eurasia and ‘white civilisation.’
National Corps therefore hold the same position as pro-Russian nationalists in Europe who are anti-American and hostile to the EU.
Interestingly, Yulia Tymoshenko – who Avakov clearly supports in these elections – also does not support Ukraine’s membership of NATO and the EU. Her election programme does not include any mention of NATO or the EU.
Tymoshenko is seeking to come to power at any cost in cahoots with oligarchs Igor Kolomoysky and Sergei Taruta, corrupt government officials such as Avakov, and Biletsky’s neo-Nazi National Corps. The coming to power of such an unsavoury and unpatriotic alliance would set back Ukraine as much as did Yanukovych’s election in 2010 and just like then, halt Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
If you see Ukraine’s future away from the Russian World and inside Europe the only two candidates are (if you are a patriot) Poroshenko and (if you are a nationalist) Koshlynsky. If you support Ukraine’s membership of Eurasia and the Russian World you hold the same political views as the National Corps whose candidate is Tymoshenko.