Open Letter to the Leaders of Ukraine's Democratic Opposition Regarding the Inclusion of the "Svoboda" Party into the Committee Against Dictatorship
We, the below citizens of Ukraine as well as foreign citizens of Ukrainian descent, are a group of researchers, journalists, editors, publicists, experts, activists, lecturers etc. As such, we are professionally engaged in the monitoring, analysis and interpretation of Ukrainian politics. Over the last years, we have been following the statements and actions of the former Social-National Party of Ukraine which calls itself today All-Ukrainian Association "Freedom" (Svoboda). Based on our and other specialists' observations and investigations, we call upon the leaders of Ukraine's democratic opposition to re-consider the inclusion of "Svoboda" into the Committee Against Dictatorship, and further collaboration with this party.
Tiahnybok's party calls itself "Freedom:" Yet, it is a fundamentally anti-liberal party that has frequently, openly and explicitly rejected core political and economic freedoms.
Representatives of "Svoboda" regularly pose as tolerant democrats on TV: Yet, there are signs that the party's fundamental beliefs are marked by intolerance towards minorities, and striving towards an exclusive form of ethnocracy.
Tiahnybok and Co. demonstratively cherish the UPA's resistance against Nazi occupation of Ukraine: Yet, some "Svoboda" members have been displaying a more than academic interest in the writings of representatives of Germany's fascist movement.
"Svoboda" claims to be a pro-European party: Yet, its ethnocentric and homophobic world view is, in a number of ways, the exact opposite of the principles upon which post-war European integration is built.
"Svoboda" claims to be a typically European party: Yet, it belongs to the ultra-nationalist Alliance of European National Movements that includes some of the EU's most extremely right-wing parties which are sources of embarrassment, disgust and shame for most Europeans.
The Association "Svoboda" calls itself "All-Ukrainian:" Yet, it remains a regionally based party that divides rather than unites Ukraine, as shown by the disparity of its electoral results in Galicia, on the side, and the rest of Ukraine, on the other.
Tiahnybok's party poses as Ukraine's most resolute defender against Russian irredentism and colonialism: Yet, it is indirectly helping Moscow's neo-imperial schemes as its public activities and strident statements tend to deepen the estrangement between, and promote separatist sentiments in, Western and South/Eastern Ukraine.
"Svoboda" presents itself as the most consistent opponent of Yanukoych's semi-authoritarian regime: Yet, its leaders are frequently invited to voice their views on TV channels linked to the Party of Regions.
"Svoboda" claims to support Ukrainian democracy and Western integration: Yet, its ambivalent stance towards Ukraine's liberal tradition, Jewish heritage, relations to Poland, multicultural society as well as numerous other issues indicate that "Svoboda's" understanding of democracy and the West is peculiar, to say the least.
For these and other reasons, we think that "Svoboda" is an unsuitable member of the Committee Against Democracy, and suggest to the leaders of Ukraine's democratic opposition to re-consider their partnership with this party.
We have nothing to say to those voters of "Svoboda" who support this party because they hold racist, antisemitic or xenophobic views.
Yet, we would like to appeal to those Ukrainian voters who are in favor of Ukraine's European perspective. We understand that you may have cast your vote for "Svoboda" in protest against Yanukovych's anti-European policies. However, "Svoboda's" further rise will not help, but undermine Ukraine's incorporation into Europe, deepen our home country's isolation, and further damage its image in the world. It will complicate the domestic consolidation, geopolitical stabilization and international integration of the young Ukrainian state.
If "Svoboda" did not exist, the Kremlin would have to invent a party like it: "Svoboda" is Ukraine's enemies' perfect instrument to act according to the rule "divide at impera" (divide and rule).
Support for "Svoboda's" candidates by pro-democracy opposition parties in the upcoming parliamentary elections may be used by the authorities and Party of Regions to discredit Ukraine's democratic opposition, and to thereby reverse the declining support for Yanukovych and his party in the Eastern and Southern part of Ukraine. In view of this scenario, any form of alliance with "Svoboda" is likely to result not in gains, but in losses for, or even in a defeat of, the democratic opposition in October 2012.
We ask Ukraine's politicians to abstain from endorsement of "Svoboda's" candidates in majoritarian races, and from forming unified electoral lists with "Svoboda" representatives. While participation in joint opposition rallies with "Svoboda" may be unavoidable, we ask all responsible Ukrainian political leaders to refrain from permanent partnerships and deeper affiliations with this political force that harms Ukraine's fundamental national interests.
We ask all Ukrainians in favor of a democratic, tolerant, open and inclusive Ukrainian society to express their disagreement with "Svoboda's" ideology.