Ukrainian ‘C14’ Neo-Nazis openly offer to act as thugs for money
Ukraine’s far-right ‘C14’ organization is trying to entice ‘donors’ by offering to make trouble for the latter’s ‘enemies’.
The message reads: “C14 works for you. Help us keep afloat, and we will help you. For regular donors, we are opening a box for wishes. Which of your enemies would you like to make life difficult for? We’ll try to do that.” The post provides a bank account, with Serhiy Mazur cited as the person to refer to.
This is not the first time that C14 activists have themselves made it clear how inappropriate are any illusions that these are young patriots fighting ‘separatists’. It is an image that prominent C14 activists, like Yevhen Karas, publicly push, and one that has led to the organization often being treated as allies by at least some members of the police force and local authorities.
The organization was formed by activists who found the VO Svoboda party’s far-right views too moderate. They gained a lot of publicity back in 2009 for their role in obstructing controversial building and development projects in Kyiv.
They have also been seen on many occasions opposing ‘titushki’ or paid thugs (who worked closely with the police under the regime of Viktor Yanukovych).
During Euromaidan, it was largely C14 members who occupied the Kyiv City Administration building. Their reputation was somewhat tarnished by their behaviour during the last bloody days of Maidan. While other activists were coming under fire, they reportedly hid in either the Canadian or Dutch embassy.
The origin of the organization’s name is disputed, with some assuming that 14 is code language for the slogan by US Nazi David Lane (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children”).
C14 denies that it is neo-Nazi, and asserts that its name when written looks like Sich from the Zaporizhyan Sich, the Cossack political entity from the fifteenth to eighteenth century. 14, in turn, they link with 14 October, the day traditionally linked with the beginning of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army [UPA] in 1943. This day was, rather controversially, chosen to be Defenders of Ukraine Day, following Russia’s military aggression in 2014.
Whatever the roots of the name may be, those monitoring far-right movements in Ukraine are unconvinced by denials of neo-Nazis links. Vycheslav Likhachev, for example,
The organization has also attracted the attention of the international Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium [TRAC] which
In February 2018, almost three years after controversial pro-Russian journalist Oles Buzyna was shot dead near his home in Kyiv, two men linked with C14 - Andriy Medvedko and Denis Polishchuk - went on trial, accused of his murder. A number of members of C14
Since Russia’s military aggression began in 2014, C14 activists have taken a high profile by apparently fighting ‘separatists’, though both their rationale for deciding whom to fight and their methods arouse serious doubts.
On 19 January 2018, C14 activists
One of the most disturbing aspects of the events that day was the total failure of the Kyiv police to react adequately to the aggressive behaviour of those opposing the remembrance gathering.
They instead detained eight people who had come to honour Baburova and Markelov. The police involved later tried to claim that there had been no detention, and that the activists had been ‘invited’ to the police station. There was no suggestion that the ‘invitation’ could have been turned down.
The detained activists reported later that they had been ‘hunted down’ by the far-right thugs after leaving the police station. A member of the Human Rights Information Centre who spoke with them
C14 and other far-right groups often take a prominent, sometimes violent, role in opposing developers, destroying old parts of Kyiv, obstructing the release from custody of influential individuals arrested on corruption charges, etc.
Here, and with their purported campaign against ‘separatism’, they often appeal to populist demands, with this resulting in their actions not always being viewed as critically as they deserve.
In July 2017, the BBC Ukrainian Service came under criticism both in Britain and Ukraine for
The article was roundly condemned by journalist Serhiy Movchan, who wrote
C14 had been involved, for example, in attacks on activists taking part in the annual Equality March (Kyiv Pride), rights activists, on an art exhibition and even protesters with strictly socio-economic demands.
The police and local authorities also seem too willing to unquestioningly accept the far-right activists’ anti-‘separatist’, ‘patriotic’ rhetoric. The administration of at least one district in Kyiv is known
Collaboration has long roots. Back in December 2012 under the Yanukovych regime, Yevhen Karas and his C14 mates
C14 has been involved in various acts of violence, and there are indeed
The police and local authorities would do well to take heed of these far-right activists’ stated willingness to cause problems for their ‘donors’ enemies’. The paymaster may or may not be different, but this is little different from the ‘titushki’ used, in particular, though not only, by the Yanukovych regime against Maidan activists. Paid thugs need to be stopped, not endorsed by the authorities.