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MOSCOW, April 10. /TASS/. Ukraine’s newly-adopted laws equalizing Communism to Nazism, as well as the authorities’ connivance with neo-Nazi Ukrainian organizations, pursue the aim of binding any opposition hand and foot, Russian experts say. The current Ukrainian authorities are out to foment tensions inside society to distract people’s attention from the snowballing economic problems, they say.
The Verkhovna Rada on Thursday voted for legislation that not just condemns the Communist and National-Socialist totalitarian regimes, but outlaws their symbols in Ukraine. In fact, the Ukrainian authorities put the equal sign between the two.
Also, the parliament adopted a law on the legal status and commemoration of the victims of struggle for the independence of Ukraine. The status of veterans and independence fighters will be awarded to the members of those organizations which in the Soviet era were considered criminal - pro-Nazi Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army, and the armies of the Ukrainian People’s Republic and West-Ukrainian People’s Republic.
President Petro Poroshenko followed in the legislators’ footsteps to place equal responsibility on Hitler and Stalin for unleashing World War II.
Heroization of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and its leaders has drawn criticism from many World War II veterans and politicians, who hold Stepan Bandera and his henchmen responsible for collaboration with the Nazis. For instance, there have been calls for remembering the "Volyn massacre" - the 1943 slaughter of Polish civilians by Ukrainian nationalists in Volyn, which up to September 1939 had remained part of Poland.
At the beginning of this year Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science is going to rewrite all school manuals to describe all post-war years as a period of "Soviet occupation." Besides, President Poroshenko last year signed a decree to cancel celebrations on the occasion of Fatherland Defender Day, February 23. Instead, he introduced Ukraine’s Defender Day, to be celebrated on October 14 - the day when the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was formed. Stepan Bandera was one of its founders.
The adoption of the latest laws and the proposed re-writing of history are not accidental, says the deputy dean of the world economy and world politics department at the Higher School of Economics, Andrei Suzdaltsev. "This is a well-considered decision meant for both external and domestic use. Such ritual public burning of Communism is exactly what the Europeans and Americans will applaud… On the one hand, they seek to please the West, and on the other, to respond to the people’s growing anger over the economic situation."
The authorities in Kiev fear that the protests will "turn red." "Definitely, the protests will rely on left-of-centre ideologies, and the newly-adopted laws will prove handy to keep them under control. In fact, the slightest chance for the existence of a normal opposition is being eliminated.
As for the ideology of ethnic Ukrainian nationalism, it is neo-Nazi a hundred percent," the expert believes.
The re-writing of history also pursues far-reaching aims. There may well follow demands for compensations from Russia, Suzdaltsev believes.
"The powers that be have now consolidated their foothold and begun to challenge the dissenters, to cause them to rise in revolt with the ultimate aim to crack down on them," the deputy director of the CIS Countries Institute, Vladimir Zharikhin, told TASS. "They have intentionally brought about a situation where the Communists are outlawed. They hope for a return reaction. This fuels a standoff. We are witnesses to the emergence of a totalitarian regime determined to suppress any dissent. Tensions are being fanned deliberately. They are aimed not just at the Communists, but at all those who are against re-writing history and finding excuses for the existence of fascist organizations.
What the current authorities in Kiev actually need now is not the consolidation of society, Zarikhin says. "They will be able to find excuses for the ongoing economic turmoil only in the context of civil standoff. Up to now they could blame it on war in the southeast."
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