At the end of August 2016, a presentation of the new right-wing movement “Tradition and Order” took place in Kyiv. Activists, who presented themselves as the organization’s founders and leaders, claimed that in a short time the movement would be transformed into a full-fledged party. It was quite an ambitious statement in modern Ukrainian realities, considering that creating a party is a long-lasting and very resourse-intensive process. Besides, Tradition and Order targets a nationalistic audience, which means it will inevitably encounter competition from existing parties, namely the All-Ukrainian Union Svoboda, the Right Sector and others.
Nevertheless, in private conversations activists close to the newly created organization claim that they plan to reach at least the same level of success as Azov Civil Corps. By Ukrainian standards, the latter has a powerful political infrastructure. Its offices are located in the largest Ukrainian city centers. Azov has its own training facilities and boasts having two of its members in the Verkhovna Rada. It also gathered a pool of sympathetic journalists from major mass media, gained the support of interior minister Arsen Avakov, as well as loyalty of the General Prosecutor’s Office and Kyiv regional administration.
Political council of Tradition and Order: Bogdan Khodakovsky and Ihor Shchedrin
The activists of Tradition and Order are well known. Its core consists of the members of the nationalistic movement Revanche. Activists of Revanche claim to be traditionalists and followers of classical Italian fascism, adopting its distinctive aesthetics from the “Years of Lead”. Casa Pound can be considered to be a similar phenomenon in the European right-wing community.
The leader of Revanche is Bohdan Khodakovsky. He is also the leader of Tradition and Order.
Initially, he emerged as an activist of a leftist student union Direct Action, but soon left it. By the time when the violent clashes began at Maidan in 2014, he reemerged as a member of right-wing community close to Dmitry Korchinsky’s “Brotherhood”. It is worth mentioning that Brotherhood is a rather non-typical right-wing organization when it comes to flirting with different ideologies and social tendencies, sometimes incompatible with each other: religious fundamentalism, left-wing terrorist groups, right-wing authoritarian regimes, Eurasianism and separatism. At the same time Brotherhood remains a member of Ukrainian nationalist scene. Thus, Khodakovsky’s former leftist background and his new sympathies for fascism produced the amalgam which corresponds with the views of Brotherhood quite well.
Since Revanche is linked to Dmytro Korchinsky, it has been automatically associated with Oleh Lyashko’s “Radical Party” which enjoys support from Korchinsky and his activists from allied organizations.
Revanche activists and Bohdan Khodakovsky with Ihor Mosiychuk, people’s deputy in Verknovna Rada on the list of Radical Party
Revanche gained prominence at the demonstration commemorating Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) on October 14th 2014, when the nationalists provoked clashes with the personnel of the National Guard. The rioters flied flags of both Brotherhood and Revanche.
For a while, Revanche opposed the post-Maidan government. Its activists interpreted policies of the ruling coalition as an appeasement of Russia’s military aggression. They also criticized the Minsk Protocol and accused the authorities of defeatism. Consequently, Revanche did its best to take part in the biggest protest campaigns of 2014-2015.Clashes near the building of Verkhovna Rada made Revanche popular, but a number of people drew parallels with the events of December 1st 2013. On that day, a group of people brandishing nationalist insignia and accompanied by Dmytro Korchinky initiated violent clashes with the riot police guarding the president’s administration. This attack was widely condemned by the mainstream part of Maidan activists as a police provocation. Shortly afterwards, Korchinski was accused of organizing mass riots and had to flee abroad from the criminal proceedings started against him.
December 14th 2014, Verkhovna Rada building
December 1st 2013, President’s Administration office
Revanche has been constantly criticizing a number of volunteer National Guard battalions, especially Kyiv-1, painting them as a refuge for former officers of Berkut, the riot police unit disbanded after Maidan. Kyiv-1 is directly involved in patrolling mass events and suppressing protests. This battalion is considered to be close to Arsen Avakov. Its commander Eugene Deidey entered the parliament on the list of People’s Front; also, Avakov’s own son used to serve in Kyiv-1.
Revanche expressed its attitude towards the battalion by smashing up a few citylight panels promoting it.
The group gained further notoriety after a series of arson attacks on Roshen shops in Kyiv. Defending their actions, the perpetrators accused President Poroshenko (who owns Roshen corporation) of accumulating wealth when troops at the front lack funding and have to rely on the help of activists.
A series of arrests followed.
Still, Revanche activists continued to attack shops associated with Poroshenko, although not as radically as before: nationalists threw cakes into shop windows.
During the subsequent legal proceedings it came to light that the arrested members of Revanche took part in the military conflict in the east of Ukraine serving in the OUN battalion, commanded by Mykola Kohanivsky.
Apart from being the leader of a nationalist military unit, Kohanivsky is the head of an organization called “Committee for the release of political prisoners”. It provides legal and financial support for nationalists involved in criminal cases. Another well-known member of this organization is Tetyana Blyznyuk, who is employed as an assistant of MP Ihor Mosiychuk (Lyashko’s Radical Party). She is also associated with the activities of Brotherhood. During a corruption scandal involving Mosiychuk, Revanche activists offered him support and called him a victim of political persecution.
Tetyana Blyznyuk and the Black Committee activists
Just like Revanche, Black Committee is an organization close to Dmytro Korchinsky. Its members are part of Kohanivsky’s Committee for the release of political prisoners (CRPP).
Anna Syn’kova, daughter of Tetyana Blyznyuk and a Brotherhood activist
Presently, many activists of the nationalist movement are being brought before court. According to CRPP, nationalists are being persecuted more intensely today than in the Yanukovych days. The most prominent cases so far involve Aidar battalion volunteers, members of Tornado battalion, some Azov activists, as well as the so-called “Vinnytsia avengers”, who shot two police officers while robbing a gas station in Kyiv in the spring of 2015. One of the latter, Viktoria Zaverukha, became a symbol of the repressions supposedly carried out by old Yanukovych police cadres.
Taking these facts into consideration, it is clear that Revanche is closely associated with nationalist opposition movements. Official authorities and law enforcement agencies regard them as a destabilizing force. Revanche is tied to the party of Oleh Lyashko, who has nearly destroyed the pro-president coalition in Ukrainian parliament. Therefore, it came as a surprise when the pro-president media project Pyotr and Mazepa (P&M) lent its support to the new party on the base of Revanche.
One of the P&M founders Ihor Shchedrin has joined the political council of the party and carries out advertising campaigns together with Revanche activists.
You can find the second part here.