Political, social and economic instability has rocked the Ukraine since the 2013-2014 revolution and ongoing civil war. People are unsatisfied with the police, businesses are struggling and many people would like to see a change. What is different?
This is the same old song and dance we have seen populism exploit repeatedly. However, Ukraine’s far-right today distinguishes itself through substantial organization, support and mobilization capabilities. With the next election in 2019, groups such as the National Militia are making it clear that they expect to be recognized as a known quantity.
In a BBC article looking at recent events and activities of the National Militia we see the slick PR game that they are playing, and how they are normalizing themselves in the public eye. In a way, the combination of organized, unformed men fighting with police and political opponents with this usage of a polished social media campaign represents 1930’s Germany on steroids.
Beyond just gaining support through exertion of public strength within the crowd and public places, the ability to send their message directly via social media is a combination the Black Shirts or Brown Shirts would certainly have envied for.
In this way, we see groups like the National Militia promote their legitimacy in a two-pronged approach not achievable by past populist movements. A mixture of old and new tactics.
It’s not absurd to imagine a fringe movement becoming more and more palpable to the mainstream through this strategy. Another reason to be as vigilant as ever.
Image 1: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-frightening-far-right-militia-thats-marching-in-ukraines-streets-promising-to-bring-order
Image 2: http://katehon.com/900-us-military-supports-ukraines-national-guard-are-us-forces-involved-in-combat-operations.html