Kiev deploys Neo-Nazi Paramilitary against Political Opponents in Eastern Ukraine

By Clara Weiss
Global Research, June 28, 2014
World Socialist Web Site

Theme: US NATO War Agend

nazis_em_kiev-400x238The Ukrainian government is deploying paramilitary groups in close cooperation with the army against opposition in the eastern part of the country. This collaboration has been largely ignored by Western media. While the armed actions of pro-Russian separatists are dealt with at length in the media, there is no discussion of the fascist terror against political opponents of the Kiev regime and the civilian population.

In February, armed groups from the Right Sector and the fascist Svoboda party played a decisive role in the putsch against then-President Viktor Yanukovych. Svoboda was rewarded for this with several ministerial posts and high-ranking positions in the state. Although Svoboda’s presidential candidate, Oleh Tyahnybok, received only 1.2 percent of the vote in the May election, Svoboda continues to be prominently represented in the government.

These paramilitary groups operate with the official protection of the state. At the beginning of March, the parliament decided to build a 60,000-man national guard, principally made up of volunteers recruited from the so-called Maidan self-defense groups.

On April 13, Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov released a decree that allows the formation of special units for the purpose of countering separatist currents. Since then, a number of battalions, officially operating under the Ministry of the Interior, have been founded with the financial support of certain oligarchs.

The best-known is the Azov Battalion. The “Black Men,” as they have been termed on Russian-language web sites, have played a key role in several of the so-called “anti-terror operations” carried out by the Kiev government.

The Azov Battalion is based in Mariupol and is responsible for the majority of the brutal battles that have taken place there. According to official estimates, between May 10 and May 13 at least 20 people died as a result of violent confrontations in the city on the Azov Sea, whose population is 500,000. Although it is difficult to verify their authenticity, videos on YouTube purport to show that unarmed civilians in the area have been intentionally targeted.

Conflicts have continued in Mariupol. On June 13, the Azov forces, together with the battalion “Ukraina” and special units of the army, stormed the city center, which was held by separatists. In this operation, dozens of separatists were killed and wounded.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has claimed that the Azov Battalion was involved in the storming of the Russian embassy in Kiev.

Members of the battalion regularly boast on Twitter of killing civilians and separatists, giving numbers of alleged victims. Despite the fact that these announcements are not always easy to confirm, they say a great deal about the character of these fascist bands.

At the beginning of June, Yaroslav Honchar, a cofounder of the battalion, was removed from the leadership after he publicly accused the Azov forces of torturing people and stealing property belonging to ex-president Yanukovych’s family. According to Honchar, the battalion is largely made up of Right Sector members.

The Azov battalion was founded on May 5 by Oleh Lyashko, a member of parliament representing the ultra-right Radical Party, Igor Kryvoruchko, a leading member of Right Sector, and the well-known fascist Dmitro Korchynsky. According to Wikipedia, the battalion had about 300 members in June.

Many of its members came from the organization “Patriots of Ukraine,” which is part of the Right Sector. According to an Al-Jazeera article, the battalion is also affiliated with fascists from Russia, Italy and Sweden. What unifies the fighters is their adherence to National Socialism. New recruits to Azov are trained by the Interior Ministry before they are deployed in eastern Ukraine.

The battalion clearly enjoys the support of Washington and the regime. A YouTube video from Radio Free Europe, which is financed by the US Congress, shows Azov militiamen at a shooting practice.

The pro-government Ukrainian media reports positively about the paramilitary groups and celebrates them as “Heroes of Ukraine.” Members of the battalion take every opportunity to declare that they do not view their opponents as people and seek to “destroy” them.

According to accounts in the press, the battalion is financed by the oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi. With a total worth of $3 billion, Kolomoyskyi was the third richest man in Ukraine in 2012, according to Forbes .

The Russian newspaper Correspondent estimates his worth at $6.2 billion. He is a co-owner of Private Bank, the largest bank in Ukraine. He is also one of the biggest operators in the Ukrainian oil, mining and air transport industries. At the beginning of March, Kolomoyskyi was named governor of the eastern Ukrainian state of Dnepopetrovsk.

Kolomoyskyi has politically and financially supported the pro-Western opposition for many years. He was one of the main financiers of the UDAR Party of boxer Vitali Klitschko. Previously, Kolomoyskyi was one of the most important oligarchs behind the opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko. He also purportedly financed the head of Svoboda, Oleh Tyahnybok, who has, however, denied this in the Ukrainian press.

According to accounts in the Frankfurter Rundschau and the Kiev Post, Kolomoyskyi is behind the “Dnepr” and “Donbass” battalions, which spread terror in eastern Ukraine. These units recruit mainly from fascist organizations and former soldiers.

Dnepopetrovsk has been transformed under Kolomoyskyi into an organizational center of paramilitary forces used by the Kiev regime to combat opposition in the eastern part of the country.

The news agency Reuters reports that at the end of May, Kolomoyskyi used several dozen millions of US dollars to prevent the region from falling into the hands of separatists. With this money, a “National Defense Unit” was built comprising 15,000 men. These included 2,000 battle-ready soldiers divided into four battalions.

Igor Beresa, commander of the National Defense Unit, told Reuters that the battalions are accepting formal orders from the Ukrainian army and security forces, although the battalions receive an income twice as high and are better equipped.

Kolomoyskyi’s second-in-command, Boris Filatov, explained to Reuters: “We are doing all this in agreement with the central government. We coordinate and cooperate with Kiev. They accept that we are influential as a consolidating factor in the east.”

The Right Sector, which is also active as an independent formation in armed confrontations, shifted its headquarters to Dniepopetrovsk at the end of April. At the time, its leader, Dmitro Yarosh, boasted in an interview with Spiegel Online, “Our battalions are part of the new territorial defense. We have good relations with everybody, apart from the police.”

Yarosh regularly posts information about his operation and troops on Facebook and Twitter. At the end of May, the Right Sector assisted the Donbass Battalion in its efforts to take control of the eastern Ukrainian town of Karlivka. The village is still under siege.

There can be no doubt that the fascist battalions are responsible for a considerable proportion of the casualties of the civil war in Ukraine. According to United Nations reports, since May 7 alone, a total of 356 people in eastern Ukraine have been killed. The vast majority, 257, were civilians.

Articles by: Clara Weiss
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Copyright © Clara Weiss, World Socialist Web Site, 2014

Soul Legend Bobby Womack (1944-2014)

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A dramatic life, a distinct voice: remembering the soul legend and his incredible seven-decade career

Soul-music genius Bobby Womack had talent to burn — and he burned it. He was in the first rank of songwriters, penning classics such as “It’s All Over Now,” which became the Rolling Stones’ first Number One single in the UK. He was a top-notch guitarist, backing up everyone from Ray Charles to Aretha Franklin. And when he sang on his own records, he could compel you to get on your feet (“Looking for a Love”), reinvent standards as R&B anthems (“Fly Me to the Moon”) or express yearning like nobody else (“Across 110th Street”). Somehow, all that didn’t add up to superstardom: Womack kept sabotaging himself with bad record deals and cocaine abuse. “It seems that every once in a while I pop up from out of the water and then disappear again,” he complained to Rolling Stone in 1974. “Well, I’m tired of that shit.”

Bobby Womack was born on March 4th, 1944 to Friendly Womack and Naomi Womack, and grew up in the Cleveland slums, so poor that the family would fish pig snouts out of the local supermarket’s trash. “The neighborhood was so ghetto that we didn’t bother the rats and they didn’t bother us,” he said. “They walked past and hollered, ‘How you doin’, man?'” He was the third of five sons: Bobby had to share a bed with his brothers, Friendly Jr., Curtis, Harry and Cecil.As a child, despite being prohibited from touching his father’s guitar, Womack taught himself to play it. When he broke a string one day, he was young enough to think that he might be able to conceal the damage by fixing it with his shoelace. When his father came home from working at the steel mill and discovered what had happened, he prepared to beat Bobby — but then told him that if he could play well enough, he would let it slide. Womack remembered, “Even with one string short, I played classical music, soul, country and western and rock & roll. I played my ass off. Every lick I knew and then some I didn’t.”The five brothers started performing gospel as the Womack Brothers, playing on the local religious circuit, standing on boxes so they could reach the microphones. Their big break came in 1956, when their father arranged for them to open for the Soul Stirrers. The group’s lead singer, Sam Cooke, became their mentor and helped them go on tour. “Sam was on that gospel highway so we got right on there after him,” Womack said. The sweet-throated Curtis was the group’s lead singer, but Bobby had some gravel in his baritone and the charisma to exhort crowds like a teenage preacher. They toured with the Staple Singers — and were still young enough that their parents let the Womack brothers sleep in the same bed as the Staple sisters.

In 1961, the Womack Brothers followed Sam Cooke’s lead and made the transition from gospel music to secular soul music. They renamed themselves the Valentinos and signed to Cooke’s SAR label. They had a 1962 R&B hit with a rewrite of a gospel song they had previously recorded: “Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray” became “Lookin’ for a Love.” (A decade later, the J. Geils Band’s cover of “Lookin’ for a Love” would become their first top-40 single.) Two years later, Bobby and his sister-in-law Shirley Womack wrote “It’s All Over Now,” a defiant breakup song with a loose blues-country feel and a hot bass line.

“It’s All Over Now” was rising up the charts in 1964 when it got knocked out by a cover by a white band from England: the Rolling Stones. Womack was irate. He told Rolling Stone two decades later that his initial reaction was, “Tell them to get their own fucking song!” But he relented when the royalty checks started rolling in. “And the checks kept coming,” he remembered.

Womack said, “I came up in an era when you had to perform with people like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson and Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and James Brown — all on one bill. Whoever had the hottest record had to close the show, and it wasn’t easy getting your butt kicked every night.”

In December 1964, Sam Cooke was fatally shot at the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles motel by the motel manager, Bertha Franklin. The circumstances were murky and controversial, but the shooting was ruled justifiable homicide. SAR Records shut down and the Valentinos broke up. Within days, Bobby Womack began a relationship with Cooke’s widow, Barbara Campbell (who was 10 years his senior); they got married just three months after Cooke’s funeral. Womack, who said he was trying to step up to take care of “Mrs. Cooke” and her children, found himself branded an opportunist and ostracized in the soul-music world.

Unable to get a record deal after a couple of solo singles flopped and Atlantic R&B honcho Jerry Wexler declared that he didn’t like his voice, Womack relocated to Memphis circa 1965 and worked at American Studios, where he played guitar on a host of classic recordings, including Aretha Franklin’s Lady Soul, the Box Tops’ “The Letter,” and Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis. He also spent a couple of years playing in Ray Charles’ band and forged an alliance with Wilson Pickett, who recorded multiple songs by Womack, including hits such as “I’m in Love,” “A Man and a Half,” and “I’m a Midnight Mover.” Having funneled so many compositions to Pickett, when Womack signed a record deal and released Fly Me to the Moon in 1968, he found himself covering other people’s songs, including a sultry version of the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’.”

In 1970, Bobby’s marriage to Barbara ended abruptly when she found him in bed with her teenage daughter (his stepdaughter) Linda. As he told it, “I’m lying there kissing Linda and the light comes on — ‘You dirty fucking bastard. What are you doing with my daughter?’ It was Linda.” She shot him with a .32, grazing his temple; he ran out of the house and they soon got divorced. Linda later married Bobby’s younger brother Cecil; they formed the successful R&B duo Womack & Womack. “That was all really fucked up,” Bobby said.

Back in Los Angeles, Womack became part of the Laurel Canyon scene, hanging out with Keith Richards, Arthur Lee and Frank Zappa, and arguing onstage with John Lennon at a Donny Hathaway gig over which of them would get to play guitar. “I never will forget when Woody [Ron Wood] brought Keith Moon up to my place,” Womack told writer Harvey Kubernik. “Moon jumps on top of my couch and starts running all over it and the counter. He fell on the floor and started pouring water on himself. He was just crazy. But when I saw him play, I knew that was a place where he could be himself.”

Janis Joplin called Womack to the studio to work on her last album, Pearl, and recorded his song “Trust Me.” They became close; his car apparently inspired Joplin to write “Mercedes Benz.” Womack was with Joplin on the last night of her life; he says that she declined his offer of cocaine and told him to leave when her heroin dealer showed up.

Womack’s drug consumption in this period reached epic proportions, he told Rolling Stone in 1984. “I was really off into the drugs. Blowing as much coke as I could blow. And drinking. And smoking weed and taking pills. Doing that all day, staying up seven, eight days. Me and Sly [Stone] were running partners. He didn’t think about making music; he had a genuine partner. He said, ‘I don’t feel like I’m goofing off, because Bobby Womack’s doing it.'” Before everything went off the rails, they worked together on Sly and the Family Stone’s dark classic There’s a Riot Goin’ On; Womack helped Stone put it together and played guitar on much of the album.

Meanwhile, Womack made a string of classic R&B albums, including Communication, Understanding and the gorgeous 1972 blaxploitation movie soundtrack Across 110th Street. (The title track was just as evocative in 1997 when Quentin Tarantino recycled it in Jackie Brown.) He was a mainstay on the R&B charts, with semi-regular crossovers to the pop world. His hit singles in this era were generally slow, groovy, and regularly featured Womack talking: “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha” (“Everybody wants love, but everybody’s afraid of love,” he testified), “Woman’s Gotta Have It” (“Sometimes we have a tendency to forget what a woman needs,” he warned), and “Harry Hippie” (“Everybody claims that they want the best things out of life,” he declared). That song was a tribute to Bobby’s free-spirited younger brother Harry; tragically, its success became ashen in 1974 when Harry was fatally stabbed by his girlfriend.

Womack’s supple music in this era was sympathetic to women and lovelorn. He said, “Sly Stone once told me, ‘Bobby, you fall in and out of love faster than anyone I know.’ I live for love. I’ve always been tortured by love. I don’t mind the pain. I want to be the king of pain.

In 1976, Womack married Regina Banks; after they split up, she still worked as his manager (and, he said, they remarried in 2013). His career stalled as funk turned into disco; it didn’t help when he made a country album, BW Goes C&W. But he had a revival in the early Eighties with the single “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” and the acclaimed albums The Poet and The Poet II (which featured multiple duets with Patti LaBelle). At the end of the ’80s, he went into rehab for his cocaine addiction; his albums became more scattershot, and his career became notable for unusual collaborations (with the likes of Todd Rundgren, Van Morrison, and the Wu-Tang Clan). He also sang on the Rolling Stones’ album Dirty Work, with his vocals particularly prominent on the single “Harlem Shuffle.”

In 2009, Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his old friend and collaborator Ron Wood, who described him as “a great inspiration to my band and all of the musicians that I know.” In his acceptance speech, Womack remembered playing guitar for Sam Cooke, cited Cooke’s civil rights anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and astonished by how society had changed, addressed his dead friend: “Sam, we have our first black president.”

In recent years, Womack suffered from multiple health problems, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. “I gotta get back on the road — I’m broke,” he told Rolling Stone from his hospital bed. The collaboration that revived his career one last time was working with Gorillaz — appearing on the 2010 song “Stylo” led to an album produced by Damon Albarn (Gorillaz and Blur singer) and Richard Russell (head of XL Recordings), The Bravest Man in the Universe. Womack proved to be in remarkably strong voice and the match of his soulful singing with skittering electronic rhythms and cut-up sounds was deeply satisfying; Rolling Stone named it the 36th-best album of the year. Another album, The Best Is Yet to Come, was scheduled for this year, and reportedly includes collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Snoop Dogg, Eric Clapton and Teena Marie.

Womack is survived by Regina Banks and four children, Gina, Bobby Truth, Cory and Jordan; he also had the tragedy of a stillborn child in the Sixties, an infant son, Truth, who died at four months of age in 1978, and a son, Vincent, who committed suicide in 1986, at age 21. He died just two weeks after playing the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee.

“I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of Bobby Womack,” said soul singer Candi Staton. “We practically grew up together and traveled together with our gospel groups as young children. He had a style that nobody else could ever capture.”

“He was a true pioneer of soul and R&B, whose voice and songwriting touched millions,” the Rolling Stones said in a statement posted to their website. “On stage, his presence was formidable. His talents put him up there with the greats. We will remember him, first and foremost, as a friend.”