Russian propaganda speaking points continue to be mouthed by western press which ought to know better but are influenced by the “America is the source of ALL evil on the planet” folks. Yanukovych was legally elected in a clean election. This did not give him Carte Blanche to commit crimes of the magnitude he did. Impeaching him was impossible. Voting him out of office would have been impossible as the laws passed in January which turned Ukraine into Putinesque police state would have been passed prior to the election anyhow, allowing him to “win” and putting the full weight of the “law” on anyone who so much as whimpered.
The negotiated compromise that Putin and Lavrov claim met all the demands of the protesters and failure to observe “proved that the West doesn’t keep agreements” did not meet with approval from Euromaidan, regardless of who signed it. It moved the presidential election a couple of months forward but left Yanukovych in office. Ukraine was to have returned to the 2004 Constitution from (illegally) reverting to the 1996 Constitution but Yanukovych did not sign that document. Everyone knew that as long as he was in power, no one was safe. He had to go…and he went in the middle of the night, after trying to dispose of evidence and failing to dispose of all of it.
Then there is the whole business of “neo-Nazi” extremists. Western media are enjoying as much righteous indignity as the church ladies committee on hearing the town had just licenced a brothel. The Russians just love the fact that several far right parties from Western Ukraine were involved in the revolution (it was NOT a coup) as it plays so well into old Soviet propaganda that all Russians are familiar with and they can use “The Nazi’s are coming to get you” to frighten old women and small children.
Some understanding of history is necessary to appreciate this. Western Ukraine, after WWI, became part of Poland BY FORCE. The Polish Ukrainian war of 1918-1919 between Poland and the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (declared in 1918) resulted in a Polish win. This was followed by the Polish –Soviet war of 1920. Combined Polish and Ukrainian army pushed the Bolsheviks back to Kyiv, intent on creating an independent Ukraine under Polish suzerainty. The Soviets regrouped and pushed the Poles back almost to Warsaw and besieged L’viv. The Poles were able to halt the Bolshevik advance and push them out of western Ukraine when the Bolsheviks sued for peace and Poland decided they had enough.
This series of events did nothing to endear Poles to Ukrainians or Ukrainians and Poles to the Soviet Union. The Polish government instituted a number of severe measure to repress Ukrainian Nationalism and of course, the Holodomor was intended to destroy any vestiges of Ukrainian Nationalism in Soviet Ukraine
I have mentioned Stepan Bandera before but now a bit more detail. He was a Ukrainian Nationalist from Western Ukraine, leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), organizing in Western and Eastern Ukraine in the early 30’s. Involved in an assassination plot against the Polish Minister of Internal Affairs, he was caught and jailed for life by the Poles in 1934. He was released (by whom is unknown) when the Soviets invaded and occupied eastern Poland, including western Ukraine in September 1939. He went to Krakow, which was under the Nazis, seeking support from the German military to throw out the Soviets from Ukraine.
As soon as the Germans pushed the Soviets out of Ukraine in 1941, he declared an independent Ukraine. This did not sit well with the Nazis who promptly threw him in jail. While he was in jail, his organization set out to ethnically cleanse western Ukraine of Poles, murdering some 50 to 150,000, at the same time defending Ukrainians in Poland from the same fate.
They were also involved in collaboration with the Nazis in rounding up Jews, claiming that they were the “supporters of the true enemy, Soviet Moscow”. But the OUN also included Jews and issued fake passports to Jews. They harmed or helped Jews depending on where they stood with Germany at the time.
The UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) was the military wing of the OUN. Its battle flag was red and black. The UPA began as a resistance group and developed into a guerrilla army. It fought against the Poles and the Soviets as their main enemies, then against the Nazis from 1943 to 1944, then with the Nazis against the Soviet army, continuing to fight after the Germans were driven out.
As with any partisan warfare, atrocities were committed by both sides against civilians. Between 1944 and 1952 Soviets arrested and tortured possibly up to 600,000 people in western Ukraine, executing 1/3 of them and exiling or imprisoning the rest. The UPA returned in kind. The Soviets finally won by infiltrating the groups of fighters with NKVD informers and by the early 1950s the UPA was finished.
The Soviet union propaganda machine went into overdrive to vilify all Ukrainian Nationalists as Nazis who committed horrible atrocities to Soviet citizens etc. Bandera was their poster boy villain, reviled only next to Hitler I think. Western Ukraine (and many Ukrainians) regard him as a hero. Russia and most Russians in Ukraine, regard him, shall we say, very negatively. Yushchenko declared him a Hero of Ukraine and Russia went ballistic. Yanukovych undeclared him.
To Russians and many eastern Ukrainians of Russian nationality, western Ukrainians are ALL neo-Nazis and they are only too happy to believe anything that they are told about them. The fact that several Nationalist political parties are centered there, some of them quite extreme though with little popular support, makes it all that much easier to believe the Nazis have come again.