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Putin responds to claims about world hunger

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Sunday, June 26, 2022
  • 119 Impressed

Putin responds to claims about world hunger

 

 

Dhaka June 26 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on June 26 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

Putin responds to claims about world hunger

The Russian president says Moscow is not impeding Ukraine’s grain exports after Berlin accused it of weaponizing hunger

Western nations are deliberately stirring up tensions regarding Ukrainian grain exports, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday during a BRICS+ video conference. He was responding to comments by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who has accused Moscow of holding the whole world “hostage” by blocking Ukrainian grain shipments.

Putin said Russia is not impeding exports, and criticized the West for its “cynical attitude” towards the food supply of the developing nations, which have been worst affected by soaring prices. He said rising inflation in the West was “a result of their own irresponsible macroeconomic policies.”

Moscow is ready to provide free passage to international waters for ships carrying grain, Putin said, adding that Russia had reached an “understanding” on that issue with the UN Secretariat.

The Russian president suggested that the Ukrainian military should demine the country’s ports to further facilitate exports, however, and said “a constructive approach on Kiev’s part” is the only thing that is lacking.

According to the president, Russia itself may be able to export between 37 and 50 tons of grain this year.

Earlier on Friday, Baerbock blamed Moscow for the looming food crisis at a conference in Berlin. Russia is “deliberately” using global hunger as “a weapon,” the minister said, claiming that Moscow had taken “the whole world hostage.”

The German minister also spoke about a potentially “life-threatening wave” of hunger that the world is facing, since around 345 million people are currently threatened by food shortages. The crisis has been a result of a number of factors like droughts and various regional conflicts, as well as the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Baerbock admitted. However, she claimed it was Russia that “made a tsunami out of this wave.”

Her words have sparked an angry reaction from Moscow. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said on Telegram that “using hunger as a weapon” is “Germany’s historical tradition,” apparently referring to crimes committed by the Nazis. Former Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, also pointed to the blockade of the city of Leningrad (St. Petersburg) by the Nazis during World War II, which lasted for 900 days, causing massive hunger in the city, and claiming the lives of almost 700,000 people.

Zakharova also pointed to the fact that Germany had continued to actively import food after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, despite concerns about its potential consequences for global food security. March alone saw Germany import food worth €3.4 billion ($3.59 billion), she said, citing data provided by the Trading Economics website.

The EU has repeatedly expressed concerns over the prospect of a food crisis that could break out if Ukrainian grain does not reach its traditional importers. Ukraine, a major grain producer, has been unable to export its grain by sea due to the ongoing conflict in the country, with an estimated 22 million to 25 million tons of grain currently stuck in the country’s ports.

The Western nations have blamed Russia for blocking the ports. Moscow has repeatedly stated it would guarantee safe passage for grain shipments if Kiev clears its ports of mines. It also suggested exporting the grain through the Russian-controlled ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol.

Meanwhile, Germany has suggested setting up a test corridor for exporting Ukrainian grain by rail through Poland. “Germany plans to facilitate this, in particular with the help of German railways,” Berlin’s ambassador to Ukraine, Anka Feldhusen, said on Monday.

 

Russia and Belarus discuss joint defense plans

Moscow and Minsk must ‘fortify’ their Union State borders, Russia’s defense minister warns

Moscow and Minsk need to take “urgent measures” to bolster their military capabilities in the face of an “undeclared war” by the West, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu warned on Thursday, after meeting with his counterpart from Belarus, Viktor Khrenin.

“Belarus is our most important strategic partner, closest friend and ally,” Shoigu said after the meeting in Moscow, adding that the bilateral cooperation between two members of the Union State is currently developing amid “an undeclared war against our countries” by the West.

“Circumstances dictate the necessity of urgent measures to fortify the defense capabilities of the Union State,” Shoigu added, including the reinforcement of an integrated air defense system. Russia is “ready to provide any support” Belarus might need, he added.

Shoigu also commended the determination of Belarus to “resist the confrontational course of the United States and its allies” and invited Khrenin and a delegation from Minsk to the upcoming Moscow Security Conference and the International Army Games. Russia will share its “best practices” and other discoveries with its allies there, the defense minister said.

Belarus is not officially involved in the current conflict in Ukraine, but the US and its allies have imposed related embargoes on Minsk nonetheless.

Russia and Belarus signed the Union State treaty in 1999, envisioning the establishment of a joint cabinet, parliament, courts and other institutions. While integration has not progressed to that extent, Moscow and Minsk announced further plans to strengthen the union last year.

 

Russia to keep national debt low — media

Russia’s state debt will not exceed 16% of GDP in 2022-24, according to a Finance Ministry document seen by TASS.

This year, it is expected to stay at the same level, as in the previous year. In 2023, the share of the debt will slightly decrease to 15.9%, and in 2024, it will rise again to 16%. The document said that by the end of 2025, the share of government debt could rise to 16.7%.

The federal budget deficit is projected to total 1.665 trillion rubles ($30 billion), or 1.2% of GDP this year, dropping to 1.592 trillion rubles (around $28 billion) in 2023. It will further narrow to 1.413 trillion rubles ($26 billion) by the end of 2024, and to 1.358 trillion rubles (over $24 billion) in 2025.

 

US tech giant pledges to leave Russia

Microsoft’s president says the company plans to completely wind down operations in the country due to sanctions

Microsoft President Brad Smith has said the company will continue to scale back business in Russia until there is nothing left.

The US technology corporation will provide the necessary support for its Russian workforce in the interim, Smith said in an online interview with the Washington Post.

Microsoft announced plans to suspend all new sales and services in Russia in March. The software giant cited Ukraine-related sanctions imposed on Moscow as the reason for the move.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that the company had made substantial cuts to its business in Russia since the decision to exit was announced. Microsoft has reportedly pledged to fulfil all existing contractual obligations with Russian employees. The step affects more than 400 workers.

Microsoft is an American multinational that produces computer software and consumer electronics, and provides related services. Some of its best-known products are the Microsoft Windows operating system, Microsoft Office, and Xbox.

The corporation has joined a string of major Western tech firms, including Apple, IBM, SAP, Cisco and Dell, that opted either to reduce their exposure to Russia or pull out of the market following the events in Ukraine.

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

Moscow claims it sees ‘true’ plans behind grain coalition

The real purpose of such a mission would be to meddle in the Black Sea region, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov says

The proposal to put together an international naval coalition to escort ships with Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea is, in reality, one that pursues a completely different goal, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has claimed.

“The attempts to organize some kind of international coalition for the implementation of these procedures are aimed solely at interfering in the Black Sea region under the auspices of the UN. And we see this quite clearly,” Lavrov pointed out, following talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Tehran on Thursday.

The idea of sending into the Black Sea the warships of the countries allegedly affected by grain shortages caused by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, was floated by Lithuanian FM Gabrielius Landsbergis during his trip to London in late May. According to the media, the British authorities had voiced support, in principle, for such a mission.

“There’s no problem with exporting grain without putting together any such schemes,” the Russian foreign minister assured his audience.

He reiterated that Moscow guarantees the security of vessels with grain in international waters all the way to the Bosphorus strait, a key access channel controlled by Ankara. “We have understanding on this issue with Turkey,” Lavrov said.

Ukraine is a major exporter of grain but its ships have been unable to put to sea since the launch of the Russian military operation in the country in late February. Kiev and the West are blaming Moscow for blocking their passage, while Russia insists that logistical problems have been created by naval mines placed by Ukraine itself.

“The efforts that are now being undertaken by both Turkey and the UN Secretary General [Antonio Guterres] would’ve been a success a long time ago if Ukraine and its Western masters had solved the problem of demining ports in the Black Sea,” Russia’s top diplomat pointed out.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Thursday also addressed the issue of helping Ukrainian grain leave the ports, saying that it would require “an international effort.”

The UK Foreign Secretary, who was speaking after talks with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, has claimed that a failure to swiftly resolve the grain-transport deadlock “will cause great famine.”

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin is weaponizing hunger, he’s using food security as a callous tool of war. He’s blocked Ukrainian ports, and is stopping 20 million tonnes of grain being exported across the globe, holding the world to ransom,” Truss said.

Lavrov had previously blamed the West for exaggerating the issues surrounding Ukrainian grain, pointing out that the blocked supplies accounted for “less than 1% of the global production of wheat and other cereals.”

“Therefore, the current situation with Ukrainian grain has nothing to do with the food crisis,” he said, speaking a few weeks ago.

 

US censorship of Russian media has failed – Microsoft

RT and Sputnik still reach American audiences despite Big Tech suppression on behalf of Ukraine

Silicon Valley’s efforts to suppress what it terms “Russian propaganda” – meaning outlets like RT and Sputnik – on behalf of Ukraine may have reduced their reach, but they are still accessed by more Americans than before the outbreak of fighting between Moscow and Kiev.

That’s according to Microsoft, in a report on the ongoing internet-war on behalf of the Ukrainians.

Kiev has relied on a “coalition of countries, companies, and NGOs” for cyber defense, moving its digital infrastructure to the public cloud hosted in the West, according to the report titled “Defending Ukraine: Early Lessons from the Cyber War,” published on Wednesday and signed by Brad Smith, president and vice chair of Microsoft.

The 30-page pamphlet seeks to label any news reports coming out of Russia as Kremlin propaganda and “global cyber influence operations” to support the war effort in Ukraine. They “combine tactics developed by the KGB over several decades with new digital technologies and the internet” to “take advantage of the longstanding openness of democratic societies and the public polarization that is characteristic of current times,” according to Smith.

Microsoft claims that “Russian cyber influence operations” led to an 82% increase in the spread of propaganda in the US and 216% in Ukraine, and that “the tech sector’s efforts in early March to curtail the amplification of narratives from RT and Sputnik likely helped reduce the spread of Russian propaganda back to pre-February levels.”

According to Microsoft’s estimates, RT and Sputnik still get anywhere from 60-80 million average monthly page views in the US, making alleged Russian influence “on par with a major publication like the Wall Street Journal.”

The company co-founded by Bill Gates bases these estimates and assessments on the Russian Propaganda Index (RPI), a tool developed by its “AI For Good Lab.” The lab has also used “a wide variety of internet sources and other identifying characteristics” to determine and even predict which sites might be considered Russian propaganda online, relying in part on outfits like NewsGuard and the Global Disinformation Index (GDI).

The US has a constitutional ban on overt censorship, but the Silicon Valley-based YouTube has blocked access to “Russian state media” channels across the globe since the conflict in Ukraine broke out.

Having blocked RT and Sputnik in the European Union in March at the request of EU governments, YouTube announced days later that it was expanding this censorship globally, and including all channels “associated with Russian state-funded media.”

The EU’s Council of Ministers banned RT and Sputnik on March 2, citing the conflict in Ukraine, and said it would remain in effect until Russia stops conducting what it called, “disinformation and information manipulation actions against the EU and its member states.” Australia, Canada and the UK have followed suit.

 

BRICS nations urge nuclear disarmament

The member states of BRICS have called for “a world free of nuclear weapons” in a joint declaration adopted on Thursday.

“We reaffirm our commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons and stress our strong commitment to nuclear disarmament and our support to the work on this subject during the session of 2022 of the Conference on Disarmament,” the declaration reads.

The group also lauded a joint statement by the permanent members of the UN Security Council (P5) – China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US – affirming that a “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” The major nuclear powers managed to show a rare display of unity earlier this year.

Apart from that, the BRICS resolution rallied support towards “negotiations in bilateral and multilateral formats to resolve all issues pertaining to the Korean Peninsula, including its complete denuclearization.” The group also urged to “resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through peaceful and diplomatic means.”

The BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – has convened for its 14th summit, hosted by China, which currently holds the rotating presidency within the group. The BRICS leaders held a meeting on Thursday via a video link.

 

South American nation wants to join BRICS

President Fernandez says Argentina wants to be a full member of the emerging economies’ alliance

Argentina wants the BRICS emerging economies to admit it as a full member, President Alberto Fernandez said on Friday at the group’s 14th summit.

“Argentina wants to join this space and offer its contributions as a member of it,” Fernandez said via video link.

The BRICS nations, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, account for over 40 percent of the global population and nearly a quarter of the world’s gross domestic product.

The 14th BRICS summit was hosted by China, which currently holds the rotating presidency.

The Argentinian head of state said the group “constitutes a platform with enormous capacities to discuss and implement an agenda for the future that will lead to a better and fairer time.”

Fernandez added that “the institutional and economic weight of the BRICS can become a factor of financial stability” and the expansion of the bloc’s “New Development Bank can be a useful instrument to strengthen national infrastructures.”

“It is time to explore cooperation mechanisms, such as the currency swap that Argentina signed with China,” he said, calling for the creation of an International Risk Rating Agency that could “put in public hands what today is in the hands of private interests.”

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the BRICS countries are working on setting up a new global reserve currency, based on a currency basket of the five nations. Putin also said banks from BRICS economies can freely connect to the System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS), Russia’s alternative to SWIFT.

 

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

Death row UK fighter in Donbass warns family ‘time running out’

Aiden Aslin has told his relatives that British officials have failed to make contact

British national Aiden Aslin, who was captured in the midst of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, has told his family that his death sentence will likely be carried out.

Earlier this month, the court in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) sentenced Aslin, his compatriot Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim to death. The three men, who fought on the Ukrainian side, were found guilty of mercenarism, terrorist offenses and attempting to overthrow the government of the republic.

Aslin’s family told the BBC on Wednesday that he called them on the phone and said he had been warned by DPR representatives that his “time is running out.”

“There are no words; just no words. It’s got to be everyone’s worst nightmare to have a member of your family threatened in this way,” the fighter’s grandmother, Pamela Hall, said.

She told the outlet Aslin was “extremely upset” while talking to his mother. “The bottom line is Aiden has said the DPR has told him nobody from the UK has made contact, and that he will be executed,” she said.

“I have to believe what Aiden has said to us, that if the DPR don’t get some response then they will execute him. Obviously, I hope that isn’t true,” Hall added.

She also said she believed “contact should be made between the UK and Russia” regarding her grandson’s fate.

British authorities approached the Kremlin about Aslin and Pinner earlier this week. But, according to Russian ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin, the message from London was “written in extremely arrogant, instructive terms. It doesn’t make us want to cooperate on these issues.”

Moscow insists London should talk directly to the Donetsk People’s Republic about its citizens, but the UK has been reluctant to do so as it doesn’t recognize the DPR’s independence.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who says that Aslin and Pinner should be treated as POWs, not mercenaries, has called their trial in Donetsk a “sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy.”

The UK fighters’ hopes to be released as part of a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine have been shattered by the DPR’s head, Denis Pushilin. The official said last week that he saw no grounds to pardon the foreigners, who “came to Ukraine to kill civilians for money.”

In his interview with RT earlier this month, Aslin revealed that he felt abandoned by both London and Kiev, saying that all of his attempts to contact the Ukrainian authorities from captivity have been in vain.

The 28-year-old claimed that he regretted becoming “a political pawn in the military system.” He also said that the Kiev government had the chance to end the conflict with Russia, “but they chose not to, mainly because I think money was involved.”

The DPR declared independence from Ukraine, together with the neighboring Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), back in 2014. Russia recognized the two republics as independent states before the launch of its military operation in Ukraine in late February.

According to the DPR’s laws, Aslin, Pinner, and Brahim can still appeal their death sentence or plead for clemency. But if they fail, the trio will face execution by a firing squad.

Brahim’s lawyer said on Wednesday that they were planning to file such an appeal next week.

Dozens of foreign fighters killed in Donbass strike – Russia

Russian aircraft have struck a zinc factory in Donbass, killing dozens of Polish fighters, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

“Up to 80 Polish mercenaries” were killed, and 20 armored vehicles and eight Grad multiple rocket launchers were destroyed in the town of Konstantinovka, Defense Ministry spokesman, Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, said during his daily briefing.

He added that artillery pieces, personnel and drones had been targeted in other areas. Konashenkov said a Tochka-U ballistic missile has been intercepted mid-air near the town of Molodyozhnoye in southern Ukraine.

Numerous fighters from EU member states and countries such as the US and Canada have been fighting for Ukraine.

Earlier this month, a court in the Donetsk People’s Republic handed death sentences to two British nationals and one Moroccan, who were serving with the Ukrainian forces. The men have not yet been executed.

Russia attacked its neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

 

INSIGHTS

Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov battalion has built a ‘state within a state,’ and it despises both Russia and the liberal West

The Ukrainian regiment adheres to its own brand of ‘National Idea,’ loosely modelled on Mussolini’s Italy

Despite the surrender of the Azov regiment at the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during the fighting in Mariupol, last month, the legend of this unit has turned out to be enduring. The Ukrainian command has already announced that new Azov special operations forces will be created in Kharkov and Kiev.

At the same time, a partial rebranding has been carried out.  A medieval heraldic symbol – a trident (the coat of arms of Ukraine) consisting of three swords – is now depicted on the chevron of the ‘new’ Azov in place of the stylized Wolfsangel (‘wolf’s hook’) that has attracted so much criticism from not only Russia, but also the West and fellow Ukrainians. This condemnation is for good reason, as the symbol was used on the lapels of the SS’s Das Reich and Landstorm Nederland divisions, as well the logo of the Dutch Nazi Party.

The Azovites have rejected all such accusations, claiming their regimental symbol was not a Wolfsangel, but rather the first letters of the phrase ‘National Idea’, allegedly written in the old Ukrainian alphabet, which was a mix of Cyrillic and Latin letters. And this is not Azov’s first rebranding – at one time, the ‘wolf’s hook’ on their chevrons replaced the occult ‘black sun’ symbol, which was used in SS rituals and decorated the floor of the order’s castle in Wewelsburg. However, back then, the Azovites didn’t bother trying to explain how the ‘black sun’  had notional Ukrainian roots.

The rejection of the Wolfsangel is clearly intended to make it possible to say, “Yes, there used to be ultra-right elements in Azov, but that is all in the past now. The regiment is moving forward with new symbols and new ideas.”

However, this is not the case. On the contrary, the rebranding shows Azov has only strengthened its ideology, becoming more mature and discarding youthful outrage along with its Nazi symbolism, which alludes to an ideology that the regiment, as an organization, never really shared. To understand this, it is enough to look at Azov not only as a military movement, but also a political project.

Azov was founded by radicals crossing over from Patriot of Ukraine. This organization was based in Kharkov, a city in the northeast of the country, which has always had a predominantly Russian-speaking population. Therefore, Azov’s brand of nationalism was different. Unlike Ukrainian nationalists, they did not focus on issues pertaining to Ukraine’s language, ethnicity, or religion. They perceived the nation as a statist project in the spirit of Italian fascism. Actually, Patriot of Ukraine’s main ideologist, the 20th-century Ukrainian publicist Dmitry Dontsov (whose ideas were also a major influence on the Nazi collaborators of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists), called his ideology of ‘integral nationalism’ the Ukrainian version of nationalism developed in the 1920s, while repeatedly referring to the works of Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile, the main authors of fascism.

At the same time, Dontsov equated the concepts of nation and race. The latter he divided into master and slave races. According to Dontsov, Ukrainians are a race of masters, while Russians are a race of slaves seeking to enslave Ukrainians. The clash between Ukrainians and Russians is of an absolute, existential nature and can only end with the destruction of one of the parties, Dontsov believed. Romanticism plays a key role in this struggle, which he defines as the will to sacrifice, the coherence of multiple individuals’ will to attain power, and directing all efforts towards one goal – the building of a Ukrainian nation. It is this romanticism that ensures that the individual belongs to the collective whole and directs the nation on the path of expansion.

Dontsov’s romanticism is based on the myth of the ‘final battle’ from German-Scandinavian paganism. In this scenario, the destruction of the world and its subsequent rebirth will come. The worship of the idea espoused in this myth must take the form of religious fanaticism. This is the only way an idea can penetrate into the inner sanctum of a person’s character and bring about what Dontsov calls a radical revolution in the human psyche.

Aggression towards bearers of other views should be engendered in adherents to this idea, allowing them to reject universal morality and ideas about good and evil. The new morality should be anti-humanist, based only on the will to take power. Personal interests must submit to the common good, anything that makes the nation stronger should be considered ethical, and everything that prevents this should be declared immoral.

Dontsov’s concept is completely elitist. To him, the people are just an inert mass with no independent will. The masses are deprived of the ability to develop their own ideas, they can only passively absorb them. The main role is reserved for the active minority, that is, a group capable of formulating an idea for the unconscious masses that is easy to understand and motivates them to engage in the struggle. The active minority should always be at the head of the nation, according to Dontsov.

What the Azovites took from the German Nazis was their strategy of attaining power. They tried to create a shadow ‘state within a state’ that was supposed to take control of all government institutions at a time of acute political crisis. A huge network of civil organizations has grown up around the Azov regiment over the eight years of its existence. These include book publishers, educational projects, scouting clubs, gyms, and other associations. It even has its own political party, the National Corps, with a paramilitary wing dubbed the National Militia. The regiment’s veterans play a key role here.

With the help of these organizations, recruits have been enlisted for both the regiment itself and Azov’s civil movement. Azov veterans have also actively joined Ukraine’s Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies, including its police, Army, and Security Service, where they continued to spread Azov’s ideology of integral nationalism.

A serious ritual component permeates all aspects of life within the Azov regiment itself and its civil movement. The three swords now depicted on the chevrons of the ‘new’ Azov are actually a reflection of a quite tangible symbol. A ceremonial complex with three wooden swords was built at Azov’s main base in the city of Urzuf near Mariupol, where almost all of the regiment’s rituals were carried out. The most significant of these is the commemoration of fallen comrades. During the ritual, the Azovites stand holding wooden shields and torches. The shields bear the regiment’s main symbols – the ‘black sun’ and Wolfsangel, as well as the names of fallen members. The master of the ceremony calls out each of their names, after which a soldier with the corresponding shield lights a memorial light and says “We remember!” to which the others answer, “We will take revenge!” This ritual is not an original invention. The Azovites borrowed it from the Italian fascists of the 1920s, who called it Presente! This and other rituals were developed by a special ideological unit within Azov, the ‘Standard-Bearer’ service.

In fact, the choice of the three swords as a new symbol is telling. A new generation is coming into Azov’s top positions. These are no longer the rowdy football fans who once created the battalion and for whom sporting SS symbols and spouting Nazi ideology was a form of protest. Now, the show is being run by people who were brought up within the Azov system with Azov’s ideology of integral nationalism. Ties with the European ultra-right, the so-called ‘white nationalist’ movement, are no longer as important to them. The center of their worldview is Ukrainian statehood and the Ukrainian nation, doomed to fight against both Russia and the liberal values of the West. Of course, for the Azovites, the best part of the Ukrainian nation is themselves.

The surrender of the main part of the regiment at Azovstal has only crystallized the Azov ideology. For the Azovites, the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict has become the very eschatological ‘final battle’ depicted in Wagner’s opera. It is to be waged against the Russians and the liberal West, which does not want to provide enough military assistance or enter into an open clash with Moscow. If necessary, it will even be waged against its own government, which promised to evacuate the defenders of Azovstal but did not keep its word. The last battle must be fought to the end, and the Azovites could not care less how many Ukrainian citizens will burn in its fire in the name of imposing their ‘National Idea.’

By Dmitry Plotnikov, a political journalist exploring the history and current events of ex-Soviet states

 

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