Everyday fascism: a stroll through Lvov


November 20, 2015 –

Vsevolod Nepogodin, RusVesna – 

Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski

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“Ordinary fascism: Western Ukraine”

The idea to inspect Lvov for nationalist sentiments is long overdue, and I decided to go around on the way to dropping by for the home football match of “Karpat.”

A ten minute walk from the train station and we find ourselves near a monument to Stepan Bandera. At the base are a few bouquets and the the legs are wrapped in the red and black flag of the Ukrainian insurgent army. 

There are white marks from bird droppings visible on the monument. Banderites are too lazy to clean their idol.

The benches near the monument are covered in empty beer bottles and fast food wrappers. At seven in the morning, there are already tourists taking photos near the monument.

The monument to Bandera is located on Stepan Bandera street which lies between the streets “Heroes of UPA” and “Evgeney Konovalets Street.” Looking at the first billboard on Bandera street, I see that this is propaganda material from Irina Farion. 

The sign reads: “ April, 29, 98 years since the day of the beginning of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen’s victorious battles with the Muscovite occupants on mount Makovka.” 

The memorial plaque to Konovalets, the founder of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists has more wreaths and bouquets than the monument to Bandera.

Much is said about the role of Ukrainian media in zombifying the population, but there no one talks about the influence of the Greco-Catholic Church on the masses.

I went to the morning service at the first cathedral and barely survived the first five minutes. The bishop spoke of the eternal enemy who has come to capture the territory of Ukraine, the cowardly president who fled to Russia, and the necessity of taking up arms.

The bishop’s speech resembled a pre-election propaganda speech of people’s deputy candidates, not the monologue of a priest. The cathedral was packed, and Lvov residents, with mouths wide open, listened to the bishop and took everything that he said at face value.

Going for breakfast to a cafe, I was shocked by the selection of songs coming from the speakers. One year ago, the same buildings played European pop, but now one hears hastily recorded songs with one sad message: the valiant time has come, it’s necessary to defend Ukraine, die on the battlefield, die for Ukraine, and become a hero.

Lvov residents are subjected to powerful ideological indoctrination not even counting the press. 

The people of Galicia are a religious folk and the word of a bishop is more important to them words from a TV presenter.

I passed by another catholic cathedral and noticed an approaching hearse. they had brought the body of an officer of the Ukrainian army, killed in Donbass, to a funeral service. Listening in on the assembly of relatives and friends, I heard that he was 40 years old and was killed two days earlier near Debaltsevo.

I carefully look at their faces. Do you think that they are filled with sorrow, hatred, or desire for revenge? Nothing of the sort! On the faces of the relatives of the deceased, there is confusion. They generally don’t seem to understand what’s going on in Ukraine. 

All of their conversations boiled down to an anxiousness to receive due financial aid for the burial from the state. Why their son, father, and husband died doesn’t bother them.

Analytical thinking is irrelevant today in Lvov. 

In the afternoon, on Liberty Prospect, the central street of Lvov, there is a traffic block. Banderites are solemnly marching along the street in full uniform accompanied by cavalry and a brass band. They’re playing Nazi march anthems from the ’30’s. 

If I felt like I had wound up in the movie “Battleship Potemkin” on May 2 in Odessa, then on November 2 in Lvov I somehow wound up in the Bob Fosse’s movie “Cabaret.” Nazis pompously march through the streets, and tourists smile cutely and pretend that nothing is happening.

I go to a book stand. Just reading the titles of the brochures was enough for me. : “Ukrainian Nightingale Battalion Group – Questions and Answers,” “Moskali – not Russians and not Slavs,” and “The Fascism of Yanukovich and Putin.”

At “Ukraine” stadium, before the “Karpat” match, the song with the refrain “Raise the banner from battle to battle, Ukrainian rebel, never retreat!” came from the loudspeakers. Among the supporters, there were boys with hoodies and Nazi runes on their chests, having chosen for themselves the emblem of the punitive battalion Azov. 

The “Karpat” players come to the match in white and green uniforms, but the kids leading the players by the hand onto the field are all in red and back uniforms symbolizing respect for UPA. The red and black flags of UPA appear repeatedly around the perimeter of the stadium. Fans are chanting slowly and reluctantly the standard set of anti-Russian chants. 

With special enthusiasm, “Karpat’s” fans chant “Beat the Moskal! Beat the Moskal! Beat the Moskal! Stack the corpses! With gun in hand, get a new award!” 

Fans also repeatedly screamed “Russian whore!” and “Bandera, Shukhevich – heroes of Ukraine!” It’s funny to watch how 70 year-old grandfathers, who already can’t walk, start to imitate jumping with the scream “He who doesn’t jump is a Moskal!”

The “Karpat” fans look unpresentable, as I remember from the early ’90’s. Practically invisible are people dressed neatly and stylishly, but horrifically dressed people full of bitterness from empty pockets and chronic malnutrition are visible. It is as if the Paris slums from Celine’s novels have filled Lvov.

In all stores, cafe, and shops, there is a box for collecting cash to aid participants of the Anti-Terrorist Operation.

Lvov’s residents don’t seem to get the connection: tossing a hryvnia into a box for war puts your relative, friend, or acquaintance into a coffin. 

References here and there to the “heavenly hundreds” quickly becomes disgusting. All and sundry mentions the “heavenly hundreds.” The “heavenly hundreds” are mentioned on posters for ballet performances and announcements of food-tasting parties. In memory of the “heavenly hundreds,” dozens of novels, short stories, and essays, have already been released. Books on the “heavenly hundred” cram the shelves of second-hand bookshops.

The city abounds with beggars. Surely, someone has already asked for giving alms as if he is the son of a murdered member of the “heavenly hundred,” just as earlier they asked as “sons” of Lieutenant Schmidt. I avoided beggars. 

There was only one pleasant surprise: I heard Russian more than I expected. Restaurant visitors and strolling tourists speak in Russian, and all of their conversations boil down to politics. 

Derogatory images with the face of Vladimir Putin fill the city center in restaurant windows and on art-gallery signs. 

Bars brag of having an alcoholic cocktail “Putin’s blood.” I’m not going to quote all the offenses hurled at the President of the Russian Federation, but I believe that Lvov has no right to call itself the cultural capital of Ukraine or a European city. 

Lvov residents demonstrate the level of culture of those who author the propaganda posters everywhere. This is barbarism from the middle ages and has nothing to do with modern civilization.

Ukrainian media loves to write that “in fact, there are no Banderites.” In fact, everywhere is full of Banderites, and they can be easily spotted by their Trident starter kits. A lot of men walk around Lvov in camouflage uniforms with the stripes of all sort of punitive battalions. Apparently, this is a fashion trend and they want to impress girls…

Lvov has been struck with the plague of Nazism. It is very difficult to stay sane here living in such an environment.

Today, Lvov is a city of fascist madness, where white is black and vice versa. A volunteer rode up to me on roller skates and demanded me to throw a couple bills into a box with the inscription “Ukraine is at war! Help her!”

I didn’t give her anything, but those who sat on nearby benches willingly opened their purses and threw hryvnia into the box. People who want peace would not sponsor war out of their pockets, but, alas, this thought is incomprehensible to Lvov residents today. 

“We will hang you and bury you”

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