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Ukrainian neo-Nazis grateful for Canada's support
A study from George Washington University shows far-right extremists in Ukraine boasting online of support from several NATO countries, including Canada
Members of a Ukrainian far-right group with military ties is boasting online of training it has received from Canadian Forces and other NATO militaries, David Pugliese reports at the Ottawa Citizen.
The piece is based on a study from the Institute for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., which tracked the social media behaviour of members of the far-right group Centura, revealing members giving Nazi salutes, praising members of SS units and spouting white nationalist rhetoric.
In posts, Centuria members said they’ve not only received Canadian military training, but have travelled to Canada to participate in military exercises, in addition to collaborating with British, American, Polish, German and French forces.
“The Ukrainian military’s failure to check Centuria activities suggests a level of tolerance on its part for the apparent proliferation of far-right ideology and influence within the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the report cautions.
Since 2018, Centura has been active at the Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Army Academy (NNA), Ukraine’s preeminent military academy and a focal point for Western support for Ukrainian forces, the study found.
In 2019, Centura members attended a protest of Kiev Pride organized by far-right forces, issuing a statement expressing support for “right patriots, nationalists, conservatives and Christians currently defending the streets of Kyiv from perverts from the LGBT movement and their left-liberal sympathizers.”
Canadian Forces have provided training to the Ukrainian military since 2015 under Operation UNIFIER.
The official response from the Canadian military to allegations of training neo-Nazis is instructive.
Canadian Forces spokeswoman Lt.-Cmdr. Julie McDonald said it was up to Ukraine to vet its own security forces. But, if Canadian military personnel saw first-hand evidence of extremist views, they could refuse to train those soldiers, she added. The Canadian Forces, however, does not proactively examine the backgrounds of those they train or look for signs of support for far-right causes.
In other words — not our problem.
Centura is affiliated with the Azov movement, which as of 2014 is an official regiment of the Ukraine’s National Guard.
In others news …
Fresh off a series of presentations to Toronto District School Board administrators that sent pro-Israel lobbyists into a tizzy for daring to suggest anti-racism efforts must include Palestinian perspectives, Desmond Cole has written a lengthy piece speaking to Palestinians about the naked discrimination they face in Canadian institutions, including the public school system.
Instances include the suspension of a student for saying “Free Palestine” during morning announcements, the removal of a book entitled Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak at the insistence of pro-Israel groups, and a student being told to take off their traditional Palestinian scarf or they would be kicked out of class.
Cole writes: Supporters of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands have narrowed the conversation so dramatically that there’s no room, particularly in places of learning, to explore Palestinian freedom for its own sake.
Canadian government lawyers said in court they wanted U.S. military whistleblower Chelsea Manning to attend a hearing on whether she can enter Canada in person so they could have the satisfaction of kicking her out of the country.
The Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator rejected the government’s request, calling their reasoning “confounding.”
Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents exposing U.S. human rights abuses in Iraq, but President Obama commuted her sentence in 2017.
Speaking of whistleblowers, in the wake of former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen’s damning testimony at the U.S. Senate, the CBC asks how Canada is going to reign in the tech giant that has had an undeniably toxic effect on public discourse.
The government says it will proceed with legislation to address online hate speech in the coming months, sticking with the pledge it made during the election.
Ramona Pringle, a social media expert at Ryerson University, says this approach doesn’t go nearly far enough, calling on the government to “think much bigger” in terms of regulation — “If we don't see new legislation, the concern is that things get very dark.”
Don’t expect the heritage ministry, where Facebook has attempted to recruit “promising senior analysts” from, to do anything that would jeopardize their relationship.
Edited by Scott Schmidt