Far right rising

The success of the Svoboda party in Ukraine’s national elections in October has sparked concern.

By ERIC J. LYMAN, KIEV
November 14, 2012 12:42
1 minute read.
Viktor Yanukovych

Viktor Yanukovych. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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The roots of Svoboda, Ukraine’s controversial far-right political movement, go back to a meeting of a handful of nationalist activists in the medieval city of Lviv in 1991, barely a month after Ukraine’s parliament adopted its Declaration of Independence from the Soviet Union.

For most of the group’s existence, there had been little need to pay it more attention than it got on that fall afternoon 21 years ago. The movement had had occasional local successes in the Galicia region straddling Ukraine’s border with Poland, but in parliamentary and presidential votes, it always finished with less than one percent of the national vote.

All that changed this year, as the group adeptly tapped into what Ukrainian political observers said was an overall dissatisfaction with mainstream political parties; a distrust over the growing influence of the country’s large ethnic Russian minority; and the overall European economic malaise that is fueling discontent across the continent.

Heading into the October 28 vote, experts began predicting that the party could reach the key five-percent threshold that would guarantee parliamentary representation.

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