(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
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
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