Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), the national equivalent of the FBI, arrested popular blogger Anatoly Shariy in Spain last Wednesday on suspicion of “committing treason”. The SBU was forced to release Shariy just a day later because a Spanish judge ordered his release.
Despite his brief detention and release, Shariy has always been forced to surrender his passport and must appear in court twice a month. It is also forbidden to leave the country pending an extradition hearing requested by the Ukrainian government.
In addition to “treason”, the SBU accuses Shariy of carrying out “illegal activities detrimental to the national security of Ukraine in the field of information”. According to the SBU, “there is reason to believe that Shariy acted on behalf of foreign entities”.
Reports indicate that Shariy’s arrest was coordinated between Ukrainian authorities and Spanish police. The involvement of a NATO member’s government suggests that Shariy’s impending extradition hearing may well be a mere formality that will result in his forced return to Ukraine and immediate imprisonment.
The arrest, which did not even take place on Ukrainian territory, marks a significant escalation in the targeting of political opponents by the Ukrainian government.
Since the start of the war, Shariy has faced protests and harassment from far-right thugs outside his home in Spain. Although he has lived abroad since 2012, Shariy’s address and personal details were published on Ukraine’s Myrotvorets (Peacemaker) online database of supposed ‘enemies of the state’, indicating that the campaign against him was carried out by the SBU.
The SBU has well-known ties to the country’s far-right and proudly stands in the tradition of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which collaborated with the Nazis during World War II and was implicated in the massacres of tens of thousands of Jews and Poles.
Just before his arrest, Shariy told Mint Press News that he believed the SBU was seeking to assassinate him after receiving an obviously staged email from a friend that sought to determine Shariy’s daily whereabouts. .
Fascist elements in Ukraine immediately celebrated the news of Shariy’s arrest on social media. Serhii Sternenko, a fascist right-wing leader and prominent social media figure, quickly uploaded a YouTube video gloating over Shariy’s detention abroad. He said, “Shariy has been detained, and now all other participants in the information war will also be detained. As in all of Sternenko’s video blogs, a portrait of Ukrainian nationalist hero and World War II Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera was strategically placed in the background.
Shariy first fled Ukraine for Lithuania in 2012 because his investigations into government corruption during the presidency of pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych led to his prosecution in Ukraine. After the US-backed coup in February 2014 that overthrew the Yanukovych government, he became the target of Ukraine’s far-right. Opposing the civil war in eastern Ukraine, sparked by the right-wing Petro Poroshenko government, Shariy quickly gained popularity among Ukrainians who were skeptical of the war and the supposedly “democratic” government. pro-NATO.
While Shariy himself has displayed a serious degree of political disorientation over the years – including homophobic and chauvinistic remarks – he has nonetheless made a number of significant reports on corruption, promotion anti-Semitism and violent far-right Ukrainian nationalism by the Ukrainian government.
Most notably, Shariy revealed the fact that the killers of the horrific acid attack and murder of anti-corruption activist Kateryna Handziuk in 2018 were members of the Right Sector Battalion and one of the assailants proudly sported neo-nazi tattoos.
All of the attackers received light sentences of only 3 to 6 years for the political assassination. After the start of a full-scale war with Russia in February, Kyiv shamelessly freed Handziuk murder chief Sergey Torbin and allowed him to choose other far-right detainees with military experience like him to join the NATO-induced war against Russia. .
Such revelations have made Shariy both wildly popular on social media and a target of the Poroshenko government which has seen its own political support drop to around 20% due to widespread disillusionment with corruption, poverty and corruption. the endless civil war in the Donbass that had claimed the lives of more than 13,000 Ukrainians at the time.
In June 2019, Shariy announced the creation of his own “libertarian centre-right” political party, which favored a negotiated settlement to end the ongoing civil war between kyiv and pro-Russian separatists in the east. from Ukraine.
The Shariy Party first backed the candidacy of former comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, who ran as a peace candidate in opposition to incumbent warmonger Poroshenko. Shariy recently told MintPress News, “I thought he [Zelensky] was determined to follow through on his election promises. I helped him become president. It’s true that my team and I did everything to get him the job.
However, Zelensky was soon revealed to be an impostor. Basing himself, like Poroshenko, on sections of the Ukrainian oligarchy and an alliance with imperialism, he redoubled his efforts in the war in eastern Ukraine by refusing to apply the Minsk peace accords and by announcing a highly provocative “Crimean platform” strategy to retake the Black Sea peninsula from Russia by any means.
Zelensky’s pro-war and pro-NATO policies, like those of Poroshenko, required the support of far-right Ukrainian militias. As a result, members of Shariy’s party suffered a number of targeted political attacks after Zelensky’s election.
In February 2021, with Zelensky himself now facing the same rapidly declining popularity ratings as his predecessor Poroshenko, Shariy was first charged with “treason” and “spreading Russian propaganda”.
At the time, Zelensky also shut down three popular TV stations associated with the pro-Russian opposition Platform – For Life party and also filed charges against party leader Viktor Medvedchuk for “treason”.
While Zelensky is now hailed in the Western capitalist press as a modern-day Ukrainian George Washington, in January 2022 his approval rating was just 23% and there was widespread skepticism as to whether he would finish his full presidency before a forced snap election or another right-orchestrated coup.
Today, the war provides the basis for the Ukrainian government to completely eradicate political opposition and engage in an unprecedented promotion of the far right. Deriding Western propaganda about supposedly defending ‘democracy’ in Ukraine, since the start of the war the Zelensky government has arrested both Medvedchuk and Shariy, banned 11 opposition political parties, including Shariy’s , and provided de facto state support for a vast campaign of political arrests, lynchings and murders.
On Monday, May 9, the anniversary of the end of World War II, President Zelensky shared on Instagram and Telegram a photo of a Ukrainian soldier sporting the Nazi “Totenkopf” (skull) insignia. This badge was used during World War II by the 3rd SS Panzer Division, a unit of elite Nazi soldiers infamous for committing numerous war crimes. It is now a favorite symbol of neo-Nazis around the world. Ukraine’s president has since deleted the image from his message.