Cablegate: Ukraine's Skinhead Subculture

DE RUEHKV #2441/01 3471835
P 121835Z DEC 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. KYIV 2243
B. KYIV 2262

(U) Sensitive but unclassified. Please handle accordingly.
Not for Internet.


1. (SBU) Ukrainian skinheads congregate in small and poorly
organized groups in a number of larger cities. They tend to
be divided on thematic lines, such as neo-Nazis,
anti-fascists, and football hooligans. Some are involved in
hate crimes and have links with skinheads abroad,
particularly Russia. Estimates the number of skinheads in
Ukraine vary; there may be about 500 hard-core skinheads as
well as a few thousand followers. End Summary.

Skinheads of various stripes

2. (U) According to press statements by the Security Service
of Ukraine (SBU), skinhead organizations exist in the cities
of Kyiv, Sevastopol, and Yalta. They also are present in a
number of oblasts including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Sumy,
Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Vinnytsia, Odesa, and Zhymtomyr. In
Kyiv, rock groups such as Perun's Axe and Dozer-88 attract
skinheads with violent and anti-social music. The
unregistered Ukrainian National-Labor Party, Blood and Honor
Ukraine, the Ukrainian Movement Against Illegal Immigration,
and the Sevastopol Movement Against Illegal Immigrants have a
following among neo-Nazi skinheads.

3. (SBU) Anti-fascist groups include Skinheads Against
Racial Prejudice (SHARP) and the Red and Anarchist Skinheads
(RASH). Supporters of soccer teams, so called football
hooligans, are also part of this violent subculture. In a
meeting with Emboffs, the SBU's Department to Combat
Xenophobia confirmed that the perpetrators of violent hate
crimes tended to be from extremist groups, including
skinheads. He noted that some the neo-Nazi and skinhead
groups have connections to groups in Europe and the U.S.
(ref A).

Numbers Hard to Estimate

4. (SBU) Vyacheslav Likhachev, an expert on skinheads in
Ukraine, told EmbOff that skinheads here are poorly organized
and loosely affiliated with better established
ultranationalist organizations such as Patriot of Ukraine and
the Ukrainian National-Labor Party. Because of their
fragmented organizational structure, Likhachev explained that
reliable estimates of their numbers are hard to come by. The
Ministry of Interior has estimated that there are five
hundred skinheads in the entire country, while independent
experts asserted that there are five hundred in Kyiv alone.
The SBU estimated roughly one hundred active and aggressive
skinheads in Kyiv.

Expert Estimates 500 Hard Core, 2000-3000 Followers
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (SBU) Likhachev believes that there are roughly 500 hard
core skinhead "organizers" in Ukraine with 2000-3000 less
committed followers on the periphery. The followers attend
demonstrations and concerts and stay in contact with the
organizers via the internet. Likhachev, who concurs with the
SBU estimate of 100 violent skinheads in Kyiv, believes that
groups of 5-8 individuals are responsible for many of the
racially motivated attacks in the city over the past two
years. He believes that a crackdown by police in the past
few months, including confinement of some group leaders, has
forced the organizers to lower their profile and scared away
the less committed followers. (ref B).

Russian Skinheads

6. (SBU) Likhachev explained that German and Polish radical
groups influenced Ukrainian skinheads during the 1990s.
However, Russian skinheads have gained influence during the
past six years - even in the western Ukraine, where
anti-Russian sentiments are stronger. He cited police
statistics showing that one third of skinheads arrested in
Ukraine were actually Russian nationals. He attributed the
nexus of Russian and Ukrainian skinhead movements to common
cultural, linguistic, and historical ties. There is frequent
contact between Ukrainian and Russian skinheads including
attendance of demonstrations and concerts in their respective
countries according to Likhachev. He doubted there was much

KYIV 00002441 002 OF 002

Russian funding for Ukrainian skinheads or ultranationalist
groups except for pro-Russian "Cossack" groups in Crimea.

MOI Human Rights Monitor Wants Special Hate Crimes Unit
--------------------------------------------- ----------

7. (SBU) The head of the recently established MOI Human
Rights Monitoring Department, Oleg Martynenko, confirmed that
extremist groups and skinheads are a contributing factor to
xenophobia and hate crimes. He told Emboff that although the
MOI has a unit to combat crimes involving foreigners, he felt
that the MOI should consider establishing a special hate
crimes unit. The problem, he felt, is that the existing unit
investigates crimes committed by foreigners as well as crimes
against foreigners. This unit is understaffed and cannot
devote enough resources to investigating crimes against
foreigners, who frequently are the victims of violent hate
crimes. If established, a special hate crimes unit would
focus on racially motivated crimes and hate groups.


8. (SBU) Ukraine's skinhead movement appears to be marginal
and poorly organized. However, they present a danger to
society given the involvement of some skinheads in hate
crimes. As economic conditions worsen over the next year,
more disaffected youth may be attracted by the skinheads'
anti-social message.

© Scoop Media

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