‘A lot of f*cking Nazi sympathizers’: Black reporter recounts ‘mostly positive’ Ukraine experience
There are a "lot of f*cking Nazi sympathizers" in Ukraine, but reports of widespread right-wing extremism are "propaganda," according to a black journalist who shared his experiences in the country on Twitter.
Terrell J. Starr, a reporter for The Root, took to Twitter to explain the "challenges of being black" in Ukraine. The US journalist noted that he rarely shares the "f*cked up sh*t" he experiences while working in Ukraine because his encounters with race issues in the country have been "mostly positive" and therefore "the bad ones don't always register." Starr said that 90 percent of the attention he gets for being black in Ukraine is positive, but "the 10 percent is very, very bad. And recently, I have felt some bad vibes during my travels to Ukraine."
During my last trip to Ukraine, in December, I was threatened by right wing extremists (IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN KYIV) claiming to be a member of the Azov Battalion. Is Ukraine a Nazi country? Nope. Are there a lot of fucking Nazi sympathizers there? Um, yeah, and I saw them.— Terrell J. Starr (@Russian_Starr) July 31, 2018
He recounted several run-ins with this unsavory minority, including one instance in the western Ukrainian city of Yaremche, in which a man "drove by and spit at me as he threw up the Heil Hitler salute." In a similarly unpleasant encounter in downtown Kiev, Starr said that he was threatened by "right-wing extremists" who claimed to be members of the Azov Battalion – a right-wing, Nazi-rune-bedazzled punitive battalion which was incorporated into the National Guard of Ukraine in 2014.
Starr also said that there are "a lot of f*cking Nazi sympathizers" in Ukraine, adding that he saw "so many SS and 88 tattoos" during his travels there. However, the journalist insisted that stereotyping Ukraine as a country "full of Nazis" is a "falsehood" peddled by "the propaganda machine."
Atlantic Council finally admits Ukraine’s Nazi problem, and seems upset RT reported it earlier (Op-Ed by @27khv) https://t.co/orFscHxQvhpic.twitter.com/cpfCF2auJh— RT (@RT_com) June 25, 2018
But while Starr insisted that Ukrainians have been wrongly stereotyped, he expressed disappointment that "plenty" of Ukrainians stereotype black people – even though he has worked so hard to defend Ukrainians from unfounded generalizations.
"As a black person, it is very disheartening and hurtful, honestly, to hear Ukrainians say very stereotypical things about black communities when I spend so much of my time breaking down stereotypes about them and their country."
READ MORE: Too blatant to ignore? Human rights groups warn that ‘radical groups’ have free rein in Ukraine
Just as frustrating, according to Starr, is that every time he brings up racism in Ukraine, he's "accused of giving the Kremlin ammunition." Borrowing the default chant for Ukrainian torch-carrying right-wing nationalists, Starr then bizarrely ended his lengthy Twitter meditation with a rousing "Slava Ukraina!"
Although Starr lamented that Kiev's response to racist attacks against Ukraine's Roma population "has not been very good at all," he apparently did not feel inclined to note that one of the neo-Nazi groups accused of attacking Roma settlements received funding from Ukraine's Ministry of Youth and Sports – highlighting that Ukraine's neo-Nazis, while perhaps a minority, have enjoyed direct and indirect support from Kiev.
“When I was in Spain I saw so many people wearing soccer jerseys, but it’s a falsehood to say soccer is a popular sport in Spain.” pic.twitter.com/RmWMyrXcMF— Bryan MacDonald (@27khv) August 1, 2018
Attributing reports of widespread right-wing extremism in Ukraine to propaganda may also be ill-advised. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders, and Freedom House sent a letter to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General's Office in June detailing a series of attacks by right-wing groups against minorities and activists that have gone largely ignored by law enforcement.
I'm old enough to remember when pointing out Ukraine's post-Maidan Nazi problem got you denounced as a "Kremlin disinformation agent" "Putin stooge" "Russian active measures" etc etc https://t.co/aOjw25buQF— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) June 15, 2018
Even the NATO-funded Atlantic Council conceded recently that Ukraine has "a real problem with far-right violence."
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