What is a Kyiv Neo-Nazi doing in the French National Assembly, French MPs want to know – blared French Sputnik’s headline last week. The presence of a Neo-Nazi and an anti-Semite angers French deputies, declared French RT. These two Kremlin funded media outlets that French President Emmanuel Macron called propaganda organs, gleefully disseminated a fake story claiming that the June 11 visit of Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Andriy Parubiy to France outraged the country’s parliamentarians.
French economist Olivier Berruyer, the founder of the Les Crises site was the first to call Parubiy’s visit to France “scandalous”. Berruyer is a known purveyor of alternative politics and is often accused of disseminating conspiracy theories. He is a proponent of Moscow’s distortedversion of events in Ukraine and has gained considerable notoriety for promoting these views. Berruyer’s negative coverage of Parubiy’s visit was then picked up by Russian RT and Sputnik French versions.
On the eve of Parubiy’s visit Sputnik France laid the ground for this fake story by running an article about radicals from the Svoboda Party. The story was unconnected to any event that had recently taken place. After Berruyer published his diatribe against Parubiy, RT France and Sputnik actively began quoting Les Crises, alluding to the alleged anti-Semitism and Nazism of Ukraine’s parliamentary speaker.
Despite countless articles disputing that Ukraine is a hotbed of nationalist frenzy governed by right radicals, pro-Kremlin media continue to portray Ukraine as a country ruled by fascists presenting a danger to European stability. Radical parties in Ukraine do not have popular support, in fact they barely scraped any support at the last elections and did not make it into parliament. Even the venerable French publication Liberation has written about this.
In his youth Andriy Parubiy was a member of the Svoboda Party, a conservative, nationalist, right oriented party. He left Svoboda more than 14 years ago, on the eve of the 2004 Orange revolution. In 2007 he was elected to parliament from the liberal pro-European Nasha Ukraina block of former president Viktor Yushchenko.
Five years later he was reelected to parliament on the Batkivshchyna party ticket led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. During the Maidan protests Parubiy was the commander of the tent city on Kyiv’s Independence Square. After the Russian annexation of Crimea and the onset of the war in eastern Ukraine, Parubiy headed Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. In 2016 he was elected Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament.
Parubiy left radical nationalism quite some time ago. Today he is a member of the moderate centrist Popular Front party. To characterize Parubiy as a neo-Nazi is similar to calling François Mitterrand a president of the extreme right. In his youth, on the eve of World War II the French president was also a member of ultra conservative and right radical organizations.