24 February 2022 Started Russian Invasion of Ukraine; Not “Ukrainian Nazi Cleansing”

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The lie and propaganda platitude of Russian President Vladimir Putin was presented to justify the military invasion in Ukraine that he initiated on 24 February 2022, completely unprovoked. Many historians claim that the military aggression in Ukraine cannot be correlated with any kind of denazification whatsoever


We are fact-checking a post on the social network Facebook saying the following:

The struggle of Ukrainian Nazi cleansing started on 24 February 2022.

The post also releases a video clip of Artem Bonov, a Ukrainian far-right extremist who also had a YouTube channel that was suspended due to hate speech. He is known Neo-Nazi, though also a target of disinformation, claiming to be Deputy Chief of Kyiv Police, which simply is not true.

Regarding the contents of the post in focus that we are fact-checking – that the struggle of Ukrainian Nazi cleansing was initiated on 24 February 2022 – that post represents a lie and a propaganda platitude presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to justify the military invasion of Ukraine initiated precisely on that date, completely unprovoked. Several historians claim that the military aggression in Ukraine cannot be correlated with any kind of denazification whatsoever.

Putin is misusing the term “denazify”. Denazification refers to a particular moment in time in the post-war era. Putin’s use of the term is propaganda aimed at his fears about the current democratic government in the Ukraine. Denazification has a very specific historical meaning, which is the process undergone in Germany after the Second World War, says Timothy Snyder, an expert on Ukraine and author of “The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America” for Time Magazine.

He added that in West Germany at the time, a certain amount of attention was paid to high Nazi officials, by the Americans, and an attempt was made to remove them from public life.

Using this out of context, as Putin does, is an attempt to transform the country and people he talks about in Nazi Germany. A Nazi is a member of the National Socialist Party in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, he added.

Yale University professor Jason Stanley says that denazification is the process the Allies took to Germany. Beginning with the Nuremberg trials, they tried and convicted many Nazis, some were executed and then they replaced the Nazi ideology in all the major institutions with people who were untainted by Nazism.

They replaced them with leaders who are loyal to democracy and they replaced Nazi ideology with democratic practices, he says.

Omer Bartov, a Brown University professor, says that once the Allies entered Germany, they were investigating some former members of the Nazi Party.

The current Ukrainian government is not a fascist dictatorship or in any way associated with the Nazi past. Its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is democratically elected in a fair election, winning 73 percent of the vote in the 2019 Presidential Elections.

What Putin tries to rely on is the fact that there are extreme right-wing elements in Ukraine that could conceivably be described as Neo-Nazi. But, these are fringe elements, as the landslide election of President Zelenskyy has demonstrated, added Bartov for Time Magazine.

Jeffrey Veidlinger for Time says:

At one point, there were Ukrainians who collaborated with Nazis. This is why Putin can use that term. But this was 80 years ago and isn’t reflective of the current Ukrainian Government. It’s a meaningless term when Putin uses it. He is not afraid of Nazis in Ukraine. He’s afraid of democracy in Ukraine and he recognizes that as democracy encroaches upon Russia as it comes closer to Russia, there’s a threat that those people will demand democracy.

The Azov Unit as a military group was established in May 2014. As specified by Al Jazeera, the Unit is an extreme-right military unit whose members were ultra-nationalists who have been accused of ideology close to white supremacy. The unit was initially formed as a volunteer group led by Andriy Biletsky and consisted of the ultra-nationalistic group “Patriot of Ukraine” and a Neo-Nazi group. As reported by Al Jazeera both groups had Neo-Nazi and xenophobic ideals and they physically attacked immigrants, Roma, and other people. As a battalion, the group fought on the front lines against pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, the Eastern region of Ukraine. However, the Nazi groups that exist in modern Ukraine, as elsewhere in other European countries, do not influence the Parliament, do not participate in the government and they cannot be justification for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Report on Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference Threats, published by the European External Action Service specifies that one of the most frequently used narratives is: ”Ukraine is a Nazi and terrorist country”, and that it also supports such groups.

Due to all of the above-noted facts, the post fact-checked is assessed as untrue.