Ukrainian neo-Nazi organization organizes violence on Facebook

Despite trying to remove it from the platform, the violent Ukrainian far-right group Connection with American white supremacists Facebook is using Facebook to recruit new members, organize violence and spread its far-right ideology around the world.

Although it Prohibition of the Azov Movement and its leaders More than a year ago, until the most recent Monday, Facebook continued to profit from ads placed by far-right organizations.

Since July, Azov, which has sprung up during the Russian invasion in 2014, has opened at least 12 new Facebook pages. According to the platform’s ad library, Alla Zasyadko, 25, used it to place 82 ads on the social network and paid Facebook at least $3,726. Many advertisements call for street protests against the Ukrainian government. One of the advertisements encourages children to sign up for patriotic youth training courses.similar course Including firearms training.

Zasyadko did not respond to a request for comment.

A Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News: “Our platform prohibits the use of Camp Azov, and we will delete representatives, praise or support their content when we realize this.”

At the time this story was published, the Azov Movement’s main Facebook page was listed as the Ukrainian Legion (the movement’s political arm, the National Army, has a similar name) still active.

Facebook has allowed right-wing militant groups in the United States to organize and Advertise On the platform.Some of these groups have committed Violence during the Black Life Issues Protest, Advocating civil warAnd allegedly conspired Kidnap and kill elected political officials. Facebook Say Last month, it deleted thousands of pages and groups related to the “militarized social movement.”Many of these pages and groups have been deleted After BuzzFeed news caught their attention.

But the facts have proved that it is very difficult to drive right-wing extremists out of social networks, many of whom pop up again a few days or weeks after being removed.

Facebook banned the Azov movement in April 2019, which has many members who support neo-Nazi beliefs. The company deleted several pages related to the organization, including pages operated by its senior members and various branches under their leadership.

But since July 16, the organization has been operating a new Ukrainian Legion page. The page does not attempt to conceal its content as belonging to the Azov National Army, but publicly discusses the activities and leaders of the National Army, links to Azov websites and emails, and members wearing uniforms in rallies and torch parades. Photo.

Facebook has no reason not to know that the Azov movement is dangerous.After a series of violent attacks on Roma and LGBTQ people in Ukraine by the National Army and its Paramilitary Street Wing, the National Guard, and the U.S. State Department name The National Army of the Azov government is a “nationalist hatred group.”

Matthew Schaaf, who leads the Ukrainian office of the human rights organization Freedom House, has closely observed the organization and said that the Azov Movement’s ability to mobilize people through social media poses a threat to society.

Schaff told BuzzFeed News: “In the past few years, participants in groups linked to Azov have carried out violent attacks on vulnerable groups in Ukrainian society and threatened public officials. Social media is the organization of these actions and An important tool to share its results,”. “Many of these attacks were accompanied by pre-post propaganda articles on social media.”

The Azov was established in 2014 as a volunteer barracks to help Ukraine resist the invasion of Russia and its separatist agents. The logo of the battalion is similar to that of Wolfsangel, a badge widely used by the German military during World War II.although Human rights groups accused the camp Due to torture and war crimes during the first few months of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the Ukrainian National Guard incorporated the Azov battalion into its official residence in 2014 and changed its name to the Azov regiment.

The military department has always been the Kremlin’s favorite bogey man, and Russian President Vladimir Putin used the organization to prove that his attack on Ukraine was a fight against fascism. Although the organization is not widely popular in Ukraine, its connection with neo-Nazis is obvious. In 2010, Andriy Biletsky, the founder of the camp Say Ukraine should “lead the white race of the world in the last crusade… against the Untermenschen led by Semite [subhumans]. “

Biletsky could not comment on the matter.

Although the regiment is still looking for inspiration for Biletsky, he has entered the political realm. He served as a member of the Ukrainian Parliament from 2014 to 2019, but failed to re-elect. He now leads the National Corps political party, which has been unsuccessful in getting members elected to positions, but is using social media to seek support. He is also one of the founders of the movement’s Intermarium project, which built bridges between white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Western Europe and the United States.

Although Facebook previously deleted the Intermarium page, a new Intermarium page was created on September 9. Olena Semenyaka, It has been sharing news and information about far-right figures and neo-Nazi figures in Europe, and has promoted “cultural” events in its Kiev office.

After the ban, Semenyaka also reopened Facebook and Instagram accounts under a pseudonym.

Semenyaka did not respond to a request for comment.

Thanks in part to social media, the National Army has invaded white nationalist groups in the United States, including those based in California. Transcendence, Whose members participated in the 2017 Unity Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but later saw allegations of their actions Drop. In April 2018, RAM founder Robert Rundo visited Kiev and participated in the boxing Club. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wrote in October that it believed Azov was involved in “training and radicalizing America’s white supremacy organization.”

last month, Ukraine expelled two American neo-Nazis It is in contact with the US-based Atomwaffen department, which has tried to obtain “combat experience” with Azov fighters in the local branch of the organization.

As the Azov uses Facebook to expand beyond Ukraine, experts are increasingly worried. Schaff said: “The use of violence and the possibility that they may convene large numbers of young people who are ready to use violence are all driven by social media, which empowers them.”

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