I was taken aback by the sight of what looked like pseudo-anarcho-syndicalist flags among the protesters in the Maidan in Kiev, because I could not fathom the idea that genuine anarco-syndicalists would align with the crypto-Nazis, fascists and ultra-nationalists who seemed to be the vanguard of the Ukrainian opposition. It didn't compute.
The Red and the Black flag, divided diagonally, has long been used by anarcho-syndicalists internationally; what I saw in the Kiev protests was a red and black flag divided horizontally, though. It was something I had never seen -- as such -- and I couldn't relate it to any rebel or anarchist faction I was aware of.
I was aware that Ukrainian anarchists were not aligned with either the Yanukovych government or the opposition in the Square; in fact, they were appalled and disgusted with both. So the red and black flags I saw among the demonstrators in Kiev did not compute. I didn't know what it was until today (h/t teri49 in comments for cluing me where to look).
Rather than an anarcho-syndicalist flag, the horizontally divided red and black flag seen in Kiev is one of the flags used by an outfit that goes by the acronym of "UNA-UNSO".
Let us explore...
I never learned Russian or the Cyrillic alphabet, but I've studied them informally for years, and every now and then, I can make out enough to read an understand some of it. It's sort of like magic, though, since if I try to read and understand it, I can't. I have to use a kind of averted vision.
Ukrainian is similar to Russian, but of course, not exactly the same. I would say they are mutually intelligible, but I have a more difficult time with Ukrainian because I'm not as familiar with it.
In trying to find out what this horizontally divided red and black flag was about, I came across this:
The white emblem with the sword in the center is an adaptation of the Ukrainian coat of arms.
Another image of the horizontally divided red and black I came across was this:
It includes the emblem seen on the previous image plus the words: "Pravyi Sektor" which roughly translated means: "Right Sector" which, according to the WikiMachine:
Right Sector (Ukrainian: Пра́вий се́ктор, Pravyi Sektor) is a radical Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary and opposition group, described as having far right or neofascist views. According to various reports, the organization has between 2,000 and 3,000 active members in Kiev, 5,000 in Ukraine overall, and is quickly growing. The group first emerged at the end of November 2013 at the Euromaidan protests in Kiev, as an alliance of far-right or extreme-right Ukrainian nationalist groups, as well as the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defence (UNA-UNSO).
Huh. Who'd a thunk it?
So this flag is actually the "Right Sector" flag, not that of UNA-UNSO, though the two are related and interconnected. Got it. The "Right Sector" is an umbrella for numerous rightist/fascist/nationalist parties in Ukraine, wherea UNA-UNSO is one of those parties.
Yet Engdahl says UNA-UNSO isn't an actual Ukrainian political party at all, it's a front for NATO and Eurozone interests, a "Gladio" operation subverting Ukraine on behalf of... who?
I'm not prepared to get into these weeds at this time (please!), but the indications of foreign influence, subversion, and provocations -- including at least some of the violence -- during the recent Ukrainian uprisings and the overthrow of the Yanukovych regime are getting stronger.
The Nuland-Kagan-Rice-Pyatt axis is part of it; the Omidyar Network involvement in funding "New Citizen" and "Center UA" is part of it. The NED is part of it. The USAID is part of it. The internal rivalries between Ukrainian oligarchs is part of it. The incompetence and corruption of successive Ukrainian governments is part of it. The conflicting interests of Russia and Europe are part of it.
But as for the red and black flags I've been seeing in Kiev, they have nothing to do with anarcho-syndicalism, they are instead the emblems of the "Right Sector" which the WikiMachine describes thus:
Right Sector is now considered the largest far-right group in Ukraine, and patrols Kiev with groups of young men armed with baseball bats or guns. One member of a patrol told the BBC that National Socialist views are popular in Right Sector, though not all in the group share them. Elaborating, he explained that the ideology entailed "a clean nation, not like under Hitler, but in our own way, a little bit like that."Whenever you hear somebody claiming that Putin=Hitler (or Stalin), remember this. Remember.
Aleksander Muzychko, a Right Sector leader was videotaped physically assaulting a Ukrainian public prosecutor in his office, threatening to pull him to Maidan square with a rope.
Right Sector has promised to deal with Russian forces in Ukraine, and has called upon Chechen Doku Umarov, considered a terrorist by Russia, to help. According to historian Per Anders Rudling, the growth of the extreme right in Ukraine should be a concern for Europe, and has been used by Russia to legitimize their intervention in Crimea.