Monday, 30 April 2012
Anarchy In Ukraine
VANO-FRANKIVSK, Ukraine -- Neo-Nazi paramilitaries are secretly training football hooligans to wreak havoc during Ukraine’s Euro 2012 match against England. An undercover Sun team filmed members of extreme right-wing militia The Patriot of Ukraine as it drilled thugs in unarmed combat, knife fighting and use of rifles and pistols at a secret camp. One yob boasted how they planned to riot and hurl racist abuse at black England stars such as Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole. He told us: “Of course we will boo your black players. There will be fighting too. Why should we apologise for it?” The Sun team infiltrated the Patriots’ training camp by posing as British sympathisers keen to make closer ties and learn from their methods. The group’s leaders said the hooligans were seen as “foot soldiers” who would proclaim their vile message of racial hatred to the world during Euro 2012. All three of England’s group matches are in the Ukraine — which is jointly hosting the tournament with Poland. The Patriots, whose 3,500 members run illegal military training camps, teach the thugs fighting skills and offer “education” in their ideology. In return the hooligans agree to chant white supremacist slogans from the stands and swell the Patriots’ ranks at anti-immigration rallies on the streets. The Patriots’ liaison chief Dmytro Semchuk said: “We have a network of football hooligans in every town that we can call on. We can start a war just by one call. In Ukraine the hooliganism is mixed with the politics of patriotism and nationalism. “We recruit from the terraces and we use football hooligans to spread our message. “We share the same beliefs. The hooligans here are not like English ones who drink all the time. Here we prepare with training. We take it seriously and we are fit. “The Patriots help with education and physical training. We are the brains — the hooligans are the foot soldiers." “We don’t want to see black players in European teams. We want to change that. The aim is to one day take the country back for the white Ukrainian people.” The Sun’s team was shown football hooligans in combat gear training alongside paramilitaries in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine. The recruits were drilled amid the ruined buildings and weed-covered parade grounds of an abandoned Soviet military base. The training included storming buildings while armed with some grenades and guns. Our team also witnessed football yobs tackling a military assault course — crawling under burning barbed wire, scaling log walls and scrambling through water-filled trenches. Patriots “General” Serhiy Syvachuk, 26, barked orders as the yobs learned knife-fighting techniques and were given live weapons training with a pistol and sniper rifle. He said the group was fighting for a “white Europe led by a white leader” as our team filmed what the Patriots believed was a propaganda video. Syvachuk said: “We are uniting young people whose thoughts are nationalistic to get them ready to defend our country and our beliefs. We are trying to cooperate with the hooligans to create a larger movement, to protest against immigration and to train them to make Ukrainian nationalism bigger, louder and more massive. “The hooligans train their bodies by fighting with other teams. But we are able to give them physical training and training in beliefs." “We are also trying to educate them to widen their nationalism beyond football. It is a way of getting out beliefs on to the street. Euro 2012 can send our message around the world.” Syvachuk insisted it was right to boo black players because they should not be playing for European teams. He said: “They are not from European nations — they are from other nations. This is a European football festival. Ukrainian players want to meet with other European players, not players from Africa." “If there are black players playing for Ukraine and England it will not be Ukraine against England — it will be Ukraine against England and other countries.” Exam board worker Nazar Maksymiv, 20, was among those training in the forest camp. The balaclava-wearing thug said he followed Ukraine’s football team around the world — and gleefully recalled fighting England supporters in the past. Maksymiv said he would be there when England meet Ukraine in Donetsk on June 19. He is eagerly anticipating more trouble in the city, which is one of The Patriots’ heartlands. Maksymiv, from a hooligan group called The Berserkers, said: “I am looking forward to fighting the English fans again. “The police will try to stop it but I don’t think they will. “The football authorities are kidding themselves if they do not think there will be violence or that Ukraine fans will not boo." “We are not apologising for it — we don’t want to see black players in European teams.” Maksymiv said he was confident of getting into the England match despite not having a ticket because Ukrainian stadium security is poor. Also among those training was 17-year-old psychology student called Vlad, who had a grim warning for England’s travelling footie fans. He said: “Supporters who come here should be prepared for violence. England’s black players will be booed because we want our voice heard.” Racism is endemic in Ukrainian football - but ignored by police. Nazi regalia, such as the infamous Death’s Head symbol of Hitler’s SS, are regularly displayed during matches. UEFA fined Ukrainian Premier League team Karpaty Lviv in 2010 after supporters waved a neo-Nazi banner during a Europa League match against Turkish side Galatasaray.