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The terrorist ‘heroes’ of Mariupol

Written By: - Date published: 4:44 pm, May 21st, 2022 - 128 comments
Categories: Christchurch Attack, terrorism, Ukraine, war - Tags:

The mass surrender of over 2000 members of  the extreme nationalist AZOV battalion who have just been flushed out of their bunker in Mariupol is a major win in the fight against global race-based terrorism.  These extreme nationalists share the same ideology as the Christchurch and Buffalo assassins, as is clear from their manifestos. Efforts to combat extremism have focused on the influence of social media on individuals.  Insufficient attention is paid to organising centres such as AZOV.

Western reaction to the Russian ‘special operation’ to ‘de-nazify’ Ukraine has airbrushed out the activities of the extremist right organisations such as AZOV, the military arm of the ultra-nationalist political movement  integrated into Ukrainian military. The surrender and capture of this battalion’s remnants and the liberation of the Russian-speaking territories in eastern Ukraine will now enable clear light at trial to be shed on their terrorist activities, many of which now coming to light are horrific.

The  links between the Christchurch and Buffalo assassins are referenced in their manifestos. Both displayed the sonnenrad or ‘black sun’ symbol, which forms part of the AZOV battalion emblem. This simple linkage of itself does not prove much. But if we look from the other side it is clear that the AZOV group are active recruiters and facilitators of the white supremacist racism that is at the heart of the ideology they share.

“The nexus between far-right extremists in the United States and Ukraine” is a research paper prepared for the ‘Combatting Terrorism Center’ at West Point, the United States Military Academy. It states:

In recent years, some Americans and Europeans drawn to various brands of far-right nationalism have looked to Ukraine as their field of dreams: a country with a well-established, trained, and equipped far-right militia—the Azov Regiment—that has been actively engaged in the conflict against Russian-backed separatists in Donbass…. Far-right groups remain strong in Ukraine, with the ability to marshal thousands of supporters for protests and rallies, some of whom carry Nazi and white supremacist insignia.

Analysis of social media communications, court documents, travel histories, and other connections shows that a number of prominent individuals among far-right extremist groups in the United States and Europe have actively sought out relationships with representatives of the far-right in Ukraine, specifically the National Corps and its associated militia, the Azov Regiment. In some instances, as this article will show, U.S.-based individuals have spoken or written about how the training available in Ukraine might assist them and others in their paramilitary-style activities at home.

Another extensive report on the activities of the AZOV battalion is provided in the report ‘Mapping Militant Organizations. “AZOV Battalion.” from the Center for International Security and Co-operation at Stanford University. It also details the international ambitions and recruiting activites of the battalion, Interestingly in relation to its use of social media the report says:

In 2016, Facebook designated the Azov Battalion a “dangerous organization,” which allows it to regulate Azov content and deplatform Azov-related pages. In February 2022, Facebook’s parent company Meta announced that it would be temporarily loosening this designation to allow discussion of the Azov Battalion in the context of Ukrainian defense efforts. The ban still prohibited Azov from using Facebook for messaging, advertising, and recruiting.

The Soufan Center in a report titled ‘Intelbrief: The Transnational Network that Nobody is Talking About’ also describes the role played by the AZOV battalion in organising ultra-nationalist terrorism.

The Azov Battalion is emerging as a critical node in the transnational right-wing violent extremist (RWE) network. This group maintains its own ‘Western Outreach Office’ to help recruit and attract foreign fighters that travel to train and connect with people from like-minded violent organizations from across the globe. Operatives from the outreach office travel around Europe to promote the organization and proselytize its mission of white supremacy.

This report raises the possibility of a link between the Christchurch shooter and AZOV. There appears to be no direct evidence of this, although the Royal Commission report indicates that he did travel to Ukraine in 2015. However the Commission did indicate evidence of some connection with extreme right-wing groups in Ukraine:

The individual told his mother he would not renew the lease on his flat and wanted to sell his belongings and move to the Ukraine. That was the last time Sharon Tarrant and her partner saw the individual before the terrorist attack.

Sharon Tarrant later told Australian Federal Police that when she left New Zealand, she felt “petrified” about the individual’s mental health and increasingly racist views. She felt he had no friends and had isolated himself in a small, empty flat. She said that she was so worried that the night she left the individual, she searched online for information about white supremacy groups in Ukraine. She said that she emailed the individual an article about extreme right-wing groups in Ukraine that groomed young men like him and she pleaded for him to come home to Australia. He never responded.

It is highly likely that he agreed with it.

It would be to much to say that the total defeat of the AZOV battalion will signal the end of ultra-nationalist terrorism. Western media will no doubt do its best to minimise its significance as shown by the article sourced from the London Telegraph in today’s DomPost (not online). But our newly-enhanced security agencies  must take note of its significance, and be vigilant to watch for its next organised iteration.

 

 

128 comments on “The terrorist ‘heroes’ of Mariupol ”

  1. Francesca 1

    I wrote to Andrew Little over this very thing, just after Zelensky had put out the call that volunteer fighters would be welcome in Ukraine visa free.How would our intelligence agencies know where battle hardened returnees had been ?.I am quite sure that the GCSB are well aware of the Azov and the Tarrant connection. The infamous Biletsky, first commander of Azov was featured in the Guardian , training recruits at the beginning of the invasion .Azov foreign outreach is no secret…Azov has an international recruiting arm, but there are plenty other other militia, like Right Sector, whose former leader Dmitry Yarosh has been appointed advisor by Zelensky to the Chief Commandant of the Ukrainian army.Banderism is rife through the Ukrainian police, the SBU, and the regular army., and yet for purely political reasons in the west, this is trivialised .Absolutely criminal!

    And of course not a dicky bird from Little or his office

    • SPC 1.1

      a dicky bird. ​(British English, informal) to say, hear, etc. nothing. He won't say a dicky bird, but we think he knows who did it.

      (hypocoristic) A small bird. … (Britain, informal, from Cockney rhyming slang, used especially in negative constructions) A word; a small sound or thing.

      Dickie Bird

      English cricket umpire

      He gained a reputation for stopping play for weather, and almost never giving batsmen out LBW – he gave LBWs so seldom that if he did give it, there was absolutely no doubt the batsman was out.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    Mike Smith, trying hard to be a dollar store Epihaltes of Trachis.

    • SPC 2.1

      Ephialtes, it was probably because of him that for thousands of years people had to swear fealty.

      fealty

      /ˈfiːəlti/

      noun

      HISTORICAL

      1. a feudal tenant's or vassal's sworn loyalty to a lord.

        "they owed fealty to the Earl rather than the King"

        • formal acknowledgement of loyalty to a lord.

          "a property for which she did fealty"

      Thus the many Ephialtes, or Felicity's (sp), since then.

      The Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654 by the rada (council) of the Cossack army in Ukraine to submit Ukraine to Russian rule, and the acceptance of this act by emissaries of the Russian tsar Alexis; the agreement precipitated a war between Poland and Russia (1654–67).

      I’ve been waiting sometime to do, a Karen, on the coverage of, the Ukraine.

      PS Keri Russell (The Americans) once played the role of Felicity (Porter).

    • Populuxe1 2.2

      *Ephialtes, and I think it's more ideological blindness than anything sinister

  3. Cantabrian 3

    Well done to President Putin that well known defender of human rights.

    • Stuart Munro 3.1

      Yes – I'm not sure he doesn't have a dossier for instigating terrorism himself.

  4. RedLogix 4

    The ChCh shooter travelled to a number of countries – including Turkey and Pakistan. Because of the guilty plea and the closed trial there was never any public domain information available on how he became radicalised. Therefore everything in this post on this topic is pure speculation.

    As for what this person stated in his manifesto, because it illegal for New Zealanders to know what he said in his manifesto or at trial, anything said about his motivations is also pure speculation.

    As for the Azov Battalion, I can only relink to an actual expert in the topic. This obsession with a small handful of extremists who never had any political significance in Ukraine and long ceased any influence within the Azov Battalion is nothing but Kremlin denazification propaganda.

    As for Mike Smith – I know better than to type while retching.

    • Muttonbird 4.1

      I hope you have recovered from your short illness.

      Broadcasting the Australian mass murderer's rant is not going to help. He's not just asking questions, stupid.

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        Because any knowledge about the ChCh shooter is illegal in New Zealand I think it is highly inappropriate for Mike Smith to make him the topic of a post at all.

        Anything anyone says about why he committed that crime is unable to be confirmed.

        • Muttonbird 4.1.1.1

          Not sure why it's important to publish the Australian's Mein Kamf in order for you to understand what happened and why.

          Far right wing culture warriors looking for excuses for atrocities is not the way forward.

      • roblogic 4.1.2

        There is some analysis of the manifesto on wikipedia. Copypasta replacement theory bullshit. Links to Azov are tenuous.

        Azov was formed to combat Russian separatists so of course it includes Ukrainian nationalists. By winning this battle, Putin no longer has justification for his war. So he should now leave.

        • RedLogix 4.1.2.1

          I don't live in New Zealand so different rules apply to me, but given the legal position it is still impossible to discuss his motives on a NZ based blog.

        • Populuxe1 4.1.2.2

          And if he leaves, there is no reason for Azov to continue to exist and they can go back to being thuggish football hooligans that the civilian police can deal with. And if the civilian police don't want to deal with it, the Ukraine government is going to have to if it wants to join the EU.

          That's the funny thing, all this strawmannism around Ukraine seething with Nazis misses the point that integration into the EU is very likely going to be a step in the right direction to address that.

          • adam 4.1.2.2.1

            These are not some football hooligans, they kill people, beat people up and smash property all in the name of white supremacy.

            Do you get how the far right work? These groups are working together to save the white race from the liberal LGBT west, and the Asian hordes. The only way they can do this in their minds is through violence. If you read below the Azov are the last group, violent extremists – THE true believers.

            https://christchurchattack.royalcommission.nz/the-report/part-2-context/harmful-behaviours-right-wing-extremism-and-radicalisation/

            • Populuxe1 4.1.2.2.1.1

              I said were, and clearly you have little knowledge of what the football Ultras get up to. Funnily enough, yes, I do get how people like the Christchurch shooter work. I'm not sure you do, because you've got this rather two-dimensional top-down idea about it when it's more like Da’esh – radicalised individuals who share ideology and may or may not occasionally gather but usually work alone, decentralised and random. Azov, on the other hand, are a much more old-fashioned outfit, more like the National Front, organised, hierarchical ethnonationalists with limited interest beyond their own borders, more like the IRA. No doubt they harbour some of the former, but guess what? We know. Russia basically handed them a reason to exist.

              • adam

                I disagree with you analysis.

                As it is how they operated 30 years ago. These groups have changed, and changed a lot. They are transnational, and not so nationalist as they once were. Yes the nationalist stuff is there, especially true if you look at the propaganda they spew.

                But peel it away, peel away the surface, and a far right white supremacy agenda is what you are left with. The Wolf Pack. It's not just street thugs who go to football games, these are well organised and funded groups – who are still small currently, but keep adding crisis upon crisis and who knows how big they will get.

                I agree the Muppet in Moscow handed these groups a golden ticket with the invasion. As such this should be put on the docket as another war crime the Russians have committed.

                • Populuxe1

                  And yet the international far right are as likely to be pro-Putanism as they are to be pro-Azov. More so, I should think. He actually offers them power and finance in a way that Azov simply doesn't.

                • mikesh

                  They are transnational, and not so nationalist as they once were. Yes the nationalist stuff is there, especially true if you look at the propaganda they spew.

                  Nationalist sentiment is something fascists can readily exploit.

                  • joe90

                    Nationalist sentiment is something fascists can readily exploit.

                    When you win the grandmas…
                    /

              • mikesh

                They existed anyway. What do you think the skirmishes at the Donbas border, prior go the invasion, were all about.

                • Populuxe1

                  The pro-Kremlin insurgency backed by Russian neo-nazi entities like Wagner Group, Rusich, Russian National Unity, and the Russian Imperial Movement perhaps?

            • Stuart Munro 4.1.2.2.1.2

              These groups are working together to save the white race from the liberal LGBT west

              Okay, so Putin and Azov are allies? Or competitors? Putin blasts ‘cancel culture’ and diversity at Valdai Discussion Club – The Washington Post

        • Pierre 4.1.2.3

          According to Time magazine, Azov helped translate and distribute the Christchurch shooter's manifesto in Ukraine.

          An arm of the Azov movement helped distribute the terrorist’s raving manifesto, in print and online, seeking to glorify his crimes and inspire others to follow.

          Bellingcat has more on translation efforts here.

          I have not read the manifesto, not going to discuss its contents, but you have to wonder why Azov were keen to promote it.

          • Populuxe1 4.1.2.3.1

            Bellingcat goes to the effort of spelling out it was "an arm of the Azov movement" – even they aren't suggesting it was a coordinated movement by the whole. At no point has anyone suggested that Azov doesn't contain far right white supremacists. I mean, Army reservist linked to New Zealand far-right group | Stuff.co.nz

            • Pierre 4.1.2.3.1.1

              If the Christchurch shooter's manifesto was translated to Ukrainian in order to inspire volunteers to join Azov, what does that tell you about the political character of the group?

              • Populuxe1

                That they must be a lot smarter than me if they can get any coherent narrative out of it.

    • adam 4.2

      FFS RedLogix, the war crimes of this small group is worth talking about. Or are you going total Russophobe?

      To whitewash the Azov battalion is not helpful in any way. They might not have political power in a western liberal sense, as they simply did not care to. For them, they use violence as their political expression of choice, not elections, nor polls.

      It's not the 90's any more, these far right groups are without boarders, a GLOBAL WOLF PACK if you will. OK Maybe two wolf packs as their are neo-nazi groups fighting for the Russians, who hate the neo-nazi's in Ukraine. Personally I want all these far right groups to be put into a field with each other and wipe themselves out.

      These guys are as evil, warped, and as bent out of shape as the Oligarchs who run Russia. They are true believers, you have read the manifesto of the idiot from Christchurch. You know they believe the shit the talk about, and are willing to use violence to get their political message across.

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        These days the term neo-nazi means any white person who speaks to patriotism or a sense of cultural identity. Like so many power laden, attack words the hard left stretches their meaning to the point they barely carry information any more.

        But given we have been told for several generations we have been loudly informed that white males are the source of all evil in the world – it is hardly surprising that a few might come to believe there are forces in the world who hate them and are seeking to replace them.

        • adam 4.2.1.1

          I'm using this definition

          https://www.britannica.com/dictionary/neo%E2%80%93Nazi

          So your bullshit straw man is a bit much.

          Do you believe in far right terrorism? Or are you a lone wolf kinda guy?

        • Populuxe1 4.2.1.2

          Oh what hyperbolic bollocks. There is an undoubtedly a neo-nazi element in Azov. The point is that in the grand scheme of things they are far less of a threat to Ukrainian liberal democracy than Russian missiles and tanks.

        • Pierre 4.2.1.3

          The fighters in the Volunteer Corps, Azov, Dnepr, Aidar, and Donbass Battalions may have a confused sense of cultural identity. They might have all sorts of insecurities about their whiteness or their masculinity. That's okay, but there are a lot of confused white men out there who manage to work through these issues without joining an ultranationalist militia.

          The black sun is a Nazi symbol. The black sun is part of the Azov logo, and it was also used by the Buffalo shooter. I would suggest that they wear this symbol primarily because they understand and support the political ideal it represents.

          It's true that the term neo-Nazi is overused, but I don't see the ambiguity here.

          • RedLogix 4.2.1.3.1

            They might have all sorts of insecurities about their whiteness or their masculinity.

            There you go – the immediate wookie reach to sneer at 'whiteness' and being a man. You will just love this:

            • Pierre 4.2.1.3.1.1

              You appear appear to have misunderstood my post. Who do you think I am sneering at? I reserve my contempt for the fascists and their poor sympathisers.

              • RedLogix

                You might want to reframe your first para then – it really didn't accurately convey your intention.

        • mikesh 4.2.1.4

          In essence, national socialism was a form of socialism which rejected Marx's internationalism. Although Hitler hated the Jews, the efforts of the brownshirts were directed mainly at the German communists.

  5. roblogic 5

    I take it that Mike Smith also feels the unilateral invasion and destruction of Iraq was justified because there was "proof" of WMDs

    • Muttonbird 5.1

      That said, it happened. Why would you deny another power that which the West has done?

      • Populuxe1 5.1.1

        I had no idea you and Saddam were so close. It must have been rough for you. Probably not as rough for all the people he tortured and killed though. Yes, the Iraq war was illegal and didn't achieve much, but neither am I going to cry crocodile tears over Saddam Hussein.

        • RedLogix 5.1.1.1

          Indeed. Some years back I wrote to a story I heard first hand from some who was a direct victim of Saddam's regime. I will not reveal the details here because they are so specific and sickening that it would necessarily violate their privacy.

          Suffice to say there were never any crocodile tears from me either.

          • Subliminal 5.1.1.1.1

            How absolutely hilarious. The ability to sanitise the Iraq war by the true believers through all the lies that were told is endless! Both Populux and Red are in accord. The illegal invasion of Iraq was justified and anyone who says otherwise is just a Saddam lover and hater of the free west! However, the destruction of the LDNR with 14000 civilian deaths between 2014 and 2022 by a military containing official neo-nazis including those installed in Mariupol to terrorise the local population into submission is just another equivilence to Madelaine Albrights half million dead Iraqui children. "We consider the price was worth it" Good to know we have such upstanding ideologists to determine the worthy from unworthy. Choosing between Falujah and Saddam? Personally, I think Saddam had more compassion

            • RedLogix 5.1.1.1.1.1

              How absolutely hilarious.

              Really – I gave you a hint as to the utterly sickening nature of the crimes the Saddam regime routinely inflicted. Yet you think they might be hilarious. Why am I not surprised?

              Like many in the West we protested and marched against the Iraq war at the time – because we understood it was going to be a very stupid and tragic mistake. Few however were marching to defend Saddam's regime.

              It is possible to hold both thoughts in your head at the same time.

              • Populuxe1

                I feel slightly ill.

                • RedLogix

                  There is an aphorism in geopolitics that goes – 'it was worse than a crime, it was a mistake'.

              • Subliminal

                And yet now you can whitewash that war as justified by Saddam being who he was rather than by Bush and everyone around him and supporting him being the monsters that they were on a preplanned mission of invasion that morphed from 9/11 when it became obvious that that line would be harder to construct a "narrative" around than outright lies about WMD.

                The death and destruction from this war makes any suffering wrought by Saddam pale into insignificance before even considering the terrible precedent created by "exceptional" America.

                The "rules" based world means subjugation to "exceptional" America. The rules don't apply to the exceptional. They are the exception. In a law based system there are no exceptions. There are only precedents. When a precedent is set its considerations apply to all. Iraq broke the system of international law that had already been seriously twisted by the bombing of Belgrade.

            • Populuxe1 5.1.1.1.1.2

              No one said it was justified, in fact I said it was illegal and didn't achieve much, but unlike some people I'm not enough of a hypocrite to pretend I am not delighted Saddam Hussein and his two loathsome sons were eradicated from the face of the earth.

              Personally, I think Saddam had more compassion

              This would be the Saddam with the r*pe dungeons in his palaces? The Saddam who committed genocide against the Marsh Arabs and the Kurds? The same Saddam that used to intimidate his underlings by suggesting his son Uday would love to meet their daughters? I suppose that would be if Uday had the time when not torturing the national football team for failing to place. That Saddam?

              • RedLogix

                with the r*pe dungeons in his palaces

                See my comment above at 5.1.1.1

                On a daily basis for more than a year, and that is only the smallest part of it. And Subsie here thinks it hilarious.

              • Subliminal

                The US has admitted to the use of white phosphorus in Falujah. Snipers were stationed so as to shoot anything that moved. This included veey old people and women with babies. Ambulances were blown up and health professionals in hospitals treating white phosphourous victims were threatened and then shot. Hundreds died in this inferno and this was but one theatre of the killing fields that Iraq became. Torture and rape were well documented events throughout the campaign. Quality of suffering is impossible to measure but on purely a numbers approach were compassion is measured on the quantity of death and destruction the US military will always have much to teach the likes of Saddam

                • Populuxe1

                  Congratulations. Your informal logical fallacy is Tu Quoque, otherwise known as Whataboutery: "attempting to discredit an opponent's position by charging hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving the argument."

            • joe90 5.1.1.1.1.3

              Dude had people branded, hands, feet and ears amputated, opponents arbitrarily arrested, detained unlawfully, raped, tortured and murdered. Religious minorities persecuted and discriminated against, their property confiscated. Other minorities persecuted and discriminated against and entire regions of Iraq ethnically cleansed by mass deportations, rape and murder.

              More compassion, scum-bag left style.

              //

              .

    • RedLogix 5.2

      • weston 5.2.1

        Might have to watch the sunday one as well do you reckon red to get the whole context ?

        • RedLogix 5.2.1.1

          I realise Ukraine is an incredibly polarising issue – but Vlad Vexler feels like a trustworthy voice to my ear.

  6. aj 6

    Orwell's Ministry of Truth function was to re-write history and facts to serve war aims. The mainstream western media spent a decade calling the Azov Battalion neo-Nazi fanatics, yet now speak of them in admiring terms and suggest their Nazism is just a "Russian claim." Let's see what some peoples favourite source said about Azov as recently as 2018 / 2019:

    Ukrainian Far-Right Fighters, White Supremacists Trained by Major European Security Firm

    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/08/30/ukrainian-far-right-fighters-white-supremacists-trained-major-european-security-firm/

    "Defend the White Race": American Extremists Being Co-Opted by Ukraine's Far-Right

    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2019/02/15/defend-the-white-race-american-extremists-being-co-opted-by-ukraines-far-right/

    • Populuxe1 6.1

      yet now speak of them in admiring terms

      I'd like to see some actual evidence of that.

    • mikesh 6.2

      Orwell's Ministry of Truth was not so much directed at 'war aims" as maintaining Ingsoc's hold on power.

  7. Populuxe1 7

    So who in the mainstream are singing the unconditional praises of the Azov Battalion? That sounds like a straw person to me. Their beliefs are undesirable but they were little more than a gang of football hooligans prior to the Russian-backed crisis in Donbass and Luhansk. Although there are clearly Neo-Nazis in their ranks, as there undoubtedly are in our own military, post integration into the Ukrainian National Guard they do not appear to be explicitly or politically Neo-Nazi as a whole beyond the inherited imagery.

    Tablet Magazine, which definitely doesn't have any love for Nazis, says of them:

    It is indisputable that Azov was home to all sorts of nasty characters when it was first founded, and like many fighting forces (including America’s), it doubtless still contains some white supremacists, racists, and chauvinists today. But it is no longer a practically or ideologically racist organization, any more than the U.S. Army could still be called segregated after 1948.

    Why is Azov capitalised? It's literally a placename, not an acronym. Also perhaps Putin should start with de-Nazifying Russia before he starts invading other countries. The existence and influence of the Azov Battalion is almost entirely down to a reactionary response to Putin's machinations in the east. Otherwise all the far right political parties in Ukraine combined couldn't get enough votes for a seat in the Parliament. To be honest, if New Zealand were to be invaded and the National Front were fighting them on the beaches, I probably wouldn't be too picky either. Priorities and so forth.

    As for the Christchurch monster, not having seen the manifesto and like every other law abiding New Zealander being very unlikely to see the manifesto, I can't really comment, but it is known he went to India for three months as well. Are we to infer that he was also Hindu? The reality is, which should be obvious to anyone who thought about it for a few minutes and doesn't have an ideological wheelbarrow to push, that the internet means lots of unsavory people can radicalise each other with ideas, without necessarily having any other meaningful connection. It's a parasocial relationship at best.

    • adam 7.1

      Why are you whitewashing this group? They are not football hooligans.

      The main stream media – Well Facebook for starters. And also where have you been with the coverage of the Azovstal steel works? With the fighters in the plant with their neo-nazi insignia on display in almost ever news cast.

      Or the media doing as you are doing, down playing the fact they are a violent far right group operating within the Ukrainian army. Sure they may be small, not arguing against that. But I am going to point out they are not the liberal type you are use to to, nor do they play by the rules of law in any way. Violence is their politics, and the faster you learn that the better.

      • Populuxe1 7.1.1

        Why are you whitewashing this group? They are not football hooligans.

        I'm not. Never have. And they literally emerged from a gang of football Ultras associated with FC Metalist Kharkiv in 1982. Ironically in those days, before 2014, they were allied with their fellow racist hooligans in Russia supporting FC Spartak Moscow. You you actually have any idea of the kind of nationalist violence that goes with football? Clearly not, so probably not much of an expert on international white supremacism then. The insurgency in Kharkiv organised them far more effectively.

        Is it a more pressing issue than the wholesale slaughter of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian military machine?

        The main stream media – Well Facebook for starters. And also where have you been with the coverage of the Azovstal steel works? With the fighters in the plant with their neo-nazi insignia on display in almost ever news cast.

        Facebook is not the mainstream media. Facebook is full of crazies, trolls, idiots, and bots. Of course if Russia wasn't invading Ukraine there would be no media interest.

        Or the media doing as you are doing, down playing the fact they are a violent far right group operating within the Ukrainian army. Sure they may be small, not arguing against that. But I am going to point out they are not the liberal type you are use to to, nor do they play by the rules of law in any way. Violence is their politics, and the faster you learn that the better.

        The media don't usually name them. Putin is a far right element in charge of an entire country with nuclear weapons – that tends to worry me slightly more. As for any "liberal type" I may be used to, I've been active in hunting white supremacists in our politics for years. I've been threatened, intimidated, and know what a boot to the ribs feels like so kindly don't be condescending if it's all the same.

        • RedLogix 7.1.1.1

          Putin is a far right element in charge of an entire country with nuclear weapons – that tends to worry me slightly more.

          Which is why the far-left support for Putin here seems baffling – until you remember Horseshoe Theory.

          • adam 7.1.1.1.1

            Don't know any Anarcho-Communist, Syndicalists, or Christian Anarchists who think any authoritarian are worth supporting. Let alone have a hard on for Putin and his gaggle of war criminals.

            Who do you mean when you say far left Redlogix?

            • RedLogix 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Let alone have a hard on for Putin and his gaggle of war criminals.

              The author of the OP seems to tick that particular box. But again to be fair – not you.

          • In Vino 7.1.1.1.2

            For heaven's sake – I for one am well aware of Putin's megolomania and ruthless behaviour. But the minute anybody suggests that our side are guilty of anything at all, you speak of 'Putin supporters'.

            Are you on the side of the Ministry of Truth? Maybe your nom de plume should be BlueLogix rather than RedLogix? You aim your comment at the 'far-left', but to me it seems that you are demanding absolute adherence to the MSM line that Russia and Putin are totally evil, while we can have absolute trust in everything quoted from the Ukrainian propaganda machine, which seems to have the backing of our 5-eyes allies.

            So I guess I am now a far-left conspiracist?

            • RedLogix 7.1.1.1.2.1

              So I guess I am now a far-left conspiracist?

              To be fair – no. Not the same could be said of the OP author.

              it seems that you are demanding absolute adherence to the MSM line that Russia and Putin are totally evil, while we can have absolute trust in everything quoted from the Ukrainian propaganda machine

              Unlike almost everyone else here I have lived and worked in Russia twice – and I have written to those experiences here a number of times over the years. Nowhere have I characterised the Russian people as evil, quite the opposite.

              But there is no question this stupid, brutal invasion of Ukraine is utterly screwed up. I sincerely recommend this explanation:

            • RedLogix 7.1.1.1.2.2

              Apologies I linked to the wrong clip above – I really intended this one which is closer to the point I wanted to make on cultural trauma:

              • In Vino

                Thanks, RedLogix – interesting, and the guy arouses a lot of sympathy.

                Unfortunately, it still smacks of one-sided propaganda to me.

                eg – Every Russian bomb that is mentioned falls upon children, if not a children's hospital. It amazes me that the Russians can be so accurate in picking out the children. Laying it on a bit thick..

                • RedLogix

                  Given that it is Ukraine being invaded and Ukraine that faces being crushed by a neo-colonialist power which has explicitly denied their very existence – I would suggest they are allowed to tell their story as they see fit.

                  If nothing else this has to be the first YouTube war – an enormous amount of video material and analysis will inevitably present that side of the story that suits them. I think any intelligent person does keep this in mind.

                  • In Vino

                    That is why an intelligent person should be careful about taking any propaganda at all at face value. How many of the Russian atrocities are genuine?

                • Populuxe1

                  Well when you're firing and shelling into civilian populations, that does tend to be where children can be found. And actually yes there are a lot of large children's hospitals in Ukraine – legacy of Soviet infrastructure and all that. Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital is a large and obvious target in Kyiv.

                  • In Vino

                    Especially if nasty Ukrainian troops have started using the top storey for firing weapons, making the hospital a human shield.

                    We cannot know the truth, and that is our problem.

          • mikesh 7.1.1.1.3

            Whatever one may think of Putin, he's a vast improvement on his drunken predecessor. Putin has said that the Soviet collapse was the worst disaster that had ever happened to Russia. However, it was not the collapse itself that was the problem – communism was no great loss – but rather the events that followed. Things may have been different if Putin had been able to take over immediately.

            • RedLogix 7.1.1.1.3.1

              Whatever one may think of Putin, he's a vast improvement on his drunken predecessor.

              The truly tragic thing is that Putin is a vast improvement of all of his predecessors for several hundred years. Yet here we are.

              • In Vino

                There I almost agree – Russia has a culture and history of thriving only when it is ruled by a cruel despot, with a rod of iron. I agree with historians who call Stalin the latest of the great Tsars: the socialist/communist experiment stood little chance in Russia with Stalin around in such a culture. I think Putin is trying to be the next great Tsar, and I am neither surprised nor shocked by his brutal methods. But I have similar doubts about the Ukrainians, and suspect that the USA has been quietly stirring this up for a long time. (And we know what angels they are…)

        • adam 7.1.1.2

          Come on, facebook is where many people get their news, you might not like it, but it's the reality for substantial section of our society.

          Ha, I was sucker punched by a far right loony at a football match, so I know how crazy that shit can be. Also been stab by Serbian skin head protecting a immigrant family. So in the same boat. Why I got a bit pissed off at your comments. So for the condescending shitfuckry I appolgise.

          As for Putin, and the Oligarch who run Russia, nuclear armed totalitarians are always a threat, and like all totalitarians – scum.

    • Subliminal 7.2

      You seem to be forgetting the Odessa massacre in March 2014. The deliberate burning to death of 48 citizens of Ukraine in the Trade Union Hall.

      Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh told Newsweek on March 19th that the Western-backed coup regime in Kiev has organized Right Sector militia members into new paramilitary forces for a "war" to "cleanse the country" of pro-Russian protesters. So it is not clear whether the militiamen responsible for the mass murder in Odessa were in fact newly recruited Ukrainian "National Guard" troops or just "civilian" Right Sector thugs, nor whether they were locals from Odessa or forces sent in from Kiev, Lviv or elsewhere in Western Ukraine.

      For a fuller round up of this and other extreme violence, here or here

      48 citizens of Ukraine brutally murdered by burning with no investigation nor attempt to aprehend the culprits?? What does that say for these actions other than that they were accepted and condoned by the newly chosen Ukraine dictatorship, chosen by Victoria Newland, who is currently again in charge of the US Ukraine file under Biden?

      Given this level of ability to influence political, judicial and military, it is irrelevant as to the absolute numbers of far right parliamentarians. They have demonstrated their absolute ability to dictate the future path of the new illegitimate regime. The shelling and killing of citizens in the Donbass and the massive increase in this shelling, prior to the Russian recognition of the LDNR in Feb, which led to an attempt at total evacuation of the civilian population from these shelled regions, shows the continued oversized dominance of the far right and their obsession to "cleanse" Ukraine of Russian speaking citizens.

      Your characterisation of Azov as "football hooligans" is a joke of the same order as Albrights sacrificial half million Iraqi children.

      • Populuxe1 7.2.1

        Yes, they're criminals. Have you seen what the Head Hunters get up to here? Or do you only care about violent organised crime when it fits into your ideological box?

        • Subliminal 7.2.1.1

          Do you ever read what others say?? Perhaps you could point out where it is that the Headhunterh have gained any control of any national or even provincial institutions or that the state or province condones or supports their violence??

          • Populuxe1 7.2.1.1.1

            Admittedly I do try to limit my reading of blatant apologism because it tends to interfere with my digestion. Either you gravely underestimate the reach of the Head Hunters in this country or you're woefully overestimating how much of a threat the Azov Battalion is to Ukraine.

            • Subliminal 7.2.1.1.1.1

              Right. So no state sponsored legitimacy then. Headhunters that burned 48 people to their death could be assured of members of the local constabulary knocking on their doors and asking questions and also of being refused any request to form a battalion in the NZ defence force and further visits by the constabulary if making credible threats against the PM or demands that speakers of a nationally recognised language be cleansed from the population

              • Populuxe1

                You know, I genuinely am more worried by a the war itself than your need to go hunting for Nazis under beds.

        • Pierre 7.2.1.2

          My advice when far-right thugs come to your neighbourhood, it's important to get organised and support the local antifa.

          Russian antifa

      • aj 7.2.2

        A five-minute read on the background of Azov. Believe or disbelieve as you will, the verifiable facts seem ok and the rest are opinions.

        A thread on “Azov”. A lot of people are talking about them these days, the New York Times & the Pope call on them to be saved, they are being presented as glorious heroes. So, let's take a short look at their history:

        The roots of “Azov” can be found in the Neonazi soccer hooligan scene of Kharkov. Andrei Biletsky was the central figure of the nascent movement for the longest time. A Kharkov native, he joined numerous nationalist organizations, e.g. the Lvov-based “Tryzub”.

        https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1528023220225466374.html

  8. barry 8

    "liberation of the Russian-speaking territories in eastern Ukraine"

    FFS – you can discuss the far-right in Azov without repeating Russian bullshit.

    They have not "liberated" Mariupol, they have flattened it. It reminds me of the American "we had to destroy the village to save it" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Arnett

    The Azov battalion would never have gained the strength or the political cover in Ukraine, if it had not been for Russian aggression in the East. It is like Afghanistan and Al Qaeda. War and destabilisation give room of extremist movements to grow.

    Russia is doing much more to fuel extremism than fighting it.

    • Francesca 8.1

      The precursors of Azov were formed way before the violent sacking of the Ukraine parliament in 2014.Biletsky, the infamous Biletsky formed Patriot of Ukraine way back in 2005

      The unit was initially formed as a volunteer group in May 2014 out of the ultra-nationalist Patriot of Ukraine gang, and the neo-Nazi Social National Assembly (SNA) group. Both groups engaged in xenophobic and neo-Nazi ideals and physically assaulted migrants, the Roma community and people opposing their views.

      The underlying ideology was well established before 2014, so sorry, you can't blame the eastern provinces for that .Like blaming the jews for the nazis

    • weston 8.2

      Whateva Barry seems to me there's far more bullshit coming out of Kyiv than Russia and Mariupol has hosted the Azov's as very unwelcome guests for far too long according to the bulk of the residents living there .

      Neither has Mariupol been" flattened" despite very fierce fighting and will doubtless be being rebuilt as we speak .

      Russia views the rabble of mercenaries volunteers ex crims far right extremists posing as regular ukrainian military as just that a rabble and having recognized the breakaway regions of the donbass will live up to the expectations of those populaces in removing them by the looks of it .Eight years is a long time to live at the point of a gun and imo peace and security for these regions is at long last in sight .

      Imo the goverment of Zelensky and his oligarch backers has been an absolute and unmitigated disaster for ukraine and their total failure to implement the Minsk agreement just one highlight of a dismal divisory performance the cost of which ukraine will probably be paying for a very long time indeed .

      • RedLogix 8.2.1

        Russia views the rabble of mercenaries

        Given that Putin has so far refused to declare this special operation a war – technically every Russian soldier in Ukraine is at this moment a mercenary.

        • In Vino 8.2.1.1

          Mercenaries do not inherently belong to one specific army like the Russian soldiers involved – the hire themselves out temporarily to any old cause. I would say there are soldiers on both sides. And maybe some mercenaries involved on either side.

          • RedLogix 8.2.1.1.1

            My point is – that every Russian soldier in Ukraine is being paid to fight in another country that their country is not at war with. Pretty much the definition of a mercenary.

      • joe90 8.2.2

        the rabble of mercenaries

        Like this dude with the SS collar tab tattoos?

    • mikesh 8.3

      They have not "liberated" Mariupol, they have flattened it.

      True. A territory can't be "liberated", only a people. However, that seems to miss the point.

  9. lprent 9

    Getting excited by a far-right political movement that had less then 0.5% in the most recent election in Ukraine, and minimal support in any part of government since 2017 – well it is good for conspiracy theorists and the Russian equivalent of Fox.

    We probably have similar support for at-right ideology in NZ. But it is simply too small to be a serious problem. I'm getting tired of people raising this as a serious issue because I have looked at it, after it got raised and found no evidence of anything worth more than a watching brief by intelligence and security forces. The same as I hope has happened here since Christchurch.

    I find it irrelevant to the world as a whole and the people claiming it as being important as being suckers for stupid propaganda. This post and its comments adds nothing to that argument.

    What I find relevant to the world is a state that is started a undeclared war by launching an invasion on a neighbouring state, and threatening their usage of nuclear weapons for any state that interferes with their attack.

    They have justified their attack using great power language that comes directly from the 19th century, ethnic cleansing language that comes straight out of the Balkans, and a logic about NATO and the EU that completely ignores the clear intent of the populations in other nations that voluntarily entered those alliances. None of which should have any relevance for anyone with any brains in the 21st century.

    All of those arguments has caused immense wars over the last 3 centuries and only deserve to be dumped in the dustbin of history.

    To support this, the Russian Federation has added measures against internal dissent that remind me of the pre-war Nazi clampdowns in the 1930s. The actions of their troops in occupied territories remind me of the SS and Gestapo extermination campaigns against civilians in Eastern Europe in the 1940s. This being reported by a reasonably unconstrained free international press and bodies concerned with war crimes.

    If Mike wants to look for Nazi like activity, then I'd suggest that he should start looking at current events, and start putting less weight on a political grouping in the Ukraine that is about a 10th of the vote as One Nation in aussie, and a possible military group that is even smaller in Ukrainian armed force than their political impact.

    • RedLogix 9.1

      Rational, balanced and much appreciated. yes

    • mikesh 9.2

      Electoral support is often irrelevant. One only has to look at various military coups in South America to realise that. Azov doesn’t appear to be the only fascist group in Ukraine.

      • Populuxe1 9.2.1

        It still doesn't mean they can't hold their national conference in a cupboard.
        As Paul Spoonley could no doubt tell you, we have the National Front, Dobson's Pledge, Wargus Christi, the White nationalist Dominion Movement, and Action Zealandia. Does that entitle Russia to invade us as well?

      • lprent 9.2.2

        The military coups require widespread support inside the military and even in the population . Military coups don't happen in a vacuum (like inside of your head appears to be), they happen when their are large amounts of support inside a military organisation and inside their host population. There isn't any evidence of that.

        If you aren't the complete fool, then you'll lookup the pre-war size of the worst possible case.

        What is the size of the Azov brigade and what is the size of the rest of standing army? At best it is only a few percent of the standing armed forces of Ukraine. How exactly does a minnow swallow an elephant – when the elephant has most of the weapons.

        There is no particular evidence (outside of the fevered conspiracy theories of demented fear-mongers) that the rest of the military in Ukraine contains more than the usual proportion of alt-right nutbars. Those exist in every military or para-military organisation (like our police) world wide.

        The reality is that this teeny part of the Ukrainian population and military has been pumped up as some kind of daft bogeyman. Primarily for the benefit and by the Russian propaganda.

        In my view that was mostly because it was a way of explaining why the Russian subservient wannabe breakaway states were unable to make any headway in their stated objectives after their initial surprise in 2014. That was despite the high levels of support given from the Russian military in their undeclared war against Ukraine.

        I haven't seen anyone manage to make a case for it being credible in realistic way. We just get a lot of knee quivering waffle with about as much useful detail as this post and commentary.

  10. UncookedSelachimorpha 10

    I find this post despicable – spewing Russian propaganda while the Russians comit unspeakable crimes and rape, murder and destroy. Garbage from a brutal regime that considers Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to be extremist sources.

    Here is another view on Azov from the Centre for Civil Liberties:

    There are no units created based on ideology among Ukrainian National Guard, nor are there any among the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

    The only possible ideology of any unit of the National Guard of Ukraine is the Disciplinary Statute. Among other rules, it states the obligation to “respect human rights, honor and dignity” and “refrain from expressions and actions which can violate human rights or humiliate honor and dignity of a person”.

    There are people of different ethnic origins – Russians, Jews, Crimean Tatars among others, of various religious views and political affiliations. There is no limitation on who could be part of it. According to the unit’s officers, the majority of the personnel are Russian-speaking.

    “We despise Nazism and Stalinism”, – is stated in one of the last posts on the official Telegram channel of the unit (from March 28). By the way, it is stated in Russian.

  11. UncookedSelachimorpha 11

    Seven popular myths about Russia's aggression against Ukraine

    This includes discussion of the "Azov Nazi" lies coming from Russia.

  12. thebiggestfish7 12

    You are nothing short of a Russian war apologist. Disgraceful.

  13. Janet 13

    What I find relevant to the world is a state that is started a undeclared war by launching an invasion on a neighbouring state, and threatening their usage of nuclear weapons for any state that interferes with their attack.”

    As I see it too and when you consider, as they say, Putin has quite a strong Christian faith

    Thou shalt not kill. …

    You shall not covet your neighbour's house…….or anything that is your neighbour’s.
    Thou shalt not steal.

    Thou shall not bear false witness.

    Yeah right ! Rotten Putin, rotten Russia

  14. UncookedSelachimorpha 14

    An article examining the history of the Azov battilion, as they developed from their initial far-right origins. Much more nuanced view than the Russian propaganda of the original post.

    Branding the Azov Battalion as ‘neo-Nazi’ long after it shed its far-right origins is part of a deafening corruption of public discourse

  15. Well done, Mike, for keeping your head while all around are losing theirs. The mounting evidence on Azov et al deserves more than flaccid "conspiracy theory" accusations.

    Let's see how this looks in a few years. Western MSM views on the issue have certainly been subjected to revision by the Ministry of Truth.

    lprent, you diminish the issue with low voting figures. Are you suggesting that there are not whole neo-Nazi battalions, no serious infiltration of the Interior Ministry and Police, and that Mariupol has been administered since 2015 by the regular Urainian Army?

    • Gosman 15.1

      Are you stating the Russian military is not also employing far-right militias in the fgight in Ukraine?

  16. Joe90 16

    De-Nazifying Ukraine. By getting rid of the Jews.
    /

    • Phil 16.1

      I get that it's Soloviev's job to churn out propaganda for the masses, but it's just fucking embarrassing to see so many people willingly swallow the idea that Ukranian history started around 1917, as if there wasn't literally thousands of years of geopolitical shifting sands before then, most of which had nothing to do with it being a Russian client state or whatever the hell Soloviev is trying to justify now.

      • joe90 16.1.1

        The rot is deep. Little wonder Ukrainians are averse to negotiating.

  17. Gosman 17

    While elements of the Azov battalion are definately unpleasant and far-right in nature the ideology has been watered down since it founding back in 2014. On top of that is the fact that many of the militias it is fighting against from the Russian controlled Donbas region also share far-right ideas and have neo-Nazi symbolism associated with them.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/russia-fighter-neo-nazi-symbols-medal-kill-ukraine-nationalist-2022-4

  18. One soldier is not evidence of structural incorporation of neo-Nazi elements, Gosman.

  19. AB 19

    Do military forces defending a nation's borders need to undergo ideological purity tests to determine if that defence is justified?

    Probably a bad idea – because no self-defence would ever be justified. History, as TS Eliot suggested in 'Gerontion', has many 'contrived corridors' and 'supple confusions'.

  20. aj 20

    This is almost 'off-topic' – two important articles in relation to the issues around this conflict in general, and not the narrow discussion about Azov in this thread above.

    Both writers are experts in their fields. I doubt reading these will liquify any of the frozen solid opinions expressed in this debate but there is value in presenting them and trying to understand as best we can the wider issues involved in this, the most vital and terrifying malfunction in diplomacy in our time.

    Richard Falk (an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University) makes many thought-provoking points in this article and his dissection of the 'Right to Veto' in the UN is particularly interesting.

    Such an observation makes us aware that there exists not one source of normative authority in international but at least two. There is the fundamental idea deriving from the origins of the modern states system identified with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which accorded equality to sovereign states. And then there is a second source of largely unwritten normative authority that regulates those few states that are freed from the constraints of international law and enjoy impunity for their actions. These are the states given the veto power, and among these states are those that seek the added discretion of being non-accountable for their acts.

    Westphalian Logic and Geopolitical Prudence in the Nuclear Age.

    The fog of war has been replaced by a war fever while making the transition from helping Ukraine defend itself against aggression to pursuing a victory over Russia increasingly heedless of nuclear dangers and worldwide economic dislocations that threatened many millions with famine, acute insecurity, and destitution.

    In the context of the Ukraine War Russia is to be faulted for its flagrant violation of the prohibition of aggressive war and its war crimes in Ukrainian combat zones, and for intimating a willingness to have recourse to nuclear weapons if its vital interests are threatened. The United States is to be faulted for irresponsible statecraft or imprudent geopolitics by its replacement of a defensive role of support of Ukrainian resistance by pushing for the defeat of Russia through the massive increase of aid, encouragement of enlarged Ukrainian goals, supplying offensive weaponry, continuation of demonizing Putin, absence of advocacy of ceasefire and peace diplomacy, inattentiveness to escalation risks especially in relation to nuclear dangers, and overall manipulation of Ukraine Crisis as part of its strategic commitment to the sort of unipolar geopolitics that has emerged during the aftermath of the Cold War, which entails a repudiation of Chinese and Russian efforts to replace unipolarity with multipolarity. It is this latter tension that if not addressed points to Cold War II, feverish arms races, periodic crises, and diversion of resources and energies from such urgent global challenges as climate change, food security, and humane migration policies.

    https://www.radiofree.org/2022/05/20/westphalian-logic-and-geopolitical-prudence-in-the-nuclear-age/

    Stephen Cohen was recognised as the pre-eminent American scholar of Russian studies. His academic work concentrated on modern Russian history since the Bolshevik Revolution and Russia's relationship with the United States.

    Taking Aim at Criminalizing Russia: Stephen Cohen Challenges A Rampant Mania

    Cohen urges us to really face up to Russia’s status in the geopolitical world. Russia remains the “largest territorial country in the world. It possesses a disproportionate share of the planet’s natural resources, from energy, iron ore, nickel, timber, diamonds, and gold to fresh water. It is also squarely between East and West, whose civilizations are in conflict, and part of both. Months ago I raised the possibility that Russia might ‘leave the West,’ driven out by the new Cold War or by choice. The possibility is now said by a top Kremlin aide and ideologist to be inescapable”. It certainly seems to me (four years after he wrote these words), that US/EU/NATO is forcing Russia out of the Euro-security zone. Russia desires to “protect its own borders” and has not expanded towards American borders.

    Here we have it – “sanctioned, criminal Russia is ‘isolated from the international community’” – a western media conceit. “’Putin’s Russia’ and non-Western countries such as China, Iran, India, and other BRIC nations are thriving. And it is there that most of the world’s territory, people, resources, and growing markets are located. For them, Russia is not criminal but an eagerly sought partner”. Cohen reminds, as well, that there is “military parity” between the US and Russia: the “road to American national security runs through Moscow.” But, alas, “This necessity may now seem futile, as US political-media elites mindlessly criminalize Russia”. This wounded and beautiful and powerful country does not need criminalization.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/05/20/taking-aim-at-criminalizing-russia-stephen-cohen-challenges-a-rampant-mania/

  21. Jenny how to get there 21

    The people of Ukraine know who the real "Terrorists" are.

  22. Jenny how to get there 22

    The people of Syria know who the real terrorists are, they are the same terrorists that Putin has been recruiting to help in his invasion and occupation of Ukraine.

    Hundreds of Syrian civilians. men women and children were killed by Russian bombing raids on Aleppo. Followed up by Assad's mopping up terror groups.

    Except for a few deluded cranks, the whole world knows who the real fascists and terrorists are.

  23. rightofcentre 23

    Im impressed with that article.

    That is the most honest writeup I have seen written in NZ in regards to Ukraine

    It makes me happy to see not all leftys are walking in lockstep and some still have the intellect to see through the bullshit

  24. Mike the Lefty 24

    I suppose it is a question of ethics and morality.

    When we look at the neo-Nazi Azov defenders and the civilian-murdering Russian invaders who do we judge as the better?

    In the end it doesn't matter whether they are hard-line Nazi, hard-line Stalinist or just plain hard-line. They all believe in the same things – domination, exploitation of humankind and they all use the same methods – intimidation and violence.

    Each is worse than the other.

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