Updates on the ‘Azov Lobby’
Over the past year, “Ukes, Kooks & Spooks” has published half a dozen posts about the neo-Nazi Azov Movement’s outreach to the United States, including a delegation from last autumn (Part 1, Part 2), visits by a neo-Nazi press officer for the Azov Regiment (Part 1, Part 2), and the growing networks to “Support Azov” (Part 1, Part 2). This series of updates will have at least three parts.
PART ONE — SPRING 2023 DELEGATION
The Azov Movement has sent its second delegation to the United States since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Once again, the group includes prominent Azov Regiment wives Kateryna Prokopenko and Yulia Fedosiuk, but this time their husbands have both been freed from Russian captivity. The star of the trip has been Arseniy Fedosiuk, an officer in the Azov Regiment who received medical treatment in Israel after his release in December.
On Saturday, June 3, the St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church, a cornerstone of Manhattan’s “Ukrainian East Village,” hosted a “Meeting with Azovstal Defender” Arseniy Fedosiuk. He was joined by his wife Yulia, the leader of an anti-feminist organization in Ukraine and “a prominent figure in Azov’s Plomin publishing house,” in addition to Kateryna Prokopenko, who is married to the commander of the Azov Regiment, a former football hooligan affiliated with the “White Boys Club.”
Earlier that day in Bowling Green, a small park in the Financial District, Arseniy Fedosiuk spoke at a rally alongside Arthur Zgurov, apparently the main organizer of Ukrainian protests in New York since the invasion, who appeared to moderate the community meeting at St. George. All day Fedosiuk wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the Wolfsangel, the emblem of Azov and “neo-Nazi symbol exploited by Russian propagandists.”
Over a year ago, Zgurov led another protest at Bowling Green in chants of “Azov! Azov! Azov!” Afterwards a right-wing journalist asked Zgurov about the “Nazi imagery” associated with Azov, in particular its Wolfsangel “armbands,” and he answered, “not at all, not at all, no Nazi, nothing… it’s part of Russian propaganda.” Earlier this spring, he organized a “free hugs” event in Times Square that United24, the Ukrainian president’s fundraising platform, described as “part of our #ThankYou! campaign.”
On Monday, June 5, the Association of Azovstal Defenders’ Families (AADF), an Azov front led by Kateryna Prokopenko and Yulia Fedosiuk, announced that they “started our advocacy campaign in American Congress in D.C.” Arseniy Fedosiuk accompanied them, wearing a Wolfsangel pin on the lapel of his jacket. Over a year earlier, The Times of London rushed to misinform western readers: “Azov Battalion drops neo-Nazi symbol exploited by Russian propagandists.”
The Azovites met concurrently with ultra-conservative U.S. Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC), who chairs the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Kevin Rudd, the liberal Ambassador of Australia to the United States and former prime minister. They also met with Paul Massaro, a senior policy advisor to the Helsinki Commission and provocative NAFO celebrity who has proudly championed the Azov movement.
These were the only meetings divulged from that day, but there were probably more. The next issue of the New York Times ran an article with the headline, “Nazi Symbols on Ukraine’s Front Lines Highlight Thorny Issues of History.” The U.S. newspaper of record is yet to ponder the thorny issue highlighted by Azov’s Nazi symbol appearing on Capitol Hill.
According to the AADF, one goal of the trip has been “building cooperation with American human rights defenders.” In this regard the mission has been absurdly successful, starting with the Helsinki Commission. Yulia Fedosiuk also held a meeting with Rachel Denber, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, which has in the past singled out the Azov battalion for “credible allegations…of torture and other egregious abuses.” Furthermore, the Azov trio met with Céline Boustani, the president of the Human Rights Foundation, a “right-wing regime-change lobby group that uses rich oligarch money to fund right-wing coup-mongers” according to journalist Ben Norton.
Later the Azov delegation met with Oksana Markarova, the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, and discussed future cooperation between the AADF and the Embassy of Ukraine. For this they were joined by Veronika Velch — the wife of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Senstov and the “senior director of advocacy” for Juleanna Glover, “widely considered one of the most powerful women in Washington” according to Wikipedia. Meanwhile, the infamous neocon Bill Kristol, co-founder of the Project for a New American Century, chimed in on Twitter, “It was an honor to meet Sgt. Fedosiuk, Yulia, and Kateryna Prokopenko yesterday in Washington, and truly inspiring to hear from them.”
The group ended the week in the heart of Chicago’s “Ukrainian Village” for a fundraiser at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, which held a similar event for the Azov delegation that came to the United States last fall. There was another charity auction, at which one banner sold for $5200. It remains to be seen what else may be on the schedule for the Azovites, and how their neo-Nazi movement continues to expand its outreach efforts to the United States. This was not the first visit, and certainly will not be the last…
But wait, there’s more. There was a notable difference between this delegation and the one that came before it, which hints at a potential rift in the Azov Movement. Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon on “Ukes, Kooks & Spooks.”