Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenksy is following in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi Party by having the opposition leader in Ukraine arrested on dubious charges.
The Nazi Party in 1930s Germany unleashed attacks on their political opposition as soon as Hitler became chancellor. Now Zelensky is following the playbook.
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On the evening of February 27, 1933, a fire in the Reichstag destroyed the building’s main chamber. Within 20 minutes, Hitler was on the scene to declare: “This is a God-given signal! If this fire, as I believe, turns out to be the handiwork of Communists, then there is nothing that shall stop us now from crushing out this murderous pest with an iron fist.”
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In the weeks that followed the fire in Germany’s parliament building, Hitler’s main political rivals were rounded up in their thousands and imprisoned. Some were executed.
Were any of them responsible for the fire? The question was irrelevant to the Nazis. They had been given an opportunity to get rid of their enemies, and they took it.
Sound familiar? It’s like Groundhog Day for Nazis.
President Zelensky expressed his delight on Tuesday after Kiev’s secret service arrested the country’s most prominent opposition leader.
Zelensky shared a photo of his handcuffed rival Viktor Medvedchuk on social media, with the caption: “A special operation was carried out by the SBU. Well done! Details to follow.”
The SBU is Ukraine’s main intelligence and security agency, founded in 1991 to replace the KGB.
“I consider it especially cynical of him to use military camouflage,” Zelensky later said, mocking Medvedchuk as trying to pose as a “warrior” and “patriot” and proposing to exchange the detained politician for Ukrainian prisoners of war held by Russia.
Medvedchuk heads the second largest party in the national parliament, the “Opposition Platform – For Life.” He was previously placed under house arrest, last year, as part of Zelensky’s clampdown on dissent, which was granted tacit approval by the regime’s Western supporters.
Medvedchuk, who opposed the 2014 Kiev Maidan, and believes the country’s Western turn to be detrimental to Ukraine’s interests, has led his party since 2018. He previously served as Chief of Staff to former President Leonid Kuchma, in the early 2000s.
Some Western commentators have labelled him as Vladimir Putin’s “closest ally in Ukraine.” However, the Russian President has described Medvechuk as a “Ukrainian nationalist.”
In 2019, Opposition Platform – For Life won 13% of the vote in a parliamentary election, making it the country’s largest opposition faction. Last year, polls showed that it had passed out Zelensky’s Servant of the People as the most popular party in the state.
That seemed to prompt a crackdown by Zelensky, who closed media outlets associated with Medvedchuk. Soon after, the politician was arrested on politically motivated “treason” charges.
Medvedchuk has rejected accusations of being “pro-Russian,” insisting his party represents millions of ordinary Ukrainians. In February 2021, he accused Zelensky of seeking to establish a dictatorship in Ukraine and suppress the legally elected opposition.