The Ukrainian political party Svoboda has generated considerable discussion since the start of Ukraine’s political crisis that began in November 2013. No doubt, Svoboda has a complicated portrait. Some observers place it in the family of fringe extreme-right political parties in Europe. Proponents of Svoboda say that it is undeservedly demonized and that it represents the voice of the “common man” against a corrupt and ineffective political elite.
As it entered the mainstream political orbit, Svoboda began to clean up its act. Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok—now a presidential candidate—shed his most radical positions. In recent years, he has emerged as someone striving for acceptance in more respectable political society. Others in the party who promote extremist positions have been pushed aside or silenced. Whether we are witnessing a genuine transformation of the party or a mimicry intended to disguise its genuine sentiments remains an open question. So far, the answer seems to be a little bit of both. [>>]