Shariy has lived in exile since 2012, having fled during the presidency of
Viktor Yanukovych and received political asylum in the EU. His opposition to the
2014 Maidan coup d'etat grew his profile and made him a target of Petro
Poroshenko, who came to power in its wake. The neo-Nazi movements he had exposed
in prior years had gained serious political power and intensified their
aggression against him. In 2015, Lithuanian media branded Shariy as a "favorite
friend of Putin," and the Lithuanian government soon revoked his asylum. Shariy,
meanwhile, had sought protection elsewhere and relocated to Spain, where he has
continued to grow into one of the most popular critics of President Volodymyr
However, his predicament has hardly improved. In 2019, Alexander Zoloytkhin, a
former soldier of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, published the address and photos
of the house where Sharij, his wife Olga Shariy and young child live, as well as
photos of Olga's car. Ukrainian neo-Nazis demonstrated outside his house and he
received numerous death threats.
Today, he is a top target of the Kiev government, neo-Nazi paramilitaries, and
"I helped him to become the president"
Shariy began his career in journalism in 2005, first writing for women's
magazines, and then conducting investigations into Ukrainian oligarchs,
organized crime, and neo-Nazi networks.
He became a well-known critic of the 2014 U.S.-orchestrated Maidan coup d'etat,
using his YouTube channel video blog to amass an enormous online
following. Today, he has nearly 3 million subscribers on YouTube, 340,000 on
Facebook, and 268,000 on Twitter, becoming one of the country's most popular
journalists despite living outside its borders for a decade.
In 2019, months ahead of the presidential election, Shariy founded a
center-right Libertarian political party, naming it after himself: The Party of
Shariy. Appealing to young professionals and small and medium business owners,
Shariy's online popularity transformed him into an important player in building
a coalition, consistently polling between three and six percent.
Shariy actively supported Zelensky during the campaign, attacking the incumbent
Poroshenko. "I thought he [Zelensky] was determined to follow up on his election
promises. I helped him to become the president. It's true me and my team did
anything for him to get the post," Shariy told m
Shariy's activists were effective in disrupting Poroshenko's campaign events.
"We were following Poroshenko everywhere we went with his pre-election
tour. There were so many people in each city and town organizing themselves in
groups and asking Poroshenko hard questions," Shariy recalled.
In one July 2019 event, Shariy's supporters trolled Poroshenko's campaign motto
- "Army - YES, Language - YES, Faith - YES" - answering "Shariy" instead of
But Zelensky's carefully-crafted campaign image of a political outsider
dedicated to stamping out rampant corruption - copy-pasted from his hit
television series, "Servant of the People" - turned out to be a farce.
Zelensky cut deals with oligarchs and stacked his cabinet with the same figures
he spent his campaign criticizing. He spurned the coalition-building efforts
that typify Ukraine's multi-party parliamentary democracy, preferring to cut
backroom deals for votes. He even sided with his former bitter rival
Poroshenko's own party in Odessa's 2020 municipal elections despite his famous
quote during the pre-election debates when he told Poroshenko, "I AM YOUR
VERDICT" - "Я - ваш приговор".
"When I realized he was not intending to change anything, the corruption was the
same or even worse, we changed our mind," Shariy said.
Following Zelensky's victory, he proceeded to eliminate state funding for
parties that received under 5% of the vote in the elections. Shariy's party,
having received only 2.23%, was among those that were cut off.
Spurned by the new president who he helped get elected, Shariy publicly
denounced Zelensky, remarking that he should "curtail their state funding and
shove it up their ass."
Zelensky betrayed his campaign promises of reform and meaningful progress in the
Donbass stalemate, leading to a rapid decline in popular support. This left a
niche open which was quickly filled by the Party of Shariy. While older voters
traditionally supported Viktor Medvedchuk's "Opposition Platform - For Life",
Shariy's online presence and style appealed to younger generations.
On the ground, Party of Shariy activists began to protest Zelensky with the same
tactics they had wielded in his favor against Poroshenko, appearing at his
events and demanding his resignation.
As Shariy gained political capital and was even considered a possible contender
for the presidency in a future election, the war of words between him and
Zelensky turned into a bitter rivalry.
Zelensky lashed out at Shariy, accusing him of "trying to increase your rating
at the expense of my rating, the rating of the president."
Ukrainian journalist Yuri Tkachev, who was recently arrested by the SBU,
commented that Shariy's party is much stronger than the polls indicate. "It is
strange to think that the government would spend so much energy on an
insignificant opposition party. All this makes us think that their ratings are
higher than they are trying to show us," he remarked.
Hunting dissidents on a political "safari"
Throughout the election, the anti-Poroshenko antics of the Party of Shariy were
met with severe violence from the president's base, which included
ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists. Some who dared to ask Poroshenko difficult
questions were beaten. In Zaporizhzhya, a man's car was set on fire and a woman
was assaulted by Poroshenko himself.
This violence continued after Zelensky won the election and his rivalry with
At a June 2020 demonstration in which Party of Shariy members demanded an
investigation into the politically motivated attacks on their members, neo-Nazi
groups attacked using smoke bombs and tear gas, followed by brawls inside the
subway. Afterward, these groups announced a political "safari," offering rewards
for attacks on Party of Shariy members. This marked the escalation of violence
meted out against the political opposition, especially targeting the Party of
Shariy and its supporters.
In one incident, masked men beat a young man in Kharkiv, leaving him severely
injured and hospitalized. In Vinnytsia, men from the neo-fascist group Edelweiss
beat a party member in broad daylight, breaking his ribs and puncturing a
lung. In another incident, a member of the U.S.-trained neo-Nazi Azov Battalion
attacked a member inside their party office.
While members of his party were beaten in the streets and inside their offices,
Shariy was under threat. On July 8, 2020, he accused Zelensky of ordering his
assassination, publishing a confession given to Catalan Police by Zoloytkhin,
the man who had published his address the year before. Zoloytkhin was wanted in
Ukraine for numerous serious crimes, including participation in the 2016
kidnapping and beating of journalist Vladislav Bovtruk. Zoloytkhin confessed to
police that top figures in the Zelensky government had instructed him to murder
Shariy, and Shariy published a video confession from Zoloytkhin.
-- Cont'd at https://www.mintpressnews.com/volodymyr-zelensky-secret-police-hunted-down-opposition-anatoly-shariy/280200/