Spanish college scraps exhibition of photos by Ukrainian Azov fighter
The Polytechnic University of Catalonia said it suddenly learned that photographer attached to the notorious unit was a neo-Nazi
The Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) has scrapped a photo exhibition by Dmitry Kozatsky, a Ukrainian militant with the notorious neo-Nazi Azov regiment. The exhibition ran at a university’s library since October 18 until Sunday, when it was abruptly removed.
The University said it opted to cancel the exhibition after it was alerted about Kozatsky, who is also known under his military call sign ‘Orest’, and about his neo-Nazi views.
“Regarding the information revealed about the author of the exhibition at the Ferraté Library, we inform that the artwork has been removed and that the University wasn’t aware of the ideology of the author. The UPC radically rejects Nazism and regrets the situation created,” the University said in a statement.
The photos displayed at the exhibition were taken by the fighter during the Azovstal siege earlier this year, with the militant ultimately ending up in Russian custody. Orest was released from captivity during a prisoner swap between Kiev and Moscow later into the conflict.
It was not immediately clear how exactly the University managed to miss Orest’s views, given he never actually concealed them and proudly displayed assorted hate symbols on social media. The downfall of the exhibition happened only when Anatoly Shariy, a popular Ukrainian opposition blogger and a vocal critic of the Kiev government, who is currently residing in Spain, became aware of the event earlier in the day.
Shariy claimed he had contacted “several influential journalists” in the country, stating on social media that the University “will remember this exhibition for a long time.” Apart from that, the blogger encouraged his followers to spam the University with screenshots of Orest’s now-deleted posts, where he displayed assorted neo-Nazi hate symbols.
Shariy predicted the spam attack will be countered by “dumb Nazis,” trying to dismiss the offensive imagery as “Russian propaganda.” Indeed, a handful of pro-Ukrainian users have shown up on the University’s social media feeds, claiming the screenshots were doctored and accusing it of supporting Moscow with the cancellation of Kozatsky’s photo exhibition over his views.
The offensive posts by Orest included the fighter showing off a pizza he baked with a ketchup swastika topping. Apart from that, Orest posted a mirror shot of himself sporting a black hoodie with Ukrainian coat of arms and ‘14/88’ written on it. The numerical coding is widely regarded as a hate symbol and is extremely popular amongst assorted neo-Nazi groups.
The code is a reference to racist concepts originating with the late US white supremacist and convicted domestic terrorist David Lane, namely his Fourteen Words and the 88 Precepts. On its own, ‘88’ is considered to be a reference to the ‘Heil Hitler” salute, as ‘H’ is the 8th letter of the alphabet.