Right Sector refuses to obey Ukraine’s Defense Ministry - presidential aid

Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko
Paramilitary units of the ultranationalist Right Sector movement have refused to come under the command of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, President Petro Poroshenko’s aid told national TV. This might complicate the legal status of the group.

“I personally proposed a full legal clearance scheme to Right Sector,” presidential aid Yury Biryukov told the Ukrainian Channel 5 TV station.

A number of options have been on the table, Biryukov said, all of them implying contract service under the command of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.

“They turned down this service,” Biryukov said, adding that armed forces are primarily “about discipline, order, subordination and central command.” However, when a paramilitary unit wants to become legal, yet remain autonomous and report to nobody, “that is a sort of science fiction.”

Back in November, Biryukov declared Right Sector’s Ukrainian Volunteer Corps was going to get legal status as an armed forces unit, yet no confirmation of the announcement followed.

Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

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The Right Sector group was formed in 2013 and came under the single command of the group’s leader, Dmitry Yarosh. The group, known for its radical actions and neo-Nazi ideology, vigorously took part in ousting Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich in February 2014.

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Later on, Right Sector’s paramilitary units were armed by the new Kiev authorities.

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Battalions formed with Right Sector members took active part in Kiev’s operations against the protesting, Russian-speaking population in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in the east.

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In May 2014, Right Sector activists reportedly descended on Odessa, where a stand-off with anti-Kiev demonstrators resulted in tragedy – dozens were shot, burnt alive and even butchered with axes in the Trade Unions House.

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In November, Russia’s supreme court endorsed a lawsuit filed by Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office and directed that Right Sector and UNA-UNSO be recognized as extremist Ukrainian ultra-nationalist groups.

In March 2014, the Russian Investigative Committee started criminal cases against several members of the radical Ukrainian groups over charges of fighting against the Russian military in the Chechen wars of the 1990s. Right Sector’s Dmitry Yarosh also faced a separate criminal case over public calls for extremist activities.

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Right Sector's leader Dmitry Yarosh (RIA Novosti/Pavel Palamarchuk)

One of the Right Sector leaders, Igor Mozur, issued a statement this week, calling on the Ukrainian army to start guerrilla warfare in the rebel Donbass region and Russia’s Crimea peninsula.

Mozur proposes to send small guerrilla regiments to territories not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities to inflict pinpoint strikes: blow up bridges and stations, kidnap former Ukrainian law enforcement officers to bring them to ‘justice’ in the Ukrainian courts, punish ‘traitors’ and intimidate ‘collaborators.’