Ukrainian journalist & veteran of far-right Azov Battalion caught making Nazi salute (PHOTOS)
The photo of Natalia Kotskovitch was featured over the weekend by Anatoly Shariy, a popular Ukrainian video blogger and journalist, who lives in the EU under political asylum after fleeing Ukraine back in 2012.
The controversial image, in which Kotskovitch makes the Nazi salute while on a trip to Vienna, Austria was posted on her Facebook page. She is currently working as "journalist" for Poroshenko's Channel 5, according to her profile, which also says she used to be a "correspondent" for the same channel.
Although the photo was publicly available on Kotskovich's social media, she reacted angrily to Shariy bringing it into the spotlight. She brushed off the vlogger, branding him a "Kremlin scribbler" and urging her friends to tell anyone writing "Kotskovitch is a "fascist" to "f*** off."
After some of her colleagues jumped on board to insult him, Shariy revealed a follow-up video, featuring screenshots of their conversation. Kotskovitch later deleted the comments, along with the incriminating Vienna photo, which has been re-uploaded by multiple Internet users since then.
Earlier endeavors of Kotskovich, as well as photo evidence which is readily available on the web, suggest that her sympathy towards the Ukrainian far-right is not something made up by any of the alleged "Kremlin scribblers."
Kotskovitch used to serve with the notorious far-right Azov Battalion as a "frontline reporter" during the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. The Azov started as a paramilitary battalion comprised of far-right nationalists, but grew over time into a "regiment" incorporated into forces of Ukraine's Interior Ministry.
Photos from that period show Kotskovitch alongside Azov militants and other individuals covered in quite questionable Nazi-themed tattoos. Among other things, one of the photos shows Kotskovitch and a militant producing the quite familiar salute.
Kotskovitch herself boasts an arm tattoo featuring a stylized national Ukrainian ornament – with the Odal rune incorporated right in the middle of it. The symbol is strongly associated with neo-Nazis, and was used as an insignia of several SS units.
Kotskovitch has also edited Azov's newspaper, dubbed 'The Black Sun.' The paper's cover features the symbol of the same name – the so-called Schwarze Sonne – which was widely used in Nazi Germany and is now popular among Neo-Nazi groups worldwide. Both the Black Sun and another Nazi-related symbol, the Wolfsangel (Wolf's Hook), are incorporated into Azov's insignia.
The unit has been repeatedly accused of human rights violations during the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, including rape, torture, looting and unlawful detention. Apart from various non-government human rights groups, the allegations were raised by the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights as well.
Multiple accusations that strong neo-Nazi elements were present in the unit have prompted the US Congress to repeatedly try and ban sending military aid to Azov. The suggestion finally became a law earlier this year.
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