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22 Oct, 2019 13:33

Ukraine’s infamous ultra-nationalist group Azov says US lawmakers SLANDERED them by saying they inspire terrorism

Ukraine’s infamous ultra-nationalist group Azov says US lawmakers SLANDERED them by saying they inspire terrorism

A state-sponsored Ukrainian ultra-nationalist paramilitary unit with neo-Nazi roots has accused a group of US lawmakers of slander after they suggested it should be listed as a terrorist organization.

The notorious Ukrainian paramilitary group Azov took offense after 40 US Democratic representatives called it just that in a letter to the State Department. Led by Max Rose (D-NY), the lawmakers asked why a “violent white supremacist” group “that openly welcomes neo-Nazis into its ranks” has still not been officially listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the US government.

They wrote that the shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand had ties with Azov and “routinely wore a neo-Nazi symbol associated with them.” The massacre, which left 51 people dead, directly inspired the recent mass shootings in Poway, California and El Paso, Texas, the lawmakers said, accusing Azov of “radicalizing” American citizens.

The link between Azov and acts of terror in America is clear.

Azov quickly jumped to dismiss these claims as “nothing more than an informational attack against Ukraine, its sovereignty and state security.” The group also seized the opportunity to boast about being “one of the most well-known and most capable Ukrainian units,” and having earned respect at home and abroad for its “glory in combat.”

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Formed shortly after a civil war broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014, the Azov Regiment is mostly comprised of far-right volunteers, many of whom openly express white nationalist and neo-Nazi beliefs. The unit’s logo is the ‘Wolfsangel’ rune used by the German 2nd SS Panzer Division ‘Das Reich’ in WWII. Its members regularly participate in torchlight processions, honoring the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought alongside Hitler.

Azov’s commander Andriy Biletsky once said that Ukraine’s historical mission is to lead “the white nations of the world into the last crusade” against “the Semite Untermenschen.” Biletsky has toned down his nationalistic rhetoric in recent years and denies that his regiment has any ties to anti-Semitism.

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The regiment was eventually incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard, retaining its symbols. With some rare exceptions, the Western mainstream media and politicians have paid little or no attention to Azov and similar far-right units supported by Kiev.

The attitude towards the unit in the US started to shift somewhat in recent years. In 2018, Congress voted to ban military aid to Azov fighters. In the same year, 56 lawmakers signed a letter, condemning the unit for promoting neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic views.

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