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26 Oct, 2022 19:38

Kiev street renamed to honor neo-Nazis

Thoroughfare previously bore the name of a Soviet marshal who liberated parts of Ukraine from Hitler's troops
Kiev street renamed to honor neo-Nazis

A street in Kiev previously named in honor of Soviet Marshal Rodion Malinovsky was officially renamed on Wednesday to celebrate the “heroes” of the notorious Azov Battalion, many of whose members openly proclaim neo-Nazi ideology. 

Malinovsky, a Ukrainian by origin, liberated much of southern Ukraine, including his home city of Odessa, from the Nazis in 1943-1944. Twice a Hero of the Soviet Union, the marshal served for ten years as the country’s minister of defense. Remarkably, the ceremony to rename the street that used to bear his name took place exactly 65 years after he was appointed to the ministerial post on October 26, 1957. 

According to the Azov Battalion website, the renaming ceremony was attended by representatives of the Kiev City Council and the Obolon District administration.

Also in attendance were members of the battalion itself. Its founder and first commander, Andrey Biletsky, nicknamed the ‘White Ruler’ by fellow Neo-Nazis, explained that the new name of the street, ‘Heroes of the Azov Regiment’, is “primarily about those who will not return” and those “who are in captivity.” 

The official renaming of the street took place about two months after the mayor of the Ukrainian capital, Vitaly Klitschko, announced a decision by the Kiev City Council to rename 95 streets in the city. 

He described the move as “an important step towards reducing the deceitful manipulations and influence of the Russian aggressor on the interpretation of our history.” Klitschko also revealed that the new name of Marshal Malinovsky Street would honor the Azov Battalion.  

The Azov Battalion was assembled in 2014 as a volunteer unit that mainly comprised far-right activists willing to fight against the self-proclaimed republics in the Donbass region. Several months later, it was officially incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard by order of then-President Pyotr Poroshenko. When the Russian offensive started in late February, the Azov Battalion, which had received Western training, was considered one of the most capable formations under Kiev’s command. 

The neo-Nazi fighters were tasked with keeping Mariupol, a strategic port on the Azov Sea, under Kiev’s control, but ultimately failed to do so. Many of them were killed, while the rest, including the commanders, surrendered to Russian forces in May after being holed up at the Azovstal steel plant for weeks.  

During the siege, Moscow accused the Azov of keeping civilians hostage in the facility and using them as human shields.

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