A private army of the far-right is posing a dangerous threat to democracy in Ukraine.
On July 31, the country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, told the press that “the government would not tolerate racism in any form”.
His statement was part of a reaction to rising racist rhetoric in the country, much of which comes from the far-right Pravy Sektor [Right Group] group. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has repeatedly accused the organization of anti-Semitism and Nazi-style declarations.
However, Pravy Sektor’s leader, Dmytro Yarosh, claims that the group is a new political force for reform.
“We are an organized revolutionary force that is opening the new phase of the Ukrainian revolution,” Yarosh told a rally last month, which brought together 5,000 Pravy Sektor supporters.
Those on the far-right in Ukraine believe that insufficient progress has been made in reforming the government and the economy.
Yarosh, who is a member of the Ukrainian parliament, demands that the war in the east of the country be officially renamed the 'War against Russia,' as opposed to its current classification as an "anti-terrorist action".
He also calls for a blockade of all the regions controlled by pro-Russian separatist rebels. Yarosh also wants a declaration of martial law for all areas close to the fighting.
Founded in 2013, Pravy Sektor’s militia played an important role in the Ukrainian revolution in 2014. While other groups of its kind have been absorbed by the national army, Pravy Sektor has remained independent.
Pravy Sektor is not afraid of armed conflict with government forces. On July 12, the militia attacked security forces outside the western Ukrainian town of Mukachevo with guns and grenades. Two Pravy Sektor supporters were killed and seven people injured in the attack.
The motivation behind the attack was not clear but the Pravy Sektor forces involved issued a statement demanding the resignation of the country's interior minister.
Support for the group among the population is reportedly low. A poll, reported in the Financial Times, showed it had risen from 1.8 percent in October to 5.4 percent in July.
Poroshenko has repeatedly stated that the government would “crack down” on the group, and on any other groups like it.
But thus far, no such action has been taken, as the organization still plays an important role in fighting with pro-Russian separatists in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.