On Sunday, April 5, Neo-Nazi leader of the Right Sector Dmytro Yarosh was appointed as Advisor to the Chief of General Staff of the Ukrainian Army. The move is part of a deal which gives legal status to the Right Sector’s paramilitary wing, Ukrainian Volunteer Corps (DUK), which will now be paid and supplied by the Ministry of Defence while retaining a great degree of autonomy.
The official statement from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence talks specifically of this as being an agreement between the military and the far-right organisation:
“Yesterday, Colonel General Viktor Muzhenko, Chief of General Staff, and Dmytro Yarosh agreed the format of cooperation between ‘Pravyi Sector’ and the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
AFP news agency quoted Artem Skoropadskiy, one of the group’s leaders, praising the terms of the agreement: “Our combatants will be well-armed from now on, as up until now equipment was supplied by volunteers.”
Dmytro Yarosh has a long history in far right ultra-nationalist organisations. In 1994 he joined the neo-Nazi ultra-nationalist Tryzub Stepan Bandera (Stepan Bandera Trident), a paramilitary organisation. In 2005 he became its national leader. The organisation claims to be the inheritor of the OUN-UPA organisations which collaborated with the Nazis in WWII as well as carrying out massacres of Jews, Poles, as well as Ukrainian and Russian anti-fascists.
During the so-called “Maidan Revolution”, Tryzub led the unification of a series of neo-Nazi organisations (Brotherhood, Patriot of Ukraine, Social Nationalist Assembly, etc) into the Right Sector. This became the paramilitary shook troops of the movement which led to the overthrow of president Yanukovitch in February 2014.
After the Maidan victory the Right Sector became a political party, with some of its component parts going their own way. From the beginning of the so-called “Anti Terrorist Operation” against the uprising in the Donbass, the paramilitary battalions set up by different far-right groups played a key role and carried out the worst atrocities against the civilian population. They acted outside of the law and were accountable to no-one, but nevertheless had the tacit support of the state and acted with impunity.
Progressively the different volunteer battalions became incorporated into the state apparatus, mainly under the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Yarosh’s Right Sector and its paramilitary wing DUK were the last remaining one to acquire official status. Yarosh claims DUK organises 10,000 people. In the clash between oligarch president Poroshenko and oligarch governor of Dnipropetrovsk Kolomoyski it was feared that Yarosh could side with the later. The current deal is probably in part a reward for his loyalty in this clash between thieves.
Scandalously, an article in the BBC website attempted to downplay the significance of Yarosh’s appointment and to whitewash his political views:
The claim that Mr Yarosh comes from neo-Nazi ranks, or represents them, is a distortion.
“He is a nationalist – though there is a discussion, among experts, on whether labels like ‘ultra-nationalism’, ‘fascism’ or ‘extreme right’ should be applied to him,” wrote Andreas Umland, an expert on the far right in Ukraine.
Andreas Umland is an expert on the far right in Ukraine and has certainly read the 2009 book “Nation and Revolution” by Yarosh in which he describes his ideas. These are based on “God, fatherland and freedom”, the idea that a strong national catholic state has to be established in Ukraine based on the liberation of the “historically ethnically Ukrainian territories” from foreign and internal occupation (including Communists). This, he argues, can only be carried out through a “national revolution”. Yarosh is certainly a nationalist, the same kind of nationalist as Franco, Mussolini and Hitler! The book is still prominently featured in the website of Yarosh’s Tryzub.
The fact that such an individual has been appointed as an Advisor to the Chief of Staff of the Army is not “simply” a “bit of canny public relations”, as the BBC article says, but rather, a further demonstration of the close links between far-right neo-Nazi and fascist elements and organisations and the Ukrainian regime. There is in fact very little that separates the parties in government in Kyiv and these fascist organisations. Fascist MPs were elected to the Rada in the lists of all the ruling parties or with their support, including the two Right Sector members of parliament. The fascist paramilitary groups are part of the state apparatus and allowed to act with impunity.
Right Sector and the other fascist organisations, now with well equipped armies at their disposal, do not hide their aims. They are waging a “liberation war” which will not be completed until there is “victory”. They do not accept any ceasefires signed by the government and they have said so openly. They have repeatedly threatened to march on Kyiv and overthrow the government if it does not act in a “patriotic” way.
A very dangerous situation. One which has come about with full support of a government which counts on the support of Washington, London. Brussels and Berlin.