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Ukraine’s Right Sector nationalists look set to shrug off Kiev’s control

April 30, 2015, 15:17 UTC+3 KIEV
Dmytro Yarosh on his page in Facebook warned that the conflict between Right Sector and the General Staff of the regular armed forces may flare up again
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Dmytro Yarosh (center) seen in February 2014

Dmytro Yarosh (center) seen in February 2014

© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin

KIEV, April 30. /TASS/. The rifts that developed between Ukraine’s ultra-right Right Sector paramilitaries and the General Staff of the regular armed forces of late may flare up with renewed force again, their leader, Dmytro Yarosh warned on his page in Facebook. He went as far as comparing his men to the armed gangs of Ukrainian Cossacks of the 16th century, who had escaped from oppressive aristocracy to a fortified area in the lower reaches of the Dnieper River, historically known as the Zaporozhian Sech. In this way Yarosh echoed threats from the Right Sector’s press-secretary, Artyom Skoropadsky, who on Wednesday warned his men would set fire to the presidential office building in Kiev.

The root cause of the conflict is found in the Ukrainian military command’s attempts to take over all so-called "volunteer battalions" - paramilitary armed groups of nationalists defiant of any authority but their own field commanders. On April 28, paratroopers from two Ukrainian brigades surrounded the Right Sector’s base in the Dnipropetrovsk Region to demand all those inside should lay down arms. In response, the Right Sector urged the Ukrainian troops to disobey commanders, called a rally of protest in Kiev and warned they might stage a government coup.

"We do not rule out that despite promises by top officials further provocative actions against the New Zaporozhian Sech, so we keep our powder dry," Yarosh said. He dismissed the conflict as "Kremlin’s provocation", and the army commanders who issued orders to integrate all armed groups into regular army units, as "agents of the Moscow Empire." He urged "all patriotic forces to step up pressures on President Pyotr Poroshenko and parliament and to achieve the adoption of a special law on the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps."

Right Sector militants are notorious for their active participation in the violent crackdown on the southeast of the country. Human rights activists hold them responsible for kidnappings, robberies and killings of civilians.

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