By New Cold War.org, Aug 28, 2015
Introduction: Enclosed are four reports concerning the integration taking place of extreme-right paramilitaries into the regular units of Ukraine’s army, national guard, SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) and regular police (Interior Ministry).
Extremist paramilitaries of the Right Sector and other political formations have been active participants in the civil war in eastern Ukraine, killing and injuring civilians and Donbas self-defense fighters. These are illegal acts according to Ukrainian and international law, as are the arrests, detentions and tortures carried out by the groups. Integration into Ukraine’s army and police is a way for Kyiv to reduce legal inconveniences as well as public relations headaches over its civil war.
The enclosed articles hint at ongoing tensions between the paramilitaries and the agencies of the Ukrainian government. The ‘Right Sector’, for example, enjoys close ties to the SBU, while the Azov Battalion is close to the Interior Ministry. Recall that last month, an armed clash took place in Mukachevo, western Ukraine on July 11 between the Right Sector and police units. The Right Sector killed two civilians and injured others, while suffering two dead and others injured among its own ranks. The SBU has reportedly opened criminal investigations into seven people involved in the bloodbath.
The Minister of the Interior of Ukraine is Arsen Avakov, who is particularly close to the ‘Azov’ battalion and to the Social-Nationalist Assembly. An article by Josh Cohen in The Moscow Times on May 6, 2015 explained, “Avakov has been a prime sponsor of the Azov battalion, and has had a longstanding relationship with Azov’s leadership dating back to his time as governor of the Kharkiv region.”
The head of the SBU is Valentyn Nalivaychenko.
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- Part of ‘Right Sector’ will become a division of the SBU
Article published on Russian news service RIN News, August 20 (translation by New Cold War.org):
Part of the ‘Right sector’ paramilitary forces will become a unit of the security services of Ukraine, says the commander of the fifth battalion of Right sector paramilitaries who goes by the call sign ‘Black’.
“This will legalize our volunteers. And it means that they will get a status of ‘special combat unit’, meaning access to proper weapons, permanent salaries and the possibility of permanent placement at the frontlines in eastern Ukraine,” the commander told the Ukrainian TV channel Gromadske.
According to the battalion commander, his members are aged 20 to 45 years and will be tested on their psychological abilities and physical fitness. They will also undergo a lie detector test.
The contracts to be signed by battalion members have durations of three to five years of service for rank-and-file soldiers and one to five years for officers.
The battalion commander also stated that the only structure with which Right Sector does not cooperate is the Ministry of Interior [police] because the group accuses the ministry of failing to prosecute the people [police of the government overthrow in Feruary 2014] which Right Sector holds responsible for what it calls crimes committed during the events on Maidan Square in February 2014.
Speaking to the newspaper Vzglyad [View], political analyst Vladimir Kireev says that the paramilitary forces of the Right Sector, similar to those of its predecessor, the All-Ukrainian Organization Trident, were created and managed for most of their existence by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States. “The CIA has a vast experience in creating and working with terrorist and sabotage networks under varying ideologies in all parts of the world.
“At the moment, in addition to having a large number of members (similar to ISIL in the Middle East), Right Sector has its own training camps, staffed by CIA instructors and private mercenary organizations. It also has special departments for intelligence and propaganda.” [End RIN News article].
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2. Part of the “Right Sector’ will become subordinate to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU)
Part of the ‘Right Sector’ will be integrated into the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). This was announced on air on “Gromadsky TV” by the commander of the 5th battalion of the Volunteer Ukrainian Corp ‘Right Sector’ who goes by the call-sign ‘Black’.
According to him, this will enable the volunteers to be legalized. This means that they will receive the status of participants of the ATO, legal weapons, a permanent salary and the possibility of permanent presence at the front line.
“It was a difficult decision. I think that the service of our guys in the special Alpha division of SBU is the best, not the worst, option of those that we have. If you look at the requirements for each soldier, and this elite unit, which is in Ukraine, well, it’s an honor for us to serve. Those who want to fight will now have the chance to be stationed at the front line as the 6th Division remains permanently in the ATO zone,” the battalion commander said.
As ‘Black’ explained, the age range of recruits is 20 to 45 years old. The contract for soldiers is from 3 to 5 years, and for officers it is one to five years. With regard to wages, according to the battalion commander, a private will get 5,500 UAH [US$260], plus his time in the ATO zone will be recorded, thereby multiplying this sum by two. For officers – 7,500 UAH, plus the same bonus for serving in the area of the ATO. [Ukrainian pensioners receive some 1,000 UAH.-Fort Russ editor]
“There still is a gradation for length of service, but we haven’t looked into it further and we just want to start the process now. But the main thing is that the people who want to serve in the government structures have ample opportunity and we are able to offer this to them. If you have questions for us, whether we are legalized or not, we can show lists which show that these people are in the legal units, and that there should be no questions for us,” the battalion commander of Right Sector emphasized.
When asked about those who do not want to serve in the special unit, the battalion commander replied that “they will not be left without the opportunity to serve”.
“We always have the opportunity to participate in combat operations, and to this time we will are still engaged in them. Everything is very straightforward–our units , even if someone is against participating in combat, can do reconnaissance and everything else in the area of the ATO, “- added the battalion commander.
At the same time, the battalion commander stressed, no one is closing doors for those fighters who want to fight as part of the UAF.
“The guys who have been trained in the ‘Right Sector’, if they know that they can fight, understand what the army is and what they can do safely under contract, then they can go there. Accordingly, I write a report in which I am recommending a person to serve in such a unit. They go with this document to the appropriate structure and then serve. It is common practice.
“There is now a number of people who serve in the armed forces. Some even still display the chevrons of their brigade and the ‘Right Sector’. Nobody forbids this. I want to say that the ‘Right Sector’ is not a sect which decided that everyone must serve with us and no one will go anywhere else. For one and a half years, we have calmly sent people to those units in which they wish to serve. Including to the SBU.
“However, no one knows that more than 40 people served as freelancers receiving training from the Right Sector and then took the relevant tests at the SBU. They were hired,” the battalion commander mentioned.
According to the commander of the 5th battalion of “Right Sector” this will not happen quickly. Because the standard selection of each soldier lasts six months. However, according to ‘“Black’, the SBU has agreed to reduce the period of forming the regular unit out of the Right Sector fighters from six to two months. [End Politnavigator article].
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3. ‘Ultra-right militants assuming roles as police in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city
Meanwhile, in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, extreme-right vigilantes are increasingly playing roles as police. Sputnik reports on August 23, ‘Ultra-right militants assuming roles as police in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. Here is the text:
Militants from the notorious ultranationalist organization Right Sector have taken it upon themselves to become the de-facto police force in a section of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, with local security organs seemingly powerless to stop them. Ukrainian media report that the militants, armed with baseball bats and other blunt objects, wearing balaclavas and featuring the distinctive red-black badges on their army fatigue uniforms, have organized themselves into ‘patrols’ in areas surrounding the rail terminal, located in the west-central portion of the city.
With the city’s transport police presently absent, facing reorganization, the militants have subjected the district to systematic terror, roving the streets, attacking suspected wrongdoers, and organizing group raids on businesses and shops.
Earlier this week, the militants organized a raid on a suspected underground slots casino near the rail terminal, smashing slot machines with bats and chairs and attacking workers and players, spraying them with pepper spray and forcing them to the ground on the asphalt outside the building. The police were present, but appeared powerless to do anything to stop the rampage.
Then on Wednesday, the militants were reported to have ‘closed’ a pharmacy, smashing up the office, carrying out pain medication and burning it in front of the building. This follows on similar incidents taking place last month, when militants burst into two pharmacies and trashed them, allegedly for the fact that they were selling pain medications with the morphine-derived drug codeine.
On August 3, Right Sector militants carried out an attack on the office and transport bus of the Opposition Bloc, an opposition party organized out of the remnants of Ukraine’s former governing Party of Regions. [Story of August 3 attack on Opposition Bloc office is here on New Cold War.org.]
Local Right Sector organizer Andrei Sanin proudly told Ukraine’s Vesti newspaper that since the beginning of the group’s patrols, the number of crimes in the area has gone down considerably. “We are not the police; we can do things a little more radically,” he noted.
The militant added that while the group knows that “we do not have the formal right to a lot of things, in a situation where there is a war going on, and our valiant police force has left [the area], we are acting in accordance with our Constitution. Everyone has a right to defend their homeland.” Vesti noted that the organization is now looking to establish more patrols, in other parts of the city, with only a lack of manpower hindering them from doing so.
Ukrainian social media have voiced their outrage over their incidents, some leaving sarcastic comments such as: “with no monuments left, it’s time to move on to pharmacies.” Others indignantly asked “where the police are?” Answering this question, Vesti explained that Kharkiv’s enfeebled police force seems unable or unwilling to do anything to stop the militants’ vigilantism.
Kharkiv Interior Ministry advisor Alexander Sirota told the newspaper that while “any assistance in ensuring public order is welcomed in all countries and at all times, how this assistance is provided is another question. If they had blocked off this gaming establishment and called the police, that would be right. But when they smash private property –that is an offense. Nobody has a right to just go out into the street and declare that they are ‘protecting public order’.”
But the police’s reaction does not appear to be limited to mere lack of action. The Right Sector has been reported to openly cooperate with the police, for example by handing the majority of their ‘arrests’ to them. The police, in response, has not stepped into open conflict with the militants, refusing to charge them for the unauthorized use of force or the destruction of property, even when they are present at the militants’ raids. The Kharkiv Interior Ministry’s press service explained away this oddity by noting that it has received no complaints, either from the raid on the underground casino, or from the attack on the Opposition Bloc offices.
Some Ukrainian and Russian media have suggested that the situation is potentially an explosive one, recalling that had occurred in Mukacheve, western Ukraine last month, when heavily armed Right Sector militants shot it out with local police over cigarette smuggling routes. It remains to be seen just how much longer Kharkiv’s security organs will be willing to tolerate Right Sector’s unique and brutal brand of vigilante justice.
The Right Sector, an ultranationalist confederation of paramilitaries springing up in November 2013, is known to have played a key role in ensuring the success of the Maidan coup d’état of February 2014. The group later organized a series of ‘territorial defense battalions’, located throughout the country, which have since become known for their brutality in crushing the anti-Maidan protest movement in central and eastern Ukraine. Donbas residents have accused the group’s battalions of committing war crimes in the course of the ongoing civil war in eastern Ukraine, while independent observers have pointed to the militants’ alleged use as blocking battalions in the warzone.
In late 2014, the Russian Supreme Court declared the Right Sector an extremist organization, banning its activity on the territory of the Russian Federation. The group’s leader, Dmytro Yarosh, has since been listed as wanted by Interpol. [End Sputnik article].
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4. Man chased and beaten in Kharkiv by police and vigilantes for wearing Soviet symbol
Also from Kharkiv, a video report was broadcast on August 23 showing a man being assaulted by police and plainclothes vigilantes because he was wearing a t-shirt with the letters ‘USSR’ on it. The two minute video is here, or click on the screen: