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Ukrainian Nationalist Militia Seeks Legal Status

Rightwing groups also protest against Polish law making it a crime to deny atrocities committed by Ukrainian nationalists during WWII.

6 February 2018

The right-wing “National Militia” that marched through Kyiv last week says its members should be allowed to engage in low-level law enforcement.

 

Six hundred members of the group took an oath “of loyalty and service” to the Ukrainian people during a 28 January ceremony organized by the far-right National Corps political party.

 

Ukrainian law allows for civilian groups to help patrol the streets, but only in conjunction with the national police, Hromadske writes.

 

National Militia leader Ihor Mykhailenko, however, suggested its members would act on their own.

 

“The police can’t cope with protecting law and order.… We are not going to patrol the streets with them.…The work will be specific, if we find out about an underground casino, or that someone has drawn graffiti, or they are advertising drugs, we won’t even beat them, we will just detain them until the police arrive,” Mykhailenko said.

 

He also said the group has already handed over thieves and drug dealers to the police, the Irish Times reported last week.

 

Hromadske reports the group is closely tied to the Azov Battalion, a nationalist volunteer force that emerged early in the fighting against Russian-backed separatists and was later co-opted into the state National Guard.

 

The Azov Battalion, pictured here, reportedly has connections to the Ukrainian civilian militia group that wants legal status to 'keep order' on Ukrainian streets. Image : Pavel Klymenko / Twitter

 

The National Militia is in process of changing its legal status in Kyiv from a non-governmental organization to a “civic formation for the protection of public order,” as in other Ukrainian cities.

 

But the city official in charge of liaison with law enforcement bodies, Oleh Kuyavsky, told Hromadske the authorities have not yet received the relevant documents from the National Militia.

 

“We met with them and we realized that they were more interested in distributing information about themselves, rather than patrolling the streets with the police,” he said.

 

Far-right paramilitary groups took part in the Maidan uprising that toppled Viktor Yanukovych from power in 2013 and have been prominent on the front lines in the four-year conflict with separatists in eastern Ukraine. Extremist political parties have struggled to gain a foothold in mainstream politics, however.

 

“The far-right groups and political parties have been losing their electorate in the last few years,” National Minority Rights Monitoring Group head Vyacheslav Likhachev told The Daily Beast. “I can see that the National [Militia], as an alternative to the unpopular police, has a chance to find sympathy among ordinary people.”

 

 

  • About 100 members of the right-wing Svoboda party protested outside the Polish Embassy in Kyiv yesterday against a Polish law banning the denial of “crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists between 1925 and 1950,” Radio Poland reports. The law also makes anyone who ascribes blame to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by Nazi Germany on Polish territory liable to a fine or prison. Protests also took place outside Polish consulates in Lviv and four other cities.

 

  • The law has passed both houses of parliament and now awaits President Andrzej Duda’s signature.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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