Screenshot showing Dmytro Yarosh, Right Sector’s leader.
The Ukrainian army made stunning gains over the weekend, overrunning pro-Russian insurgents in the eastern towns of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk after months of bitter fighting. But according to new video, members of Right Sector – an extremist group – are battling alongside regular army soldiers in Ukraine's conflict-shattered east.
Right Sector is a radical ultra-nationalist group
that helped topple former president Viktor Yanukovych’s government in February. While Russia claims the group has a fascist ideology, Right Sector members say they’re nationalists fighting to safeguard Ukrainian sovereignty. If the video turns out to be accurate, it would mean that radical nationalist militants are fighting alongside regular military personnel.
Video taken in the village of Karlivka and posted to YouTube on July 6, 2014.
This video was taken in the eastern village of Karlivka
, some one hundred kilometres from Kharkhiv. At 0:57, a soldier can be seen wearing Right Sector’s red and black insignia with the group’s name stitched around the edges. Troops can also be seen wearing the same patch but without the group’s name. This flag alone represents the country’s renowned World War Two insurgent army. As such, it is popular with Ukrainians across the nationalist spectrum. Without ‘Right Sector’ stitched across it, the same badge could be worn simply as a symbol of nationalism.
Screenshot taken at 0:40 showing Dmytro Yarosh, Right Sector’s leader.
At several points in the video, Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh comes into view. Yarosh unsuccessfully ran for president
in the country’s May elections: he scraped together less than 1% of the vote. According to reports
, Right Sector members began joining Ukraine’s National Guard when fighting first broke out in the east. The National Guard was formed in March
at the instigation of Kiev in direct response to the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Made up mainly of civilians – primarily activists involved in the Maidan protests [the anti-government protests that began in December 2013
] – it plays a supporting role in the Ukrainian army’s eastern offensive.