Violent far-right organization drives agenda on streets of Kiev

Ukraine’s embattled authorities they are terrorists and fanatics. To opposition leaders striving to keep President Viktor Yanukovich and his government under pressure by peaceful means they are a useful weapon but a dangerous liability.

Whether either side likes it or not, it is the violent tactics of a determined, far-right group called “Right Sector” that is setting the agenda on the streets of Kiev.

Insiders say the group has its origins among nationalist-minded football fans – the word “sector” in Russian denotes the spectator terraces of a stadium – and includes individuals from far-right organizations from across the country.

They attack the police, sometimes in pairs, usually wearing masks or helmets and armed with sticks, iron bars and “trophy” shields seized from riot police. They have no allegiance to any established political party and operate under no banner, flag or standard, not even that of recognized nationalist groups.

Their numbers are unknown – though some say they have 300 people on the streets of Kiev – and they draw support from across Ukraine, with more than 100,000 supporters on Russian-language social network Vkontakte.

In its mission statement on Vkontakte, Right Sector says it aims not only to force Yanukovich to sign the European Union free-trade agreement he walked away from in November, setting off the protests, but by “revolutionary” means to get rid of his “regime of occupation.”

Its members, nearly all male, though a few women have been seen among them, have turned their backs on the peaceful protest advocated by the mainstream opposition and have kept riot police on the back foot with a hail of Molotov cocktails and cobblestones for the past week.

By their violent tactics, they have hijacked the protest movement, known as Euromaidan – literally Eurosquare – and added a combustible element that both the authorities and the opposition are struggling to contend with.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

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