Mustafa Nayem, Ukrainska Pravda, April 1, 2014
The Right Sector (Pravyy Sector) appeared on the front pages of world mass media after the first clashes on Hrushevskoho street on January 19. Within days, the fighters in balaclavas with Molotov cocktails in their hands became the face of the Ukrainian protest. The Maidan ceased to be peaceful, and the first news reports on casualties began to appear.
In fairness, it must be admitted that these very actions by the Right Sector in response to the adoption of the “draconian” laws forced the presidential administration to make concessions: to abolish the laws adopted on January 16 and adopt the law on amnesty.
But with some distance from the flames of revolution, more details are surfacing about the activities of the Right Sector and its relationship with the world of politics. Ukrainska Pravda (UP) has attempted to collect and summarize available information on the relationship between the Right Sector and representatives of the past and current governments and also to obtain current information regarding the present status of the most radical group on Maidan.
The Right Sector is not a hierarchical organization with a vertical management structure. Instead, it consists of horizontal structures united under one name and formally subject to a single command. During the creation of the Right Sector, its composition included VO Tryzub (Trident), SNA, UNA-UNSO and KUN as well as the “Committee to Liberate Political Prisoners” and the Black committee.
As is known, Dmytro Yarosh is the leader of the Right Sector. His closest associates are colleagues from VO Tryzub: Andriy Tarasenko (the main coordinator of the Right Sector), nicknamed “Pylypas,” and Andriy Stempitskyy, nicknamed “Letun.”
The Right Sector and Viktor Yanukovych
One of the myths about the Right Sector has to do with its rejection of any negotiations with the regime of Viktor Yanukovych. In reality, the Right Sector was ready to engage in such negotiations itself. At least two meetings between the group’s representatives and the government are known to have occurred. Both took place during moments of peak crisis on Maidan.
One meeting became known through public announcements. On February 3, representatives of the Right Sector, together with veterans of Afghanistan, met with the head of Security Services of Ukraine Oleksandr Yakymenko and the first deputy of the Minister of Internal Affairs Viktor Dubovyk. The negotiations took place after the adoption of the law on amnesty. Publicly it was announced that the two parties had reached an agreement on the release of detained activists.
The second contact, this time at the highest level, between Viktor Yanukovych and Dmytro Yarosh, became known only after Yanukovych’s escape from Kyiv. And this came not from Yarosh himself, but accidentally — the Right Sector leader was initially recognized by one of the employees at the office of the president and then this information about the meeting was confirmed by employees who had access to the internal log of visitors to the president
Dmytro Yarosh, himself, described this meeting in an interview with Ukrainian Week.
“(The meeting) really took place. However, this was only after the clashes. The members of the Security Services came out and suggested not only to me, but to our leadership and to my closest entourage, to meet to end the bloodshed. Accordingly, I went to the president’s office. There the issue had to do with an agreement — the same agreement that was later signed. I refused to do it. I said that we have never been and never will be puppets. Therefore, remove your armies because this will be the beginning of guerrilla warfare throughout Ukraine. The diplomats also put pressure on him, so I will not take credit. However, the discussion had to do with the fact that we would not back down and would not lay down our weapons–that we would stand till the end. Perhaps this became clear to him when he decided to end the so-called anti-terrorist operation and pull back the troops. Although the snipers were still active then.”
However, several serious questions remain regarding this meeting.
1. Why did Yarosh entrust his life to employees of the Security Services of Ukraine?
The negotiations took place on February 20, in the presidential administration building on Bankova Street. According to Yarosh’s associate Andriy Tarasenko (head of the Right Sector’s Kyiv organization), the leader of the Right Sector was driven in a car to Yanukovych’s office directly from Maidan. At that time, there was no direct way to get there: Hrushevskoho street was blocked and the only way to get to Bankova street from Maidan (Independence Square) was to drive along the entire quay and then go up from the other side of Hrushevskoho in order to bypass Maidan via Volodymyrska street. Anything could have happened along the way. Who exactly acted as mediator between Yanukovych and Yarosh? Obviously, this was a person that Yarosh trusted sufficiently that he was not afraid for his life, even after a hundred people had already been shot on Maidan.
2. What was the exact purpose of Yarosh’s visit to Yanukovych?
Let’s recall that at that moment Dmytro Yarosh was viewed as the greatest enemy of the regime. The neutralization of the Right Sector’s leader with the simultaneous arrest of the opposition leaders theoretically could have destroyed all plans to overthrow the government.
And, if we are to reconstruct the details of the negotiations, did Yarosh shake Yanukovych’s hand after the deaths of people on Maidan? What did he tell him? (According to UP sources, the discussion lasted over an hour).
3. Why has this meeting remained secret?
Why has Yarosh himself not revealed either this meeting or its results? If everything was as reported, and if Yarosh had refused Yanukovych, it would have been completely natural for him to inform his supporters as well as the people on Maidan about it immediately after the negotiations.
The Right Sector and Andriy Klyuyev
However, UP sources claim that contacts between Viktor Yanukovych’s circle and Dmytro Yarosh and his subordinates were known in the president’s administration long before the events of February 17-20. According to one of the former employees in the president’s office, at the end of January a memo was placed on his desk that referred to an agreement between the Security Services of Ukraine and the leaders of the Right Sector about the possible dispersal of Hrushevskoho street in exchange for payment. According to the UP source, the memo had a “blue” stamp, meaning that the information contained in the document had been confirmed by the appropriate recording.
Another source says that Andriy Klyuyev later spoke to Viktor Yanukovych about the same agreement. The head of the presidential administration claimed that for a million dollars he could arrange for the dispersal of Hrushevskoho street, the withdrawal of Right Sector forces from the European square, and the repositioning of barricades to the level of Tryokhsvyatytelska street. Witnesses to that agreement were the Attorney General Viktor Pshonka, head of the Ministry of Internal Services Vitaliy Zakharchenko, and the Minister of Justice Olena Lukash.
But several days later, another memo was placed on Viktor Yanukovych’s desk, this time with a red stamp (indicating the information had been collected by agents of the Security Services), which reported that the Right Sector had begun to actively develop a regional network and to provide uniforms for its fighters.
According to UP sources, the information about the government’s informal contacts with the Right Sector troubled many people in Yanukovych’s circle. They say that several days after Klyuyev’s report, during a meeting in a larger circle, Olena Lukash asked Viktor Yanukovych directly why the government was trying to bribe radical forces and in fact to finance their activities. Two witnesses to this conversation state that Yanukovych told the justice minister to shut up. There were no further discussions on this topic.
The Right Sector and the Dmytro Firtash Group
The first suspicion of possible involvement of the Right Sector with the group of Dmytro Firtash appeared during the detention of the head of Naftohaz Yevhen Bakulin, who belongs to the circle around Yuriy Boyko, one of the founders of RosUkrEnergo and the former Minister of Energy in Mykola Azarov’s government.
Party of Regions member Serhiy Katsuba, who was involved with the scheme to purchase the “Boyko towers,” was present during the arrest of Bakulin. Serhiy Zilov, an advisor to Bakulin, the pro-Boyko head of Naftogas, warned law enforcement during Bakulin’s arrest that he would summon the Right Sector fighters for help. “I’ll immediately call the Maidan defense. The Right Sector will come and you will have problems. You’re upsetting women with machine guns and masks. So let’s see. Do you want to have other machine guns here?” Zilov threatened.
But it is no secret that the only opposition leader who was in contact with Dmytro Firtash during the entire Maidan protests was Vitaliy Klychko. Dmytro Yarosh, himself, talked about it during his interview with UP. In fact, these contacts were not concealed even by the circle around the leader of UDAR.
The fact that Vitaliy Klychko is under the direct or indirect influence of the Firtash group became clear when Serhiy Lvochkin and Firtash himself publicly expressed support for Klychko’s decision to support Petro Poroshenko’s presidential bid.
Meanwhile, UP was able to confirm official ties between the leader of the Right Sector and the team of Vitaliy Klychko. According to UP information, Dmytro Yarosh had been an assistant-consultant for over a year for MP Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, a member of the UDAR party and the current head of the Security Service of Ukraine.
Both politicians confirmed this information. The press service of the Right Sector stated that “there is nothing surprising here and we’re not concealing that fact.” The assistant to the head of the Security Service said that Yarosh was a registered volunteer assistant-consultant for the MP Nalyvaychenko since April 1, 2013.
An internet search uncovered a video where Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, who was not a member of any party at the time, visited the camp of VO Tryzub in the presence of Dmytro Yarosh. This video was probably recorded in July 2012, in Tryzub’s training camp in Zarvanytsya.
In light of these facts, the events of January 19, for example, take on a different meaning. It was then that the clashes, for which the Right Sector has assumed responsibility, first began on Hrushevskoho Street. Accidentally or not, the first person on the barricades of Hrushevskoho was no other than Vitaliy Klychko.
What is the Right Sector today?
According to UP sources, after the victory of Maidan, several options were discussed for integrating the Right Sector into the new government. Dmytro Yarosh supposedly demanded for himself the position of deputy prime minister for security with concurrent leadership of the interior forces. His demand was declined and he was offered the post of deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. This time Yarosh declined.
As recently as three weeks ago, the option to make the Right Sector leader deputy head of the Security Service of Ukraine was carefully discussed in the corridors of power, but then for unknown reasons these discussions stopped.
Eventually the Right Sector announced the creation of an appropriate party and its leader registered as a candidate for the presidency of Ukraine. One of the questions that arose immediately for Dmytro Yarosh was where did he get the 2.5 million UAH required for registration with the Central Election Commission. His supporters claim that the money was raised from donations the Right Sector collected on Maidan.
To date, it has been possible to identify the eight detachments that make up the Right Sector. They all were formed during the creation of the Maidan Self-Defense. Each detachment has its own leadership and controls various properties on Maidan and beyond.
Monday night, March 31, during clashes outside the Dnipro hotel, UP was able to obtain a unique document — a map of Right Sector forces in Kyiv and the Kyiv Oblast. This document was prepared by analysts at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and summarized for internal use.
Thus, according to the information of the Interior Ministry, the Right Sector controls 10 properties in Kyiv and the Kyiv Oblast, where up to two hundred permanent members of the organization are housed. It is interesting that the document does not specify that the group’s headquarters are located in the Dnipro hotel. (Perhaps the document was put together before Dmytro Yarosh’s supporters seized the hotel, or perhaps UP did not receive the entire document.)
According to unconfirmed information, after the evacuation of the hotel, the Right Sector was asked to relocate its base to the Khvylya sanatorium by the Kolpytska barracks in the Kyiv Oblast.
Will it be possible to implement this plan and will the Right Sector be able to transform itself from paramilitary units of revolutionary times to a political party? Only time will tell.
For now, the image of the Right Sector is deteriorating catastrophically. From being seen as the driving force of the revolution, who did not permit the opposition to betray Maidan and reach an agreement with Viktor Yanukovych, the followers of Dmytro Yarosh are turning into the bogeymen of post-Maidan Ukraine, exploited by Russian mass media to spread fear, but also used by Ukrainian citizens and politicians to frighten each other.
In preparing this material for publication, we were able to contact one of the leaders of the Right Sector, Andriy Tarasenko, and obtain his comments on the themes covered in this article. Mr Tarasenko agreed to an extended interview with UP.
Did you know about Dmytro Yarosh’s meeting with Viktor Yanukovych?
– Of course. This was not a secret. We all knew. He came to us and asked if he should go. We said, of course, go and talk!
Do you know the details of the meeting with Security Services head Yakymenko and deputy head of the Interior Ministry Dubovyk?
– Yarosh wasn’t there. We met with three Afghan veterans. In fact, I didn’t even know where we were going. The Afghans came and took the initiative. We were driven somewhere and when we came out near the Security Service building, I was honestly very surprised. To tell you the truth, I was a bit frightened, but they gave us guarantees and they kept their word. The discussion had to do with abandoning the administration buildings on Hrushevskoho and Instytutska streets. We said this was possible only after the release of prisoners.
What were their conditions?
– None.They were claiming to be right.
Did you or Mr. Yarosh meet with Klyuyev?
– No. We had no contact with him.
Did they offer you a cash reward for withdrawing the Right Sector forces from Hrushevskoho?
– They were offering us money from all sides!
– Well, for example, the Security Service of Ukraine. But this was not addressed to me personally; they simply gave us that information. They simply said that we need to stop and that there will be some money then.
We have information the Yanukovych was given memos stating that you were offered 10 million in exchange for the withdrawal. Did such discussions take place?
At present Mr. Yarosh has submitted registration documents as a presidential candidate. To do this 2.5 million UAH are required. Is this his own money?
– No. He doesn’t have that kind of money. It was taken from Right Sector funds gathered from donations. Soon we will release the names of the donors and the donated sums. You will know everything.
Is it true that Mr. Yarosh was assistant deputy of Valentyn Nalyvaychenko?
– Yes it’s true. But he was an assistant for a very brief period, only a few months, just long enough to develop a public profile.
Why does he need a profile?
– Well it will help him get into the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament). It’s only for that reason.
(Note: see original source for additional photos of documents)
Translated by Anna Mostovych