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Russian information warfare against the Maidan’s far-right aimed to discredit protests in Ukraine

Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector

By Tetiana Bezruk 

Today, the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation has published information about opening criminal case against Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of Right Sector. The main investigative administration of the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation opened a criminal case against the leader of Right Sector Dmytro Yarosh on grounds of crimes outlined in Art. 205.2 part 2 and Art. 280 part 2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (public calls for realising terrorist and extremist activity with the use of mass media),” the statement follows.

On 21 February 2014 at 13:29 (Moscow time GMT+4), LifeNews website published information about the foundation of the Right Sector unit in Kursk. A journalist reporting about Euromaidan tells about the nature of far-right groups: “created with NATO support…”, “some of them (UNA-UNSO) fought in Abkhazia.” Also, according to this journalist, the change of the government in Ukraine may lead to the initiation of withdrawal of the Russian Black Sea fleet and desires of regions that have autonomous status to secede from Ukraine.

Later, at 18:39, the ‘Russian planet’ (Russkaia Planeta) website published a rebuttal that Right Sector created its cell in Kursk. According to the law-enforcement workers in Kursk Oblast these were merely rumours.

A range of Russian websites published the following information on the next day, “Right Sector: we will continue to liberate our lands. Voronezh, Kursk, Belgorod, Kuban.” Certain news websites published DmytroYarosh’s, the leader of Right Sector, speech as well (the video was most likely recorded during summer camp trainings of Stepan Bandera’s Tryzub organisation where he talks about the necessity of overcoming ‘internal occupation’. The video was recorded in the summer 2013, as Yarosh was talking about events in Vradievka. However, many websites have published an interview with the Right Sector activist after that who says “The Russians are not Slavs at all, but Tatars and Finno-Ugric. They drink themselves to death, take drugs, but think they are an empire and want to force us into their “Taiga Union” [mocking interpretation of Russia’s Customs Union]. We shall not allow it!…” and “We will proceed with liberating our lands then. Voronezh, Kursk, Belgorod Oblasts and Kuban – they are all Ukrainian territories!” Information about who is this activist was not published.

Apart from that, LifeNews website published an address of the Right Sector leader to Dokka Umarov. “Ukrainian nation and peoples of Caucasus are united by commonly spilled blood. Many Ukrainians supported the fight for freedom of the Chechen and other Caucasus nations with weapons in their hands. Now it is time to support Ukraine! As leader of Right Sector, I urge you to activate your struggle. Russia is not as strong as it seems. You have a unique chance to win. Use this chance!” – the statement follows. On the next day, Artem Skoropadskiy, Right Sector’s press-secretary, said that this announcement was fake – the organisations’ account on Vkontakte social network, which was responsible for providing content of the Right Sector group, was hacked.

During a press conference in Simferopol on 2 March, Vladimir Konstantinov, the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, announced that an assassination attempt was made on his life by the people who introduced themselves as members of Right Sector. Before that, on 27 February, activists of the organisation announced that they will not go to Crimea in order to avoid provoking Crimeans who have negative attitudes toward Right Sector. Later on, Dmytro Yarosh, said that the organisation coordinates its actions with the Council of National Security and Defence of Ukraine.

A range of news published primarily on Russian websites shapes the image of right-wing organisations that benefits Russia, considering current events in Crimea. Previously, researchers of Ukrainian nationalism issued a collective statement that Kyiv’s Euromaidan is a liberationist, and nor extremist, mass action of civil protest. Researchers addressed journalists who write about events in Crimea and the far-right on the Maidan – they should visit the country in order to provide more accurate coverage of events that continues to unfold in Ukraine.

From Ukrainian translated by Oleg Naumenko

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