Ukraine: Aggressive armed man from the extremist Azov Battalion disrupts human rights discussion in Kyiv
One year after a series of violent assaults, some of them fatal, began to be committed against Romani camps in Ukraine, human rights activists assembled there to discuss the lack of a proper investigation into the case. The meeting was disrupted by an armed man and some of his followers.
The activist discussion was held at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv. One of the speakers, Yulian Kondur, noticed two men in the audience who had previously attempted to disrupt other Romani-associated events, including an exhibition of photographs called "We Are the Roma".
Kondur informed the organizers and called police. Approximately 17 minutes into the discussion it was disrupted by Maksym Yarosh.
Yarosh introduced himself as a veteran of the right-wing Azov Battalion and showed the audience that he had brought an ax and two knives with him. He alleged that the weapons had been used by Romani people committing assaults.
Audience members said that while Yarosh did not attempt to physically harm anybody, his behavior was aggressive. After police arrived on the scene the situation calmed down.
The police officers did not, however, intervene in any significant way. Despite the police presence, speakers had to break off the discussion because they did not feel safe and faced constant interruptions.
Kondur said organizers are considering filing a criminal complaint. "This is an attack on liberal values," he told the Kyiv Post.
Members of the Azov Battalion are ultra-right adherents, nationalists, neo-Nazis, veterans of the Ukrainian Army, and foreign-born enthusiasts. The symbol of the Azov Battalion is a yellow flag with a black symbol of the Werewolves, a Wolfsangel rune that was frequently used by the Nazis and continues to be used by some neo-Nazis.
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