Ukraine: Neo-Nazi leader Yarosh tones down rhetoric ahead of elections
The leader of Ukraine's neo-Nazis, Dmytro Yarosh, is planning to run for president during the May elections. Ukrainian National News (UNN) reported the announcement last week.
Yarosh said the transfer of power in Kiev is not complete and that the struggle is now transitioning to a "political phase". During last month's bloody incidents in the center of Kiev, Yarosh led brigades from the neo-Nazi Right Sector movement who did the work of protecting hardcore demonstrators during the unrest.
Russia's Prosecutor-General has charged Yarosh with preparing terrorist attacks on Russian territory. Moscow has also officially asked for his extradition and issued an international arrest warrant for him.
Ukraine has rejected the Russian extradition request, referencing the laws currently in effect, which prohibit extraditing Ukrainian citizens for prosecution abroad. Yarosh's deputy Andrei Tarasenko told UNN that the Right Sector is planning a conference to decide its future political actions.
The movement wants to field candidates for elections to the Kiev city council and the presidency. "Yarosh will run for the office of head of state," said Tarasenko.
Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's Special Representative, has cautioned Kiev and the entire global community about Yarosh, saying he is a neo-Nazi. Right Sector fighters continue to occupy several buildings in the center of the Ukrainian capital and patrol the city wearing bullet-proof vests, camouflage uniforms and masks.
The Kremlin and the Russian media are criticizing Yarosh as representing a completely new political team linked with anti-Russian chauvinists who are continuing the legacy of Stepan Bandera. Yarosh has been labeled a person with neo-Nazi tendencies not only by Moscow, but also by many Western diplomats.
Czech Senator Jaromír Štětina believes the Right Sector movement is a marginal group which definitely did not comprise the backbone of the Ukrainian revolution. "On the Maidan, everyone who went there, who was covered in soot from those burning tires and looking so wild, they were all university professors, students, doctors... The Right Sector is not the motive force of the revolution. The Right Sector exists as a radical party, but I wouldn't dare call it Fascist. It's a party, or rather a political movement, that is very radical," the senator said in an interview for the online daily Pražský zpravodaj (Prague Reporter).
After announcing his candidacy, Yarosh significantly toned down his radical rhetoric, even stating at a press conference Saturday that the Right Sector movement supports signing an association agreement with the European Union. "We are grateful for support from the EU. Our organization is against anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Our actions are the best proof of this," Yarosh emphasized.
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