“The government is far more afraid of Pravy Sektor than it is of separatists in the East”
02 April, 2015
“The government is far more afraid of Pravy Sektor than it is of separatists in the East”
After the Maidan Protests, Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), a nationalist organization led by Dmytro Yarosh, firmly established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the current Ukrainian political landscape. Due to the Pravy Sektor’s heavy involvement in the anti-terrorist operation in the Donbas region and their participation in many armed clashes, separatists have grown to dread their name. Yarosh himself has become a permanent target of Russian media’s propaganda, which never tires of comparing him to Stepan Bandera, the
well-known Ukrainian nationalist figure. There is little love lost between Yarosh and the current Ukrainian government either, with the latter not taking kindly to Pravy Sektor’s criticism of them. However, Ukranian authorities remember to tread carefully in their statements, since Yarosh’s party boasts a significant number of supporters. Political experts do not rule out a direct confrontation if things go awry.

It was not easy for Georgian Journal to get access to his medical ward. His bodyguards protect him around the clock, but after several rounds of formalities and negotiations, we were allowed to talk to him about Ukraine, Pravy Sektor and himself

Dmytro Yarosh is 43 years old and is a parliament member representing the Dnepropetrovsk majority constituency. His organization was among many others that volunteered to defend the country, their efforts turning the initially hopeless battle for the Donetsk Airport into a bloody stalemate. However, their sacrifices proved to be futile when Ukrainian authorities asked them to leave the area and replaced them with troops of the National Guard. The airport was lost to separatists shortly afterwards.
The same scenario is now taking place in the vicinity of the city of Mariupol, with the Ukrainian government going to great lengths to remove Pravy Sektor’s troops from the village of Shirokino, an important tactical locality, despite the Russian-backed separatists not even hiding the fact that they are trying to take over the city. Shirokino is a vital part of the frontline, with separatists constantly mounting attacks on it and Pravy Sektor’s troops beating them back. The position remains firmly in their hold to this day.
On January 21st, during an armed clash near Donetsk, Dmytro Yarosh was heavily wounded and taken to the town of Selydove, where he underwent urgent surgery. He was subsequently transferred to the Mechnikov Hospital in Dnepropetrovsk, where he is currently recuperating.
It was not easy for Georgian Journal to get access to his medical ward. His bodyguards protect him around the clock, but after several rounds of formalities and negotiations, we were allowed to talk to him about Ukraine, Pravy Sektor and himself.

“They view me as a political rival, while I want nothing except for the war to end so that I can go look after my grandchildren.”

– What do you think of the recently achieved ceasefire?

– It’s flimsy at best. Fighting continues in several locations to this day, and it is up to Putin to decide how long this is going to last. We know that separatists are preparing a major assault force to attack in four different directions at once. One part of this force, stationed in Donetsk, may move towards Slavyansk and Konstantinovka. The second will definitely head towards Mariupol. The third will assault Luhansk and the town of Shchastya, where it may form a “cauldron” not unlike the one in Debaltseve – the conditions for this have already been created. The fourth assault force will head to Volnovakha – they are currently waiting for the mud to dry in order to be able to move vehicles through. I don’t rule out them using aircraft, either.

– How would you evaluate your troops’ readiness if large-scale warfare were resumed?

– Our current situation is crummy. Many experienced soldiers on duty are being replaced with green [government-sent] newbies with little to no combat experience. Our forces need to be prepared and mobilized in order to prevent the second Debaltseve from occurring.

– According to rumors, your forces stationed in Shirokino were ordered to abandon their position. Moreover, they were ordered to withdraw from the anti-terrorist operation entirely. Is that true?

"We only act in times of war. Once peace is achieved, Crimea is taken back and territorial integrity is restored,we will disband, just like other volunteers."

– I think the government is far more afraid of Pravy Sektor than it is afraid of separatists, who are currently trying to take over Mariupol. Nobody is going to remove us from where we are. What the government is trying to do is subdue us by integrating our forces into the regular army’s hierarchy. This is not going to happen for one simple reason: Some captains under my command lack higher military education, and the moment we end up under the Army’s thumb, they will be discharged. No one is going to pay any consideration to the fact that each of these captains is far more effective and contgeotv.ge
ributes far more to the war effort than two Ukrainian Army generals with all their fancy military academy diplomas. If we agree to this, which we won’t, we will essentially be disbanded. We are volunteers; we have our own system, our own ranks and our own hierarchy, which needs to be reflected in the legislation. We only act in times of war. Once peace is achieved, Crimea is taken back and territorial integrity is restored, we will disband, just like other volunteers. This is our position, and it is at odds with that of the incumbent authorities. We disagree on a lot of things, which results in confusion. Many of my men have more than enough reasons to mistrust the Ukrainian military command, especially after the bloodbaths of Ilovaisk and Debaltseve. Some units of the Ukrainian army are led
by commanders still stuck in Soviet times, which is part of the reason why they are having so much trouble re-arming and properly equipping their troops. Responsibility for this rests entirely on Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense. The authorities fail to realize one simple fact: They view me as a political rival, while I want nothing except for the war to end so that I can go look after my grandchildren.
Our short conversation is interrupted by the doctor entering the ward. I wish him a speedy recovery and bid him farewell.
As Yarosh has made known on numerous occasions, he thinks that the Ukrainian people have spent years under the yoke of Russification. The main concept and goal of his ideology is Ukraine’s de-Russification and the regaining of its national identity.
It was precisely the Pravy Sektor who protested against the appointment of Georgians to Ukrainian ministries in February. According to Vladimir Zagazey, director of the organization’s office in Kiev, Ukrainian power structures should be controlled not by foreigners, but by Ukrainians who have weathered the war.
“Despite my immense respect for the Georgian nation, the highest posts of the Ukrainian government should be occupied only by Ukrainians,” said Vladimir. “When a foreigner is entrusted with ruling a country, he will not treat it as his homeland, regardless of the love he holds for it.”
The Pravy Sektor prioritizes Ukraine establishing itself as a nation-state far above European integration, which troubles Western political circles. Due to this, the incumbent Ukrainian authorities, pressured by the West, are trying to restrict the Pravy Sektor’s sphere of influence and capacity to operate as much as possible and to weaken its influence and support among the population. This is done to placate the West, to which Ukraine still looks with the hope of receiving support.

Author: Jambul Tsulaia
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