The Ukrainian neo-fascist militia, Right Sector, has announced it is preparing for “widescale actions” and the holding of an “emergency Congress” in Kiev, after a violent standoff with a rival gang and government authorities in western Ukraine last week. The primary fighting force behind the US-backed coup in February 2014 that led to the installation of the current regime in Kiev, Right Sector is now challenging the government of President Petro Poroshenko and demanding his resignation.
Among its criticisms of the administration is that it is failing to prosecute the war against pro-Russian separatists in the country’s southeast—which has already led to 6,500 deaths and a massive refugee and humanitarian crisis—with adequate ferocity. This week, the Ukrainian parliament approved a draft law that would give greater autonomy to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. The legislation, which will be voted on in final form this fall, is at odds with Right Sector’s demand to reincorporate the regions with force.
In addition to preparing to marshal forces in Ukraine’s capital, press outlets report that Right Sector militants have set up three outposts along the country’s borders with Poland and Belarus. The group claims to be guarding the Volinsky oblast against corruption and contraband. Right Sector, however, is itself extensively involved in criminal smuggling operations, according to the government.
On July 11, the neo-fascist organization engaged in a gun battle in the town of Mukacheve, a small city about equidistant from Slovakia and Hungary, with forces allied to parliament Deputy Mikhail Lano, a representative of the right-wing, nationalist People’s Front. Eleven people were injured and three killed in the confrontation, which involved the use of grenade launchers. At one point, Right Sector took a six-year-old boy hostage when police surrounded them.