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Home News Ukraine ultra-nationalist leader appointed army advisor

Ukraine ultra-nationalist leader appointed army advisor

Published on 06/04/2015

The controversial leader of Ukraine's ultra-nationalist Pravy Sektor paramilitary group, which is fighting pro-Russian rebels alongside government troops, was made an army advisor Monday as Kiev seeks to tighten its control over volunteer fighters.

Dmytro Yarosh, 43, a hate figure in Moscow who was elected to Ukraine’s parliament last year, was named advisor to the army chief of staff Viktor Muzhenko, the Defence Ministry said.

“Dmytro Yarosh will act as a link between the volunteer battalions and the General Staff,” armed forces spokesman Oleksiy Mazepa told AFP.

“We want to achieve full unity in the struggle against the enemy, because now our aim is the cooperation and integration of volunteer battalions in the armed forces,” he added.

Dozens of Ukraine militia groups have been fighting on both sides of the frontline since the war began a year ago this week, with those loyal to the government more or less under Kiev’s control.

Pravy Sektor, or Right Sector, are highly-trained and known for their tough discipline and ban on drinking alcohol. The group dates back to the street fights of the Maidan protests in Kiev and has sent units to some of the hottest flashpoints on the frontline in Ukraine’s year-long war.

Yarosh is widely reviled in the separatist east and Russian media as a far-right bogeyman and is wanted by the authorities in Moscow on an international warrant for “incitement to terrorism”.

He was injured in January in fighting around Donetsk airport, which finally fell to the separatists after months of combat.

A spokesman for the nationalist hardliner told AFP that Pravy Sektor would remain “autonomous” from government control but would now receive funds from the defence ministry.

“Our combatants will be well-armed from now on as up until now equipment was supplied by volunteers,” said Artem Skoropadskiy.

Pravy Sektor, which includes a political party that was founded in March last year as well as its military battalions, “is nationalist not fascist”, Yarosh told AFP in an interview.

It rose to prominence during the Maidan protests and claims roots in the controversial legacy of Ukraine’s World War II nationalists, who have been accused of collaboration with the Nazis.