My Interview with the Radio Sweden Concerning the Azov Battalion in Ukraine
What is Azov Battalion?
This is a paramilitary/special police formation organized about 2 months ago by the Social- National Assembly (SNA) and its paramilitary wing, called Patriot of Ukraine (PU), with support of a leader of the Radical Party and the Ukrainian government. It was called a battalion, but initially it included only about 60 men. They are also called “black men” because of black uniform that they wear.
Who’s in charge of Azov battalion?
The battalion is formally subordinated to the Minister of Internal Affairs. But it is de facto subordinated to the Social National Assembly and it is commanded by leaders of the SNA/PU. The de facto commander of the battalion is Andrii Biletski, the leader of Patriot of Ukraine.
Who’s fighting for them? (ideologically uninterested citizens, far right radicals etc.)
The battalion mostly includes members of the SNA/PU, football ultras from Dynamo Kyiv, and other far right radicals. There are also far right sympathizers and some other Maidan activists.
If comprised of far right radicals mainly, how important is the ideology for this group?
The ideology is central to the battalion. Its new members give their oath in presence of the SNA/PU leaders and the SNA/PU flag, depicting Wolfsangel, a neo-Nazi symbol. During such a recent ceremony, they also recited a prayer honoring Stepan Bandera and other leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, a radical nationalist and semi-fascist organization.
If many of them are so-called neo-fascists, in what way exactly?
The SNA/PU advocate a neo-Nazi ideology along with ultranationalism and racism. The same applies to the SNA/PU commanders and members of the Azov battalion and many football ultras and others who serve in this formation. Biletsky is called the “White Leader.” He and several other commanders of the battalion were imprisoned on murder or terrorism charges, but they were released after the fall of Yanukovych. The SNA/PU are one of the founders of the Right Sector.
What happened in Mariupol last week? Is there any truth behind pro-Russian allegations of pro-Ukrainian forces harming civilians in Mariupol?
The Azov battalion took control last week over Mariupol after a brief fight with a relatively small number of pro-Russian separatists. Their videos indicate that they assault civilians and torture their prisoners, but these cases are not investigated or prosecuted. The Azov battalion along with other formations also stormed the police headquarters in this city on May 9th when 9
people were killed, including the attackers, policemen, and civilians. But it is difficult to say if these civilians were killed by the battalion, since there are no investigations.
How many foreigners is estimated to fighting with the Azov battalion?
The precise numbers are difficult to know. But various reports suggest that at least several foreigners are in the battalion, including at least one from Sweden.
Do you have any information of the swede fighting for them, Mikael Skillt?
Skillt came to Ukraine during the Euromaidan protests last winter. He then joined C14, a neo- Nazi organization affiliated with Svoboda, a major far right party which plays important role in the current government. Skillt now joined the Azov battalion.
by Ivan Katchanovski
June 19, 2014
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