In Ukraine

RT.com, Oct 14, 2016

Far-right rally in Kyiv on Oct 14, 2016 to mark 'Defender of Ukraine Day' (Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)

Far-right rally in Kyiv on Oct 14, 2016 to mark ‘Defender of Ukraine Day’ (Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)

Fireworks lit the streets of Kiev as thousands of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists including from the Azov Battalion, Right Sector and the far-right party Svoboda marched through Kyiv on October 14 to mark Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) day, itself on a national holiday.

At least 3,000 people walked in unison through the streets of the city, holding torches, beating drums and chanting nationalist slogans, according to media reports. Although the date, October 14, is a ‘national’ holiday – ‘Defender of Ukraine Day’ – the march was notable for the large contingent of Ukrainian nationalists glorifying a collaborationist past.

Far-right rally in Kyiv on Oct 14, 2016 to mark 'Defender of Ukraine Day' (Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)

Far-right rally in Kyiv on Oct 14, 2016 to mark ‘Defender of Ukraine Day’ (Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)

At about 3:00pm local time, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Shevchenko Park, where they listened to speeches about guerrilla fighters from the UPA. The UPA, led by Stepan Bandera, collaborated with the Nazis during WWII in an attempt to form an ethnically pure and independent Ukrainian state. They massacred thousands of Russians, Poles and Jews.

There were also prayers for the Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers [paramilitaries] killed in the conflict in Donbass during the past 30 months.

By around 4:30pm, the activists had grown in number and left the park, marching through a pre-agreed route through the city. Present at the march was Svoboda politician Oleg Tyagnibok as well as Theodor Dyachun, an elderly veteran of the UPA guerilla war. Shouts of “Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes!” and “Bandera, our hero!” could be heard.

'Azov' contingent of far-right rally in Kyiv on Oct 14, 2016 marking 'Defender of Ukraine Day (photo by Gleb Garanich, Reuters)

‘Azov’ contingent of far-right rally in Kyiv on Oct 14, 2016 marking ‘Defender of Ukraine Day (photo by Gleb Garanich, Reuters)

The march was generally trouble-free, although police had to take a few individuals aside. According to RIA Novosti, officers took one activist aside who did not want to present his documents, but no arrests were made. Fireworks and smoke bombs were lit along the route.

Many of the demonstrators waved the black-and-red flag of the UPA as well as the blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine. The swastika-like flag of the far-right Azov Battalion was visible. Azov Battalion is a volunteer [paramilitary] militia active in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. It has been accused of violence and numerous human rights abuses.

Although October 14 was originally a date celebrated by Ukrainian Cossacks, it was also chosen by the UPA as the date to begin their anti-Soviet Union insurgency in 1942. In 2014, President Petro Poroshenko decreed the day a national holiday in Ukraine.

View:
Two-minute video of far-right rally in Kyiv on Oct 14, 2016, broadcast on RT Ruptly

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