Who Was Behind Vandal Attacks In Kyiv?
“I am divided” confessed a man in a camouflage uniform standing on the tragically-known Institutska Street in Kyiv on the early morning of February 20th, 2016. He was with the far-right 'Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists' (further OUN). “On the one hand, to do something now is risky for the country, but on the other hand, we are ready to demolish it.”
On the morning of February 20th people commemorated the second anniversary of the Maidan Massacre, an armed conflict between revolutionary activists and police in Kyiv, that left 109 potesters and 18 policemne killed. After the official part, the leader the OUN battalion, Mykola Kokhanivsky, called on everyone to take tents and to go to dowtown Kyiv. Later, he called on people to storm the Presidential Administration.
“Let them call us the hand of the Kremlin,” he added sarcastically during the speech.
Soon, the battalion's soldiers went to the Russian “Alpha-Bank” branch in downtown Kyiv, stormed inside and destroyed the office.
Some of the soldiers moved towards nearby Arsenalna metro station to the branch of the “Sberbank of Russia”. There, police was already awaiting the fighters and didn’t let them inside. But an angry mob pelted the branch with stones, anyway.
Members of OUN also attacked the office of the “SKM” company in downtown Kyiv, owned by the richest Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Ahmetov.
In the evening of the same day, unknown armed people, wearing camouflage, occupied the assembly hall of the “Kozatskiy” hotel on the Maidan Square. It is owned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Later, it became clear that the invaders were people from the “Revolutionary Right Forces” platform who not long ago “divorced” from a wildly-known far-right group “Right Sector”. Roman Stoika, a suspect in the armed clashes in Mukachevo, is a leader of the Revolutionary Right Forces. The criminal case against Stoika is still open, and he is wanted by the Security Service of Ukraine.
The RRF representatives refused to let the journalists into the occupied hotel.
Who Is The Leadership Of The “RRF”?
At about midnight on February 20th, the representatives of “RRF” made the official announcement at a press conference, held at the “Kozatskiy” hotel. There, they put forward a list of demands, including “nationwide elections to select The Cabinet of Ministers”.
The press conference was held by a couple of key members of the “RRF” with controversial biographies.
Anton Bondarenko – former member of the organization “Bilyj Molot” (White Hummer), which broke away from the “Right Sector” in 2014. Bondarenko was engaged in protest rallies at the Embassy of Israel and Nazi propaganda before the Maidan. After the Maidan, he went as a volunteer to the war in Donbas. He wasn’t there very long and soon thereafter founded an organization for the Eastern Ukrainian war veterans - “The Union of ATO’s volunteers.” It was also joined by disbanded battalions “Shahtarsk” and “Tornado”, which in the winter of 2015 called for a national coup.
Vladislav Goranin – “White Hummer” coordinator, arrested on the suspicion of murdering a road patrol officer. However, due to the lack of evidence, the court let Goranin go. Goranin denies his involvement in the murder.
Yuriy Karmazin - head of the “Nasha Batkivschina” party. Took part in the “Ukraine without Kuchma” movement (a political launching pad for the first Maidan revolution in 2004), for some time was listed in the ”Nasha Ukraina” party, then formed his own “Block Karmazina.” From 2007 until 2011 he was a deputy of the “Nasha Ukraina - Narodna Samoborona” block, led by the Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko. In May 2015, he filed a lawsuit against President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuyk and the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Groysman. In Karmazin’s words “they must be punished for the misconduct”.
David Mikolaiv - former member of a “Right Sector” cell in Rivne, Western Ukraine. He is involved in a series of anti-government protests.
Sergey Melnychuk- the former commander of controversial "Aidar" battallion and a member of the parliament with "Volya Narodu". His worked as a deputy to Vladyslav Kaskiv, a former head of the State Agency for Investments and National projects during the Presdient Yanukovych's term. Melnychuk is suspected of banditry and his parliamentary immunity was lifted on July 3rd, 2015.
Roman Lypynski – an analyst, he was one of the most active participants of the Euromaidan revolution. Recently joined "RRF" as an official spokesman.
A former convict Dmitry Pavlichenko and his son - they were jailed for a murder of a Ukrainian judge Sergey Zubkov in 2011. The judge was responsible for evicting a family in Pavlichenko's building. Dmitry and Sergei Pavlichenko were released and recognized as political prisoners two days after President Yanukovych's fled the country on February 24th, 2014.
On the morning of February 21st, the leader of the 21st OUN Battalion, Bohdan Chervak, made an official announcement denying the battalion`s implication with recent vandal attacks in downtown Kyiv. "RRF" also denied its participation in vandalizing the banks, while "Kokhanivsky’s OUN battalion" took full responsibility.
On February 21st one large and several small tents were set up by "RRF" representatives on the Independence Square in Kyiv. A minor fight between people in camouflage and police broke out. Some "RRF" members left the occupied hotel, trying to join the people in the tents. Although, as reported by Hromadske, there's no obvious cooperation or coordination between the two groups. Currently, the enhanced security around the hotel is canceled. The representatives of the National Guard and the National Police have left. A tent camp on the Maidan Square was eventually cleared up too with little resistance met.
Комунальники розібрали «барикади» «Революційних правих сил» та вивезли з Майдану дрова й бочки. Однак під час демонтування між «Азовом» і «РПС» сталася бійка: http://goo.gl/j3OQRVPosted by hromadske.tv on Monday, February 22, 2016
Representatives of OUN and "RRF" almost simultaneously put forward similar demands. OUN’s representatives called a meeting to start 'the third Maidan' and to dismiss the President, Parliament and Cabinet of Ministers. Additionally, the RRF representatives announced the need to release political prisoners, too.
Meanwhile, the SBU officers are working their positions. "As far as we understand, those people, who called themselves “radical right forces” don’t have any support from the people, their number is something like 80 persons. It is clear that their main tasks are to organize a delayed provocation; they want people to protect them. And they want to show that there is harassment. As for the people: some of the leaders are wanted by authorities, so now we can perhaps locate them," commented the Security Service of Ukraine.
Many Ukrainian officials and some observers choose to side with conspiracy theories tying recent RRF with neighboring Russia, a country that Ukraine is in undeclared state of war.
At about 8:00 p.m. on February 21st, the Revolutionary Right Forces moved out of the "Kozatskiy" hotel to a nearby building occupied by "Azov", another contovercial far-right paralimilitary group. In the words of "Azov" representatives, it is a gesture of "fraternal assistance".
Words by Yevhen Spirin, Katya Sergatskova.
Edited by Tanya Bednarczyk