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Tue Feb 11, 2014, 01:53 PM

 

Ukraine Radicals Steer Violence as Nationalist Zeal Grows

By Daryna Krasnolutska and Volodymyr Verbyany Feb 11, 2014

Mikhail Zhyzneuski’s pallbearers wore black balaclavas and camouflage jackets as they carried his coffin through crowds of mourners in Ukraine’s capital Jan. 26.

The 25-year-old from Belarus died last month from gunshot wounds as anti-government protests in Kiev turned deadly. He was part of the nationalist Pravyi Sektor movement, whose supporters joined demonstrators demanding an end to Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency. The group claims it played a central role in the violent lurch in Ukraine’s crisis.

The radicals, who joined the 11-week-old protests sparked by Yanukovych spurning European integration for a Russian bailout, don’t answer to Kiev camp leaders and are threatening to renew the unrest that’s sparked warnings of civil war. Their arrival may also bolster nationalist forays into mainstream politics, like in other European countries such as Greece.

“The opposition now has limited control over the protest camp,” said Iryna Bekeshkina, director of the Democratic Initiative Foundation, a Kiev-based research group that focuses on Ukraine’s integration to the West. “If the radicals want more clashes, they’ll happen.”

Weeks of peaceful protests turned violent Jan. 19 as new anti-rally laws sparked clashes. Activists hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at riot police, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas. Three protesters died of gunshot wounds and more than 1,000 are in hospitals. Three policemen died.

White Hammer

At the heart of the violence is Pravyi Sektor, an umbrella group uniting nationalist organizations. They include Tryzub, which aims to foster an independent Ukraine free of foreign influence. Bilyi Molot, or White Hammer, opposes mass immigration and bases its ideology on Stepan Bandera, who fought Soviet rule in the 1930s, at times alongside Nazi Germany.

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-11/ukraine-radicals-steer-violence-as-nationalist-zeal-grows.html

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