So there’s news again that Right Sector is up in arms against ‘homosexual gatherings’ in Kyiv. This much can probably be expected from any far-right party. Ukraine was never big on LGBT rights until recently, not to mention virtually every party here can be described as ‘socially conservative’, but Right Sector really takes the cake. These are people who set fire to one of Kyiv’s cinemas for showing an LGBT movie, for fuck’s sake.
Needless to say, this has not been earning Right Sector much support. Actually, for all their image as ‘stalwart defenders of Ukraine’, Right Sector people are motherfucking drama whores. Their publicity detachment is made up of howling mad idiots which cry bloody ZRADA at every opportunity, stuck in their made-up world of TRUE UKRAINIAN PATRIOTS fighting the oppressive and traitorous government. This is exceptionally jarring when Yarosh hangs out with Armed Forces Chief of Staff Muzhenko (the man who gets blamed for LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HAPPENS TO ‘OUR TROOPS’), but Right Sector press officers are hawking about how the government wants to destroy them and how army troops are about to storm Right Sector’s base. This is also when many of the said troops fought with Right Sector volunteers literally shoulder to shoulder. Yesterday the ZRADA crowd viewed them as heroes; today they are apparently ‘traitors’ out to get the TRUE UKRAINIAN PATRIOTS. Seriously, what the fuck?
This is exceptionally jarring, again, when parts of Right Sector’s Volunteer Corps already joined the Armed Forces, yet the others rock that particular boat. Maybe the conclusion is that Right Sector is actually more fractured than it appears from the outside, and Yarosh has control over a tiny fraction of it, if at all. Seeing as Right Sector is an alliance of several different nationalist movements, this is not surprising. But boy are they full of shit. First we get tall tales about how Right Sector apparently ‘gets their weapons fighting’, despite how army troops LOAN them heavy equipment. Then we get attacks on homosexuals. Then we remember Right Sector’s political program, rife with things like ‘Christian reconquista’, ‘traditional family values’ and ‘no multinational alliances’, and we seriously consider if we need these people at all. I mean, sure, Azov is hardly different, but at least Azov does less of that shit. You don’t see Lieutenant Colonel Biletsky railing against ‘homosexual gatherings’ or against EU integration, and while Azov has made questionable decisions (such as the whole Shyrokine affair right now), most of the time it is the cat that catches mice. Right Sector, on the other hand, is the cat that does not catch mice; instead it lectures its owner on how he should catch mice, while denigrating the other cats it was catching mice with only yesterday.
The question is, again, whether we need these people at all. To which the answer is most certainly ‘we don’t’. A party that gets 1-2% every election is one thing; it’s more than UNA-UNSO got in its heyday, but it’s not much; this is how many people buy the whole ‘radical nationalist’ thing. Even Svoboda had to cut down on the ‘radical nationalist’ thing in order to get its collective ass into Rada, and even then most of Svoboda’s 2012 vote was a protest vote against Yanukovych, rather than for Svoboda. I know more people who voted for Svoboda in 2012 than I know people who voted for Right Sector in 2014, and while this is hardly representative of the whole population, this is still saying something. And Right Sector, contrary to what they might believe or what the internet believes, are not winning themselves any more support with their attention whoring, their constant cries of ZRADA, their lies and their attacks on LGBT people. There will be a point when most people will forget about ‘Right Sector the defenders of Ukraine’ and start remembering the things Right Sector’s political platform has – which will not earn them any more votes than they get now.
A party that gets 1-2% every election while having an armed paramilitary wing, on the other hand, is another. This is partially why the government is eager to get Right Sector volunteers integrated into the army. Another reason is that, unlike other volunteer battalions, Right Sector is effectively independent and thus is a breach of the Minsk Agreements. This is why I support this whole integration thing, which has been moderately successful so far – which only shows that Right Sector’s armed paramilitary wing is similarly fractured and perhaps factional.
Either way, this problem is probably best rectified as soon as possible; hence, a Nacht der langen Messer. One way or another, because otherwise we’re going nowhere.
It is probably high time to dispel some of the misconceptions about Ukraine’s volunteer battalions that many Western observers still harbor, but that is better left for a different post.