Disclaimer: I never actually supported Right Sector. What I did was tolerate them so long as they were out there fighting: I’m not going to cheer for the separatists just because mildly unpleasant Right Sector fighters were fighting against them. What I believed, however, is that, yes, Right Sector are bastards. But they’re our bastards. Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the case, because, as the events in Mukachevo show, Right Sector is steadily going bonkers.
To put things into perspective, Mukachevo is approximately 1668 kilometers away from Pisky, the closest point to Donetsk which is under our control. This understandably raises questions as to what the fuck armed people with heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and technicals are doing so far away from the front. As I understand, this is fundamentally a smuggling dispute: apparently, cigarette smuggling is serious business in Zakarpattia. But showing up to a mob dispute with heavy weapons, blowing up two militsiya cars and then fucking off into the woods didn’t earn Right Sector any points with most Ukrainians. What followed didn’t do much better, because, instead of acknowledging what they’ve done, Right Sector proceeds to fly completely off the handle. They level accusations at the government, as they always do. They insist that they can carry weapons and blast militsiya cars in a peaceful town a thousand kilometers away from the front because, apparently, they’re ‘patriots’ fighting against an ‘internal occupation regime’. They launch into rants pretty much telling all Ukrainians to bow before the ‘patriots’, or else. They set up checkpoints, they tear down flags, they take hostages and they apparently set booby traps near several apartment blocks in Lviv, which already led to ordinary people being wounded and maimed. Hacking governmental Twitter accounts (while making spelling mistakes, although most Right Sector ‘patriots’ probably didn’t speak Ukrainian until very recently) seems pretty minor in comparison.
I’m not a necromancer or a spiritualist, so I can’t really ask Stepan Andriyovych [Bandera]’s opinion on this shit. What I can say, though, is that this shit is too much. And I’m displeased with how the government handles this shit. Of course, this isn’t Russia, and Poroshenko is no Putin (and no Yanukovych, no matter how much some ‘patriots’ wish he was), and public opinion is very sensitive about use of force… but Right Sector managed to fuck their public relations so hard in the past few days that public relations had to lock themselves in a closet with a tube of soothing cream.
There are indications that a crackdown is already starting, courtesy of SBU. Of course, National Guard is deployed in Zakarpattia, too (a welcome sight from Yanukovych-era Internal Troops and their militsiya uniforms), but to little effect. The government got Yarosh on the line to try and talk his men down before shit gets ugly, but the biggest question right now is how much of Right Sector Yarosh actually controls. My best guess is ‘not much’.
What is notable, and what Western observers should note (preferably after stopping with the ‘told you!’ already) is that, despite Right Sector’s attempt at making the Mukachevo debacle into an ‘attack on the volunteers’, none of the volunteer battalions actually voiced their support for Right Sector. This is probably evidence of the increased control the government enjoys over them. Azov even offered to ‘bring Right Sector fighters to justice’, which is probably evidence of Avakov tearing Biletsky a new one recently. All in all, Right Sector has no allies – or, at least, no armed allies with which to threaten insurrection. Political parties already hop on the bandwagon (ostensibly pro-Western Samopomich and ostensibly pro-Kremlin Opposition Bloc make strange bedfellows), but so far they pursue different goals from Right Sector. What does Right Sector pursue, though, is a matter of some discussion.
I’m hesitant to go out and brand them Kremlin agents: let’s give them the benefit of free will for a change, but the problem is that their goals jive with the Kremlin’s a little too much. Kremlin media were busy with their ‘fascist coup’ message only a year ago: what Right Sector proclaims is a ‘national revolution’, i.e. a fascist coup. Kremlin also wants Ukraine to crumble, destabilize and either turn into a failed state or simply be so otherwise occupied that no reforms are carried out and the economy does not stabilize. This is exactly what Right Sector is trying to accomplish with their ‘national revolution’ shit – shit they might honestly believe in. Whether they do is not important: what is important is that now they’re dangerous. And they’re not making the odds in their favor with all their posturing. Quite the opposite.
Right Sector is, obviously, a very factional organization; some say it is not an organization, but a franchise, with Right Sector’s Volunteer Ukrainian Corps being but a part of the franchise, not necessary related to the Right Sector which stirs shit now. There is evidence that VUC is even more factional inside, with no two units being alike, but, anyhow, this is pure conjecture. And I doubt they will get a free pass, if only by association. And the fact that someone from Right Sector apparently fought the separatists does not give someone else from Right Sector permission to tear down flags, take hostages or threaten armed insurrection.
Will there actually be an armed insurrection? Hardly. Next to the Ukrainian government, Right Sector is insignificant. This is highlighted by their tactics, which mostly consist of tearing down flags, setting booby traps near people’s home and having ten people picket the Office of the President (oh, and hacking Twitter accounts, a veritable PEREMOHA if there is one! *cryingcossack.jpg*). Does an armed revolutionary movement do that? Hardly. The only problem is the government’s reaction to this; while diplomacy is admirable, any diplomacy only goes so far – and so far, Right Sector has shown itself to be no different from Donbass separatists. In my opinion, they deserve the same response.
The problem is how long will the crisis last, and how far will the government allow it to escalate. The ball is in their court right now. It is high time we should kick it.
And before you ask it, no. Right Sector did nothing at Maidan besides play Gestapo. Right Sector’s successes are wildly overestimated and a result of Russian media’s hatemongering more than anything – if Right Sector actually had any successes, because so far all they’ve managed to do is completely and utterly torpedo whatever little reputation they had. What Maidan stood for is equality before the law. Why Maidan stood when it did was not even because of EU integration (though no other people paid for EU integration in blood), but because it refused to be intimidated by force; refused to bow to thugs and crooks. And what Right Sector did last weekend was show that they are thugs and crooks hiding behind OUN flags and bogus patriotism.
They say the current government is worse than Yanukovych’s Ancient Regime. To which I can only say one thing: no, Right Sector, you are the Yanukovych. And if you think that Ukrainians will bow to you, you are gravely mistaken.
And I hope that soon you will be lethally mistaken, too.