Today I spoke on the phone with Artem Skoropadsky, the spokesperson for the Right Sector in Ukraine. The party has been accused of igniting violence at the protests and its members have been called neo-Nazis. I was not present at the protests so I am in no position to agree or disagree with these accusations. What I can do is state a few solid facts about the paramilitary party and summarize my interview with Skoropadsky.
The Right Sector was founded by Dmytro Yarosh after the protests began in late November 2013. The right-wing coalition uses the same red and black flag originally belonging to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army or UPA. UPA was also accused of being fascist when they fought Nazis and Communists during World War II and after. The Right Sector is definitely nationalistic and has publically announced that they believe that the Regional and Communist parties should be banned – but so have ordinary people with no affiliation to the party.
The Right Sector is also commonly accused of being against speaking Russian in Ukraine, but that was the language that Skoropadsky answered his phone in. He also answered my first question in Russian, and only switched to Ukrainian once he realized that I understand it better.
“It is incorrect to say that the Right Sector created a revolution, it was ordinary people who created the revolution,” explained Skoropadsky when I asked him about the role of the Right Sector at Maidan. But he went on to say that “the Right Sector was the main driving force of the revolution” and they were not afraid to take responsibility for what occurred at Maidan.
“We need unity of the Ukrainian nation,” he answered when I asked him about what the next step should be for Ukraine. He said that the propaganda spread by Russian Television has caused people living in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Crimea to hate Ukraine, Ukrainians and Ukrainian. The Right Sector doesn’t see Ukraine divided into 1st class Ukrainians and 2nd class Ukrainians, “to us they are all the same,” he says.
Talking to one person, especially a politician isn’t enough to get the full picture. However I agree with his emphasis on the importance of unity, and what he said about seeing all Ukrainians as being the same didn’t sound fascist to me at all. I am hoping to speak with some of these ordinary people who according to Skoropadsky created the revolution to get more opinions on the Right Sector.