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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Live Day 519

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukrainian Film Director On Trial In Russia for 'Terrorism' Charges
Ukrainian film director Sentsov went on trial today in Russia on charges of "terrorism" which his defense attorneys and colleagues say are fabrications in retaliation for his vocal protest against the annexation of Crimea, Deutsche Welle reported.

Sentsov pleaded not guilty, saying the trial was unjust.

Sentsov, 39, was arrested last May two months after the Russian occupation and charged with collaborating with the ultrarightist group Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) to carry out attacks on pro-Moscow organizations. He faces up to 20 years of imprisonment if found guilty. Said Deutsche Welle:
Sentsov, who directed the film "Gamer," has been in jail for more than a year. His defense team describes the arrest as a kidnapping, and the case against the Crimean native as revenge for his pro-Ukrainian views.

A lawyer for the director told news agency AFP on Tuesday that he didn't hold much hope his client would get a fair trial, saying the best-case scenario would likely be for Sentsov to be sent back to Ukraine as part of a prisoner swap deal.

"I think the result will be negative. No one will acquit anyone, no one will change any charges," lawyer Dmitry Dinze said. "We hope that when all the procedures are done, Sentsov will be exchanged for some other people in Ukraine who are important to Russia."

Recently, Right Sector has been in the news for a shoot-out with police in Mukhachevo in which their fighters shot dead a guard and wounded police and civilians, but in Sentsov's case, no evidence for violence has been presented.

Ukrainska Pravda, citing Snob, reported today that Sentsov complained of torture by the FSB.  His attorney, Dmitry Dinze, did not say when and where the torture had occurred while his client was in the FSB's custody.

The trial was partly closed as Ukrainska Pravda reported earlier.

Three pages of the charges against Sentsov and Aleksandr Kolchenko, his co-defendant, are to be shown in closed session, and the rest in open session, said his attorney.

Supporters were not allowed into the court room, including the lay public defenders usually permitted in the Ukrainian court system. Only relatives are permitted to attend, a concession achieved after attorneys petitioned the court.

Press was not allowed in the courtroom either, and reporters were only allowed to watch a live feed in a separate room.


Two other co-defendants, Gennady Afanasyev and Aleksei Chirniy, have already been sentenced to 7 years of prison, considered a lighter sentence after they gave testimony against Sentsov and Kolchenko.

- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
What Happened At Today's Right Sector Rally In Kiev, And Why Should We Care?

Today, members of Ukraine's Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) gathered in Kiev to hold a meeting, in which the leaders of the ultranationalist movement asked for the annulment of the Minsk agreement, a referendum to voice a vote of no confidence in the current Ukrainian, and the declaration of war against Russia.

Most of those who came to today's Right Sector rally have now left Maidan Square:


Here is a screen capture from a live feed from Maidan Square taken a while ago:

Maidan-Nezalezhnosti-Live-YouTube-now.pn

The rally was not particularly large. As we've been reporting, the Associated Press says only hundreds attended the rally. Though some pictures showed a packed crowd, wider shots showed a significant amount of empty space in the square.

The Russian state media, like RT.com, greatly exaggerated the size of the crowd. Here is their "breaking news" headline at the moment:

RT.png

That story, which contains a picture and video of a partially-empty Maidan Square, has an estimate of the crowd which is much larger than any other journalists are reporting. The accompanying video shows mostly scenes unrelated to today's rally:

Up to 6,000 supporters of Ukraine’s ultranationalist Right Sector movement gathered in central Kiev on Tuesday, calling on authorities to resign. The rally marks a “new stage of Ukrainian revolution,” the extremists' leader Dmitry Yarosh announced.

The radicals marched through the center of the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday evening, gathering on Maidan (Independence Square). The rally largely consisted of people wearing camouflage clothes, waving the red and black flags of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). They were chanting “death to enemies,” TASS reported.

At the same time, supporters of Right Sector on social media have also claimed larger numbers than most of the media.

How much support does Right Sector have? Beyond the rally in Kiev today, we can look at the election results and see that support for ultranationalist groups in Ukraine is small, in fact smaller than ever. For insight, see our analysis of this subject last October.

So why are the Russian state run propaganda outlets and the party which wants war declared on Russia both spreading the same myth?

Right Sector, Revolution, and War

To answer this one must understand Right Sector's role in both the Euromaidan Revolution and the time that has passed since. Ultranationalists like Right Sector and Azov fervently supported the goals or Euromaidan, and while they made up a very tiny portion of the crowds in Maidan Square last February, many of their fighters prominently defended the borders of the square from the onslaught of Ukraine's infamous (and disbanded) Berkut riot police (an organization which has now been reformed in Russian-occupied Crimea).

In the first months after the success of the Euromaidan Revolution, there was concern among the interim government that they could not entirely trust the police, military, and intelligence services.  After the annexation of Crimea, and as pro-Russian fighters began to take territory in the Donbass, ultranationalist volunteer groups like Right Sector and Azov flocked to the front lines, where they have been ever since.

The Ukrainian government has, since that time, had an uneasy relationship with these groups, seeking their help in the fight against the Russian military incursion while simultaneously not wanting to either endorse or alienate the groups. As the Ukrainian military has proven its reliability on the battlefield, the need for such volunteer groups has diminished, and the inability to get these groups to integrate with the wider military has become, in the eyes of many Ukrainians, a problem.

The Russian government, on the other hand, has loved to make a big deal about the presence of ultranationalist "Nazis" in the streets of Kiev and in the ranks of the military. As long as they ignored the open connections between the Russian government and its proxies in Ukraine with the global far right, the Kremlin has been able to use the presence of ultranationalists in Ukraine as an ideological justification for its interference in Ukraine (which it denies is a reality).

Tensions Building

In the recent battle for Shirokino, a town to the east of the coastal city of Mariupol, the Azov Regiment was on the front lines of the fight -- some say despite the desires of the Ukrainian military to withdraw from the town. The Azov Regiment routinely expressed its frustration that the Ukrainian military was neither leading the charge nor appropriately supporting or recognizing the efforts of the ultranationalist volunteers, despite the fact that Azov is (at least nominally) under the control of the National Guard. 

Meanwhile, the shoot-out earlier this month in Mukachevo, Zakarpattia, have pushed tensions to the breaking point. On July 11, a group of Right Sector fighters had a disagreement with men loyal to oligarch Mikhail Lano, a former member of ousted president Viktro Yanukovych's political party, the Party of Regions. By all reports, the Right Sector men shot some of Lano's men, then engaged in a gunfight with Ukrainian police.

Earlier today, the new governor of Zakarpattia, Hennadiy Moskal, accused Pravyi Sektor of kidnapping and torturing. He said that 13 members are still on the run in the region's forests.

The Associated Press photographed a group of Right Sector supporters at today's rally wearing T-shirts of Sashko Bily, a Right Sector leader who was killed in a police raid last year. Resentment for the authorities is becoming increasingly obvious among many rank-and-file members.

Right Sector's supporters say that their fighters -- who were equipped with machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades despite being over a thousand kilometers from Ukraine's front lines -- were fighting against Lano's corrupt smuggling ring, and the police are loyal to Lano and the former government, not Ukraine, thus the gunfight. According to this narrative, the oligarchs which the Euromaidan Revolution tried to remove is incomplete -- the oligarchs still rule.

Right Sector's critics say that it is engaged in an off-the-books economy, and this was a turf war over the price of black market cigarettes. In this narrative, Right Sector is a rogue group which does not represent the wishes of the Ukrainian people but which has been allowed to operate above the rule of law.

According to many subscribing to part or all of either one of those theories, the Ukrainian government has to take this opportunity to fix problems which it has -- for a variety of reasons, some legitimate and some less so -- refused or been unable to fix up to this point.

Either way, the Russian government, which has been sowing instability in Ukraine since before the Euromaidan Revolution, is loving every minute of this fight.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Only Hundreds of Participants in Right Sector Rally -- AP

Hundreds of Ukrainian right-wingers rally against Kiev govt

KIEV, Ukraine - Hundreds of Ukrainian right-wingers are rallying in Kiev to protest government policies. The radical Right Sector group was one of the most militant factions in the massive protests in Ukraine's capital that prompted pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country in February 2014.

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Jul 21, 2015 21:38 (GMT)
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Live Video Feed From Right Sector Rally In Kiev
Here is a live video feed from the Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) rally in Kiev:
Here is a map of the square:
As you can see from this screenshot, where the camera is panned to the right (toward the northwest), the rally has not blocked traffic, nor have large amounts of people gathered on the far side of the street. The side streets are also largely clear of people, and it's possible that many who are gathered further away from the main crowd are spectators, not necessarily Right Sector supporters:
Euromaidan PR has been live-tweeting some of the speeches given by various Right Sector leaders:

This line appears to be a reference to Right Sector itself, which has created volunteer battalions to fight in eastern Ukraine. However, those troops are supposed to report to the Interior Ministry.

As we have been reporting, Right Sector has been under fire following a shoot-out earlier this month in Mukachevo, Zakarpattia, between Right Sector members and police.

Paul Goble has written a new column on the possible significant of the tensions between Right Sector and the Ukrainian government:
-- James Miller
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Right Sector Supporters Rally In Kiev During Conference Critical of Government

As we report below, the leaders of Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) are gathered in Kiev for a conference in which they have called for a public referendum of no-confidence in the current government. Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh has also called for the annulment of the Minsk agreements and has demanded "a blockade of the occupied territories and the recognition of the ATO as a war with Russia."

Now a protest is gathering at Kiev's Maidan Square where supporters of Right Sector are gathering.

The crowd was initially small:


Those flags did make an appearance, though, and the crowd is growing:
-- James Miller
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