Original (a bit shortened version for the sake of readability) may be found here https://www.traditionalright.com/an-interview-with-right-sector/
1.Hi Olena, before we start I wanted to congratulate you on your appointment to the position of Press Secretary for Right Sector. We have talked for some time now on and off, and given your very capable writing skills, your vibrant and powerful intellect, I think they could not have picked a better choice. I also wanted to congratulate you on the victory of the Ukrainian people over the corrupt regime of Yanukovitch, it is a truly inspiring thing to see.
Hi James, firstly, thank you for your congratulations! Although it was an overthrow rather than accomplished National Revolution, the spirit of the latter has been awoken, and the massive patriotic consolidation in our country, not mentioning ascension of the Ukrainian Right, surprises us even more than this miraculous victory.
Secondly, many thanks for your high assessment of my intellectual abilities that (I hope) will be put into service of our cause to a full extent! Perhaps the term “Press Secretary” is not a very precise description of my duties, for even though I took responsibility for the relations of Right Sector with the foreign nationalist movements and organizations, I set a more complex goal for myself that requires strategic thinking, indeed. Thus regular updates in social networks that inform our supporters (and enemies) about the advancement of the Ukrainian Right and patriots in general, as well as interviews that mostly serve the goal of dispelling the myths of both Kremlin’s and Western propaganda are not an end in itself and were my main concern only after the outbreak of information warfare on Ukraine and Right Sector in particular, also before the recent presidential elections. As a result, instead of answering to everyone and establishing connections with formally “neutral” or openly pro-Russian right-wing organizations, I can be quite undiplomatic as for the “Press Secretary.”
At first I was among the few Ukrainian patriots who constantly defended Ukrainians namely from a nationalist point of view in English, apart from Ukrainian and Russian, which during Maidan revolution automatically meant protection of Right Sector’s cause, since this movement and later organization took the brunt of the Russian propagandistic machine. In fact, I’ve chosen the role of Right Sector’s advocate both inside and outside our country. Also informational support of Right Sector was necessary as a part of promoting the Third Way among ordinary Ukrainians who initially had too high expectations of the West. Luckily, few Ukrainians still have illusions about the Western omnipotence or “paradise,” and although they mostly voted for pro-Western Poroshenko instead of Yarosh, Right Sector’s calls for self-organization, fighting against the inner traitors and developing our own powerful Army completely prevailed over the “peaceful” defeatist moods and waiting for the rescue from the West, which was helpful yet not decisive. So this persistent and exhausting work was nor fruitless, but now it’s time to change our strategy.
In other words, war interrupted our revolution, which was meant to become the beginning of the promised “European Reconquista,” as well as the anticipated conceptual cooperation with our foreign comrades, which, as you may guess, is a much more rewarding task than disproving repetitive accusations of willful or blind “serving the interests of Western imperialism that started war on Russia” while our own interests are completely ignored. On the other hand, namely owing to war nationalists have gained power they could never dream of before: they form and guide the volunteer battalions consisting of right-wingers, and our foreign comrades join them not because they were persuaded by some interviews, but because they see that they can do something real in Ukraine, as opposed to their homelands. This is not yet “European Reconquista,” but it’s the birth of the subject that will be able to fulfill it.
Therefore, it goes without saying that I’m extremely grateful for your informational support, am honored to answer the questions for “Traditionalist” and in the future will seize an opportunity to convey a political or a philosophical message through the interviews, although from now on I plan to concentrate on purely ideological work that will signify transition from a reactive and defensive phase, when Ukrainian nationalists had to refute disinformation or justify their deeds, to the active phase of writing manifestos and educating our fighters, when we will not debate, but recruit. It will immediately raise the efficiency of our struggle. Correspondingly, journalistic duties may be transmitted to others, whereas I will accept more suitable for my professional skills role of the ideologist.
Luckily, along with strengthening of patriotic solidarity across Ukraine appear informational agencies that specialize in refuting falsifications, distortions and direct lies of Kremlin’s propaganda like “Stop Fake News” with English subtitles, which, in particular, exposes fake photos of the presumable crimes of Ukrainian Army that were taken a long time ago in other places, or “Ukraine Today,” a twin of the infamous Russian portal, launch of which was announced by the leader of the volunteer battalion “Donbas” Semen Semenchenko. Since after the victory of Poroshenko and the first successful steps of the anti-terrorist operation in the East of Ukraine the target of Russian information warfare has become “the Ukrainian junta” in general instead of Right Sector as before, the latter can finally focus on its internal development. Surely, we’ll give help to such agencies as well if needed, no matter whether they are nationalist or not.
Excuse me for such a lengthy reply – I seized a good opportunity to explain that we’re preparing the ground for reaching the whole new level of our struggle.
2. When I saw that Yanukovitch was deposed on television, I was inside a bar drinking and I jumped up nearly knocking over my drink. When I saw on CNN that the nationalists had him on the run, I cheered loudly and everyone was staring at me like I was insane, haha. That was one of those moments I will always remember.
It was a huge inspiration for me and all the Ukrainians to see such a sincere support of our Western sympathizers, in particular American, even if they were not strictly “right-wing.” Thank you for sharing our joy and triumphing over the system along with us! It shows better than anything else that good old values of freedom and the right to self-determination and the revolt against injustice are still alive in the modern world in spite of the attempts to view Maidan solely through the prism of “war of the continents,” the geopolitical idolatry and other conspiracy theories.
Undeniably, this revolution has its ideological, cultural-civilizational and geopolitical meaning, but much simpler underlying factors make it understandable for everyone endowed with the healthy spirit. Although the corrupt post-Soviet oligarchy headed by Putin got revenge on Ukraine by annexing Crimea and unleashing war in East Ukraine, it does not cancel the precedent of successful revolution in Eastern Europe and does not restore Yanukovich’s legitimacy. Moreover, it’s obvious that Russian imperialists overreacted not only out of the sense of “ressentiment” (envy, impotence and an impulse for revenge), but because they realized that Maidan was the direct threat for the Kremlin, the beginning of its end, a glimpse into the future of the Russian Federation. Excursions to Yanukovych’s Mezhygirya residence, his tasteless golden goods are especially symbolic in this context.
3.Can you explain the origins of Right Sector and the contrast between Svoboda, the nationalist party that was well known prior to Right Sector? Is Svoboda still around, or have they merged into Right Sector?
Right Sector was formed in November, 2013 during the beginning of mass, back then simply pro-EU, protests at Maidan. One of its ideologists Ihor Zahrebelnyi jokes that we should install a plaque near the table in the small café at Maidan at which sat nationalists from “Tryzub” (Trident) who invented this title. At first Right Sector was represented by a small tent at Maidan, but already on December 30 – the day when the regime of Yanukovych forcefully dispersed Maidan and beat the students – they formed a circle of the fighters who protected people around Independence Stella from the attack of special police unit “Berkut.” After the violent clashes with police on Hrushevsky St. (since January 19) Right Sector united the radical protesters of all ages and professions, as well as such nationalist organizations as Tryzub, Patriot of Ukraine, Social-National Assembly, UNA-UNSO (Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense), White Hammer (later expelled due to inner conflicts). On March 27 Dmytro Yarosh, one of the leaders of “Tryzub,” who predicted revolutionary events at Maidan in his book and started training Ukrainian nationalists during Yanukovych’s reign, was elected at the council as the head of the political party “Right Sector” and announced his intent to run for president.
“Svoboda” led by Oleg Tiagnybok has been taking an active part in the political life of Ukraine since 90-s, but only after the elections in autumn 2012 it has become a serious parliamentary force, success of which was immediately labeled as “back to 1933” in the left-liberal media. It has quite a radical nationalist and socialist program (at first it was called SNPU, that is “Social-National Party of Ukraine”), although the pro-Western geopolitical identity and a populist segment of this political party, both among the leadership and many ordinary members, might create an impression that it’s almost a centrist force. It’s not so, though, and “Svoboda” has its military wing represented by the nationalist organization C14, which is led by Eugen Karas and is well-known in Europe. Foreign nationalists who serve now in the Right Sector’s battalion “Azov” initially stayed at the captured by C14 during revolution office of the Communist party of Ukraine that functioned as a kind of right-wing squat.
After the beginning of Maidan protests Svoboda entered a coalition with liberal political parties “Bat’kivshchyna” (Fatherland) led by Arseniy Yatseniuk as a deputy of Yulia Tymoshenko and “UDAR” (Strike) headed by Vitaliy Klytchko. Since the latter tried to negotiate and constantly called for “peaceful protests,” which resulted in the death of Celestial Hundred, if not several such “hundreds” of Maidan activists, Svoboda partially also gained a reputation of a populist and oddly moderate force that can’t cope with the situation. As a result, some joined Right Sector instead. However, a lot of members of Svoboda were activists of Maidan, seized administrative buildings, financed the struggle, fought in Hrushevsky St., caught hired by the regime thugs-“titushki,” and, eventually, have become a part of Heavenly Hundred, so criticism is fair only with regard to some steps of its leadership. On the other hand, namely owing to this coalition Svoboda is widely represented in the parliament and can resist the anti-Ukrainian forces at a legal level.
Both Svoboda and Right Sector gained not so much votes during the presidential elections, because many people, even those who were in favor of Svoboda or Right Sector, in order to hasten the elections and finish the process in one round voted for Petro Poroshenko as the most probable winner who has resources and will be able to change the situation in the East (this explains the paradox of the oligarch elected after the anti-oligarchic revolution). Low results and falsifications made many members of both political parties think about the prospect of creating an alliance, especially taking into account Maidan’s demand to dissolute the parliament elected under the former regime and hold extraordinary parliamentary elections in autumn. Yet it’s hard to say that one of these forces can become a part of another; since Svoboda is more experienced and developed in the parliamentary filed, it is possible to argue about Right Sector’s merging with Svoboda as its substructure. However, both politic parties have their specific audience (which reflects difference of their ideological priorities), welcome variety of right-wing forces in Ukraine and so far decided to stay apart.
In a military relation, though, Svoboda would rather become and partially became indeed a part of Right Sector. Specificity of both parties has become clear during the first month of anti-terrorist operation. Right Sector instead of pre-election agitation has helped to form battalions “Dnipro-1” and “Dnipro-2”; Social-National Assembly as a division of Right Sector has created the battalion “Azov” out of the “Black Men” that appeared in response to anonymous Russian “Green Men.” Dmytro Yarosh personally takes part in the ATO as a military, as a commander of the volunteer defense force that is situated on the border between Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk regions. Svoboda as the parliamentary force only now finished creation of the first company of its battalion “Sich,” although the aforementioned military wing of Svoboda C14 started trainings much earlier. Likewise, some members of Svoboda recently joined Right Sector’s battalion “Azov” (formally all the volunteer battalions are subordinate to Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine), which is a good sign of close cooperation of these two parties that is born in the fight and common extreme experience.
4.Can you describe for us where the current stage of the conflict between separatists and Ukrainian patriots is right now, and any plans that Ukraine has to stop the Russian threats? Will ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians be able to live next to one another after the conflict or is the conflict primarily a question of national loyality?
First of all, we have to distinguish terrorists from Russia (including Chechens, Dagestani, Ossetians, Abkhazians, etc.), local separatists and a small percentage of fooled by the Kremlin’s propaganda residents of East Ukraine. As Semen Semenchenko explained (the leader of the volunteer defense force “Donbas”), after the victory of Maidan local members of the Party of Regions, communists, oligarchs, Mayors of the cities, driven by the passion for revenge, started gathering in this area all kinds of thugs (“titushki”), criminals, pro-Russian elements, former workers of “Berkut” who shot people at Maidan that altogether created an illusion of “Donbas that turned pro-Russian and took up arms against Ukrainian state.” In reality, contends the commander of “Donbas,” this region stands for Ukraine. That’s why we should not repeat after Russian propaganda that this region is “problematic,” that its residents are “alcoholics and drug addicts” and that “it’s easier to let it separate,” for they will say next the same about Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk and other Ukrainian cities. We should not give away a single square foot of our land, concludes Semen Semenchenko.
Thus at first I answered your second question: nothing has ever threatened Russians or Russian speaking people in Ukraine; 40 % of Right Sector speaks Russian; there are more than 15 Russian volunteers in the battalion “Azov”; we’re actively supported by the Russian right-wing organization “Wotan Jugend,” etc. Even in Crimea Russian has never been a second state language; it only had “a special status,” so recognition of Ukrainian language the only state language that is used in governmental institutions changes nothing at the cultural or colloquial level of communication. Likewise, war both divided and united Ukrainians and Russians, and we know that our triumph over the separatist fiction of “Novorossiya” will say more than a dozen news issues by “Russia Today.”
The anti-terrorist operation in East Ukraine had several phases, including “the final” ones. Initially we liquidated the separatist threat in the biggest Eastern Ukrainian cities (Odessa, Kharkiv), so the centre of conflict shifted to the capitals of corresponding pseudo-republics – Donetsk and Lugansk. Release of the city of Mariupol by the battalion “Azov” led by Andriy Biletskyi was the exemplary military operation of the whole ATO. Many losses were connected with the treason of pro-Russian officials who stole the funds for Army, delayed or complicated delivery of equipment for Ukrainian soldiers and the contrabandists who let through the border Russian enginery, mercenaries and weapons. The latter constantly used peaceful residents as a living shield and then accused Ukrainian army of committed by them atrocities, often due to inability to use highly specialized newest Russian military equipment. That was the time when appeared the hashtags #Save Donbas(s) people from Ukrainian army, in response to which we started our own flash-mob in social networks #Save Donbas(s) people from Russian saboteurs or “…from Dumbass people.” When terrorists shot down a plane with 50 Ukrainian militaries on the board, it has become quite obvious who’s a genuine “punisher.” At first Poroshenko justified hopes of his voters when he said that ATO should last for hours, not months, and at the same time was severely criticized for the recent proclamation of the truce or the unilateral ceasefire in order to show the EU during signing the EU association agreement that we’re “civilized,” are not aggressors and are ready to “hear” the residents of Donbas. This demoralizing decision cost us 20 more lives of the soldiers, lost initiative and new enginery from Russia, which almost led to new Maidan, this time headed by the militaries, but restoration of ATO also caused its powerful psychological effect and a successful counter-attack of Ukrainian Army. Terrorists flee or take the Ukrainian side, Slovyansk – symbolic centre of the separatists is free, and now we can anticipate fast release of the big Eastern Ukrainian cities and end of “Novorossiya.”
5.One of the most notable things I have read about Right Sector is the support for the right to keep and bear weapons for the population, and the party’s support for a relatively republican form of government in contrast to the slander of calling the party “fascist”, which is spoken by pro-kremlin groups. In America we of course find these to be important factors of our country that are a quintessential part of our national character. What makes Ukrainian Nationalism unique, and does it have similarities to American Nationalism whatsoever?
This analogy makes sense, indeed. Dmytro Yarosh has always favored and proposed as a part of his political program legalization of weapons. The head of the Legislative Office of Social-National Assembly Yaroslav Babych elaborated corresponding project for Ukrainian Parliament. American and Swiss models are understood by Right Sector as a basis for personal freedom, a guarantee of human dignity and the right of self-defense, especially when the state does not fulfill its function or the government and the police are corrupt and protect each other instead of people, which was widely discussed during and after Maidan. It goes without saying that freedom-loving Ukrainians respect this early American tradition; in turn, it’s deeply enrooted in Ukrainian national history and the system of government. Ukrainian nationalism is both conservative and national-revolutionary, which is quite a unique combination for the ideologies of the European third way where these trends were separated.
6.One thing I have read is that the legacy of Ukraine comes originally from the republic of Novgorod, which was largely settled by northern Europeans(nords/Vikings). This would mean that Ukraine’s roots are more distinctly European than Russia’s, as it owes much of its history and ancestry to Europe, whereas much of Russia has Asiatic ancestry. With this rational I feel it’s a duty for those of us in countries with European history to help one another. What are your thoughts on this?
The hypothesis of Norman theory of origins of Kyivan Rus’ is quite substantiated and popular, indeed. Old Scandinavian chronicles called this area “Garðaríki”; a lot of Old Norse terms have become a part of our legacy. Novgorod is important in this context, too: since the Viking influence, or, as Ruthenians (“Ruotsi,” which is the Finnish name for Swedes) called them, the influence of “Variags” (Varangians) within the Norman hypothesis mostly consists in state-building factors, namely after the conquer of Kyiv (which existed before) by the Novgorod Kniaz Oleg, supposedly a relative of Scandinavian Rurik, and establishing there the dynasty of Rurik Kyiv has become “the mother of the Ruthenian cities” and the capital of Kyivan Rus’ that united different Slavic tribes.
Undoubtedly, Ukraine is a traditional European country, whereas Russia embodies largely an Asiatic (absolutist, even despotic, bureaucratic and technocratic) model of government, indeed. The Muscovite State (Peter I renamed Muscovy to Russia only in XVIII century, in 1721), appeared much later than Kyiv and had been a tributary to the Tatar Golden Horde till 1480. This explains the failure of modern fetishists of pseudo-geopolitics who claim that Russia is an opponent of American Atlantism and the representative of the European “Nomos of the Earth” in Carl Schmitt’s sense, on the contrary to Western “Nomos of the Sea,” as Alexander Dugin claims. It’s obvious that Russia does not embody specifically European principle of spacial and property relations: individual space, ownership and rights have never been cultivated in Russia, and Russian people often were nomads rather than peasants who have direct ties with the land. That’s why, for instance, “guests” from Russia in East Ukraine can never be considered “partisans” who defend their own land – only aggressors and invaders. All this is widely discussed in the article by Harun Sidorov “Russian State as Nomad, Natural Anarchist and Technocrat.”
In the historical retrospective, as opposed to Moscow, where the supreme power belonged to tsar, where even aristocracy was subordinate to total bureaucratic control and where the serfdom existed till the very outbreak of revolution, Ukraine inherited the truly European model of government: Ukrainian society had quite high vertical mobility (those who proved themselves the brave fighters at war received land; even today the authorities promised land the participants of ATO) and organically combined the powerful aristocratic estate with democratic initiatives from below (as it was in Zaporozhian Sich where military leaders were elected through voting). Even though Right Sector considers itself an heir of Hetmanat (the conservative hierarchic state) of the last Ukrainian Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky (our “Hetman” equals to European “Prince”) rather than Ukrainian Republic, the latter also had important for the ideal Ukrainian state elements, which, again, represent fundamental values of Ukrainian mentality and culture.
That’s why it’s not a matter of the pro-EU or anti-EU position – a false dilemma that was imposed on us by the Kremlin: both EU and the Kremlin are anti-European and globalist entities. Our right-wing supporters from Russia (aforementioned “Wotan Jugend”) openly explain that they took the side of the heirs of Kyivan Rus’ that keep its legacy alive, as opposed to current anti-national Russian government.
7. Do you welcome US aid? Considering Russia’s increasingly belligerent behavior, what are your thoughts on NATO, the association agreement, and possible US assistance?
Officially Right Sector stands for the non-aligned status of Ukraine, that is against EU and NATO membership, but is not against Western helps as such, – surely, here it is guided not by ideological, but by the state interests of Ukraine. Recently Dmytro Yarosh wrote a short appeal on occasion of the birthday of the commander of UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) Roman Shukhevych (June 30), in which he underlined that signing EU association agreement, which happened on June 27, has never been the final aim of Maidan and that the struggle for the real revolutionary changes (interrupted by war with Russia, which, though, consolidated our society) only began.
Ukrainian Army accepts American help (food, bulletproof vests, although funds, as before, mostly do not reach ordinary soldiers), and I’ve also already received several requests from American volunteers who were interested in joining the battalion “Azov.” Surely, Russian fantasies about American mercenaries and millions of dollars that receive activists of Maidan do not prevent us from real cooperation with American supporters, so it’s a great chance to strengthen political, ideological and military relations with our American comrades. Overall, Dmytro Yarosh since the very beginning believed that the most valuable help of the West would be weapons and modernization of Ukrainian Army, and Social-National Assembly pushes forward the idea that we need to create our own military-geopolitical block.
8.I have read about the plans for the Baltic Union as a third choice to the EU or Russia, how plausible is this and is there a realistic plan in the works to make it happen? Have other countries agreed to work with Ukraine to form a third option?
Yes, the idea of the geopolitical third way, which represents our choice of the genuine Europe beyond the globalist monsters from both sides, was actively popularized by Dmytro Yarosh and is a natural outcome of his another constant claim, according to which we have to become a subject, not an object of geopolitics and the historical process. Countries that are naturally predisposed towards the third way (Baltic-Black Sea Alliance, the concept of Intermarium) are the countries that are geographically situated in the median zone, in the past often had conflicts with Russia and communism and were the parts of the greater historical projects in this area like Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Baltic, Scandinavian countries, Belarus, Poland). No wonder that our passionate supporters mostly come namely from these countries. Even if real embodiment of the third positionist project demands years of preliminary work in this direction, it’s not so unrealistic, and the fighters from Belarus and Russia who serve in the battalion “Azov” have already expressed their wish to create something like a manifesto of the new Kyivan Rus,’ growing attention to the legacy of which in our society is also not accidental. By the way, many my colleagues support the idea of restoring Ukraine’s original name – Rus.’ We cooperate with our comrades from Belarus, Scandinavia, Poland and discuss the prospects of creating the common geopolitical space as an alternative of both EU and Russia. Russian oppositionist leaders and nationalists also consider Kyiv as a centre of the anti-Kremlin activity.
9.I have heard various sources say Right Sector is demanding resignation of the interim prime minister and other officials. If this is true, does this include the deputy prime minister who is a member of Svoboda? Is it all of the current government they wish to resign?
Right Sector was quite critical of the interim government, indecisiveness of which cost us Crimea, as well as demanded resignation of MIA Avakov after the murder of Oleksandr Muzychko (Sashko Bilyi), but after the escalation of violence in East Ukraine and electing Poroshenko started collaboration with the governmental structures and in the military relation has become the part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine – in order to unite in the face of the enemy. The latter, in turn, does not repress us anymore and does not demand to disarm, but, quite the reverse, provides “Azov” and other volunteer defense forces where serve the members of Right Sector with weapons. From time to time Right Sector requires resignation of local corrupt politicians, its subdivision Social-National Assembly and different regional branches in particular, but mostly avoids conflicts with the members Svoboda, which would undermine unity of right-wing forces in Ukraine. After the end of war political struggle of Right Sector will become more active, surely, – above all, I mean Maidan’s demand of full lustration.
10.Lastly, I know Mr. Yarosh is running for Premier President. How popular is he right now in Ukraine? His business card campaign seems to be popular and catchy and has spawned a well known meme. He has a lot of charisma for a nationalist leader. Do you think Mr. Yarosh has a strong chance of winning, and if not, do you think Right Sector will gain a sizable portion of the parliament and therefore be able to have a strong influence on policy?
Dmytro Yarosh has the wide support among the population – he achieved good results during the presidential elections in Kyiv, which is a very good sign. However, neither Right Sector, nor Svoboda were successful in the elections. It’s no wonder that nationalist forces were not so popular as Russian TV predicted, because people wanted to finish the elections in one round and finally focus on the war in the East, without fear that Putin can invade, and Ukraine will remain without a legitimate president in a state of civil war. Thus many voted for Poroshenko for purely pragmatic and strategic reasons, although the possibility of falsifications is not excluded. Anyway, we continue developing our political party and know that after the end of war its revolutionary activism (the need of which has become clear for the whole Ukrainian society) will be necessary as never before. Devoted and experienced volunteer defense forces guided by the members of Right Sector will play an important role in this process, too.
Thank you for answering my questions Olena. We wish a blessing to be upon you and your people as you face the threat from Russia. Your cause is noble, and for those of us in America particularly, it strikes a chord, as we too struggled to break free from an imperial force. The mainstream media in the USA has supported Ukraine greatly, and the American people despite being weary from war, are committed to aiding Ukraine in the struggle.
We’re very grateful for American support, informational in particular, and, in turn, wish all the best to those who stayed with us side by side in this struggle!