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Translated by Ollie Richardson

Lenta

“Dregs of society” — an American volunteer characterizes the Ukrainian nationalists fighting in Donbass. The Minsk agreements provide for the disarmament of all illegal groups. Banned in Russia as an extremist organization, “Right sector” is not included in the power structures of Ukraine, but the fighting continues. An American told “Lenta.ru” about how he was at war as part of the group, losses, alcoholism, and the suicide of nationalists on the contact line.

The idea

I got acquainted with a former American servicemen who holds extreme right-wing views, John (name changed), who I met about two years ago on social networks. Even then, the Yankee fought against the rebels in Ukraine. At first, John served in one of the groups that could be called a private army, where he got a quite ridiculous by Western standards salary – 10,000 hryvnia (about $400) per month plus 1000 hryvnias ($40) for each day at the frontline. Then he fought in the units of the banned in Russia “Right Sector” (RS), he did not get paid even a dime. However, as was stated to me by John, the main thing for him was the idea, not the money.”

According to the former military man, today Ukraine is the same as during the Second world war: “Azov” (volunteer regiment, composed of the National Guard of Ukraine and “Right Sector”, is  “a modern version of the SS (punitive military forces of the Nazis), and the DPR are the Soviets”. Among the two sides of this conflict of “soldiers of fortune”, I unconditionally supported the first. I have repeatedly suggested that the American be interviewed, but he refused, explaining that he does not trust the “corrupt Russian press”. However, a few days ago John himself contacted and asked me to publish his story on the condition of anonymity.

Not your war

“I arrived in Kiev on 6th of June this year. Here I met the guys from “Right Sector”. The first day we only had fun, but left the next day on the Krasnoarmiysk train (2016 — Pokrovsk in the Donetsk region, the part controlled by Kiev), where I settled on the base of RS. At first, everything was just perfect: the journalists were invited, we walked around town, shopped, drank. But soon I witnessed a very unpleasant scene. Fighters of “Right Sector” beat civilians just for fun, making love with youngsters, and sometimes even raped them. These military men, if one may call them that, did not behave as an army but as inveterate thugs. Besides these guys did too much booze, and I really started to fear for my ass. Sometimes, after drinking, they staged indiscriminate firing directly into the base. One of them was drunk and dropped a grenade, and was blown to pieces. However, since June 13th they were not on the booze, as separatists (government in Kiev and its Western partners called the militia of the People’s Republics of Donbass “separatists”) went on the offensive. This attack caught us by surprise: 4 of our guys were killed and 11 wounded,” recalls John.

Боевики «Правого сектора» во время антиправительственной акции в Киеве

“Shortly after this defeat, me and other foreigners were raised in the night by officer Igor (I don’t know his name).We were told by Igor that the base was going to be attacked by the soldiers of the Security Service of Ukraine, and we must leave because it is “not your war”. We went to the train station and boarded the train to Kiev. Just at this time in Kiev, our comrades killed in action near Krasnoarmeysk were buried, and, naturally, we went with them to say goodbye. At the funeral I was approached by one of my friends in Kramatorsk, soldier of the RS, said that we need to talk. We went with him to the bar “National Socialist” (an establishment with this name isn’t present in Kiev, probably some of bars are named informally), and my colleague bought me a drink. During the drinking, he stated that having “escaped from the base at a difficult time, I was a traitor and a deserter”. On my objections that I was only following Igor’s orders, Right Sector said that I need to obey “not some obscure Igor, but the unit commander”. However after that my partner suddenly changed his temper from justice to mercy: “Okay, forget about it! Let’s drink!”. The evening passed peacefully, and I had already decided that everything was okay, the conflict was settled. Alas, at night this guy, with the help of two radicals, broken into my hotel room. They said that they called the Commander and he said I have to pay “the penalty for treason” to the amount of 2,000 UAH ($80) or they will kill me. But I just didn’t have that kind of money then, and they took everything from me, except my underwear. Finally they said, “if you want to remain alive, you should immediately get out of Ukraine”. In the morning I went to the American Embassy, where I explained the situation. Diplomats bought me an air ticket to the US,” continues the interlocutor.

“The scum of the planet”

According to John, the conflict occurred not only because of his departure from the base. The fact is that, despite his extreme right-wing views, this American is by birth half-Arab, half Turkish (although doesn’t understand a word either in Arabic or in Turkish). According to him, many in Right Sector hate “Churka” (the American even learned this word not speaking either Russian or Ukrainian). “About six months ago I tried to get in the first assault company of the “Right Sector”, but, fortunately, I missed the plane. Then, having seen abundant racist themes on a page on Facebook of this group, I informed them that although I’m an American, I’m not white. They answered me, saying, “Hail, black ass, be glad that you didn’t reach us, we would have you buried in the ground!” When I arrived at the base of the RS in June of this year, there were fighters of the first assault company. They made me pay a “fine” — so I was robbed!” outraged the American.

Казарма для членов украинских добровольческих формирований в одной из шахт недалеко от Донецка

After all that has happened, John is not going to return to Ukraine. This war and its participants were not at all as he imagined them. He says that almost all foreign volunteers in Ukraine fighting on the side of Kiev adhere to extreme right-wing views, but “after all none of us are fascists, and we do not believe that people should be killed just because of skin color or eye shape”. “Unfortunately, among the soldiers of “Right Sector” are many outright neo-Nazis whose views are odious even for someone like me. But it’s not so bad — among righties are many outright criminals too. I’m not afraid of harsh words: these people are the scum of the planet!” John finishes his emotional confession.

Recall that the {“Right sector” Ukrainian Volunteer corps} was formed in July 2014 at the initiative of the eponymous nationalist organization of the same name to participate jointly with the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the fighting in Donbass against the militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). However, it was believed that in April 2015, by order of the command of the ATO (anti-terrorist operation in Kiev called for in Kiev for the use of force against the republics of Donbass), radicals were withdrawn from the front line. On the second of February 2016, the chief military Prosecutor of Ukraine Anatolii Matios said that the “Right sector” Ukrainian Volunteer corps on all legal signs is an “illegal armed formation”. But in reality, as was pointed out by John, it is quite different: Ukrainian Volunteer corps is still involved in the fighting and is suffering losses. The Ukrainian media widely reported the funerals of the fighters of “Right sector” in Kiev. Moreover, according to the American, RS battalions are one of the most efficient units among the groups involved in the civil war in the South-East of Ukraine.

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