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Russia to add 2 Maidan leaders to intl wanted list over Chechen militant links

Published time: March 14, 2014 13:36
Edited time: March 14, 2014 18:03
Oleh Tyahnybok, Dmytro Yarosh.(RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev / AFP Photo / Yury Kirnichny)

Oleh Tyahnybok, Dmytro Yarosh.(RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev / AFP Photo / Yury Kirnichny)

Members of the Ukrainian far-right parties, including Maidan leaders Oleg Tyagnibok and Dmitry Yarosh, are to be added to the wanted list for participation in hostilities against Russian soldiers in Chechnya, Russia’s Investigative Committee says.

Russia intends to prosecute members of the UNA-UNSO ultranationalist party for being part of the gang that fought alongside militant leaders Shamil Basayev and Arab mercenary Emir Khattab [Thamir Saleh Abdullah Suwailem] in the North Caucasus in 1994-95, said Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the Investigative Committee.

There has been enough evidence collected to take the decision and bring them in as defendants in absentia within the nearest time for preventive detention and put them on the wanted list,” he said.

The UNSO participants in the battles include Ukraine’s nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party leader Oleg Tyagnibok and leader of the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) Dmitry Yarosh – as well as Vladimir Mamalyga, Igor Mazur, Valery Bobrovich, Dmitry Korchinsky, Andrey Tyagnibok and other members not yet identified, Markin said.

The 1994-1996 Chechen conflict. Russian soldiers during a combat operation in the village of Stary Achkhoi.(RIA Novosti / Igor Mikhalev)

UNA-UNSO, or the Ukrainian National Assembly - Ukrainian People's Self-Defense, is a far-right political organization in Ukraine. Its political wing is the UNA, while UNSO is a self-defense paramilitary force. The UNA was established in 1990 and led by opposition figure Dmitry Korchinsky. In 1991 squads of the UNSO consisting of Ukrainian Soviet army veterans who fought in Afghanistan were created in Kiev. The party participated in the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election, but failed to win any seats.

Tyagnibok and Yarosh came to international attention during the anti-government rallies in Ukraine, commonly known as the Maidan protests. In 2010, Tyagnibok stood in the presidential election, receiving only 1.43 percent of the vote. In 2012, he was elected leader of the Svoboda (Freedom) party. Throughout his political career he has regarded Russia as the biggest threat to Ukraine. Yarosh has headed an ultra-right Stepan Bandera All-Ukrainian Organization ″Tryzub″ since 2005. During the Maidan protests, the organization became the base of the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) movement. The movement was reportedly very active in the violence that led to the deposition of President Viktor Yanukovich.

A criminal investigation has been opened, and Markin said that UNA-UNSO members will be prosecuted depending on the role each of them played in the hostilities.

“They are suspected of committing crimes under parts 1 and 2 of Article 209 of the Russian Criminal Code,” he said. This article deals with penalties for creating an armed group or gang with the purpose of attacking citizens, leading such a group and participating in attacks committed by the group.

On March 5, Russia put Yarosh on an international wanted list and charged him with inciting terrorism. The far-right leader called for Russia’s most wanted terrorist, Doku Umarov, to act against the country according to an address posted on the Right Sector’s page in the Russian VKontakte social network. Yarosh later claimed the message was faked and that his blog had been hacked.The central Russian district court has sanctioned Yarosh’s arrest in absentia on March 12.

Training in hand combat among opposition fighters from the nationalist organization "Right sector" in a camp on Independence Square in Kiev.(RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

On Saturday, Yarosh confirmed that he intends to run for president of Ukraine while transforming his movement into a political party.

According to a recent poll conducted by Ukrainian research group SOCIS about preferences for the presidential election, Tyagnibok and Yarosh have low ratings. Among the respondents who intend to take part in the upcoming elections only 1.6 percent are ready to vote for Yarosh and 2.5 percent for Tyagnibok. The most popular party among the respondents was the Batkivshchina (Fatherland) Party, led by Arseny Yatsenyuk. About 30 percent of voters say they do not know for which party to vote for if the elections took place shortly.