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Oleksiy Kuzmenko: The Azov Regiment has not depoliticized  – March 19, 2020

>>  The Azov Regiment within Ukraine’s National Guard has in recent years sought to distance itself from the broader Azov movement’s roots on the far right of the Ukrainian political spectrum. This has been used as an argument against calls from some quarters in the US to define the regiment as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. However, despite claims to have moved away from far-right ideology, the available evidence indicates that the regiment remains joined at the hip to the internationally active National Corps party it spawned, and the wider Azov movement associated with the regiment.

The Azov movement has long been a symbol of the far-right in Ukraine. It has risen to prominence over the past six years due to its role in the ongoing war against Russia, and has achieved levels of mainstream media exposure far in excess of the group’s minimal electoral support. This is not only a domestic issue for Ukraine. The far-right in general, and their apparent impunity, have significantly damaged Ukraine’s international reputation and left the country vulnerable to hostile narratives exaggerating the role of extremist groups in Ukraine. With awareness of right-wing terrorism now growing globally, the potential threat posed by the Ukrainian far-right beyond the borders of the country is attracting increasing attention.

The close alignment between the Azov Regiment and the National Corps continues under the Zelenskyy presidency. In March 2020, soldiers from the regiment were featured alongside leaders of the National Corps in a video ad for a rally meant as a warning to Zelenskyy’s government. Based on this evidence, it is clear that the Regiment has failed in its alleged attempts to “depoliticize.” <<












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