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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

THE AZOV BATTALION



            On this date, May 5, 2014, the Far-right Paramilitary militia in Ukraine, Azov Battalion was formed. I will post information about this Battalion from Wikipedia and other links.


The emblem of the Azov Battalion; a paramilitary, volunteer unit of the Ukrainian National Guard.

Shield, showing sunwheel, waves, Social-National Assembly logo, and national trident

Agency overview
Formed
2014
Employees
800
Legal personality
Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Governing body
General nature
  • Law enforcement
  • Civilian agency
Specialist jurisdiction
Paramilitary law enforcement, counter insurgency, armed response to civil unrest, counter terrorism, special weapons operations.
Operational structure
Headquarters
Agency executive
Andriy Biletsky, Commander
Parent agency
Social-National Assembly
Deputy Commanders
Oleh Odnorozhenko

The Azov Regiment (Ukrainian: Батальйон «Азов») is a far-right all-volunteer paramilitary militia affiliated with the National Guard of Ukraine. It reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The unit is based in Mariupol in the Azov Sea coastal region.

The unit was initially formed as the Azov Battalion on May 5, 2014 during the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine. Patrons of the battalion included Oleh Lyashko, a member of the Verkhovna Rada, and billionaire Ihor Kolomoyskyi. The battalion was formed in Mariupol, where it was involved in combat against separatists, and was briefly relocated to Berdyansk. The battalion is also referred to as the "Men in Black".

The regiment's commander is Andriy Biletsky. In its early days, Azov was the Ministry of Internal Affairs special police company, led by Volodymyr Shpara, the leader of the Vasylkiv, Kiev, branch of Patriot of Ukraine and Right Sector. Biletsky stayed out of the public spotlight working on expanding Azov to battalion size. In summer 2014 he took the command of the unit in his own hands; Shpara remained in the battalion as the commander of the 1st Company. Biletsky is also the head of two national-socialist political groups, Patriot of Ukraine and Social-National Assembly. In August 2014, he was awarded a military decoration, "Order For Courage", by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, and promoted to lieutenant colonel of in the Interior Ministry's police forces.

Initially a volunteer militia, Azov has since been incorporated into and is armed by Ukraine’s interior ministry. A ministerial adviser, Anton Gerashchenko, was asked if the battalion had any neo-Nazi links through the Social National Assembly. "The Social-National Assembly is not a neo-Nazi organization," he said. "It is a party of Ukrainian patriots..." More than half are Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians, and many of its recruits come from the eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. Its polished English-language social media pages and far-right ideology have attracted fighters from other locations in Europe.

The BBC's Fergal Keane has called the unit "a far-right Ukrainian militia".


Oleh Odnoroshenko (at left), PR officer of the special police regiment «Azov», walking with «Azov» volunteers on the street in Kiev.
 

Flag of the Azov Battalion
History

Arsen Avakov, the new Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine after the overthrow of the Yanukovich government, issued on April 13, 2014 a decree authorizing creating the new paramilitary force from civilians up to 12,000. Anton Heraschenko, Ministry of the Interiors, (Ukrainian: Антон Геращенко), Avakov's deputy, was tasked with overseeing the process of establishing of the new security force created from civilian volunteers.

The Azov Battalion was formed on May 5, 2014 during the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine. Among the patrons of the battalion are a member of the Verkhovna Rada Oleh Lyashko, and an ultra-nationalist Dmytro Korchynsky. The battalion started in Mariupol where it was involved in combat, and was briefly relocated to Berdyansk.

On June 10, the battalion dismissed deputy commander Yaroslav Honchar and distanced themselves from him after Honchar made criticizing statements about looting and debauchery in Azov battalion.

On 11 August, Azov battalion, backed by the Ukrainian paratroopers, captured Marinka from pro-Russian rebels and entered the suburbs of Donetsk clashing with Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) fighters.

In early September 2014, the Azov battalion was engaged in the defence of Mariupol. Regarding the ceasefire agreed on 5 September, Biletskiy stated "If it was a tactical move there is nothing wrong with it... if it's an attempt to reach an agreement concerning Ukrainian soil with separatists then obviously it's a betrayal."

On 14 October, Azov Battalion servicemen took part in a march to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Kyiv organised by Right Sector.

In the 26 October 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election Biletsky, the battalion's commander, won a constituency seat (as an independent candidate) in Kiev's Obolon Raion (Biletsky hails from Kharkiv) in the Ukrainian parliament. In his constituency Biletsky won with 33.75% of the votes; runner up Vadym Stoylar followed with 17.17%. In parliament Biletsky did not join any faction. Member of the battalion Oleh Petrenko is also a MP for Petro Poroshenko Bloc after wining a constituency seat in Cherkasy in the same election. In his constituency Petrenko won with 41.15% of the votes; runner up Valentyna Zhukovska followed with 23.65%.

On 31 October 2014 deputy commander of the Azov Battalion Vadym Troyan was appointed head of Kiev Oblast (province) police (this police force has no jurisdiction over the city of Kiev).

On late January 2015, the Azov Battalion has been promised a tank company and artillery units to reinforce its ranks.

As of late March 2015, despite a second ceasefire agreement, The Azov Battalion has continued to prepare for war, with the group's leader seeing the ceasefire as "appeasement".

 
Azov Battalion

Emblem of the Azov Battalion, a paramilitary group of Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs
Organisation

Key figures in the battalion include its commander Andriy Biletsky and his deputie Oleh Odnoroshenko.

A 16 July 2014 report placed the Azov Battalian's strength at 300. An earlier report stated that on June 23 almost 600 volunteers, including women, took oaths to joined the "Donbass" and "Azov" battalions. Recruits receive a salary of $360.

The political organization Social-National Assembly led by the battalion's leader Biletsky calls for the expansion of Ukraine, the "struggle for the liberation of the entire White Race," and seeks to "punish severely sexual perversions and any interracial contacts." Swedish volunteer Mikael Skillt told the BBC that while the Battalion did include others sharing his views - those calling themselves national socialists or adorned with swastikas - not all agreed, and one member was even "a liberal."

Interviewed while engaged in military operations in eastern Ukraine, one member of the battalion stated that the unit was on edge because they were "behind enemy lines" and opposed by "the police, the army and the people," whom he said they did not trust. According to London's Sunday Times, the Azov Battalion was deployed against militants by the Ukrainian government because it feared its regular forces were infiltrated by Russian sympathizers. The monthly salary of its members has been reported to be US$70.


The Emblem of the Azov Battalion
ATO in Ukraine battalion Azov \ Батальйон Азов

 
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National Socialist ideology

Troops of the Azov Battalion use the Social-National Assembly (SNA) logo, an inverted Wolfsangel, a widely used symbol in Nazi Germany, on their banner, and some members are open white supremacists or anti-Semites. A BBC report summarizes the evidence that the battalion is neo-Nazi:


Run by the extremist Patriot of Ukraine organisation,which considers Jews and other minorities "sub-human" and calls for a white, Christian crusade, [the battalion] sports three Nazi symbols om its insignia: a modified Wolf's Hook, a black sun (or "Hakensonne") and the title Black Corps, which was used by the Waffen SS.


Members of the organization have stated that the inverted Wolfsangel has a different history in Ukraine and represents the Ukrainian words for "idea of a nation." The Azov Battalion has also dismissed accusations that their unit promotes fascist symbolism, stating that any resemblance to Nazi symbols is a result of Russian propaganda. It also states that the battalion's logo is based on the Coat of arms of Ukraine, which has been used to symbolize Ukraine since 1918.

In a 2010 essay, Biletsky set forth the ideology of the Social-National Assembly. "From the mass of individuals must arise the Nation; and from weak modern man, Superman... The historic mission of our Nation in this watershed century is to lead the White Races of the world in the final crusade for their survival: a crusade against semite-led subhumanity... The task of the present generation is to create a Third Empire -- Great Ukraine... If we are strong, we take what is ours by right and even more; we will build a Superpower-Empire..."

The unit has denied being a far-right group, and states that a majority of its members are Russian-speaking Ukrainians and that multiple Russian citizens have joined the unit.

Foreign membership

According to the UK publication The Telegraph, the Azov Battalion's extremist politics and professional English social media pages have attracted foreign fighters. The Russian and Ukrainian security expert at New York University, Mark Galeotti, has described groups like the Azov Battalion as magnets attracting violent, fringe elements from around and outside Ukraine, warning that they will continue to play an outsized role in Ukrainian affairs after the war.

Azov's leader, Biletsky, states that he has received recruits from Ireland, Italy, Greece and Scandinavia. In mid-July 2014, the BBC reported that the battalion had recruited the former Swedish Army and Swedish Home Guard sniper Mikael Skillt. Skillt, a Swedish white supremacist, joined the Azov Battalion for ideological reasons. Anton Gerashenko denied this but did claim "foreign journalists, from Sweden, Spain and Italy, who have come to report on the heroic achievements of the fighters in their struggle against terrorism" were accompanying the unit. Gerashenko insisted he had never heard of Mikael Skillt. Asked about Skillt in a late-July interview with Swedish Radio, Gerashenko pointed out that it's forbidden by law for foreign citizens to fight and asked for understanding that he'd "stay tight-lipped" about the topic. Ukrainian political scientist Anton Shekhovtsov told the Swedes that at this time four Swedish neo-Nazis were fighting with Azov, while the Swedish national police confirmed "several".

In December 2014, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KhPG) condemned Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko for granting Ukrainian citizenship and awarding a medal to Belarusian neo-Nazi and Azov Battalion commander of reconnaissance Sergei Korotkykh. Experts allege that Korotkykh founded a Russian neo-Nazi group, and he also was charged in Belarusia for alleged involvement in a Moscow bombing and detained there for allegedly stabbing an anti-fascist organizer.

Azov was also active in recruiting Russian FSB lieutenant Ilya Bogdanov who defected to Ukraine during the War in Donbass, however the former Russian officer decided to join the Right Sector as he stated the organization is more active in the war than the Azov battalion. About 50 Russian nationals are members of the Azov regiment.

Around 20 Croatians joined the Azov Battalion in January 2015, ranging in age from 20 to 45. After Croatia's foreign minister Vesna Pusić confirmed that there are Croatian volunteers in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry called Croatia to withdraw its citizens from armed conflict. Pusić replied that Croatia opposes any involvement of Croatian citizens in the war, and stated that they went on their private initiative and that Croatia is working on bringing them home. Interior minister Ranko Ostojić said that Croatian volunteers are fighting on the side of the legitimate Ukrainian government and are not committing any kind of crime according to Croatian law.

According to French volunteers fighting for the insurgent side, the Azov Battalion has a French instructor named Gaston Besson who tried to recruit them over the internet. Journalists interviewed him in his home in Pula, Croatia; he is a retired captain of Croatian Army and veteran of Croatian War of Independence. He confirmed that he is a coordinator for the unit, while claiming that 25 Croatian citizens serve in the battalion.

See also

·         Right Sector


Wolfsangel in E. Ukraine: Foreign Policy talks to deputy leader of ‘pro-govt’ Azov Battalion
Published time: September 07, 2014 18:58


Azov battalion soldiers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine in Kiev's Sophia Square before being sent to the Donbass region.(RIA Novosti / Alexandr Maksimenko)


Foreign Policy magazine – Russia’s fierce critic – met with the leader of Azov Battalion, an irregular force assisting Kiev to cleanse eastern Ukraine of “terrorists.” The group boasts fierce tactics, “values far from European,” and Nazi-like attributes.

Azov, which has an estimated personnel of 500 people, is one of about 50 volunteer battalions formed by Maidan activists and ultranationalists of the Right Sector group. These newly formed units have been brought to eastern Ukraine to form the backbone of the forces fighting against the local self-defense militia advocating independence from Ukraine.

The Azov Battalion actively participated in Kiev’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation” and, like most of the volunteer and National Guards units, has been accused of committing war crimes against civilians.

As Foreign Policy's Alec Luhn noticed, the ideology praised by fighters of the Azov Battalion “is one estranged from mainstream European and American liberalism.

The unit adopted as its logo a mirrored Wolfsangel (wolf trap) symbol that was widely used in the Third Reich and has been associated with neo-Nazi groups worldwide – Ukraine included. It is most widely known as an emblem of the SS Division Das Reich.

Luhn actually reported that he saw two jeeps “full of tanned fighters in sunglasses and bandanas” rolling into the Azov base, with “a Wolfsangel painted on each side.

Azov’s emblem also includes the “Black Sun” occult symbol beloved by the Nazi SS, Foreign Policy reports.

The battalion is sponsored by Ukraine’s third-richest oligarch, Igor Kolomoysky. He is governor of Dnepropetrovsk region and sponsors a number of other paramilitary units.

Kolomoysky has not only used his men in direct deployments against eastern Ukraine militia; he also appears to have been behind the attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, when several hundred Ukrainian protesters rallied outside the Russian diplomatic mission. The demonstrators threw stones and Molotov cocktails, and overturned several diplomatic cars.

The leading players in the attack on Russia’s embassy were “fighters from Azov Battalion, created and financed by Igor Kolomoysky,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared two days after the attack.

After the self-defense militia of eastern Ukraine launched a counter-offensive against Kiev troops and sent them fleeing, finally encircling the port city of Mariupol, the Azov Battalion found itself defending Mariupol against what Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called “a Russian invasion.”

Oleg Odnorozhenko, deputy commander of the Azov Battalion and historian by trade, told Foreign Policy that the Ukrainian forces are facing “thousands of regular Russian Army troops,” and told a story about dozens of captured Russian soldiers and a destroyed Russian fighting infantry vehicle. However, he failed to provide any evidence or show any prisoners to the Foreign Policy correspondent. 


Oleh Odnorozhenko, deputy commander of the Azov Battalion.(Photo from Maydan-2014.livejournal.com)
Mariupol won't be taken without blood,” Odnorozhenko promised, adding that the Ukrainian forces are building fortifications and “activating different military groups” in the area.

While “pro-Russians” call the Ukrainians “fascists,” their opponents in turn have dubbed them “imperialists.” As Odnorozhenko put it, the conflict involves “people with a European identity fighting with Sovietness.”

According to Odnorozhenko, the battalion's ideology is based on “natsiokratiya” – a protofascism platform popular among Ukrainian nationalists before and during WWII. Those were the nationalists who fought the Soviet troops, Foreign Policy writes, yet they were also responsible for the “murder of thousands of Jews and Poles.” 


Ukrainian ultra-nationalists salute as they march in the center of the western city of Lviv.(AFP Photo / Yuriy Dyachyshyn)
In reality, Ukrainian nationalists of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) killed hundreds of thousands of Jews, Poles, Belarusians, Russians, and fellow Ukrainians during WWII.

German occupation forces tended to form Einsatz groups that eliminated the civilian population with the help of Ukrainian nationalists. In Kiev alone, the number of those executed – mostly Jews – reached up to 150,000 victims, and the same policies were implemented in all occupied Ukrainian cities. 


Ukrainian ultra-nationalists salute as they march in the center of the western city of Lviv.(AFP Photo / Yuriy Dyachyshyn)
Odnorozhenko, however, tailors history to his needs. When calling on Europe to provide assistance to Ukraine, he actually compares his unit to predecessors from OUN-UPA who fought Soviet troops during WWII to justify such assistance.

Russian forces could soon be everywhere, he said, because of the “blindness and stupidity of the European political elite” who are unwilling to combat “Russian aggression.

We have the kind of normal war that was last seen in Europe in 1945,” Odnorozhenko said, also omitting the chain of wars like in the Balkans that first led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and then blew Serbia into a number of states. 

Ukraine: Azov Battalion joins mass military mobilisation to E. Ukraine
Published on Jan 17, 2015
Members of the all-volunteer Azov Battalion formed up in central Kiev, Saturday before being dispatched to eastern Ukraine to reinforce embattled Ukrainian troops there. Their call-up is part of Kiev’s mass military mobilisation this month, and follows a Friday statement by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR/DPR) that DNR forces had seized Donetsk International Airport.

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AZOV BATTALION VS. VOSTOK BATALLION
Published on Dec 12, 2014
The Azov Battalion (Ukrainian: Батальйон «Азов») is an all-volunteer far-right paramilitary detachment of Ukraine which reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and of which each man is paid a salary of $70 each month.The battalion is based in Mariupol in the Azov Sea coastal region. The BBC's Fergal Keane has called the unit "a far-right Ukrainian militia

The Vostok Battalion (Russian: Батальон Восток, Ukrainian: Батальйон Схід; lit. "East Battalion") was formed in early May 2014. It is commanded by Alexander Khodakovsky, a defector from the Security Service of Ukraine.[ Khodakovsky is the chief of the DPR's security service, and of the Patriotic Forces of Donbass, an insurgent battalion

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