Foreign media portrayed the man as a neo-Nazi taking a major job in the police, but he has remained largely unaware his poor image abroad because since the beginning of November he has been traveling around his new jurisdiction and speaking to police officers.

In one of the first interviews with the media, he told the Kyiv Post that his message to police officers on the ground has been this: “If you humiliate people or steal from them I will personally arrest you.”

Troyan says he has made the fight against corruption in the police a personal priority. Coming back from the front, he aims to bring the ingenuity and dedication that has defined Ukraine’s non-government initiatives since the start of the EuroMaidan a year ago.

He admits though that until salaries are raised for police officers it will be difficult to stamp out corruption completely. A police officer in the war zone who spoke to the Kyiv Post recently said he made Hr 2,000 ($125) per month. He is employed by a special organized crime fighting unit.


Those traveling with Troyan say that his youth, he is 35, and candor about the problems police officers face, along with his athletic stature make a strong impression the officers. One of Troyan’s aides said young police officers in the field are used to people who are old and out of touch.

Most of the media coverage of Troyan since he was appointed chief of police, however, has not focused on what he wants to change in the police but his links to right-wing organizations.

“A right-wing extremist made police chief in Kyiv” read the headline of an article in the German paper Die Welt from Nov. 12. Russian state media, which regularly paints Ukraine as a country run by right-wing extremists, also seized on Troyan’s appointment as evidence of Ukraine’s supposed extremism.

From May until October Troyan was the deputy commander of the Azov Battalion, which is particularly active in the defense of the city of Mariupol in the southern part of the Donetsk Oblast. The battalion uses a symbol similar to the Wolfsangel, which has its roots in German coats of arms and has been used by Nazi military units and neo-Nazi organizations. Members of the organization, however, state that their symbol has a different history and represents the Ukrainian words for “united nation.”


The timing of Troyan’s appointment placed his links to right-wing organizations in focus. On Oct. 29 Kyiv’s historic Zhovten cinema was devastated by fire while a film being shown as part of an LGBT film festival was being shown.  On Oct. 31 a group of men in camouflage attempted to force their way into a screening of another LGBT film being shown as part of the festival but were stopped by police. The organizers said the men were wearing insignia of the far-right group Pravy Sektor, though the group denied any involvement. It is still unclear whether the acts were attacks on the festival or an attempt to clear the cinema for a real-estate projects.

On Oct. 31 the day of the second attack Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov announced that Troyan would become the new chief of police of Kyiv Oblast. Troyan says the appointment happened after he travelled to Kyiv to lobby to be made chief of police of Donetsk Oblast and they offered him Kyiv Oblast instead. Critics, however, saw the move as one of support for right-wing groups and feared selective justice. 


As head of Kyiv region police Troyan has no jurisdiction over the city of Kyiv, but when asked by the Kyiv Post if he would have any issues protecting people at a similar LGBT film festival he said he would not. “I would ensure order,” he added.

Troyan denies connection to right-wing extremist organizations and says that the Azov battalion was tolerant and there “it didn’t matter what religion you were or what language you spoke.”

He generally sees extremist right-wing groups as marginalized and a fear primarily stirred up by Russian propaganda meant to turn international sentiment against Ukraine. 

“We don’t have skinheads,” he said asking whether anyone had seen any in Ukraine over the past five years. 

Not everyone agrees with his evaluation. Holya Coynash of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group calls appointing Troyan police chief an “awful” move. She says Troyan has been linked to neo-Nazi groups such as the Patriots of Ukraine in the past. She does not think the move is indicative of boarder right-wing sympathies in the government but says it is a careful balancing act in Ukraine currently to criticize right-wing groups because Russia uses any such critiques for its propaganda purposes. 


Troyan denies his decision to join the Azov battalion had anything to do with a political ideology. He says he was active in the EuroMaidan protests in Kyiv until the founder of the Azov Battalion, Andriy Biletsky, who he knew from his time at the Ministry of Internal Affairs academy in Kharkiv, asked him to join. Biletsky was a leader of the Patriot of Ukraine and Social Nationalist Assembly.

For now, Troyan’s priorities as new police chief fit well with those of the Ukrainian government. After Poroshenko proposed allowing foreign citizens to serve in the Ukrainian cabinet former Georgian Interior Minister Eka Zguladze has become a candidate for the position of deputy minister of the interior. One of Georgia still most positively seen reforms was a reform of the police that began with a mass firing. One year since the Maidan protests began Ukraine still lacks signature reforms to define its new government. 

Troyan says he is dedicated to changing the image and content of the police. “No one has the right to insult anyone else.”

In the meantime, Troyan emphasizes making a personal connection with the police officers in his region. He wants them to “come and talk” to him when there is a problem. 


He also knows that there are trust issues to be addressed after the revolution between police and civilians after many in the police ranks acted against the protesters to defend ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. So far there is no concrete plan to confront those issues. 

He also told news portal, that he is re-staffing his regional police department. “We’re hiring the young blood gradually,” he said. “The old staff, who served to be lieutenant colonels and colonels are mostly used to doing one thing – carry money in and produce statistical results based on petty crime (investigations).”

He said the organized crime unit in the Kyiv region had zero investigations of bribes and corruption last year. He plans to change that.

Troyan attended the Ministry of Interior’s academy in Kharkiv, and has worked for the police in that region for seven years in his early career. He moved on to what he described as “sports, meditation, living in the mountains” for several years.

He studied and taught martial arts at the time, and then “worked in various civil jobs” between 2003 and 2014, according to his official biography on the Interior Ministry’s website. He managed a telecoms company for some of this time, according to, a news website.

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