Yarosh said on his
Facebook page that during a Nov. 8 conference of the organization’s leadership
in Kyiv, “several participants gave themselves illegitimate functions:
determining the area of strategic development for Right Sector and choosing one
more leader, where I was given the role to supervise.”

He said he had
delegated certain management functions to “close followers” when he was wounded
in battle in Russia’s war against the Donbas and during long spells of
recuperation, but that “my positions were not always the same as the
aspirations of some of the leadership.”

“As leader, I
personally took responsibility for everything that transpired in the
organization, and I don’t plan on shifting it to others. That is why I cannot
be a figurehead in Right Sector,” the 44-year-old lawmaker said. “Thus, I’m
forced to decline the offer to head the leadership that the conference had
proposed and resign as the head of the national freedom movement of Right
Sector, (while) remaining a nationalist, state builder and revolutionary.”


The Kyiv Post
couldn’t reach Yarosh for comment, nor was the group’s spokesman, Artyom
Skoropadsky, available for comment.

The group gained
prominence after police violently cleared Independence Square on Nov. 30, 2013,
during the nascent stages of the EuroMaidan Revolution. Right Sector helped
fortify a tent city in central Kyiv and provided security around its perimeter.
They further gained visibility in clashes with police on Jan. 19 along
Hrushevskoho Street, wearing balaclavas while hurling Molotov cocktails in
protest over a set of draconian laws that parliament had passed three days

Kremlin-controlled media demonized the group during its coverage of the popular
uprising, Right Sector’s profile rose. Days before vacating office as
president, Viktor Yanukovych met with Yarosh in his office.

The nationalist
leader described the meeting in an interview with Ukrainian Week magazine:
“(The meeting) really took place. Members of the Security Services came out and
suggested not only to me, but to our leadership and to my closest entourage, to
meet to end the bloodshed. Accordingly, I went to the president’s office. There
the issue had to do with an agreement, the same agreement that was later signed
(for pre-term presidential elections in December 2014). I refused to do it. I
said that we have never been and never will be puppets. Therefore, remove your
armies because this will be the beginning of guerrilla warfare throughout
Ukraine… the discussion had to do with the fact that we would not back down and
would not lay down our weapons – that we would stand until the end. Perhaps
this became clear to him when he decided to end the so-called anti-terrorist
operation and pull back the troops. Although the snipers were still active


Soon after the
protests, Yarosh registered the Right Sector political party and unsuccessfully
ran for president in May 2014. He was elected to parliament as an independent candidate in October of that
year in a single-mandate constituency in his native Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. He hails from Dniproderzhynsk, a predominantly Russian-speaking industrial
city in the oblast.


Since getting
elected to the legislature, Yarosh has only registered for five out of

Russian-separatist forces started taking over government buildings and law
enforcement stations in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in April 2014, Yarosh and his followers
formed a volunteer corps of armed fighters.

The group has been
credited for holding the town of Pisky near Donetsk airport, where Yarosh was
wounded on Jan. 21 by shrapnel from a Grad rocket.

Right Sector has
refused to integrate with either the interior ministry or the Ukrainian

Most recently,
Right Sector has teamed up with Crimean Tatar activists to blockade
Russian-occupied Crimea. The blockade, which began in late September, has cut
off three major highways from the peninsula, with volunteers and members of
Right Sector refusing to let cargo through into the peninsula, which Russia annexed in March 2014. The move was meant to
protest against Russia’s occupation and draw attention to human rights abuses
on the peninsula.

In July 2014, upon
Russia’s request, Interpol placed Yarosh on its wanted list for allegedly
committing “public incitement to
terrorist activities involving the use of mass media” and “public incitement to
extremist activities involving the use of mass media.”


When asked to comment on the Interpol posting at that time,
Yarosh told the Kyiv Post over the phone that “this is a normal phenomenon,
this is war, the enemy (Russia) tries to neutralize the elements that are
resisting Moscow’s occupation (of Ukraine).”

Kyiv Post editor
Mark Rachkevych can be reached at
[email protected].

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