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Activists of the nationalist Svoboda party hold Ukrainian flags during a rally outside a police station, Kiev, Ukraine, Sept. 14, 2015 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

Ukraine’s Other Domestic Threat: Far Right and Ultranationalists

Monday, Sept. 21, 2015

While Ukraine continues to fight Russian-sponsored separatists in its eastern Donbass region, it is also facing an internal challenge equally threatening to its sovereignty: a small but powerful right-wing nationalist movement prepared to use violence to achieve its goals. If Ukraine’s pro-democracy supporters from the Maidan movement and in President Petro Poroshenko’s government don’t aggressively confront Ukraine’s ultranationalists, the far right could destroy Ukraine’s nascent democracy.

This threat became clear Sept. 1 when nationalist protesters, many from the Svoboda (Freedom) party, attacked police guarding the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. Protesters threw bricks, Molotov cocktails and even grenades, killing three officers from Ukraine’s National Guard and wounding 140 people. Deputies had just passed a law amending the Ukrainian constitution to decentralize power to separatist-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine. Although mandated by the February cease-fire negotiated by Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, known as Minsk II, giving more autonomy to the Donbass is controversial. Opponents argue that doing so effectively cedes sovereignty to the separatists. ...

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