On March 24, the Right Sector (hereinafter – the RS) held its closed-door session, where the nationalist movement was formed into a party on the basis of the Ukrainian National Assembly. On this day, the leader of the organization (already a party) Dmytro Yarosh was named as a candidate for the Presidential elections. Formation of a party was a logical step forward from the regional movement, when local branches of the Right Sector started to be organized in various cities of Ukraine, so there was a need in a disciplined organization and coordination of activities.
After the developments at Euromaidan, the Right Sector became recognizable and made a lot of noise in media. It should be noted that mass media played an important role in forming the image of the RS. Of course, Ukrainian and Russian mass media presented and continue presenting it in two different ways. From the side of the Russian media, we mainly see ongoing information war, which created an excuse to bring Russian troops into the territory of Crimea; the ex-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, also mentioned “blackshirt roughnecks”, and even though he did not tell whom exactly he was talking about, the general atmosphere of the news in Russia proved that he was talking about the RS. For the Ukrainian mass media, the RS always means a rich picture and emotional perception of the information by the reader.
But what should not be forgotten is the activity of the Right Sector at Maidan during the “mopping up” of Maidan and the conflict at Grushevskogo Street, when the activists of the movement formed a human shield ready to face the bullets of Berkut. That is what was attractive about the Right Sector for those who decided to join it. When the protesters didn’t find any real actions in the ex-opposition leaders, they found those actions in the Right Sector, and the ideological questions were of no primary importance. Even when the situation at Maidan took a more peaceful turn, new and new activists continued joining the RS.
Generally speaking, several stages of new activists enrolment into the RS may be distinguished:
1) 24-28 November – people from the organizations forming the RS;
2) developments after the night of November 29 (the first attack on Maidan) – the movement announced mobilization, with new people coming, mostly youth;
3) December 11, after another attempt of attack on Maidan – the second mobilization wave;
4) January 19, which became the turning point for the RS, for Maidan, and for the protesters, after the controversial “Black Thursday Laws” the RS got support of people, when less and less ideologically involved activists were joining the organization;
5) victory of Maidan.
The organization, which became famous while initiating radical actions, will most likely further insist on the radical positions to support its ratings, which are not very good at the moment: the RS - 2.7%, Dmytro Yarosh – 1.4% (among those who have determined their candidate/party and is going to vote at the elections).
The turning point for the RS was the attack on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on March 28. After one of the activists – Aleskandr Muzychko (Sashko Bilyi) – was killed, the RS announced one more demand – dismissal of the Minister of Interior, Arsen Avakov, as, according to the RS, Avakov was the one to blame for the killing. At the unscheduled Viche (national meeting) held at the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the floor was taken by some members of the organization, holding certain positions in the RS. They were talking about the need of full purging of those in power, directly appealing to Avakov, but the people who gathered at Maidan that night were more emotional about the facts related to the Crimea than those related to the RS activities. After the Viche, some activists marched on the Verkhovna Rada.
The carte blanche given to the RS is now lost as after the night of March 28 they turned into “provocateurs” and “Kremlin spies”, and mass media continues offering new theories about “where the RS comes from”. Having no official leverages, apart from the street, it will be very difficult for the organization to take back what it has lost. And the question about who is going to join the movement after the actions which are not perceived now with the same excitement as they were in the beginning of the protests, is open as well.
From Russian translated by Anna Oliinyk.