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Why Russian Ultranationalists Confronted Their Own Government on the Battlefields of Ukraine

Russian ultranationalists on both sides of the frontline in Ukraine view the war as a landmark on the road to ultimate power. (Illustration by Aleksandra Krasutskaya)

A Eurasianet partner post from Coda in Partnership with MeydanTV

On a snowy January day in 2016, a small crowd assembled in central Kiev to honor the fight against the far right. The gathering of diehard anti-fascists was commemorating the 2009 murder of the Russian lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who’d defended activists and victims of the Russian military, and the Ukrainian journalist Anastasia Baburova, who’d investigated neo-Nazi gangs.
 
As they unfurled banners in memory of the pair, a group of young men confronted them. In footage posted online, the men, many of them masked, identify themselves as members of the Azov Civic Corps, a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist movement linked to a regiment fighting Russian-backed rebels in the east.
 
An unmasked Azov member, sporting a strap-like beard across his chin, begins arguing with the crowd. Like most people in Kiev, he speaks in Russian — but his accent is distinctly Muscovite. He refers to the murdered lawyer as one of the “scumbags” responsible for imprisoning his friends. Someone in the crowd responds: “But is it OK to kill people because of their political views?”
 

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Leonid Ragozin is freelance journalist based in Riga, Latvia. Aleksandra Krasutskaya is an illustrator based in Terre Haute, Indiana.

A Eurasianet partner post from Coda in Partnership with MeydanTV

Why Russian Ultranationalists Confronted Their Own Government on the Battlefields of Ukraine

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