Paris.- Some were neo-Nazi fighters, others Ukrainian heroes. The Azov Battalion, stationed in the besieged Mariupol, is at the center of a propaganda war between Q and Moscow. “Denunciation” The target of his intervention was the former Soviet republic.
Pro-Russian social networks, starting with the Twitter accounts of their embassies in Paris or London, Presented as “fascist” or “Nazi” they are full of testimonies and comments about the atrocities of this regiment.
On March 10, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has justified the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol and has been widely criticized internationally.For being in the “Azov Battalion and other militants” building.
Since its formation in 2014, at the beginning of the war against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the regiment has since been integrated into national custody (under the Ministry of Interior). Feeds all kinds of demons. Founded by such extreme right-wing militants Andrei PilatskyEmerges from the paramilitary organization Patriots of Ukraine, recruits volunteers and carries such symbols “Wolf Chain” Reminiscent of the SS Das Reach section.
“In 2014, the battalion actually had an extreme right-wing background, but the battalion was later ‘ideologically removed’ and became a regular unit,” explained Andreas Umland, an expert at the Center for Eastern European Studies in Stockholm. Contains Particularly determined combat unit”, He told AFP.
The battalion, which derives its name from the Sea of Azov, which washes the port of Mariupol, created its legend in June 2014 by recapturing the port city from Russian-backed separatists. Eight years later, they meet again. The relentless bombing disconnected from the world, where Vladimir Putin Seeks the first major success of his “special military operation” after a rocky start.
The Kremlin is using the battalion’s presence to justify its goal of “denationalizing” Ukraine, whose propaganda channels have accused Ukrainian leaders, including Jewish President Volodymyr Zhelensky. “Neo-Nazis” and “drug addicts”.
This rhetoric is based on the memory of World War II, the great patriotic war that the Soviets called, still anchored in contemporary Russia.. The word “Nazism” or “fascism” in the Russian context refers to the image of absolute evil. You can not negotiate: you can fight it and try to eradicate it, “said Sergey Fuen, of the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris.
The Russian campaign provoked the struggle of the Ukrainian nationalists and its leader against the Soviet Union after 1945. Stephen FlagWho collaborated with Nazi Germany.
The Azov battalion did not withdraw from this communication war Amplifies successful announcements on its Telegram channel (Azov battalion)With videos of armored vehicles being burned, he accused the Russians of being “real fascists.”
“It has become a force like no other,” said Viacheslav Likhachev, an expert at the ZMINA Center for Human Rights in Q. “He has no problem communicating, good film and recruiting the best.”He told AFP.
Unit with 2,000 to 3,000 men According to estimates, it holds its symbol in memory of Mariupol’s victory in 2014 and sows confusion in its past relationships.
But in Ukraine, Andres Umland said, the symbol “does not have the meaning of the fascist symbol.” And to the Ukrainians, “They are just as valiant fighters as anyone else.”Likhachev deepened.
Historical leaders of such regiments Pilatesky later entered Ukrainian political life, becoming the leader of an extreme right-wing organization that did not exceed 2% of the vote..
With the onset of the Russian offensive, they took up arms in their old battalion or other units. Pilatesky, who was very active in the telegram, was again in Mariupol.
Nikolai Kravchenko, an extreme right-wing ideologue, was killed near kyiv in a division of regional security volunteers formed by Azov troops, Likhachev explained. “But radical-nationalist political forces have continued to decline in Ukraine since 2014 (…) because moderate nationalism fueled by the Russian occupation has become the majority,” tweeted Anna Colin Lepedev, a researcher and professor at the University of Nanderre.
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