Ukraine Paramilitary Group Forms Political Party
A Ukrainian far-right paramilitary group that played a key role in protests that ousted pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych last month said Saturday it had formed a political party.
"The Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) political party was created today," member Andriy Denissenko said in a YouTube video after a meeting held behind closed doors for security reasons.
"The party will be an instrument in the political field in the same way that a Kalashnikov is in the military field," he added.
Delegates elected Dmytro Yarosh as the party's leader, and also announced that he would stand in Ukraine's upcoming presidential election on May 25.
The Pravy Sektor party will absorb other already registered Ukrainian nationalist formations including UNA-UNSO and Trizub (Trident).
"Pravy Sektor is open to all citizens of Ukraine," said Igor Manzur, a member of the movement's political council.
"We expect it will be possible to have secret membership for journalists or others who do not want to reveal their party affiliation," Manzur said.
"We know we have supporters in different layers of society.
"If a black wants to join Pravy Sektor and he is a patriot of Ukraine, he will be welcome.
"We need such members," he added.
In a rare interview with Agence France Presse last month, Yarosh denied he was a fascist and anti-Semite, defining himself as a nationalist who wanted Ukrainians to be "masters of their own land".
Pravy Sektor, he said, was a "successor" to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which battled Poles, Soviet and Nazi forces in western Ukraine during and after World War II.
Yarosh created Pravy Sektor during the anti-Yanukovych protests.
During clashes in February that killed nearly 90 protesters and police officers, his name was on the lips of the most ardent protesters, and his activists still patrol the barricades at the protest camp.