From "ideal society" to branch of Hell: A story of a former fighter from Ukraine's Right Sector & Azov Battalion

right sector azov battalion ukraine

At the beginning of June in Baku I managed to communicate with a former fighter of the Ukrainian voluntary "Azov Battalion", created in 2014 by supporters of right-wing views following the overthrow of former president Victor Yanukovych.

He introduced himself as Bogdan, though, I think, it’s a fictitious name.

After participating in military operations against the pro-Kremlin paramilitary groups in the southeast of Ukraine, he left ranks of Azov Battalion.

After the Russian-Ukrainian war began in February, he moved to Turkey, where he was granted political asylum and refugee status.

To the capital of Azerbaijan, Bogdan, as well as I, arrived as tourist. The former Ukrainian nationalist told me, surprisingly, but at the same time typical as it seems to me, the true story of a Ukrainian patriot.

Bogdan is the former member of Ukrainian Volunteer Corps "Right Sector", the patriotic and Far-Right group who in 2014 was at war with pro-Kremlin groups.

After the cancellation of volunteer units, he was engaged in humanitarian activity. He was sending aid and equipment to fighters of the Ukraine National Guard divisions which were at war against the pro-Russian separatists of Donbass.

Now this activity stopped because of ideological cracks and fear, a fear for what nationalist divisions, a symbol of fight for Ukrainian independence, turned into.

"You know how it is better to describe it?", Bogdan asked me. "Plot of a horror movie. [Like] some state corporation began creating an ideal society by means of scientific achievements...

"Everything at first goes well, and then all of them turned into mutants, blood-thirsty monsters, and their heaven turned into branch of Hell.

"That’s what happened to us..."

Bogdan explained how patriotism and a desire to protect Ukraine turned into this "indulgence" for the person, and formations actually had their own separate life: "Officially all of them were a part of the Armed Forces and National Guard submitted to the General Staff.

"Except military life, there is still inner life and it actually matters.. Inner life became very 'cheerful' for us when the most 'exotic' individuals appeared!

"Ill-discipline and disorder started when a lot of criminals began to join the ranks of the national battalions.

"At once 'concepts', 'positions', 'punishments' and 'gangs' were added to the general atmosphere.

"There were even 'fags' and 'gump corners' (in the criminal environment so called people on the bottom of a hierarchy)!"

At this moment, Bogdan spat out: "I’m sorry, the habit to say 'fags', I got used to it..."

However, according to the former "Right Sector member", it was only the beginning.

"There were Neopagans and 'fighters against a Jewish belief'. They behaved bizarre and in all seriousness believed in the Scandinavian Gods and even prayed to wooden idols," he said.

"It is seemingly ridiculous, but these people are the two-metre bold bulky fellows covered with horrible tattoos, among which there were swastikas in the most different implementations.

"So joking concerning their belief is frightening, as well as to joke about homosexuality of some of them which they explained with ancient traditions of a brotherhood of soldiers, a Spartan unification, "Perun's Wells" and other nonsense.

"But real shit began when Satanists and other so called 'occultists' got in.

"There were really strange characters and at one time they tried to introduce something bloody.. Something like drinking pork blood, to skin alive a dog or a cat, to execute a prisoner, as they spoke – to taste a death.

"Such ideas, naturally, I did not get accustomed too but personally nobody prevented them from doing it.

"They even justified group rapes of civilians with a certain ritual!"

Furthermore Bogdan told me that at some point, staying among all these characters became simply unsafe.

"It’s terrifying when you wake up at night and opposite you looms someone high with a knife (we always had drugs). And goodness knows what in mind this individual was in.

"Or when in bathroom at night someone is raped – and in the morning in the same place you have to take shower. At some point you begin to feel like a normal person despite the strange combination of circumstances, in which appeared psychopaths and morons.

"So I left from there out of harm's way."

After that Bogdan was engaged in volunteer activity with other nationalist movements until the similar phenomena overflowed them too.

"I worked with Azov. I thought now these are strong man," he recounted.

"They have strict selection, no marginal persons... Yes if! As soon as the war began and they suffered huge losses, they began to enroll everyone.

"Bandits, pagans, Satanists, morons and other devils... I had a feeling as if nobody any more wanted to go to the front voluntarily!"

Summing up, Bogdan comes to an unfavorable conclusion: "I speak out – everything is a plot from a horror movie: instead of ideal an society – it was monsters and branch of Hell … And if we don’t stop it, then tomorrow it will absorb all of us."

Bogdan's story opens all bitterness of disappointment which was felt by Ukrainian patriots following the overthrow of the corrupted Yanukovych government.

Instead of real transformations, power was seized by oligarchs. Financial tycoons very quickly got rid of the convinced and fanatical supporters of an independent Ukraine and replaced them with obedient marginal persons, criminals and sadists.

Kemran Mamedov is a Moscow-based Azerbaijiani journalist born in Georgia with a focus on South Caucasus issues.

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Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor