Ukraine's parliament has voted to disarm self-defence groups that sprang up during months of deadly protests against Kiev's pro-Moscow regime, meeting a key demand of both Russia and the West.
Russia claims that Ukraine is over-run by far-right groups who are causing chaos, but FRANCE 24’s Ukraine correspondent Gulliver Cragg say this is not true and that they are simply a fringe element. Western observers also dismiss the Kremlin's “propaganda”.
However, there are genuine concerns over the behaviour of some of the self-defence groups on the far-right who took part in the "Maidan" protests against now deposed president Viktor Yanukovich.
Late on Monday a shooting incident involving a member of the far-right coalition known as Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), which says its ideology is nationalist but not fascist or neo-Nazi, set alarm bells ringing.
The man was arrested and the group was asked to leave a hotel in the centre of Kiev that it had turned into its headquarters.
“We have to be clear – if this is a political party it should focus on political activity,” Ukrainian MP Serhiy Sobolev, who authored a resolution to disarm the Maidan self-defence groups, told FRANCE 24.
“If these are combatants who want to serve their country they can do so in the army or in the new National Guard.”
No faith in Ukraine's new government
But balaclava-clad members of Pravy Sector (Right Sector) remained in control of the Dnipro Hotel Wednesday attempting to negotiate their withdrawal.
“We don’t trust our government,” said one Pravy Sektor sympathiser outside the hotel. “Among this government are people who've sold out to the Russians.”
Pravy Sektor spokesman Andriy Bondarenko echoed this stating that the group had little faith in Ukraine’s new authorities.
“We must not place our trust in a government when all that has changed are the names of those in power, not the system,” he said.
His view is one widely shared in Ukraine.
But given the way Russian propaganda is exploiting their every move, suspicion of Pravy Sektor and other paramilitary groups still visible and present in central Kiev is also growing.
Date created : 2014-04-03