Right Sector and OUN battalions: the ‘ambitions’ of the fighters and the obligations of the government 

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2014/10/11 • Politics

Article by: Bohdan Chervak

I am not one to hand out advise to people who directly participate in combat in Donbas or organize assistance for our fighters in the rear. However, I cannot help but react to the public statement of the Head of the State Service for Veteran and ATO Participant issues Artur Derevyankin, who told the media that the 5th and 9th Right Sector battalions, as well as the OUN battalion are “problematic,” as they are not subordinate to the MIA or the Ministry of Defense as of today.

Mister Derevyanko said the reason for this situation were some sort of ‘personal ambitions’ of the aforementioned battalions.

So, a couple of, in my opinion, important details, which Mr. Derevyanko might even know but does not consider it necessary to mention.

First and foremost, the emergence of fighting Right Sector and OUN departments should be viewed as one of the phenomena of the Ukrainian volunteer movement, which has one single analogy, which is the national liberation movement of the Ukrainian people for the acquisition and preservation of national sovereignty. In particular, the OUN battalion is formed upon an ideological basis, is maintained by volunteers exclusively, and therefore feels responsible first and foremost to regular citizens of its country, and the state it is defending. One of the privates in OUN battalion who goes by ‘Lenon’ and fights in the village of Pisky told an Inter correspondent: “I am here because I love my people and Ukraine.” Obviously, not all fighters in volunteer battalions are such idealists. I even assume that not all of them are ‘angels.’ But these very ‘idealists’ constitute the backbone of these volunteer battalions.

They clearly differentiate the terms ‘the state’ and ‘the government.’ The young men are ready to die for the Ukrainian State, but not always for the Ukrainian government. Most of them came to war not because they were summoned by the government, the MIA or the Defense Ministry. But because the government, the MIA and the Defense Ministry, to their mind, are unable to defend Ukraine from Russian aggression.

What is more: I am convinced they would have gone to war even if they had been prohibited from doing so.

Back in the day, the OUN leadership discussed the issue of the feasibility of participating in infantry groups of the OUN, which during World War II fought for the independence on Ukraine, the already well-known poets Olena Teliha and Oleh Olzhych. If they had not been on the front line, we would have preserved European-level poets in Ukraine. As such, the heroes don’t even have graves. So Olena Teliha and Oleh Olzhich should have not been allowed to go to war. The head of the OUN at the time, colonel Andriy Melnuk answer: I could have ordered it but I knew it would not have been executed. For Teliha and Olzhych ‘the call of Kyiv’ was so strong that not a single order could have overpowered it.

Problems may arise for official Derevyanko

In one of the videos the command of the OUN battalion Mykola Kokhanivsky speaks about the natiocratic model of future Ukraine in the OUN ideologist Mykola Stsiborsky’s interpretation to the cannonade of explosions. At the first glance, this is not the time or place to speak about it. But for a nationalists, this is the appropriate place and time. Because he went to war with the occupants for this idea.

Therefore, when state official Artur Derevyanko speaks of their ‘ambitions,’ he has to understand that for many volunteers their ambitions constitute the meaning of their lives. These ambitions have nothing to do with parliamentary mandates, offices in the government or local governments.

And now on the problems which may emerge in light of the indefinite status of volunteer battalions OUN and Right Sector. Artur Derevyanko will definitely face trouble, if he does not stop the current vile practice of solving this issue. It is not the OUN and Right Sector battalions who should ask the Defense Ministry or the MIA to grant them status. But on the contrary: the volunteer battalions should be offered an acceptable option of subordination, or ‘status,’ as they put it these days.

And they shouldn’t hesitate. In reality we are talking about the obligation the government has before its citizens, which are defending everyone with arms in hand: Ukraine, the government, the citizens, Derevyanko included.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Source: Radio Liberty

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  • Randall Cook

    A good, thoughtful article! More should write such sentiments.

  • nysq1

    I absolutely don’t agree. The “volunteer movement” come through all shapes of political persuasion-patriots all of them. But to say they should not be under army command is stupid. An army needs cohesiveness and not be used for politics.

  • nysq1

    Why are their ambitions not participation in local government and parlament? Thats the way to further your ideas in a democratic society. Seems like those radical nationalists don’t believe in democracy-a huge problem.