Nearly 6,000 Ukrainian Right Sector movement supporters rallied in the capital city of Kiev on Tuesday evening, protesting the policies of the Ukrainian government and demanding the resignations of politicians.
The protesters gathered in Kiev's historic Maidan Square carrying flags of the nationalist Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) paramilitarygroup .
The Right Sector group played an important role during the 2014 Maidan protests in Ukraine which ended with the toppling of former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Speaking in Maidan Square, the leader of the Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, mentioned the importance of their group in the overthrow of Yanukovych from his duty and pointed out that if they wanted they could change the ongoing system. “We are a disciplined revolutionary force [who can open] a new stage of Ukrainian revolution,” he said.
Yarosh also criticised the new government and current president Petro Poroshenko for not changing the old and corrupt system, saying “We see that the Yanukovych system has been transformed. Nevertheless the main problems of our society like corruption, the lawlessness of the prosecutor’s office and the police are still the same. And we are still protesting against these things. We think that the new Ukrainian state should be built on other bases.”
The Right Sector militia continue to actively fight in eastern Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region. Euronews reported that the Right Sector wants to have greater participation in Ukrainian politics aside from its military activities.
The movement’s leader, Yarosh demanded a referendum of a no-confidence vote for the ruling government and the president on Tuesday morning during the national congress of the Right Sector. He also urged the government to recognise its volunteer troops in eastern Ukraine.
Yarosh said that “people must voice their attitude to what's happening in the country ... the government should know that if the people are not pleased with it, then it must go.”
The Right Sector has been criticised by the Ukrainian government and Amnesty International for their activities in eastern Ukraine including violence, torture, and human rights violations.
The rally came after an armed standoff that started in early July between the Right Sector and Ukrainian government forces which lasted for two days after the group allegedly launched a gun and grenade attack in the western town of Mukacheve.
Ukrainian forces are seeking the surrender of the Right Sector militia following the shootout, which resulted in the deaths of at least two members of the far-right group and left seven people injured while also resulting in the destruction of two police cars by grenade launchers.
The Right Sector has since fought together with government forces against pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. However, the increasing power and influence of the group has fuelled fears that it could one day challenge the authority of the state itself.
Current Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has been severely criticised by Russia for his tolerance of and cooperation with Right Sector. Russia frequently cites this cooperation as evidence that the post-revolutionary government in Kiev is controlled by fascists.