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Ukraine descends further into civil war

While outlawing Communists, Kiev is mobilising far- right nationalists for suppression of Russian-speaking protesters in the east.

Ukraine’s new leaders have moved to outlaw the Communist Party, accusing it of supporting “separatism,” even as the country slides to civil war.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Saturday asked the Justice Ministry to take legal action against the Ukrainian Communists on the basis of evidence of their “anti-constitutional activities” gathered by security services and the Prosecutor General’s office.

He ordered a probe into the Communist Party’s “separatism” after its leader Petro Symonenko demanded a halt to Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine, saying it had turned into a “terrorist operation against its people.”

While taking a hard line on Communists, Kiev’s authorities are mobilising far- right nationalists in western Ukraine for its campaign of armed suppression of Russian-speaking protesters in the east.

Andriy Parubiy, Secretary of Ukraine’s Security and Defence Council, has called on “Maidan activists,” who helped oust President Viktor Yanukovych in a coup three months ago, to sign up for militia groups that are being set up to fight rebels in Ukraine’s southeast.

After an incident last month in which dozens of soldiers of the 25th airborne division joined anti-government self-defence forces in Sloviansk, taking with them several armoured combat vehicles, Kiev increasingly relied on volunteer militia to fight the rebels.

Dmitro Yarosh, leader of Ukraine’s ultranationalist “Right Sector” party and candidate in May 25 presidential elections, has announced the formation of three battalions manned by his supporters for operations in the east.

Radical militia get financial backing from some Ukrainian oligarchs. Igor Kolomoisky, Ukraine’s second richest man, appointed Governor of Dnepropetrovsk region by Kiev’s new authorities, has bankrolled a 600-strong militia group called “Dnieper Battalion.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 4:24:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/ukraine-descends-further-into-civil-war/article6023425.ece

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