July 28, 2015

Czech MEP invites Ukrainian extremist to European Parliament

Group has been condemned by US Congress for suing Nazi symbols

Prague, July 28 (ČTK) — Czech MEP Jaromír Štětina (TOP 09) has invited the commander of the Ukrainian volunteer Azov Battalion, which the U.S. House of Representatives labeled neo-Nazi last June, to the European Parliament (EP), he told reporters today, after his return from Ukraine.

Štětina said he expected the visit by commander Andriy Biletsky to provoke the EP’s criticism.

Ultra-right radical Biletsky heads of the organization Social-National Assembly that is freely connected with the Ukrainian Right Sector. He is dubbed “White Leader.”

“Volunteer battalions are a significant, real political and military force in eastern Ukraine. Not to talk to them and not to know who they are means not to be interested in the solution to the conflict,” Štětina told the Czech news Agency, answering its question why he had invited Biletsky.

Štětina added that Biletsky alone should explain the positions of his movement.

Štětina has been to Ukraine several times since the war erupted there.

He visited three volunteer battalions, Azov, Right Sector and Donbas, during his last journey. Their fighters have majorly prevented Eastern Ukraine from being fully controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Štětina said he was convinced that they were the political force to participate in the solution to the conflict. All three battalions’ commanders are members of the Ukrainian parliament, he recalled.

The Washington Post recently reported that Azov might attack Kyiv if it chose a political and not military solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Štětina, who reported about the war in Chechnya as a journalist in the past, admitted that these political forces would approach ultra-right extremism ideologically.

According to the Western press, some 1,000 members of the Azov Battalion openly followed neo-Nazi views. The Azov banner carries the symbol of Hitler’s SS division Das Reich and the battalion fighters promote the idea of the white race supremacy and autocratic dictatorship.

Štětina ruled out that mainly young neo-Nazis joined these battalions. Such reports are results of Russian propaganda, he added.

Yet he admitted that he had seen the Nazi-tinged symbols among their recruits.

However, extremists can be found in every society, even in Czech parliament, he added.

Štětina is one of the Czechs included in Russia’s blacklist of the EU countries’ officials who are banned from entering its territory.

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