09:27 GMT18 May 2021
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    Kiev-controlled Azov volunteer battalion fighting independence supporters in Ukraine's southeastern regions openly express nationalist views, an investigation by US journalist Oren Dorell revealed.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — An investigation by US journalist Oren Dorell revealed that members of the Kiev-controlled Azov volunteer battalion fighting independence supporters in Ukraine's southeastern regions openly express nationalist views.

    Dorell said in an article published in USA Today on March 10 that "the members [of Azov] battalion who say they are Nazis are sparking controversy."

    The US journalist interviewed an Azov drill sergeant going by the name Alex, who openly admits to being a Nazi and wears a patch depicting Thor's Hammer, a symbol used by neo-Nazis. Alex told Dorell he "supports strong leadership for Ukraine, like Germany during World War II" and added laughing that almost half of his fellow-fighters share the Nazi ideology.

    According to Dorell, the battalion's leadership does not conceal that some Azov fighters are motivated by nationalist views. Andriy Diachenko, Azov's spokesman, said that up to 20 percent of the brigade's members are Nazis.

    The author of the article noted that "complaints of abuses against civilians" turned the residents of Ukraine's war-torn Donbas region against Azov fighters.

    Pro-Kiev volunteer battalions, such as Donbas, Azov and Dnipr, were formed in April after Kiev launched a military operation against independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine. In November, the volunteer divisions, far-right in their ideologies, were put under the command of the Ukrainian Army.

    International watchdogs, including Human Rights Watch, have repeatedly expressed concerns over crimes against civilians committed by Ukrainian battalions.

    Amnesty International said in September 2014 that the Ukrainian government is responsible for the war crimes and human rights violations committed by volunteers.


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