21:32 GMT28 July 2021
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    A fighter of notorious ultra-nationalist battalion Azov confessed that he came to Crimea to provoke discontent among local Tatars, Crimea's Deputy Prime Minister Ruslan Balbek said.

    The fighter, whose identity was not released, was arrested earlier this month. Local authorities are investigating whether he took part in setting the Chukurcha-Jami mosque in Simferopol ablaze and planning a terrorist attack near the public prosecutor's office last year.

    This year the fighter's provocations were to coincide with May 18 marked as the day when the deportation of the Crimean Tatars from the peninsula began.

    As a result, "the international community would have received the necessary proof that the Crimean Tatars are suffering here," Balbek explained. "But Crimean Tatars are wise, they did not respond to provocations," he added.

    This was not an isolated incident but part of a larger operation. Earlier in May, the Azov's military commander vowed to continue fighting until Ukraine reclaimed Crimea and the Donbass region.

    At the same time, several mosques were looted and set on fire as part of a propaganda campaign to ruin inter-ethnic relations in Crimea. A group of Ukrainian nationalists was detained in connection with the unlawful activity.

    Balbek praised local law enforcement agencies for thwarting the provocation campaign. "This is an achievement of all Crimeans and Russian Crimea," he emphasized.

    The Azov battalion is a notorious volunteer armed unit formed in the city of Mariupol in May 2014. It has been widely criticized as a magnet for those holding Neo-Nazi beliefs. The militia adopted Wolfsangel, also known as a wolf's hook, as its emblem. During World War II, the symbol and its elements were used by various Nazi German military units, including the SS Panzer Division.


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    Neo-nazis, Crimean Tatars, provocation, Azov Battalion, Crimea, Ukraine, Russia
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