The controversial leader of Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist Pravy Sektor paramilitary group, which is fighting pro-Russian rebels alongside government troops, was made an army advisor Monday as Kiev seeks to tighten its control over volunteer fighters.
Coming on the anniversary of the start of fighting in Ukraine, the move marks a key step in government efforts to establish authority over the several private armies that share its goal of crushing pro-Russian separatists in the east, but do not necessarily operate under its control.
While some such militias answer to the interior ministry and receive funding, the powerful Pravy Sektor or “Right Sector” militia, which currently claims 10,000 members including reservists — but will not say how many are deployed at the front — had until now refused to register with the authorities.
Its posture is expected to change following Monday’s announcement by the defence ministry of the appointment of its leader, Dmytro Yarosh, a hate figure in Moscow who was elected to Ukraine’s parliament last year, as advisor to the army chief of staff Viktor Muzhenko.
“Dmytro Yarosh will act as a link between the volunteer battalions and the General Staff,” armed forces spokesman Oleksiy Mazepa told AFP.