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RFE/RL: Russian man sentenced to 12 years in prison for fighting with Ukrainian militia

by Nate Ostiller November 28, 2023 6:26 PM 2 min read
A military truck with the letter Z, a tactical insignia of Russian troops in Ukraine, rides past a sign that reads "Kursk, the city of military glory" near the Russian city of Kursk in May 2023. (Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)
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A court in the Russian city of Kursk sentenced a Russian citizen to 12 years in prison for allegedly fighting with the Ukrainian far-right militia Right Sector, the RFE/RL project Current Time reported on Nov. 28.

The man, 35-year-old Yevgeny Kazantsev, had lived in Ukraine for a long period of time and allegedly joined the militia in 2015 to fight against Russian proxy forces in Donbas, local Russian media said.

In the aftermath of the full-scale invasion, Kazantsev was captured by the Russian military while fighting near Chernihiv in northern Ukraine.

He was tried and convicted of participating in a so-called "extremist organization," among other charges. Kazantsev pleaded innocent.

The Right Sector is a loosely defined group of Ukrainian nationalist organizations, roughly tied together by ideology, which formed during the EuroMaidan Revolution in 2013-2014, and subsequently formed a political party.

Along with other Ukrainian far-right political parties like Svoboda, Right Sector has had little to no electoral success, gaining just one seat in Ukraine's parliament in the 2014 election. Its member, the former "head" of Right Sector, Dmytro Yarosh, lost the following election.

Russian claims about the supposed presence and high level of influence of the far-right in Ukraine have been thoroughly debunked, particularly at the ballot box.

The lack of electoral success has not stopped Russian officials from regurgitating the narrative.

The Ukrainian Volunteer Corps (DUK), the military wing of the Right Sector, fought as an autonomous military unit alongside the regular Ukrainian army fighting in Donbas. Most DUK units were integrated into the Ukrainian military after the full-scale invasion.

The claims about Kazantev's involvement with the Right Sector or any other Ukrainian military unit cannot be independently verified.

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