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Hundreds of Ukraine Nationalists March in Kyiv

  • VOA News

Members of the nationalist movement Svoboda (Freedom) hold flares during a rally marking the 74th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 14, 2016. Ukraine celebrates Defenders Day yearly.

Members of the nationalist movement Svoboda (Freedom) hold flares during a rally marking the 74th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 14, 2016. Ukraine celebrates Defenders Day yearly.

Several hundred members of far-right and ultranationalist groups marked Defenders Day in Ukraine on Friday, marching through Kyiv as a show of support for Ukrainian fighters.

The state holiday was set by Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, who declared October 14 Defenders Day in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea and a pro-Russian insurgency took root in eastern Ukraine. Marchers on Friday carried Ukrainian and far-right Svoboda party flags and chanted nationalist slogans at rallies.

“We will march and glorify our heroes who gave their lives for our Ukraine — starting from the times of UPA [Ukrainian Insurgent Army] until today — during the Ukrainian-Russian war — so that we could start to live freely,” Anastasiya Sobol, marching in the capital, told Reuters.

Members of the nationalist movement Svoboda (Freedom) go marching to mark the 74th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army on Defenders Day in Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 14, 2016.

Members of the nationalist movement Svoboda (Freedom) go marching to mark the 74th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army on Defenders Day in Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 14, 2016.

The march coincided with traditional nationalist events marking the creation of the controversial World War II-era Ukrainian Insurgent Army and to celebrate Ukrainian Cossacks.

The far-right activists chanted “Glory to the nation!” and “Death to enemies!” as they wound their way from the capital’s towering Mother Homeland statue to St. Sofia Square.

It was a show of force for the ultranationalist groups, in particular for Azov, whose ranks have served as perhaps Ukraine’s most formidable fighting force in the war against the separatists, which has killed more than 9,600 people since April 2014.

RFE/RL contributed to this report.

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