Russian FM: Ukraine Controlled by Ultranationalists

MOSCOW, March 8 (RIA Novosti) – The head of Russian diplomacy on Saturday slammed Ukrainian post-revolutionary authorities and alleged attempts to demonize Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.

“The so-called ‘interim government’ [in Ukraine] is not independent and, sadly, depends on radical nationalists who seized power in an armed coup,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Ukrainian opposition took power in the country last month, ousting President Viktor Yanukovych after a drawn-out standoff with the police that resulted in at least 100 deaths on both sides.

Opposition forces were led by the Right Sector, a confederation of far-right ultranationalist groups.

The opposition set up presidential elections for May and installed a new government. The Right Sector has no seats in the Cabinet, but its members organized armed patrols in the capital Kiev and have been documented on at least one occasion to physically abuse a local prosecutor for lack of revolutionary zeal.

“The so-called ‘Right Sector’ is calling the shots through terror and intimidation,” Lavrov told a press conference in Moscow.

The minister also said Russia is willing to work with other countries in order to find a solution for the Ukrainian crisis.

But Lavrov said critics should stop demonizing Russia.

“We should have a fair dialogue like partners, without attempts to paint Russia as almost a party to the conflict,” Lavrov said.

Thousands of troops widely alleged to be the Russian military have effectively taken control over Ukraine’s pro-Russian Republic of Crimea last week.

Crimean authorities said the region will join Russia and set a popular vote on the secession for March 16.

Secession plans were strongly denounced by the pro-Western government in Kiev as well as EU and US officials.

Russia has staunchly denied sending any troops to Crimea, calling the invading units “local militias” despite the fact that they speak Russian, use Russian military equipment and license plates and have repeatedly admitted their Russian provenance on camera.


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