And it is this reciprocal relationship with Russia that has many Ukrainians suspecting a shadowy dirty tricks campaign by the Kremlin. Almost every Ukrainian I spoke with speculated that Moscow is secretly supporting Right Sector in an attempt to both destabilize the weak government in Kiev and provide a pretext for further meddling – the tried and true tactic of provokatsiya, or provocation, which Moscow has been using since the early Bolshevik period to deceive its adversaries and earn sympathy among credulous Westerners.
There are many peculiar things about Right Sector that lend some credibility to this theory. Why, for instance, did Yarosh allegedly meet with Yanukoyvch for half an hour on the very day that special forces, the much-loathed “Berkut,” opened fire on protestors? How was it that not a single member of Right Sector was among the “Heavenly Hundred,” as the casualties of the Maidan protests are now consecrated (a particularly curious omission given the group’s much-vaunted role as the armed vanguard of the revolution)? How does the organization afford an entire floor of rooms at the four-star Dnipro Hotel, the Right Sector headquarters in downtown Kiev, where a red and black flag hangs prominently in the lobby? Talking with Right Sector members protesting outside the parliament, I never received a coherent answer as to why they were not lining up to join the country’s army. The greatest threat to Ukraine right now is a potential Russian invasion; yet here were these so-called patriots trying to bring down an already weak Ukrainian government. One Ukrainian who took part in the Maidan protests told me that she heard several Right Sector members speaking with Russian accents. That the group would be part of a Kremlin black PR campaign, she said, is “not a crazy idea.”