As Ukraine inaugurated its breakaway Orthodox Church on Christmas, President Petro Poroshenko stood proud for the ceremony. A few meters away stood the head of a violent neo-Nazi group.
Evgen Karas is the leader of the C14 radical nationalist group. Denying neo-Nazi leanings, he says he merely has a problem with Russians, Poles, and Jews controlling Ukrainian politics and economics.
Karas proudly posted a picture of himself standing next to Poroshenko in the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, where the tomos – the Constantinople Patriarch’s decree on the Ukrainian church’s autonomy – was inaugurated.
Karas and his group came to the spotlight in 2018 after being linked to violent crackdowns on Roma camps. C14 itself says it only dismantled illegal settlements to clear public spaces, and did so peacefully.
Karas himself is not one to hide his violent views. In a November 2018 interview he said it’s OK to let a mob beat a pro-Russian journalist to death.
Two C14 members are being accused of murdering opposition journalist Oles Buzina.
Among the violent cases linked to C14 are an attack on a “pro-Russian” journalist’s lawyers in the courtroom (where they reportedly came armed with knives) and the stabbing of an anti-war activist, among numerous others.
Despite all of those credentials, Kiev officials seem to be looking the other way when it comes to C14 and other radicals – even reportedly signing an agreement with them to allow “citizen patrols” in the streets of the capital.