Ideology, goals, organization and activities of the Ukrainian Nationalist Assembly-Ukrainian Nationalist Self-Defense Organization (UNA-UNSO); treatment of UNA-UNSO members by the authorities (January 1999 - August 2004) [UKR42849.E]

The Ukrainian Nationalist Assembly-Ukrainian Nationalist Self-Defense Organization (UNA-UNSO), Its Ideology, Goals and Organization

Established in 1990 (UNA-UNSO n.d.a) and based in Kiev (ibid. n.d.c), the Ukrainian Nationalist Assembly-Ukrainian Nationalist Self-Defense Organization (UNA-UNSO) has been described as a paramilitary entity (ibid. n.d.b; Trud 5 Dec. 2000), a "neo-fascist group" (FSU Monitor 14 Jan. 2001), and a radical (Ukraine Public Radio Online 18 Mar. 2003; Interfax 9 Mar. 2001), anti-Semitic (BBC 26 Dec. 2002; FSU Monitor 19 Jan. 2001), extreme (UPI 3 Feb. 2002; RFE/RL 20 Nov. 2001), right-wing (ibid.; RFE/RL 20 Nov. 2001), nationalist party (Interfax 9 July 2004; WNC 27 Dec. 2002; UPI 3 Feb. 2002; Interfax 9 Mar. 2001; BBC 10 Mar. 2001; Trud 5 Dec. 2000; AP 4 Apr. 2000). Two news reports indicated that UNA is the nationalist party, while UNSO is its paramilitary wing (RFE/RL 20 Nov. 2001; Trud 5 Dec. 2000). According to a report in the Moscow-based Russian daily newspaper, Trud, UNA-UNSO is "one of the most aggressive" nationalist organizations in the Ukraine (5 Dec. 2000). The news report goes on to say: "[o]rganized along the lines of the Sicilian mafia, the UNA-UNSO 'family' is an extraordinarily secret organization. Its membership directory is known only by the heads of certain structures" (Trud 5 Dec. 2000).

Obshchaya Gazeta, a Moscow-based Russian-language weekly newspaper reported that the "'prophet'" of UNA-UNSO ideology is Dmitriy Dontsov, a philosopher that "divided the whole world into Cossacks and swineherds. The UNSO people have declared themselves Cossacks" (11 Jan. 2001). Information on the Website of UNA-UNSO indicates that the organization has "imperialist aspirations" (UNA-UNSO n.d.b), and that its aims are: overthrow the current Ukrainian government, because it is anti-national; to fight the mafia, because it is criminal; to fight homosexuals, because they are an aberration of nature; to fight the Jews, because they own all the banks and media....The IRA [Irish Republican Army], the Kurdish resistance movement, the Afghan Mujahedin, [and] the Cuban revolutionaries are all role models (ibid. n.d.c).

The organization's "dream [is the] total economic independence of Ukraine from Russia" (FSU Monitor 14 Mar. 2000). Its domestic policy is premised on the following ideas: equality, opposition to "fat cats," redistribution of the national income in favor of workers, the active involvement of a strong government in the economy, well as traditional values of the family, the people, discipline and the state (UNA-UNSO n.d.b).

As at the end of 2002, UNA-UNSO was led by Andriy Shkil (UNA-UNSO n.d.b; WNC 27 Dec. 2002; Kyiv Post 18 Apr. 2002; RFE/RL 22 Mar. 2001; Intelnews 27 Dec. 2000), who, in 2002, was elected into parliament (Kyiv Post 18 Apr. 2002). Information on whether Shkil continues to be the leader of UNA-UNSO in 2004 could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

In the period between 1994 and 1996, the organization established branches in each of the provinces of the Ukraine, as well as in Moscow (UNA-UNSO n.d.b). Over the years, UNA-UNSO successfully expanded its strength and influence from western Ukraine eastwards (ibid. n.d.b).

In 1995, UNA-UNSO was temporarily banned (RFE/RL 30 June 2003), and although its existence is widely tolerated by the government, the organization continues not to be registered with the Ministry of Justice (Trud 5 Dec. 2000; Obshchaya Gazeta 11 Jan. 2001). In the interim, the organization has joined the Yuliya Tymoshenko bloc (RFE/RL 30 June 2003) and the electoral coalition named Rukh (Movement) (Interfax 9 July 2004).

UNA-UNSO Activities

Regarding its activities, UNA-UNSO has participated in armed conflicts outside of the Ukraine, including in Abkhazia to assist the Georgians against Russian separatists, in Moldova against the pro-Romanians, in Yugoslavia to assist the Serbs against the Bosnians (UNA-UNSO n.d.c; see also ibid. n.d.b; RFE/RL 30 June 2003) and in Russia to assist Chechens against Russians (FSU Monitor 19 Jan. 2001). The meeting place for the organization's paramilitary forces is Bald Mountain in Kiev (ibid.; Obshchaya Gazeta 11 Jan. 2001). UNA-UNSO fighters wear camouflaged uniforms, are devoted Christians, are described as typically having sunken eyes and a short haircut, and use aliases "for the sake of beauty and conspiracy" (ibid.).

In early 2000, UNA-UNSO opened three information centres concerning Ichkeria Chechnya, one in Kiev, another in Odessa (BBC 16 Mar. 2000) and one in Lviv (AP 4 Apr. 2000; ITAR-TASS 3 Apr. 2000). These were opened despite opposition from Russian diplomats (BBC 16 Mar. 2000; AP 4 Apr. 2000).

Additional information on the activities of the UNA-UNSO could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, general information can be accessed at

Treatment of UNA-UNSO Members by the Ukrainian Authorities

In July 1999, 17 UNA-UNSO members were detained and criminally charged after the Ukrainian authorities seized 64 bottles of an explosive mixture that was to be used to prevent a religious procession that was planned by the Russian Orthodox Church (BBC 30 July 1999). Information on the outcome of these charges could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

In December 2000, Serhiy Mozhovyi, a UNA-UNSO member was killed after being run over simultaneously by two cars (Intelnews 27 Dec. 2000). Police officers reportedly prevented UNA-UNSO officials from speaking to the drivers of the two cars (ibid.).

On 9 March 2001, violence between protesters and authorities erupted in Kiev, resulting in the arrest of numerous participants (AFP 9 Mar. 2001; BBC 10 Mar. 2001; Interfax 10 Mar. 2001; UPI 22 May 2001). The police used tear gas against demonstrators who were throwing bottles and stones (Los Angeles Times 11 Mar. 2001). The protest was against Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, for his alleged involvement in the killing of an investigative journalist (BBC 10 Mar. 2001). Five UNA-UNSO members who had been arrested were later released and stated that while at the police station they had been "treated 'within the limits of the law'" (Interfax 9 Mar. 2001). According to Agence France Presse (AFP), Ukrainian police officers also forced themselves into the headquarters of UNA-UNSO on the day of the protest clash, and arrested 150 organizational supporters, including women (AFP 9 Mar. 2001). Shkil was initially arrested on 9 March 2001, then released due to a lack of evidence, and then again arrested on 21 March 2001 for his involvement in the clash (Interfax 21 Mar. 2001; RFE/RL 22 Mar. 2001). Shkil was finally released on 12 April 2002 (Kyiv Post 18 Apr. 2002). However, at that time, 12 other UNA-UNSO members remained in jail awaiting a verdict and sentence, which was finally delivered in December 2002 by a Kiev district court that sentenced them to between two and five years' imprisonment (Interfax 26 Dec. 2002). Another four UNA-UNSO members received a two-year suspended sentence (ibid.). On 18 March 2003, Andry Kosenko was the first of the group to be released from jail after serving his sentence (Ukraine Public Radio Online 18 Mar. 2003). By December 2003, of those detained and imprisoned, only four remained in custody while the others had been released (Country Reports 2003, Sec. 2.b.).

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003 reported that in April 2003,

...opposition UNA/UNSO prisoner Serhiy Halchyk, a deputy in the Rada, told the human rights Ombudsman that prison guards beat him with clubs and harassed him and other prisoners in the Lukianivska prison in Kiev where he was detained in 2002. He stated that guards deprived complaining prisoners of correspondence and food packages (ibid., Sec. 1.c).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 9 March 2001. "Ukraine Police Smash Up Rightwing Party Headquarters, Make 150 Arrests." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0309 13 Mar. 2001/WNC)

Associated Press (AP). 4 April 2000. "Russia Criticizes Ukraine for Allowing Pro-Chechen Information Center." (NEXIS)

BBC. 26 December 2002. "Ukraine Nationalists Jailed Over Protests." [Accessed 26 Aug. 2004]

_____. "Kuchma Defies Resignation Calls." [Accessed 26 Aug. 2004]

_____. 16 March 2000. "Chechen Rebels Open Second Information Centre in Ukraine." (NEXIS)

_____. 30 July 1999. "Ukraine: Right-Wing Activists Opposed to Orthodox Church March Detained." (NEXIS)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 26 Aug. 2004]

FSU Monitor. 14 January 2001. "Russian Newspaper Profiles Ukrainian Neo-Fascist Groups." [Accessed 19 Jan. 2001]

_____. 16 March 2000. "Ukrainian Fascists Link Up With European Neo-Nazis, Chechen Warlords." [Accessed 16 Mar. 2000]

Intelnews [Kiev]. 27 December 2000. "Ukrainian Extreme Nationalist Found Dead After Anti-President Rally." (FBIS-SOV-2000-1227 28 Dec. 2000/WNC)

Interfax [Moscow]. 9 July 2004. "Ukrainian Nationalists Form Electoral Coalition." (FBIS-SOV-2004-0709 12 July 2004/WNC)

_____. 26 December 2002. "Ukrainian Nationalists Jailed for Causing March 2001 Riots in Kiev." (FBIS-SOV-2002-1226 27 Dec. 2002/WNC)

_____. 21 March 2001. "Ukrainian Nationalist Leader Arrested as Suspect in Protest Clash." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0321 22 Mar. 2001/WNC)

_____. 10 March 2001. "Ukrainian Police Arrest 'Over 200' in Kiev Demonstrations." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0310 13 Mar. 2001/WNC)

_____. 9 March 2001. "Ukraine: Five Protesters Released by Police, Rallies Continue." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0309 13 Mar. 2001/WNC)

ITAR-TASS [Moscow]. 3 April 2000. Galina Nekrasova. "Ukraine: Nationalists Open Chechen News Center." (FBIS-SOV-2000-0403 6 Apr. 2000/WNC)

Kyiv Post. 18 April 2002. "Shkil Released From Jail. Kyiv Court Frees Former UNA-UNSO Leader and Deputy-Elect from Pre-Trial Detention." (Dialog)

Los Angeles Times. 11 March 2001. "Bloody Political Protests Erupt in Ukraine." (NEXIS)

Obshchaya Gazeta [Moscow, in Russian]. 11 January 2001. Yelena Glagoleva and Bakhtiyar Akhmedkhanov. "Ukrainian Nationalist Group UNSO Said to be Training for Combat Duty in Chechnya." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0119 1 Feb. 2001/WNC)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 30 June 2003. Vol. 7, No. 122. Taras Kuzio. "Loyal Nationalism in Postcommunist States."

_____. 20 November 2001. Vol. 5, No. 220. Taras Kuzio. "Ukraine's Approaching Elections and Fractured Multiparty System."

_____. 22 March 2001. Vol. 5, No. 57. "Ukrainian Nationalist Leader Detained."

Trud [Moscow, in Russian.]. 5 December 2000. Stanislav Prokopchuk and Vladimir Yanchenkov. "Ukrainian Nationalist Organization Disruptively Active, Though Prohibited from Registration." (FBIS-SOV-2000-1218 26 Dec. 2000/WNC)

Ukrainian Nationalist Assembly-Ukrainian Nationalist Self-Defense Organization (UNA-UNSO). n.d.a. "UNA-UNSO - Ten Years of Struggle!" [Accessed 26 Aug. 2004]

_____. n.d.b. "Nationalistic Facet of Ideology and Policy of the Ukrainian Radical Nationalists from UNA-UNSO." [Accessed 26 Aug. 2004]

_____. n.d.c. "Big Guns." [Accessed 4 Aug. 2004]

Ukraine Public Radio Online. 18 March 2003. "Freed UNA-UNSO Member Andry Kosenko Has Plans to Fight for Liberation of His Comrades." [Accessed 4 Aug. 2004]

United Press International (UPI). 3 February 2002. Bojan Soc. "Analysis: Ukraine Opposition in Trouble." (NEXIS)

_____. 22 May 2001. "Protesters Chain Themselves to Rails." (Dialog)

World News Connection (WNC). 27 December 2002. "Lawyers to Appeal Conviction of Ukrainian Nationalists." (Dialog)

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Abyz News Links, Amnesty International (AI), European Country of Origin Information Network (ECOI), Freedom House, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights,, Zerkalo Nedeli [Kyiv].

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