Azov Civil Corps
Foundation for Regional Initiatives
National Centre for Human Rights
Union of Veterans of the War with Russia
Who ordered the attack on Katia Handziuk?
The far-right organization C14 has existed since at least 2009-2010. It was officially founded in 2011, at the annual October 14 nationalist march known as Pokrova. The group’s leader is Yevhen Karas. Other active members include Serhii Mazur, Serhii Bondar and Andrii Medvedko. Its members have a number of associated projects, including the so-called Education Assembly, the Union of Veterans of the War with Russia, the Municipal Guard and the National Centre for Human Rights. According to C14’s reports, their events draw up to 200 people.Tetiana Kurmanova, “«Може, в нашій країні так допустимо – без ляпаса по пиці хтось може не зрозуміти» - Карась” [“Maybe it's permissible in our country – someone may not understand without a slap in the face” – Karas], Hromadske Radio, October 26, 2017, https://hromadske.radio/podcasts/kyiv-donbas/mozhe-v-nashiy-krayini-tak-dopustymo-bez-lyapasa-po-pyci-htos-mozhe-ne-zrozumity-karas.
C14 emerged as a project associated with the nationalist political party All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda.” Its leader, Yevhen Karas, was a paid assistant to MP Andrii Illienko for a period of time. After 2014, the organization began operating separately from the party because of “its vision of socio-political developments.” Now, it collaborates with politicians like Yehor Soboliev (a former MP for the Self Reliance, or Samopomich, party) and Ihor Lutsenko (a former MP for the Fatherland, or Batkivshchyna party, who is now an advisor to the mayor of Kyiv). Members of C14 have also been part of the anti-development initiative, Save Old Kyiv, since 2009.
In 2010-2011, the left-wing student unions Direct Action and Student Action carried out a protest campaign against educational reforms, with the support of the youth NGO Foundation for Regional Initiatives. The student unions considered the education reforms corrupt and claimed that they would overly commercialize education in Ukraine. In response, C14 intended to provoke the student unions through actions such as bringing anti-Semitic caricatures of the then-Minister of Education, Dmytro Tabachnyk, to street demonstrations.Olena Bilozerska, “Марш за безкоштовну освіту (фото)” [March for free education (photo)], Live Journal, October 13, 2010, http://bilozerska.livejournal.com/316765.html. When this failed to rouse the student unions, C14’s members instigated physical conflict through street violence. In the following years, several participants in the campaign suffered a number of attacks,Vzajets, “Пряма Дія: „Зупинити терор проти профспілкових активістів!”” [Direct Action: “Stop terror against union activists!”], Avtonomia Spilka Trudiashyx, October 3, 2012, http://avtonomia.net/2012/10/03/pryama-diya-zupiniti-teror-proti-prof.Ast_owner, “Неонацисти зі “Свободи” напали на профспілкового активіста” [Neo-Nazis from “Svoboda” attacked a union activist], Avtonomia Spilka Trudiashyx, September 12, 2013, http://avtonomia.net/2013/09/12/neonatsisti-zi-svobodi-napali-na-profspilkovogo-aktivista.“В Киеве напали на журналиста” [Journalist attacked in Kyiv], Lb.ua, June 11, 2013, https://lb.ua/news/2013/06/11/205421_kieve_napali_zhurnalista.html.Vzajets, “Киев. Покушение на здоровье и жизнь либертарного активиста” [Kyiv. Attempt on life and health of libertarian activist], Avtonomia Spilka Trudiashyx, April 15, 2013, http://avtonomia.net/2013/04/15/pokushenie-na-zdorov-e-i-zhizn-libertarnogo-aktivista. and a brawl broke out between members of Svoboda and members of the anti-fascist group Fokus.“Перед виступом Фаріон у Могилянці побилися "свободівці" і "антифашисти”" [Svoboda and anti-fascists clash before Farion's speech at Mohyla], Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, June 19, 2013, https://dt.ua/POLITICS/pered-vistupom-farion-u-mogilyanci-pobilisya-svobodivci-i-antifashisti-123873_.html.
On December 8, 2012 members of Svoboda/C14 attacked an LGBT+ rights rally in Kyiv. The rally was also supported by leftist groups.“У ЦЕНТРІ КИЄВА ПРИХИЛЬНИКИ "СВОБОДИ" ПОБИЛИСЯ З ГЕЯМИ" [“Svoboda” supporters clash with gays in downtown Kyiv], TSN, December 8, 2012, https://tsn.ua/foto/u-centri-kiyeva-prihilniki-svobodi-pobilisya-z-geyami.html. C14/Svoboda members also took credit for attacks on the Visual Culture Research Center in Kyiv,Nazarii Sovsun, “Напад на Центр візуальної культури" [Attack on Centre for Visual Culture], Prostory (archive), November 21, 2010, http://archive.prostory.net.ua/ru/news/329-2010-11-22-21-22-32. as well as its chairman, Vasyl Cherepanyn.Lorena Muñoz-Alonso, “Curator and Activist Viciously Attacked in Kyiv, Artnet News, October 6, 2014, https://news.artnet.com/art-world/curator-and-activist-viciously-attacked-in-kiev-123888.
In 2012, members of C14 took photos with members of the Russian far-right initiative Resistance (Soprotivlenie) in Kyiv.Lelik Krakowsky, 2016, “Раз уж такая пляска…" [Since such a dance has already begun…], Facebook, February 21, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=966895983393981&set=a.162255277191393.42333.100002207656099&type=3&theater.They also sought to spread neo-Nazi views among football fans. Pavlo Klymenko, “Хто насправді винен у можливому покаранні збірної - правозахисники чи расисти” [Who is really to blame for the possible punishment of the national team? – human rights defenders or racists?], Korrespondent, September 27, 2013, http://blogs.korrespondent.net/blog/users/3213941-khto-naspravdi-vynen-u-mozhlyvomu-pokaranni-zbirnoi-pravozakhysnyky-chy-rasysty. In 2013, they organized a Youth Football Cup in Kyiv, under the tagline “for white children only” (it was later changed to “against modern football”).
In 2013, Yevhen Karas spoke at a neo-Nazi march in Lviv.Oleh Onysko, “До маршу неонацистів у центрі Львова причетні люди зі «Свободи»” [People from “Svoboda” attended the Neo-Nazi march in Lviv], Zaxid.net, November 24, 2013, https://zaxid.net/do_marshu_neonatsistiv_u_tsentri__lvova_prichetni_lyudi_zi_svobodi_n1297854. That same year, he showed up to a Kyiv City Council meeting with a knife to “protest” the adoption of the city budget.Oksana Khudoiar, "’Свободівець’ прийшов до Київради з ножем" [“Svoboda member” came to Kyiv council with a knife], Gazeta.ua, February 12, 2013, https://gazeta.ua/articles/ukraine-newspaper/_svobodivec-prijshov-do-kiyivradi-z-nozhem/481889.
On February 17, 2014, during the Maidan protests, members of C14 attacked left-wing activist Illia Vlasyuk, who was the assistant to a foreign journalist at the time, near the Kyiv City State Administration Building, a place where C14 members often gathered during demonstrations.“Свободівці напали на журналістів” [Svoboda member attacked journalist] Kriminal.tv, February 17, 2014, https://kriminal.tv/news/svobodivtsi-napali-na-gurnalistiv.htfml.
Two C14 members, Andrii Medvedko and Denys Polishchuk, were charged for the murder of Oles Buzyna, a writer and journalist with pro-Russian views. He was killed near the Kyiv Prosecutor's Office on April 16, 2015. The trial was still ongoing at Kyiv’s Shevchenkivksyi District Court at the end of 2019.
The Criminal Investigation Department of the National Police in the Luhansk Region has also charged C14 member Dmytro Ivashchenko with war crimes, for stealing property belonging to a militant from the self-proclaimed “people’s republics.”“Під ГПУ вимагали випустити із СІЗО бійця полку "Миротворець" Іващенка” [Demands for the release of “Myrotvorets” Ivashchenko from detention centre near the GPU], Censor.net, August 15, 2016, https://censor.net.ua/ua/video_news/401819/pid_gpu_vymagaly_vypustyty_iz_sizo_biyitsya_polku_myrotvorets_ivaschenka_yakogo_zvynuvachuyut_u_pograbuvanni.
On November 6, 2016, members of C14 (along with members of the right-wing radical groups Right Sector and the Azov Civil Corps), attempted an attack on the Citadel social center in Lviv – which belongs to the left-wing nationalist group Autonomous Resistance.“У Львові націоналісти напали на організаторів «Маршу Волі»” [Nationalists attacked organizers of the “Freedom March” in Lviv], Hromadske, November 6, 2016, https://hromadske.ua/posts/u-lvovi-vidbuvsia-napad-na-sotsialnyi-tsentr-avtonomnyi-opir.
On November 16, 2017, C14 members attacked former member Dmytro Riznychenko. Previously, he had publicly accused C14 of collaborating with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).“У Києві побили активіста Різниченка, він звинувачує С14” [Activist Riznychenko beaten in Kyiv], BBC News Ukraine, November 17, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/ukrainian/news-42015663. The incident occurred at the office of the New Fire Association, which Riznychenko led at the time. The far-right attackers broke furniture and stole technical equipment.
On the night of April 20, 2018 (Adolf Hitler’s birthday), C14 members carried out a pogrom at a Roma settlement in Kyiv. They announced the attack themselves.Hayla Coynash, “Ukrainian neo-Nazi C14 activist under house arrest over violent attack on Roma camp,” Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, July 20, 2018, http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1532047637. Residents of the settlement were chased out with stones and teargas, leaving behind their dwellings and belongings, which were then set on fire. C14 member Serhii Mazur received a notice of suspicion following the attack, but Kyiv’s Holosiivskyi District Court later cancelled it. The case is no longer being investigated. Just a few months later, C14 announced that they would be collaborating with employees of the Main Directorate of the National Police in Kyiv, to “cleanse” the Kyiv railway station of Roma people.Serhii Surepin, С14 повідомила про зачистку вокзалу Києва від ромів за участю поліції. ГУНП не коментує [C14 reported the cleansing of the Kyiv railway station of Roma with police involvement. GUNP did not comment], Zaborona, October 26, 2018, https://zaborona.com/s14-povidomyla-pro-zachystku-vokzalu-kyieva-vid-romiv-za-uchastiu-politsii-hunp-ne-komentuie.
Yevhen Karas later admitted to working with the SBU.Valeryia Kondratova, “С14. Кто они и почему им позволено бить людей” [C14. Who are they and why are they allowed to beat people?], Liga.net, November 15, 2017, http://news.liga.net/politics/interview/s14_kto_oni_i_pochemu_im_pozvoleno_bit_lyudey. This came to light following a high-profile incident in Kyiv: members of C14 other right-wing groups captured Rafael Lusvarghi, a former militant from the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic,” in the city on May 4, 2018, and handed him over to the SBU. No criminal proceedings were opened against the organization for the abduction.“СБУ не відкривала справи проти «С14» через затримання бразильця Лусваргі – речниця” [The SBU did not open a case against «C14» following the arrest of Brazilian Lusvarghi – spokesperson], Radio Svoboda, June 18, 2018, https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/news/29294556.html.
Following a decision from the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ tender commission, three Education Assembly projects, as well as a C14 children’s camp were allocated a total of nearly half a million hryvnias (over $17,900) in state funding in 2018.Serhii Surepin, “Націоналісти отримали від держави майже півмільйона гривень. Що відомо?” [Nationalists received nearly half a million hryvnias from the state. What is known?], Zaborona, June 13, 2018, https://zaborona.com/c14-funded. The Ministry later clarified that for the purpose of non-discrimination, the commission only reviews projects, not the organizations that submit them.“Роз`яснення щодо результатів Конкурсу проектів національно-патріотичного виховання, на які виділяється фінансова підтримка у 2018 році” [Clarification of the results of the Competition of national-patriotic education projects to be financiall supported in 2018], Ministry of Youth and Sport of Ukraine, June 18, 2018, http://dsmsu.gov.ua/index/ua/material/38094.
In July 2018, C14 filed a lawsuit against Hromadske TV, in order to protect the organization’s “honor, dignity and business reputation.” The lawsuit came in response to a Twitter post, in which Hromadske called C14 a neo-Nazi organization. Both the trial court“Суд задовольнив позов праворадикальної С14 проти Громадського” [Court upholds right-wing group C14's claim against Hromadske], Hromadske TV, August 6, 2019, https://hromadske.ua/posts/sud-zadovolniv-pozov-pravoradikalnoyi-s14-proti-gromadskogo. and the court of appealViktoriia Beha, “Справа hromadske проти С14: Апеляційний суд залишив у силі рішення суду на користь праворадикалів” [Hromadske vs. C14 case: Appeals court upholds court ruling in favour of right-wing radicals], Hromadske TV, November 7, 2019, https://hromadske.ua/posts/apelyacijnij-sud-ne-zadovolniv-skargu-hromadske-u-spravi-proti-s14. ruled in favour of C14.
Members of C14 have also participated in the movement “Who ordered the attack on Katia Handziuk?”, demanding a proper investigation into the activist’s murder. Ahead of one such demonstration in Kyiv, on February 9, 2019, clashes took place at the site of the rally between police and members of C14. Law enforcement detained members of the organization, who were taken to the Podil District Police Department, where they clashed with officers from special police units. According to the police, they seized zelenka (a dye also known as Brilliant Green), knives and a revolver from the detainees.Denys Volokha, “Хто замовив Катю Гандзюк: що відомо про суботні сутички” [Who ordered Katia Handziuk: what is known about Saturday’s clashes], Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, February 9, 2019, http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1549739811. Zelenka was used as an antiseptic during the Soviet Union, is notoriously difficult to wash off the skin, and can lead to chemical burns and blindness if exposed to the eyes.Yulia Krylova, “How the Soviet-Era Antiseptic ‘Zelyonka’ Became a Political Weapon in Russia and Ukraine,” International Policy Digest, May 6, 2017, https://intpolicydigest.org/2017/05/06/how-the-soviet-era-antiseptic-zelyonka-became-a-political-weapon-in-russia-and-ukraine
The number 14 included in the organization’s name is a well-known reference to the “14 words of David Lane”“14 Words,” ADL, https://www.adl.org/education/references/hate-symbols/14-words. and is often a marker of neo-Nazi affiliation. Former C14 members have also confirmed the organization’s ideological position.Dmytryi Volchek, “Любовь в бойцовском клубе” [Love in a fight club], Radio Svoboda, December 8, 2018, https://www.svoboda.org/a/29641249.html. Moreover, Yevhen Karas does not personally object to the interpretation that the organization’s name is a marker of neo-Nazism: “Many from the far-right or, conversely, left-wing radicals could interpret the number ‘14’ in the name ‘C14’ [according to] the definition used by football hooligans in their own mythology, of a fourteen-word formula about preserving their nation. However, everyone has the right to freely interpret anything at their own discretion.”Iryna Shtohrin, “«С14». Націоналісти-радикали чи неонацисти?” [«C14». Nationalist radical or neo-Nazis?] Radio Svoboda, March 19, 2018, https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/29109819.html.
The organization also uses other neo-Nazi symbols, such as Celtic crossesNatalia Barskaya, “Евген Карась: Харьковская тюрьма – это реальный сатанизм. Людей заставляют лопатами ловить снежинки” [Yevhen Karas: The Kharkiv prison is real Satanism. People are making shovels to catch snowflakes], Antikor, March 17, 2018, https://antikor.com.ua/articles/226939-evgen_karasj_harjkovskaja_tjurjma__eto_realjnyj_satanizm._ljudej_zastavljajut_lopatami_lovitj_snehin. and Roman salutes. Members of C14 describe themselves as a “network of nationalists” and “a street activist wing that is engaged in raids, pogroms, fights with ‘titushky’ [paid thugs] or social enterprises.”Tetiana Kurmanova, “«Може, в нашій країні так допустимо – без ляпаса по пиці хтось може не зрозуміти» - Карась” [“Maybe it's permissable in our country – someone may not understand without a slap in the face” – Karas], Hromadske Radio, October 26, 2017, https://hromadske.radio/podcasts/kyiv-donbas/mozhe-v-nashiy-krayini-tak-dopustymo-bez-lyapasa-po-pyci-htos-mozhe-ne-zrozumity-karas. In fact, the main strategy behind C14’s activities is intimidation in various forms, targeting a wide range of people and groups. This includes people with pro-Russian views, leftist activists, LGBT+ movements and members of rival right-wing movements. The group’s funding sources remain undisclosed, with the exception of those noted above. Yevhen Karas claims that C14 enjoys wide public support – both organizationally and materially. However, he has not specified which individuals or organizations are providing this support.