The National Corps (Ukrainian: Національний корпус), also known as the National Corps Party, and previously called the Patriots of Ukraine, is a Ukrainian far-right political party, which was founded in 2016, and is currently being led by Andriy Biletsky. The core support base of the party are veterans of the Azov Battalion, which is under the command of Ukraine's National Guard, and members of the Azov Civil Corps, a civilian non-governmental organization affiliated with the Azov Battalion.
|Founded||14 October 2016|
|Headquarters||Zoya Gaidai Street, Kiev|
|Paramilitary wing||National militia|
|Slogan||Strength, Welfare, Order|
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During its campaign for the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election, the party formed a united nationwide party list with the Governmental Initiative of Yarosh, the Right Sector, and Svoboda. This coalition won a combined 2.15% of the nationwide electoral list vote, but ultimately failed to win any seat in the Verkhovna Rada.
292 delegates from across Ukraine attended the founding congress of the party in Kiev, which was held on October 14, 2016. The party was previously registered as the "Patriots of Ukraine" (Ukrainian: Патріот України). The congress unanimously elected Andriy Biletsky, a member of the Verkhovna Rada, as the party's leader, and elected Commander Nazariy Kravchenko of the Azov National Guard Headquarters as the deputy leader, and also appointed members of the party's ruling council. The congress also approved changes to the party's charter and political programme.
The congress subsequently concluded with a "Nation March", which it organized with the Right Sector, a like-minded far-right organization which has close ties with the National Corps. About 5,000 people took part in the torch-lit march from the Motherland Monument located in the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War to Saint Sophia's Square. Some of the marchers wore or carried the yellow and blue symbol of the Azov Battalion, which resembles the Wolfsangel, a symbol associated with Nazism. The Defender of Ukraine Day, a public holiday in Ukraine since 2015, was also held on October 14.
In November 2018, the National Corps refused to support Ruslan Koshulynskyi and his campaign for the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election, and instead decided to nominate its own leader, Andriy Biletsky, as the common candidate of the Ukrainian nationalist camp. However, in late January 2019, Biletsky ruled out his participation in the presidential elections, but stated that he would concentrate all efforts "to bring our numbers to 50,000 people", and he pledged to spearhead a successful campaign for the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election.
As part of its campaign for the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election, the National Corps formed a nationwide united party list with the political parties Svoboda, the Governmental Initiative of Yarosh, and the Right Sector. However, the resulting coalition only managed to win 2.15% of the popular vote, and since the coalition failed to pass the 5% threshold, it ultimately received no representation in the Verkhovna Rada. In addition, the National Corps also failed to win any single-mandate constituency seat.
Policies and ideologyEdit
The National Corps advocates for the expansion of the role of the head of state by granting the President absolute authority to become the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as the head of government, ultimately supporting a transition towards a fully presidential system.
The National Corps favour the restoration of Ukraine's nuclear power status, and also support the re-nationalization of enterprises and industries which were formerly owned by the Ukrainian SSR upon Ukraine's declaration of independence in 1991. The National Corps are staunchly opposed to Russia and its foreign policy, and they strongly support breaking off all diplomatic, economic and cultural ties with Russia. The party also opposes the entry of Ukraine into the European Union, and is vocally opposed to fostering closer ties with NATO. In addition, the National Corps favour the creation of a new Intermarium superstate, which would hypothetically comprise the entirety of Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The party also advocates the expansion of the right to bear arms and the initiation of a public referendum regarding the restoration of capital punishment for treason and the embezzlement of government funds.
In 2018, a spokesman for the National Corps' militia, Ihor Vdovin, claimed that the National Corps are not neo-Nazis and did not want to establish a white supremacist state, although he did admit that some members hold white supremacist or neo-Nazi views. While the party's leader Andriy Biletsky no longer made racist statements following his controversial speech in which he called on "the white races of the world into a final crusade against Semite-led Untermenschen [subhumans]", one member of the National Corps declared in an interview that: "There’s nothing inherently wrong with national socialism as a political idea. I don’t know why everyone always immediately associates it with concentration camps."
|Year||Popular vote||% of popular vote||Overall seats won||Seat change||Government|
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|Election year||Candidate||# of 1st round votes||% of 1st round vote||# of 2nd round votes||% of 2nd round vote|
|2019||Andriy Biletsky||Refused participation||—||—||—|
- "Ukraine's National Militia: 'We're not neo-Nazis, we just want to make our country better'", The Guardian, 13 March 2018
- "Article III: Azov Interview", The FashCast Anthology, 22 July 2018
- Talant, Bermet (15 October 2016). "Nationalist Azov Battalion starts political party". Kyiv Post.
- Biletsky has no intention to participate in presidential elections, but will instead lead the National Corps to parliament, Interfax-Ukraine (26 January 2019)
- "Volunteer battalion Azov members and former members create National Corps political party". Interfax-Ukraine. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2017. (Ukrainian language version)
- (in Ukrainian) Yarosh, Tyagnibok and Biletsky have all formed a single list for the elections, Glavcom (9 June 2019)
- CEC counts 100 percent of vote in Ukraine's parliamentary elections, Ukrinform (26 July 2019)
(in Russian) Results of the extraordinary elections of the People's Deputies of Ukraine 2019, Ukrayinska Pravda (21 July 2019)
- "Verkhovna Rada initiates declaration of the Day of the Defender of Ukraine, which is celebrated on October 14, a day-off". Ministry of Defence. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- No unity among Ukraine nationalists ahead of elections, UNIAN (20 November 2018)
- Білецький: "Азов" стане партією ["Azov" becomes party], Gazeta.ua (in Ukrainian), 28 May 2016
- "Ми намагаємося прийти до влади через вибори, хоча маємо всякі можливості" — як "Азов" стає партією [We are trying to come to power through elections, but we have all sorts of possibilities" - as "Azov" becomes party], Hromadske.TV (in Ukrainian), 13 October 2016
- програма політичної партії "національний корпус" [program of the political party "national corps"] - "5.1. Economic nationalism: 'The national economy must be subordinated to national interests. Ukrainian Centerism in the economy determines the full support of the Ukrainian producer, accelerated modernization of the national economy, state support of Ukrainian exports, and the implementation of the policy of economic protectionism.'"
- Official website (in Ukrainian)