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Leader of Neonazi Azov Battalion reportedly killed

NEONAZI forces from the notorious Azov Battalion were said to have suffered a heavy defeat in Ukraine on Thursday as fierce fighting continues.

The Donetsk People’s Republic militia claimed to have killed one of the fascist unit’s leaders, Artyom Murakhovsky, during a battle in the city of Avdiivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region.

The battalion was also said to have suffered its biggest losses since the Russian invasion began on February 24 in the besieged Black Sea port city of Mariupol.

The Azov Battalion has its headquarters in the city, which it has been defending from Russian troops. 

Prior to the war the neonazi regiment had been training locals in Mariupol as part of a citizen’s militia, exercises which received widespread coverage in mainstream Western media.

Most however failed to explain that the soldiers photographed showing “babushkas” how to use combat rifles were in fact fascists responsible for horrific crimes in the Donbass region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “special operation” aimed at the denazification and demilitarisation of Ukraine.

Western countries have poured scorn on Mr Putin’s claims, with governments and media organisations, including the BBC, downplaying the influence of fascist forces in Ukraine.

Discussion regarding the influence of the far right there is often dismissed as “pro-Putin propaganda.”

The Azov Battalion, which was integrated into the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 2014 following the Maidan coup, has links to far-right organisations abroad, including in Germany, which has seen a resurgence in neonazi activity, with fascists having infiltrated the country’s police and armed forces.

According to the latest UN figures 1,081 civilians have been confirmed killed since the Russian invasion began nearly four weeks ago, although it said the death toll is much higher.

A mass grave was found in Mariupol, with head of the UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine Matilda Bogner saying a team was carrying out assessments.

“One mass grave we’ve been able to get satellite information on, and we estimate that one of those graves holds about 200 people,” she said. 

The UN said it was also investigating alleged indiscriminate shelling in Donetsk by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the beating of those perceived to be pro-Russian by the police.

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