Centuria/National Vigilantes

Centuria (the National Vigilantes) is the paramilitary wing of the Azov Movement. The National Vigilantes were founded in 2017 ostensibly to help the police ensure public order. The video of the presentation by members of the National Vigilantes prompted public debate. Particularly disputed was the task to establish “Ukrainian order” on the streets voiced in the video. In practice, the organization became the main tool of the National Corps party for street confrontations with the police during mass gatherings and attacks on political opponents. In 2019, members of the National Vigilantes actively participated in disrupting former President Petro Poroshenko’s meetings with voters during the presidential campaign, thus playing into the hands of his opponent Volodymyr Zelensky.

In addition to attacks on political opponents, members of the National Vigilantes attacked members of national minorities (Roma) and participated in the disruption of LGBT+ and feminist events.

In 2020, the organization was rebranded. At a theatrical congress near Kyiv, the organization Centuria was founded, declaring even more radical, militaristic goals. Centuria was headed by Azov Battalion veteran and National Vigilantes commander Ihor Mykhailenko.

Centuria members regularly conduct military drills, weapons training sessions, and knife-fighting tournaments.

Centuria, as a structure of the National Corps, should not be confused with another organization that has the identical name Centuria. The latter is not a street paramilitary organization, but a right-wing association in the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU). This organization positions itself as an officer order, professes an ultra-right militarist ideology, but is primarily engaged in ideological work among the military, rather than street violence.