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Ukraine asks French TV channel not to show documentary on far-right militias

A self-defence group on Kiev's Maidan Square in June 2014 Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

A French documentary on the influence of far-right militias in the Ukraine conflict has caused a storm with the Ukrainian embassy in France asking TV channel Canal+ not to broadcast it. The programme The Masks of the Revolution gave a "false and distorted pciture of the situation in Ukraine", the diplomats claimed.

Documentary maker Paul Moreira came under fire even before his "special investigation" was broadcast on Monday 1 February.

The Ukrainian embassy called on Canal+, a well-known pay-to-view TV channel, not to broadcast it and published a list of films on the Maidan revolution that toppled president Viktor Yanukovich that it hoped would be shown.

The Masks of the Revolution claims that the deaths of 45 Russian-speaking people in a fire in a building in Odessa has been ignored by Western media and never properly investigated by the Ukrainian authorities.

It also alleges that far-right groups, some with Nazi sympathies, were involved in the Maidan movement and went on to fight alongside the Ukrainian army to put down a Russian-backed attempt to break away in the eastern provinces and accuses the US of backing the groups.

Canal+'s promotion of the film inspired criticism by bloggers and Le Monde journalist Benoît Vitkine.

They claimed that the Odessa fire was not the work of Ukrainian nationalists who besieged the building but started inside.

And they accused Moreira of ignoring far-right sympathies of some in the Russian-speaking camp and exaggerating the influence of the far right on the Ukrainian side, pointing out that they have little electoral support.

Moreira defended himself by saying that, far from being a pro-Russian propagandist, he was warning that paramilitary groups are "the greatest threat to Ukrainian democracy".