Ukraine coat of arms in UK anti-terror list furore

The guide issued in June 2019 displays symbols linked to extremist movements and views Image copyright Home Office
Image caption The guide, issued in June 2019, displays symbols linked to extremist movements and views

The Ukrainian embassy has demanded the country's coat of arms be removed from a UK police counter-extremism guide.

It has called for "official apologies".

On Friday, the Guardian revealed the guide, issued to medical staff and teachers as part of the Prevent scheme that aims to address radicalisation, named environmental groups Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion.

On Sunday, Ukrainian social-media users noticed the coat of arms next to a Nazi swastika on a page of "symbols commonly associated with white supremacy".

"We regret any offence caused," a Counter Terrorism Policing official told BBC News.

"Unfortunately, far-right groups have a history of misappropriating national symbols as part of their identity and this is the reason why some national flags and symbols appear in our document."

Counter Terrorism Policing says the coat of arms had been included because of its use by a group with links to National Action, a neo-Nazi group proscribed under anti-terror laws.

The coat of arms, a "tryzub" [trident] symbol, usually in the blue and yellow of Ukraine's flag, appears on Ukrainian passports and the president's flag.

However, a three-fingered salute mimicking the trident has also become the symbol of Ukraine's far-right nationalist Svoboda party.

And some of its members are considered by many to be anti-Semitic, xenophobic and homophobic.

The guide, issued in June 2019, was created for police officers and used by Prevent to identify and understand symbols and organisations they may encounter.

It urges them to report to police "any concerns identified via this document".

Many groups listed in the guide "are not of counterterrorism interest", according to the Metropolitan Police.

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Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion were also named in the guide

Many Ukrainians reacted angrily to the inclusion of their national symbol.

"The official Ukraine coat of arms is also featured in the UK extremism guide on the same page as Nazi tattoos et cetera. No comments," Mira Brayford posted on Facebook.

"It seems that the number of useful idiots skyrocketed in Britain after Brexit. First, they depict Crimea as Russian on a map, now the prince trident is a symbol of extremism for them," another Facebook user, Yevhen Kovalchuk, said.

"I wonder if I can show my passport at the border control in the UK now," user Natalia Tymoshyk joked.

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