Leader of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists killed by security forces
March 26, 2014 Leave a comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A senior official of Ukraine’s largest far-right group, which played a central role in anti-government protests earlier this year, has been shot dead by security forces, according to reports. The official, Oleksandr Muzychko, was the chief coordinator in western Ukraine of the Right Sector, known locally as Pravyi Sektor. The organization, which was founded in November of 2013, operates as an alliance of far-right Ukrainian nationalist groupings, whose ideological leanings range from ultra-conservative to openly neo-Nazi. The group’s active membership is estimated at below 10,000. However, its well-organized paramilitary wing was instrumental in helping demonstrators fight against government forces in the streets of Ukraine during the Euromaidan civil unrest that toppled the government earlier this year. Despite his vocal stance in favor of the anti-government demonstrators, Muzychko, who had in the past expressed strong anti-Russian and anti-Semitic views, was viewed as an embarrassment by Ukraine’s pro-Western authorities. The latter routinely referred to him as “a criminal” and “extortionist” —referring to his sting in prison following his conviction for extortion in 1999. Earlier this month, Russian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Muzychko, whom they accuse of having been part of a group of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists that fought alongside Muslim Chechen rebels against Russian forces in the Russian Caucasus. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Interior, Muzychko, known locally as ‘Sashko Bily’, died during a shoot-out with Ukrainian security forces in a restaurant in the northwestern Ukrainian city of Rivne, which is considered a stronghold of the Right Sector. In a press conference on Tuesday, Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister, Vladimir Yevdokimov, said security forces had gone to the restaurant to arrest Muzychko and “three other gang members”. According to Yevdokimov, the high-profile Right Sector official was gunned down after he opened fire at the security forces, injuring one, and then tried to escape. But Ukrainian parliamentarian Oles Doniy told journalists that Muzychko had been killed under custody, after he was kidnapped by unknown assailants. Doniy said Muzychko’s body was later found “dumped with his hands tied behind his back and two bullet wounds in his heart”. Authorities in Kiev said the three “gang members” arrested at the site of the shootout had been taken in for questioning. Meanwhile, members of the Right Sector have threatened revenge for Muzychko’s killing.