March 25, 2014
A leader of the hard-right movement in Ukraine, charged by the Russians of committing war crimes, has been shot dead by security forces. The killing of Oleksandr Muzychko brought immediate claims of a cover up and demands for retribution by his followers, adding fuel to an already combustible situation. Sashko Bily, as he was better known, a prominent leader of the Right Sector group, died at Rivne, in the west of the country. The government in Kiev announced that he had opened fire first on ‘Special Forces’ who had tracked him down to a café. But an MP gave a very different account, claiming that Mr Muzychko been dragged into a car after being stopped on the road; his body found dumped later with his hands tied, ‘executed’ with two bullets to the heart. Mr Muzychko was pictured in the Maidan, the centre of protests in the Ukrainian capital, brandishing a Kalashnikov last month.
The Kremlin used the images as an example of how “fascists” had taken over the opposition to Viktor Yanukovych before his overthrow. A warrant had been issued for his arrest by authorities in Moscow for alleged torture of captive Russian soldiers during the Chechnya conflict in the 1990s. The presence of Right Sector members in the Maidan demonstrations, often engaged in acts of violence, had been heavily publicised and the supposed threat they posed to ethnic Russians in the east and south of the country was one of the key reasons used by President Vladimir Putin for military intervention in Crimea. Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector, has declared that he will be running in the Ukrainian presidential elections on 25 May. He remains, however, an outsider in the race and the acting government in Kiev had repeatedly denied that the group exerted any significant influence in the new political set up.