The population of Southeastern Ukraine, expressing their discontent with the current government in Kiev are facing increasingly violent intimidation. A recent anti-Maidan motor rally in Zaporozhye was attacked by ‘self-defense’ nationalist thugs.
Fighters from the local Maidan self-defense nationalist squad blocked and attacked a column of cars bearing Russian, regional and Ukrainian flags that was heading from a neighboring town of Melitopol to join an anti-government rally in Zaporozhye last week.
The anti-Maidan activists gathered on Lenin Square to rally for Ukraine joining the Customs Union and to protect the Russian language in the region, an activist from Melitopol, Ekaterina Umonets told RT. To support their cause, some 15 cars and two mini-buses, left Meritopol to join the protest movement in Zaporozhye, a city of over 750,000 people.
“When the motor rally was about to enter Zaporozhye, it became clear that an ambush was being organized by the Maidan criminals,” eyewitnesses Artyom Tymchenko told RT.
Once the motorists reached the bus and railway station ultra-right forces attacked the cars to block their movement.
“Near the railway station the column was stopped by the Maidan bandits, who started beating people, taking their property, smashing cars,” Tymchenko says.
Maidan self-defense forces justified their actions by saying that they “suspected” the presence of weapons in the cars, and thus reacted to the “pro-Russian separatists and provocateurs,” local media reported. Local authorities however did not report any weapons in possession of the activists.
The motorists, with many women and elderly people among them, say they suffered “a sudden attack by members of the Right Sector.” The police in the meantime provided little to no help as the attackers continued to intimidate the activists.
“The police, who are supposed to sort out the situation, are not going about their job with any enthusiasm, and although the attackers didn't hide their faces, no one has been arrested so far. Which simply leads to the conclusion that they acted under the protection of the criminals currently in power.”
One of the members of the nationalist gang was injured when he fell off the hood of a moving car as he tried to halt a vehicle, instead falling and breaking a leg, according to some reports. Activists however said he stood up and walked away fine after the collision.
Anti-Maidan protests in Zaporozhye are being held under an "Our Town" slogan and is headed by Vladimir Balagura. Following the attack on the car convoy, "Our Town" organized a fundraiser to repair the damaged vehicles.
On Tuesday representatives from "Our Town" movement appealed to the leaders of the Right sector and local Maidan self-defense squads to disarm their men
“It is very scary to witness when people are running at you with weapons, shovels, and batons, with chains, metal rods,” an Our Town representative said after a meeting with the local governor Valery Baranov, as she urged authorities to “get rid of these men from our streets and disarm them.”
In another worrying incident this week, a group of Ukrainian vigilantes have been hunting out people they accused of being "pro-Russian thugs" in Dnepropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine.
In the meantime Right Sector, the most prominent nationalist movement in Ukraine has become a political party, with their leader Dmitry Yarosh, who is wanted on terrorist charges in Russia, running as a presidential candidate in Ukraine elections on May 25.
The Right Sector manifesto, announced in early January 2014 said, that “all those who at this point would try to tame the revolutionary energy of the masses should be proclaimed traitors and punished in the most severe way,” GlobalSecurity.org quotes. “Death to the regime of internal occupation! Freedom or death! Glory to Ukraine!” says the group in their appeal to the nation.