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‘Against democratic principles’: EU’s Ashton denounces nationalists’ pressure on Ukraine parliament

Published time: March 29, 2014 04:11
Edited time: March 29, 2014 15:15

Members of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector stand outside the parliament in Kiev March 28, 2014. (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

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The lawless actions of Ukraine's nationalists have finally caught attention of the intl community, with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton denouncing Right Sector for its ‘pressure’ and ‘undemocratic’ demand of the interior minister’s resignation.

A day after neo-Nazi activists who helped bring the acting government in Kiev to power turned against it, Ashton has issued a statement condemning the “pressure by activists of the Right Sector who have surrounded the building of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.”

This “intimidation” the EU foreign policy chief believes, stands against all “democratic principles and rule of law,” as Ashton called on the ultra-right group “to refrain from the use or threat of violence.”

Ashton stressed the need to “hand over any unauthorised arms to the authorities immediately.”

At the same time she welcomed the “impartial and credible investigation into the circumstances of the death of Aleksandr Muzychko,” whose death in a police shootout led to the latest showdown outside the parliament in Kiev.

The US Embassy in Kiev and the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine also issued a statement 'condemning' the Right Sector tactics at the Verkhovna Rada.

“We welcome the statements of Pravy Sector’s leadership that they intend to keep their actions 'within the framework of the law." We urge all political forces to distance themselves from extremists, who undermine the efforts to stabilize Ukraine and to protect its sovereignty,” the joint statement read.

On Wednesday night, several hundred neo-Nazi activists from the Right Sector and their supporters besieged the parliament building, pressuring lawmakers to sack the newly appointed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. The Right Sector believes that Avakov is personally responsible for ordering what they call a political assassination of one of their leader, Aleksandr Muzychko, who was killed in a special operation in a city of Rovno on Tuesday.

Avakov said that he is ready to resign if ordered, but wondered what would happen to Ukraine if he does.

“Resigning is not a problem for me, it wasn't three days ago, it isn’t now. I can do it immediately. The problem is, what direction will the country take in this case. We will move toward acting like the victorious gangs in Somalia, or we move in the direction of order? I prefer order,” Inter-fax quotes him as saying.

Activists of the Right Sector movement and their supporters gather outside the parliament building to demand the immediate resignation of Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov, in Kiev March 27, 2014.(Reuters / Maks Levin)

Aleksandr Turchynov, the self-proclaimed President of Ukraine earlier on Friday has called the Right Sector's tactics “an attempt to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, in the very heart of Ukraine – Kiev.”

Yet the Right Sector's bullying techniques seem to work as the parliament on Friday registered a new bill aimed at deposing the Interior Minister. There is no date set for the reading of the bill, but local media outlets say it could happen as early as next Friday.

Earlier in the day, the Verkhovna Rada set up an interim investigation commission into the death of Muzychko nicknamed Sashko Bilyi. The Interior Ministry in the meantime announced plans to unveil the audio files related to the attempted arrest and subsequent killing of Muzychko.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs will disclose all documents, material, video and audio evidence,” Avakov said on his Facebook page.

The ongoing extremism rampant in Kiev as well as other regions was the topic of Friday’s phone conversation between the Russian an US leaders.

The reason for concern is simple. The Right Sector has secured a reputation of an organization that uses threatening violent tactics to achieve their objectives. In addition, it is widely believed that the ultra-nationalist paramilitary structure is in possession of a vast arms arsenal that has gone missing from military depots during the February unrest in Ukraine.

The growing strength of the Right Sector and their overwhelming bullying tactics are allegedly forcing informal discussions by Ukraine’s security officials to ban the movement, according to unconfirmed reports. Only a month after street protests – in which the Right Sector played a central role – forced President Viktor Yanukovich from the country, the movement is seen as an increasing threat to those who now cling to power in Kiev, as well as ordinary people across the country.

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