Death of Ukrainian Leader Could Pose Problems for New Government

Death of Ukrainian Leader Could Pose Problems for New Government

The death of far-right Ukrainian leader Oleksander Muzychko threatens to raise tensions in the already-shaky new government in Kiev, Ukraine. 

Police had attempted to arrest Muzychko at a café, but he opened fire on them. As The Guardian reports:

According to Ukraine’s authorities, Muzychko was the leader of a criminal gang. The first deputy interior minister Volodymyr Yevdokimov said officers of the “Sokol” special unit had killed him as he tried to escape. “At the moment of arrest, at shouts of ‘Stop! Police,’ Muzychko fled, jumping through a window, and opened fire,” Yevdokimov said. “He was still alive as they were arresting him – but then the paramedics who arrived at the scene found that he had died,” he said. Three other gang members were detained, he added.

Muzychko was a leader in the Pravy Sektor Party. The group was one of the three opposition groups that helped oust Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. The party is not currently involved in the government, but leader Dmytro Yarosh announced he would be a candidate in the May 25th presidential elections. Yarosh demanded that Interior Minister Arsen Avakov resign, but Avakov refused: “Unrepentant, he said his ministry would take tough measures against any ‘armed bandits’ – whatever their political orientation – if they threatened public order.”  

The new leaders in the government tried to convince the militia to throw down their arms, but most have refused to leave Independence Square until actual reform occurs in Ukraine. The interim government faced criticism when Russia annexed Crimea and the activists thought officials were not tough enough against Russia. Moscow absorbed the peninsula in only three weeks. After Russian forces captured military bases, killing at least one Ukrainian soldier, activists lashed out at authorities for not protecting and pulling out the forces fast enough. 

Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh resigned due to the chaos:

According to Tenyukh, about 6,500 Ukrainian soldiers and their family members are leaving Crimea – about a third of the 18,000-strong Ukrainian military force based there. The other two-thirds plus dependents had opted to stay on the peninsula, which the Russian Federation annexed last week. “4,300 servicemen and 2,200 family members who wish to continue serving in Ukraine’s armed forces will be evacuated,” Tenyukh said.