Soldiers and police have been locked in a standoff with a nationalist militia in western Ukraine after a gun and grenade battle that left at least two people dead.
Tensions have risen between the government and the right-wing militia that has helped it fight pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.
A Right Sector spokesman, Taras Kuzyak, told Ukrainian media on Sunday that seven infantry fighting vehicles had blocked the entrance to the Right Sector base near the town of Skole in the Lviv region, adding that law enforcement was also cutting off access to other Right Sector bases in western Ukraine.
The move came after a shootout erupted on Saturday, when around 20 right-wing gunmen arrived at a sports complex controlled by MP Mikhail Lano. They had been trying to stop the smuggling of cigarettes and other contraband, a spokesperson for the group said.
Near the town of Mukacheve, the site of a fierce gunfight involving Right Sector fighters, private security guards and police on Saturday, Right Sector members were camped in the forest and had no intention of giving evidence. their weapons, spokesman Artem Skoropadsky said. It has previously been reported that police surrounded gunmen in a wooded area and were trying to negotiate their surrender.
Lano said a right sector commander met with him to ask for his help in arranging sanatorium stays for men who had fought in eastern Ukraine, during which time an unknown man was shot. outside. According to local medical personnel, nine people were injured, including three bystanders, in addition to the dead.
A video released on Sunday by journalist-turned-MP Mustafa Nayyem shows right-sector fighters firing Kalashnikov rifles and a heavy machine gun mounted on a pickup truck, apparently towards police who arrived at the scene. Another sequence shows a police car on fire.
Around 200 people gathered in support of Right Sector outside the presidential administration in Kyiv, many wearing military uniforms.
Kyiv has allowed nationalist groups, including Right Sector, to operate despite claims by groups such as Amnesty International that Right Sector tortured civilian prisoners.
Despite a formal ceasefire that began in February, the conflict in eastern Ukraine continues to simmer. Two Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and five injured in the past 24 hours, a spokesman for Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation” said on Sunday.