Europe

Ukraine far-right leader Sashko Bily 'shot himself'

Right Sector leader Oleksandr Muzychko, who died in a shoot-out with police in western Ukraine - 21 February 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Oleksandr Muzychko died in a shoot-out with police in western Ukraine

A Ukrainian far-right leader accidentally shot and killed himself during a shoot-out with police last month, an investigation has concluded.

The inquiry by the interior ministry said Oleksandr Muzychko, aka Sashko Bily, had shot himself in the heart as police tried to wrestle him to the ground during the chase.

He was a member of the Right Sector - a key player in Ukraine's mass protests.

The group had threatened revenge for the death, blaming the police.

However, group members have so far made no public comments on the inquiry's findings.

The Right Sector played a prominent role in the Kiev protests - and the clashes with police - that led to the removal of President Viktor Yanukovych from power.

The results of the inquiry into the 24 March shoot-out in the western Rivne region were published on the interior ministry's official website.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Hundreds of Right Sector activists blocked the parliament building in Kiev last month

The investigators determined that Mr Muzychko, 51, had shot twice as police were trying to arrest and handcuff him.

The first shot scratched his skin, they said, but the second proved fatal.

The policemen tried to treat him at the scene and called an ambulance.

'Contract killing'

Earlier, one of the police officers was shot and injured by Mr Muzychko during the chase.

The inquiry concluded that the police had acted lawfully.

Right Sector activists have been furious over the death of Mr Myzuchko.

"We will avenge ourselves on [Interior Minister] Arsen Avakov for the death of our brother. The shooting of Sashko Bily is a contract killing ordered by the minister," member Roman Koval was quoted as saying by the Ukrayinska Pravda website after the shoot-out.

The minister has denied the allegation.

On 28 March, Right Sector activists blocked the parliament building in the capital Kiev and smashed windows.

The Right Sector's continued presence on the streets has complicated the work of Ukraine's new leaders, who have struggled to demonstrate they are fully in control after Russia's disputed annexation of Crimea and violent pro-Russian protests in eastern parts of the country, the BBC's David Stern in Kiev reports.

What is more, Right Sector has bolstered the Kremlin's seemingly exaggerated claims that "fascists" have taken over Ukraine's government and are roaming the capital's streets, threatening minorities and Russian-speakers, our correspondent adds.

However, the Right Sector has been trying to turn itself into a mainstream party.

Its leader Dmytro Yarosh has already been registered as a presidential candidate in 25 May elections.

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