Twenty-seven Ukrainian policemen were injured in clashes on Kiev’s central Bankova Street, on Tuesday night, after a demonstration against the imprisonment of far-right Odessa activist Sergey Sternenko descended into violence.
According to media reports, more than a thousand people gathered near the Presidential Administration and were met with tear gas.
Sternenko is the former leader of the Odessa branch of the Right Sector, an association of radical anti-Russia Ukrainian nationalist organizations. Founded in 2013 as a conglomeration of groups at the Euromaidan revolt in 2013, the group has been described as neo-fascist and even neo-Nazi. In November 2014, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that the association is an extremist organization and banned its activities in Russia.
On Tuesday, Sternenko was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison for the kidnapping of a district council MP, Sergey Shcherbich, in 2015. At the time, Shcherbich was an MP on a regional council in southern Ukraine, and represented the Russia-friendly Rodina party.
According to the investigation, along with activist Ruslan Demchuk, Sternenko kept Shcherbich in a basement and demanded he resign. The far-right figure denies the accusations.
His supporters say the conviction is politically motivated, and the result of a long-standing feud with Odessa’s mayor, Gennady Trukhanov.
Sternenko also stands accused of premeditated murder after killing a man in a street fight in 2018. He is yet to be tried for the charge. His backers say he acted in self-defense.
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