Clashes in Mukachevo, Right Sector fights for cigarettes

While the military wing of Right Sector (PS, Pravyi Sektor) is holding the line in Eastern Ukraine, they are involved in fighting with local militia (police) in the West – according to information available at this point of time, it’s about cigarettes.

The story begins on July 11 in Mukachevo (Zakarpattia), when a meeting between PS and the deputy of the region, Mikhail Lagno was appointed. The meeting should have taken place in a local restaurant, which is owned by Lagno. Later it was moved to the Antares sports complex (also owned by Lagno). 21 units of PS arrived in four jeeps. They asked the guard to call Lagno, and shot the guard in the head. The guard is in coma, lying on intensive station in hospital.

Then the local chief of militia (police), Vitaly Simanenk arrived. PS units asked Simanenk to surrender and lay down his weapons. Simanenk refused to do so. Shooting followed. The result is three killed members of PS, four wounded police officers and three destroyed police cars. Units of PS said that they would surrender by direct order of Dimitriy Yarosh only, the leader of PS.

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Picture: Mustafa Nayyem

This is the situation how Mustafa Nayyem describes it. He was in Mukachevo and relies on information of locals, SBU and MIA. “According to locals, this is a fight over cigarette contraband business.”

Dimitriy Yarosh’s commented the situation with the appeal to end further bloodshed. He blames ‘bandits and police who gave orders to open fire on PS units’.

The Odessa section of PS writes on Facebook that “bandit cops” killed their members and blame Avakov (MIA), asking if this is the new police reforms. (Varvara Cherniovanenko, speaker PS Odessa)

The Union of Ukrainian Patriots (UON), another autonomous operating military unit, solidarized with PS (“We join the patriots”). They appeal to Ukrainian Armed Forces not to take part in fighting against PS and asked to arrest Lugno. According to them, the local police is paid by Medvechuck (a small oligarch, connected with Putin via family ties – godfather).

So far, these are the informations according to various sources. As usual there is a high diversity in interpretations of events. Nayyem has been a trustworthy source in the past.

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Mukachevo is close to the Hungarian border. The price of a packet cigarettes in Ukraine is around UAH 20 in shops while it’s several times higher in countries of European Union.

Rivalries between government institutions and PS are glooming since months. The Ukrainian government asked PS several times to subordinate under MIA’s chain of command, PS refuses to do so. This has lead to tensions in the past. Compared to regular units of Ukrainian Armed Forces, PS is said to have the most skilled and best equipped units fighting against separatists on the frontline in Donbas region. Estimations about the amount of PS fighters range between 6’000 and 10’000.

According to information of this blog, there is no or little coordination between PS and Ukrainian Armed Forces. After talks to individuals who are closely affiliated with PS, I got the impression, the PS members have no intention to subordinate in official government structures – they rather expect other forces to subordinate under chain of command of PS. Minsk 2 is considered as a joke – at best.

PS is said to be financed by Kolomoyskiy, a controversial oligarch who challenged Poroshenko’s administration since the government challenged Kolomoyskiys business ‘privileges’. While Yarosh blames oligarchs for the various problems of the country, pictures show him and Kolomoyskiy side by side and both are connected via UKROP, a new political initiative in Ukraine – which is also said to be financed by Kolomoyskiy.

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Events in Mukachevo give an idea what sort of conflict Ukraine might face in the future.

(wf)