200 nationalist militants take over shopping mall in central Kiev – and cops make ONE arrest (VIDEO)
MIlitant protesters linked to Ukraine’s ultranationalist Svoboda party have taken over a shopping center in Kiev, vandalizing the mall and demanding Russian businesses leave the country, while the police stood by and watched.
The mall takeover came two days after the protesters reportedly chucked smoke grenades and flares into the building, triggering the fire alarm and prompting an evacuation, as Hromadske radio reported. The masked group then barricaded the building’s entrance with tires, and vandalized its windows with spray paint on Tuesday.
After two days of vandalism and provocation, around 200 of the group stormed the mall, demanding stores close down and blocking shoppers from making purchases. Around 30 riot police were on site, but seemed content to let the mob have the run of the mall.
The occupiers wore black masks and carried the flag of militant youth organization ‘Sokil’ (Falcon), an offshoot of the far-right ‘Svoboda’ (Freedom) party. Svoboda virulently opposes Russian influence and the “decadence” of the liberal West, and is linked to neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine. Initially known as the National-Social party of Ukraine, Svoboda’s politicians have described the party as “the last hope of the white race,” approvingly quoted from ‘Mein Kampf’ in council meetings, and organized militant summer camps for children, training the young ones to play games, climb mountains, and shoot at Russians.
In the mall, police were successful in escorting a number of the ultranationalists out of the building, but many remained inside, Korrespondent.net reported. There, they blamed Russian business owners for their country’s spat with Russia.
“We demand to end the funding of terrorism and the killing of Ukrainian soldiers by money that's being pulled out of Ukraine through this shopping center,” they chanted. “Out with the Russian business in Ukraine!”
Police did arrest one protester, who they say was resisting their commands. As of Wednesday afternoon, nobody else was detained.
The mall occupation is just one of several anti-Russian protests organized by Ukrainian neo-Nazis in recent days. Crowds – some of them belonging to the neo-Nazi ‘National Corps’ – surrounded the Russian consulate in Kharkov on Monday. The protesters chanted “Death to Russia” as they pelted the building with eggs and burned Russian flags in the street outside.
The rise in anti-Russian sentiment came after a clash between Ukrainian and Russian military ships in the Kerch Strait, near Crimea, on Sunday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko imposed partial martial law in Ukraine after the incident, which Russian President Vladimir Putin called a provocation and a “dirty game” by Poroshenko to crack down on political opponents ahead of a presidential election in March.
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