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11 Apr, 2014 04:18

Clashes, disappearance mar presidential hopeful’s campaign in Ukraine

Seven people were injured in clashes near an Odessa hotel where a Ukrainian presidential candidate was staying, as the building was assaulted by members of the radical Right Sector group.

Oleg Tsarev, a businessman from Dnepropetrovsk and former MP from the Party of Regions, was caught in Odessa clashes between supporters and opponents of the coup-appointed Kiev government on Thursday. At least seven people have been injured in clashes next to the Hotel Promenade.

Shots were reportedly heard after members of the Right Sector nationalist movement and pro-Kiev activists tried to block the entrance to the building.

Soon after the mob blocked the hotel, supporters of the candidate moved in to intervene with the help of several hundred activists participating in a peaceful rally dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Odessa from Nazi Germany.

Security officers from the Alpha Special Forces group had to intervene and escort the presidential hopeful out of the hotel, as police were reluctant to stop the violence.

Tsarev’s misadventures in Odessa didn’t stop with the clashes. On Friday morning his press service reported him going missing, possibly kidnapped by his political opponents. But hours later the presidential hopeful resurfaced, saying on his Facebook page that he had been with friends and that his cell phone had needed recharging.

This is not the first time Tsarev was attacked in recent days. Before arriving to Odessa, Tsarev was beaten and pelted with eggs in Nikolaev by members of the Right Sector, RIA Novosti reports. Earlier on Thursday, presidential candidate Sergey Tigipko was also pelted with eggs.

In order to crush the anti-Kiev rebellion in southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, the governors newly appointed by the coup-imposed government rely on their own armed militias, Tsarev said in his latest interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

“It is being carried out by the fighters, hired by local authorities,” Tsarev says. “In all areas of the south and the east these questions are supervised by first deputies newly appointed by the governors. Everyone has around 200 fighters on their allowance.”

Yet Tsarev says that not all of the fighters are from the radical Right Sector nationalist movement. He maintains that while many members of the neo-Nazi group might command the militias, many units consist of “local small criminals” that were assembled on the orders and financial support of the “oligarchs.”

He says that this type of intimidation falls in line with Kiev's government, which relies on “language of threats and individual terror,” something witnessed before in a number of post-coup countries.

“Present day authorities in Kiev with their Right Sector and the National Guard, consisting of former militants, have not invented anything new," Tsarev says.

Kiev's policy in relation to the south-east of the country, according to Tsarev, aims to “discourage not only historical memory, but also very fresh memories of 'Eurorevolution’.” He says that the self-imposed government “ignored adopted laws which they passed themselves, for example, an amnesty for all participants in the riots,” when they refer to protests in the south-east as “separatist”, calling the participants “bandits.”