Two Ukrainian nationalists arrested over Victory Day clashes

Former soldiers of the OUN-UPA take part in a procession through the streets of Lviv, devoted to the Day of Ukrainian Heroes. (RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev)
Two Ukrainian nationalists - participants in riots in the city of Lvov during the Victory Day celebrations on May 9, have been sentenced to administrative arrest.

The court ruled that members of the nationalist Svoboda (Liberty) party, Nazariy Semchy and Oleg Novostavsky, disobeyed police and were sentenced from two to seven and ten days in jail respectively, reports Ukrainskaya Pravda, citing the party's press service.

The movement's lawyer Ruslan Valko noted that under Ukrainian Code of Administrative Offenses, arrest is used as a penalty only in exceptional cases. However, the court did not take that into consideration and decided that a fine or corrective work would not be enough. “We are going to appeal the court decision,” Valko added.

On May 9, when Ukraine as well as other former Soviet Republics celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII, a clash occurred in Lvov (Ukrainian Lviv) between nationalists and representatives of the Communist, “Rodina” (Fatherland), and “Russian Unity”parties. 17 people were injured. Following the incident, the police detained several Svoboda members, including local deputies.

The same day, several thousand activists from radical nationalist parties blocked the entrance to the Red Army soldiers’ cemetery, preventing war veterans from getting inside and paying tribute. The nationalists ripped off St. George’s ribbons – which are traditionally worn on Victory Day – from the chests of those who were heading to the graveyards.

The Liberty movement supporters burnt red banners, which are considered to be the symbol of the victory, and threw smoke flares at policemen. They also attacked Russian diplomats in Lvov who were going to lay a wreath at a military cemetery.

Moscow condemned the provocations and demanded punishment for their organizers. In an address approved by Russia’s lower house, the State Duma, MPS said that they were indignant over the actions of those who cannot accept history and get involved in “dirty provocations” while the entire humanity commemorates those who gave their lives in a fight for peace and freedom and “celebrate the victory over absolute and unquestionable evil.”