The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has stated that fighters from the Right Sector (nationalist party) were the first to use deadly weapons during the conflict in Mukacheve. According to MIA Communications Director Artem Shevchenko, these were the same fighters captured on video who were shooting at a civilian whose body they then loaded into their car, he said.
“Only then did a joint police unit come on the scene in response to a call. It included law enforcement officers who had experience fighting during ATO operations in the Donbas. In particular, these police officers participated in the defense of Debaltseve and the withdrawal from the city during the winter of 2015. The police, in full compliance with the law, were forced to engage in armed confrontation with the attackers, who were threatening the safety of citizens,” his statement reports.
Earlier, on Sunday, July 12, Oleksiy Byk, the spokesman for the 13th Volunteer Battalion of the Ukrainian Right Sector corps issued a contrary statement. At a press conference in Kyiv, he claimed that the Mukacheve police was the first to open fire.
In his view, the fact that two fighters from the Right Sector were killed and four were wounded and that that there were no fatalities among the police “only shows that the police were the first to open fire.” He also argued that if the Right Sector fighters had started shooting first, then there would have been more casualties among the police.
Tensions flared up in Zakarpattia on Saturday, July 11, when a shootout took place in Mukachevo between people who claimed to be Right Sector representatives and law enforcement. Local media reported that the conflict arose between the Right Sector and people from the entourage of MP Mykhailo Lanio, Party of Regions member in the Volia Narodu faction. The police got involved. The parties are presenting contradictory versions of what happened. There are casualties on both sides. The MIA is reporting six casualties among the law enforcement officers as well as five additional people. The Right Sector is reporting that four of its members have been wounded and two killed (from the reports it is not clear if the wounded Right Sector members have been included in the number of wounded reported by the MIA). Doctors report that 11 wounded persons have sought medical attention.
Today in the oblast a special operation is taking place to block, disarm, and “arrest the gang that carried out attacks on civilian targets in Mukacheve.” The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the MIA have promised an objective investigation of the matter to the members of the “organized criminal group that has committed serious crimes using weapons in the city of Mukacheve on July 11” and are demanding that the fighters lay down their arms and surrender. The Attorney General’s office has created a joint SBU and MIA investigative team that is investigating the criminal activities that violate the laws against creating criminal organizations and carrying out terrorist acts. According to the SBU, the standoff is continuing and the Right Sector fighters cornered near Mukacheve have not yet surrendered.