Egg-tossing radicals hijack press conference at Ukraine’s state news agency
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A group of far-right radicals has thwarted a press-conference at the Ukrinform news agency in Kiev, throwing eggs at eastern Ukrainian parliamentary candidates who complained about election fraud.
A dozen aggressive young men smashed the door to the press room as Andrey Aksenov, independent candidate from the town of Pokrovsk in eastern Ukraine, and his colleagues were talking to journalists. They accused Aksenov of having ties to Moscow. Ukrinform was broadcasting the whole ordeal live on its YouTube channel.
Aksenov was talking about alleged violations during the ballot count in the Ukrainian parliamentary election on July 21, in which he lost with a narrow margin – ironically, to a member of the Opposition Platform, a party deemed pro-Russian for advocating better relations with Moscow.
The radicals started throwing eggs – revealing a serious lack of dexterity – and shouting slogans labeling Aksenov a “separatist” who should be put behind bars. The police arrived at the scene some 20 minutes after the intrusion and it took them a while to calm the situation.
The attackers belong to Traditsiya i Poryadok (‘Tradition and order’), a relatively new radical group on the Ukrainian scene, which has been around since 2016 and has recently become more active. Headed by a former member of the controversial “volunteer battalions” fighting the rebels in eastern Ukraine, the organization claims to promote conservative values like patriotism and Christianity.
Tensions were high in Pokrovsk on election day as well, with a huge crowd gathering outside the local election commission to demand a fair ballot count. There were clashes, and police Special Forces were sent in by helicopter to restore order.
Pokrovsk is located in the western portion of the Donetsk Region that remained under Kiev’s control after the conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out. However, the frontline lies not far from the town that had some 64,000 residents according to the latest estimates.
The Ukrainian government deployed its military to Donetsk and Lugansk Regions in the summer of 2014, after a significant portion of the population there refused to acknowledge the results of the coup in the capital. The conflict, which has claimed an estimated 13,000 lives, has not yet been resolved.
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