Ukraine's Interior Ministry says a prominent member of a radical nationalist movement in Ukraine that played a key role in recent anti-government demonstrations was killed during a police operation to detain him.

Right Sector's Oleksandr Muzychko, better known by his nom de guerre Sashko Bily, had become a recurring figure in Russian attempts to portray Ukraine's interim government as dominated by radical nationalists. Moscow has cited the purported influence of groups like Right Sector to justify the absorption of Crimea.

Many in Ukraine downplay Right Sector's importance, however, and argue that it has negligible influence. Police say Muzychko was sought for organized crime links, hooliganism and for threatening public officials.

The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that Muzychko was shot dead after opening fire on police.