World

Top member of Ukraine nationalist group prominent for protest role killed in police operation

  • Ukrainian sailors leave the Konstantin Olshansky navy ship in the bay of Donuzlav, Crimea, Monday, March 24, 2014. Ukraine's fledgling government ordered troops to retreat from Crimea on Monday, ending days of wavering as Western leaders tried to present a unified response to Russia's increasingly firm control of the peninsula. Tired of weeks of tensions and uncertainty and Kiev's indecision, some Ukrainian troops were leaving their bases. In the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea, the crew of the Ukrainian navy ship Konstantin Olshanskiy were packing up and leaving Monday. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    Ukrainian sailors leave the Konstantin Olshansky navy ship in the bay of Donuzlav, Crimea, Monday, March 24, 2014. Ukraine's fledgling government ordered troops to retreat from Crimea on Monday, ending days of wavering as Western leaders tried to present a unified response to Russia's increasingly firm control of the peninsula. Tired of weeks of tensions and uncertainty and Kiev's indecision, some Ukrainian troops were leaving their bases. In the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea, the crew of the Ukrainian navy ship Konstantin Olshanskiy were packing up and leaving Monday. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, March 24, 2014. Nuclear terrorism is officially the main topic for world leaders at a two-day summit in the Netherlands, in practice, the Ukraine crisis overshadows those talks. (AP Photo)

    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, March 24, 2014. Nuclear terrorism is officially the main topic for world leaders at a two-day summit in the Netherlands, in practice, the Ukraine crisis overshadows those talks. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo provided by Russian Defense Ministry shows, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, third from left, looks at Russian marines as they march with the Russian navy Sevastopol's flags at a military base in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, March 24, 2014. Shoigu's visit comes as Ukraine's fledgling government on Monday ordered Ukrainian troops to withdraw from Crimea, ending days of wavering as Russian troops consolidate control over the peninsula. (AP Photo/Press Service of Russian Defense Ministry, Vadim Savitsky)

    In this photo provided by Russian Defense Ministry shows, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, third from left, looks at Russian marines as they march with the Russian navy Sevastopol's flags at a military base in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, March 24, 2014. Shoigu's visit comes as Ukraine's fledgling government on Monday ordered Ukrainian troops to withdraw from Crimea, ending days of wavering as Russian troops consolidate control over the peninsula. (AP Photo/Press Service of Russian Defense Ministry, Vadim Savitsky)  (The Associated Press)

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.