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Former Ukrainian Paramilitary Leader Put Under House Arrest Amid Violent Protests

Supporters of Serhiy Sternenko rally in Kyiv on June 15.

KYIV -- A court in Kyiv has placed under house arrest the controversial former leader of a far-right Ukrainian paramilitary group suspected of premeditated murder and possession of an illegal bladed weapon in the killing of a man he claims was self-defense.

After violent protests by his supporters outside, the Shevchenko district court ruled late on June 15 that Serhiy Sternenko, who once led the Right Sector group in the city of Odesa, will remain under house arrest for 60 days as investigations into the high-profile case continue.

Police said that five demonstrators were detained.

Lawmaker Roman Lozynskiy, who came to the site of the protests, said the police did not allow him to meet with detained individuals and assaulted him.

After photos and videos appeared online showing police beating the demonstrators, Kyiv police officials said on June 15 they had launched an internal investigation.

Police beat a protester in Kyiv on June 15.
Police beat a protester in Kyiv on June 15.

Sternenko was attacked by two men late in the evening on May 26, 2018, while walking with his girlfriend. He fought off the attackers, suffering numerous head injuries and a cut to his arm in the process. Sternenko injured one of the assailants who later died in hospital.

Sternenko and his supporters have insisted that it was self-defense. But investigators say that after Sternenko defended himself using his knife, the attackers fled the scene.

Sternenko, whose life and health were no longer in danger, then reportedly chased one of them and stabbed him several times, inflicting wounds that led to the man's death, investigators say.

The attack was the third against Sternenko in three months.