Ukraine’s security service, known by the acronym SBU, said in a statement on its website that it had detained Oleg Bakhtiyarov, a leader of the extremist Eurasian Youth Union of Russia, for allegedly planning to storm the country’s parliament and Cabinet of Ministers buildings in Kyiv by force.

The Eurasian Youth Union, a Russian political organization and youth wing of the radical Eurasia Party, has been banned from Ukraine for carrying out acts of vandalism reported to be anti-Ukrainian.

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Oleg Bakhtiyarov, a leader of the extremist Eurasian Youth Union of Russia, being detained in Kyiv by the SBU on March 31. (www.sbu.gov.ua)

The SBU said that Bakhtiyarov, working under the guise of a civil society activist in Kyiv, had recruited some 200 people to assist in storming the buildings and had stockpiled Molotov cocktails and various tools to carry out the provocation. He was also in possession of an undisclosed amount of cash.

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“O.Bahtiyarov promised participants of the assault a cash reward up to $500 each,” reads the SBU statement.

Bahtiyarov’s goal was to destabilize Ukraine and disrupt the presidential election campaigns. Elections are scheduled for May 25.

In addition, Bahtiyarov had made arrangements with various Russian television channels to produce video footage of the raids on the buildings, ostensibly to be used as propaganda, according to the SBU report.

Bahtiyarov is being interrogated by Ukrainian security services as the investigation continues, reads the SBU statement.

Separately, the SBU on March 31 also detained an intelligence officer from Transnistria, the region that broke away from Moldova with Russia’s help in 1992, according to a report on the agency’s website. Russian forces in recent weeks have reportedly held military exercises there.

S. Kuzhmuk, the alleged Transnistrian intelligence officer detained by the SBU on March 31. (www.sbu.gov.ua)

The officer, identified as S. Kuzhmuk, was reportedly smuggling arms into Ukraine to be distributed and used to stir up further unrest in the country ahead of the May elections. He was taken into custody while meeting with an “agent” who is a Ukrainian citizen, the SBU said.

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Following the Russian invasion of Crimea and pro-Russian demonstrations in eastern Ukraine that have at times turned violent, and as tens of thousands of Russian troops amass around the border of Ukraine, the authorities here are on edge and taking precautions.

Ukraine’s security forces and border guards since March 4 have denied more than 8,200 Russian into the country as of March 25. On March 27, National Security and Defense Council Secretary Andriy Parubiy said that between 500 and 700 Russians were being denied entry daily. 

Admiral Ihor Kabanenko, a former first deputy chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, said recently that he believes covert operations are being carried out by well-organized Russian groups here to “destabilize the situation in a technological way.” 

Russia’s fifth column, including extremist groups, is on Ukraine’s soil and working systematically and at various leverls to create a pretext for Russia to invade mainland Ukraine, he said during a recent press conference in Kyiv.

Yevhen Marchuk, a retired Ukrainian general and former defense minister, said last week that he didn’t rule out the possibility of proxies – as in Crimea – first attempting to take over key government buildings and infrastructure in Ukraine before a large-scale invasion.

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Kyiv Post editor Christopher J. Miller can be reached at [email protected], and on Twitter at @ChristopherJM.

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