Mr Hrytsenko had noted in a blog that there seemed to be fewer protesters camped out on Kiev’s Independence Square, commonly known as Maidan, than there had been in previous weeks.
Commentators were quick to note that for a party ostensibly committed to European values of democracy, plurality and transparency, the action against Mr Hrytsenko was oddly reminiscent of Soviet practices.
It prompted the MP to quit his party, in one of the first public squabbles within the opposition since protests began on November 21st.
The pro-European, anti-government movement has been losing intensity (at least in terms of the numbers showing up to protest) since Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine, signed a series of economic agreements with Russia in mid-December.
Yet Batkivshchyna and other opposition parties and activists are reluctant to admit this.
Most blame the thinner crowds on the Christmas holidays, which, after this past Sunday’s demonstration proved not to be the great comeback some had hoped for, have been mentally extended to next Sunday, January 19th, Orthodox Epiphany.
Perhaps then there will be hundreds of thousands on the street again.
Yet as Mr Hrytsenko himself wrote, the Maidan lives on: there may be fewer people at the permanent protest than there were before, but there are still plenty.
The turnout for last Sunday’s “viche” or “agora”, as the main weekly gatherings are known, was a respectable 50,000, according to Reuters, a news agency, despite strong rain.
There was also another well-attended trip by Automaidan, a group who stage mobile protests in convoys of cars, to picket the luxury residences of Mr Yanukovych and some of his supporters.
Many of the regime’s opponents argue that these and other more pro-active forms of protest are more important, now, than simply standing on Independence Square.
Not for the first time, the authorities had handed their opponents a new impetus to protest on the weekend.
Yuriy Lutsenko, a former interior minister who is now a prominent opposition politician, ended up intensive care after riot police beat him around the head in the night of January 10th.
He was among a dozen people injured in clashes between police and demonstrators after a court sentenced three nationalists to six years in prison for plotting to blow up a statue of Lenin in 2011.
Protesters, many of whom were not nationalist sympathisers, said this was another example of the Ukrainian justice system handing out harsh, politically motivated verdicts without due process.
Mr Lutsenko himself has fallen foul of Ukrainian courts during Mr Yanukovych’s tenure: he was jailed in 2012 for embezzlement, then pardoned last year. Mr Lutsenko’s own behaviour prior to the beating was far from exemplary.
In a video, he treats the police officers to a flurry of homophobic insults.
This does not appear to have shocked many Ukrainians.
The violence meted out to him, however, did.
The country is still reeling from the police brutality seen in the early hours of November 30th, and the authorities’ failure to punish anyone for it.
Mustafa Nayem, a journalist and blogger who was the first to call for a demonstration after Ukraine’s government backed away from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union, expects tensions to remain high for months to come.
Mr Yanukovych, he says, knows that opinion polls show he cannot win the presidential election scheduled for 2015.
“I think we can’t even imagine how tough Yanukovych will get on the opposition”, he says.
Like many opponents of Mr Yanukovych today, Mr Nayem is pessimistic about the chances for early elections.
Arseniy Yatseniuk, who leads Batkivshchyna while its official leader Yulia Tymoshenko (a former prime minister) is in prison, also talks more and more in terms of a strategy for 2015.
Mr Yanukovych and his party see little need to make any concessions, and influential oligarchs continue to support the regime.
Some reports said that they were deserting him, but it seems that they were hedging their bets rather than wholeheartedly support the protesters.
The official demand of the Maidan, however, remains the resignation of government and president.
Protesters say they will not stop until they win.
Frustration at the lack of progress is bound to mount, especially as cracks start to show amid an opposition leadership that many already find morbidly uninspiring.
Source: The Economist