KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s Parliament on Tuesday ordered law enforcement agencies to immediately disarm unofficial paramilitary groups, signaling growing resolve in the interim government to confront nationalists and other vigilantes who played a big role in the overthrow of Viktor F. Yanukovych, the country’s pro-Kremlin former president who was deposed more than a month ago.
The bill, introduced and passed unanimously, ordered both the Interior Ministry and the Security Service of Ukraine, the country’s successor to the K.G.B., to disarm the groups because of the “aggravation of the crime situation and systematic provocations on the part of foreigners in southeastern Ukraine and in Kiev.”
The attempt to further consolidate control domestically came as Russia delivered yet another blow to the fledgling Ukraine government, which the Kremlin regards as illegal.
Gazprom, the Russian state gas giant, announced a 40 percent increase in the price of natural gas sold to Ukraine, which is heavily dependent on Russia for its gas supply.
The passage of the anti-paramilitary bill comes as tensions in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, have grown between nationalist groups who continue to patrol the main squares of the city and Arsen Avakov, the country’s new interior minister.
A member of Right Sector, arguably the largest and best-organized ultranationalist group in Kiev, was accused of opening fire with a pistol on the city’s main square on Monday evening during a dispute with members of other self-defense groups.
After the incident, police officers armed with automatic rifles surrounded the group’s headquarters at a downtown hotel and began negotiations.
Just after dawn on Tuesday morning, members of the group, many in military fatigues and balaclavas, boarded buses and left for a “training ground” outside the city, according to local news and video reports.
“What should the minister do?” Mr. Avakov wrote in a post on his Facebook page, which has become a clearinghouse for information on police activity since he took office.
“Correctly, I gave the order to blockade the gang and detain those who were guilty.”
In Moscow, Alexei Miller, the head of Gazprom, said Tuesday that Russia would revoke a discount on gas prices granted as part of a financial lifeline granted to Mr. Yanukovych in December, raising the price to $385.50 per thousand cubic meters from $268.50 per thousand cubic meters.
Mr. Miller, in comments to reporters in Moscow, also said that Ukraine owed more than $1.7 billion to Gazprom alone.
Prime Minister Dmitry A. Medvedev of Russia said last month that Ukraine’s overall debt to Russia was $16 billion.
Source: The New York Times