Alexander Muzichko, the coordinator of Ukraine's ultrarightist Right Sector party, died in a shootout early Tuesday with police in Kiev, Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Yevdokimov said.

Muzichko, one of the most violent leaders of the ultranationalist sector that became the armed wing of the movement that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's regime in February, opened fire on officers as they moved in to arrest him.

"The shot fired by Muzichko went through the officer's glasses and lodged in his helmet. The wounded officer fired at the fugitive's legs. Later, during the arrest, there was a struggle and shots were heard," Yevdokimov said in a press conference.

Muzichko, who was the Right Sector's coordinator in the western Ukrainian city of Rivne, "died in the ambulance" from gunshot wounds, Yevdokimov said.

Police were going to arrest Muzichko on charges that he was the leader of a gang.

Three members of Muzichko's gang were arrested in the operation.

Muzichko became famous in Ukraine and Russia after videos appeared on the Internet showing him armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and threatening Rivne regional assembly members and beating the regional prosecutor.

The crisis in Ukraine erupted at the end of November, when Yanukovych backed away from plans to ink a pact with the European Union and instead signed a $15 billion financial-aid package with Russia.

Protesters took to the streets of Kiev and began occupying administrative buildings, prompting Ukraine's parliament, then controlled by Yanukovych's allies, to pass a package of laws on Jan. 16 restricting freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and other basic rights.

Violent clashes pitting demonstrators and riot police broke out three days later.

Russia deployed troops in the Crimean Peninsula, claiming it was protecting ethnic Russians and Russia's interests.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leader of the breakaway Ukrainian region of Crimea signed a pact last Tuesday making the Black Sea peninsula part of Russia again.

The accord came after more than 96 percent of Crimeans who cast ballots in last Sunday's referendum on rejoining Russia voted "yes."

Ethnic Russians make up around 60 percent of the roughly 2 million residents of the peninsula, which then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev decided to make part of Ukraine in 1954. EFE