Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko have clashed face to face at this year’s Munich Security Conference.
They appeared in a discussion, during which Vitali Klitschko showed Leonid Kozhara images of injuries he said were inflicted by the police on protesters.
Leonid Kozhara suggested some of the opposition were right-wing extremists.
Ukraine has been in turmoil since November, when it scrapped an EU accord in favor of a Russian bailout.
“The Ukrainian people have shown and have proven that they are able to defend their decision on Europe despite repressive measures being taken,” Vitali Klitschko said, the Associated Press reports.
Vitali Klitschko added that the opposition felt stronger because of the support from western friends of Ukraine.
Earlier, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy had said the “future of Ukraine belongs with the EU” while US Secretary of State John Kerry had said the US backed Ukraine’s “fight for democracy”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had accused Western countries of double standards over violent protests.
After Vitali Klitschko showed Leonid Kozhara the images he said were of the effects of police brutality, Kozhara replied by accusing some of the protesters of belonging to far-right groups.
“Are you with the extremist groups who wear some logos and emblems that looks like Nazi style emblems on them?” he asked Vitali Klitschko.
“Are you with the extremists who are attacking the police with Molotov cocktails?” he added.
On the issue of whether Ukraine should orient itself more towards the EU or Russia, Leonid Kozhara also pointed out that “there are eight million ethnic Russians living in the country”.
“Do you think they are happy when European politicians say: <<You must make a strategic choice, you must take Ukraine away from Russia and put it somewhere else>>?”
The issue of Ukraine protester Dmytro Bulatov was also raised at the conference.
Dmytro Bulatov went missing for eight days and said he had been kidnapped and tortured by captors who spoke with Russian accents.
The activist is now in hospital in Kiev under guard from both police and anti-government demonstrators.
Leonid Kozhara told Al-Jazeera television: “Physically this man is in a good condition. The only thing he has is a scratch on one of his cheeks.”
He went on to say it seemed that Dmytro Bulatov’s claim to have been kidnapped and tortured was “not absolutely true”.
However, the foreign ministry later issued a statement saying his comments “do not reflect the real attitude of Minister Kozhara on this tragic situation”.
“The minister is profoundly sorry for what happened to Dmytro Bulatov and wishes him a speedy recovery.”
[youtube 9-YZH7pA_xk 650]