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Ukraine's latest challenge: oligarchs with private armies - by Fred Weir,

As Ukraine struggles with near-financial meltdown and a shaky peace deal with pro-Russian rebels in the east, the last thing it needs is a showdown with a powerful oligarch with a private army. But that may be just what is brewing.

Igor Kolomoisky, governor of the restive Dnipropetrovsk region of east Ukraine and a rough-and-tumble tycoon, was handed political power and the right to establish an army in the wake of last year's Maidan revolution. Last week, he triggered what some are calling a serious political crisis by using that force to seize the state oil company's headquarters in Kiev.

At stake, experts say, is a harsh redivision of property and influence under way as Ukraine tries to meet International Monetary Fund demands for deep reforms to its oligarch-dominated economy.

The standoff at the oil company escalated Tuesday as Mr. Kolomoisky's supporters in Dnipropetrovsk announced that they will stage a huge rally Wednesday in support of greater regional "decentralization" and more cash from Kiev.

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