Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dr. Katchanovski's groundbreaking and definitive study on the Maidan snipers

Ivan Katchanovski, Ph.D., School of Political Studies, Ottawa University, wrote a detailed study on the snipers' shooting at Maidan under the title "The 'Snipers' Massacre on the Maidan in Ukraine." Katchanovski reviewed large amounts of l the available and accessible evidence, including evidence, which was later disappeared. " In particular, this study examines about 30 gigabytes of
intercepted radio exchanges of the Security Service of Ukraine Alfa unit, Berkut, the Internal Troops, Omega, and other government agencies during the entire Maidan protests. These files were posted by a pro-Maidan Ukrainian radio amateur on a radio scanners forum, but they never were reported by the media or acknowledged by the Ukrainian government. ...  Recordings of all live TV and Internet broadcasts of the massacre by Espresso TV, Hromadske TV, Spilno TV, Radio Liberty, and Ukrstream TV, were either removed from their websites immediately following the massacre or not made publicly available. These recordings were mostly made by Maidan supporters, but they got very scant attention or removed from public access."

Katchanovski's conclusion: "The massacre of the protesters and the police represented a violent overthrow of the government in Ukraine and a major human rights crime. This violent overthrow constituted an undemocratic change of government. It gave start to a large-scale violent conflict that turned into a civil war in Eastern Ukraine, to a Russian military intervention in support of separatists in Crimea and Donbas, and to a de-facto break-up of Ukraine. It also escalated an international conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. The evidence indicates that an alliance of elements of the Maidan opposition and the far right was involved in the mass killing of both protesters and the police, while the involvement of the special police units in killings of some of the protesters cannot be entirely ruled out based on publicly available evidence. The new government that came to power largely as a result of the massacre falsified its investigation, while the Ukrainian media helped to misrepresent the mass killing of the protesters and the police. The evidence indicates that the far right played a key role in the violent overthrow of the government in Ukraine."

The “Snipers’Massacre” on the Maidan in Ukraine
Ivan Katchanovski, Ph.D.
School of Political Studies &
Department of Communication
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, ON
K1N 6N5, Canada
Paper presented at the Chair of Ukrainian Studies Seminar at the University of Ottawa, Ottawa,
October 1, 2014.
The “Snipers’”Massacre Question
The massacre of several dozen Maidan protesters on February 20, 2014 was a turning
point in Ukrainian politics and a tipping point in the escalating conflict between the West and
Russia over Ukraine. The mass killing of the protesters and the mass shooting of the police that
preceded it led to the overthrow of the highly corrupt and pro-Russian but democratically elected
government of Viktor Yanukovych and gave a start to a large-scale violent conflict that
continues now in Donbas in Eastern Ukraine. A conclusion promoted by the post-Yanukovych
governments and the media in Ukraine that the massacre was perpetrated by government snipers
on a Yanukovych order has been nearly universally acceptedby the Western governments and
the media, at least publicly, without concluding an investigation and without all evidence
considered. For instance, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko in his speechto the US Congress
on September 18, 2014 again claimed that the Yanukovych government overthrow resulted from
mass peaceful protests against police violence, in particular, killings of more than 100 protesters
by snipers on February 20, 2014.
The question is which side organized the “snipers’massacre.”This paper is the first
academic study of this crucial case of the mass killing. Analysis of a large amount of evidence in
this study suggests that certain elements of the Maidan opposition, including its extremist far
right wing, were involved in this massacre in order to seize power and that the government
investigation was falsified for this reason.
Evidence used in this study includes publicly available but unreported, suppressed, or
misrepresented videos and photos of suspected shooters, live statements by the Maidan
announcers, radio intercepts of the Maidan “snipers,”and snipers and commanders from the
special Alfa unit of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), ballistic trajectories, eyewitness
reports by both Maidan protesters and government special unit commanders, public statements
by both former and current government officials, bullets and weapons used, types of wounds
among both protesters and the police, and the track record of politically motivated
misrepresentations by the Maidan politicians of other cases of violence during and after the
Euromaidan and historical conflicts. In particular, this study examines about 30 gigabytes of
intercepted radio exchangesof the Security Service of Ukraine Alfa unit, Berkut, the Internal
Troops, Omega, and other government agencies during the entire Maidan protests. These files
were posted by a pro-Maidan Ukrainian radio amateur on a radio scanners forum, but they never
were reported by the media or acknowledged by the Ukrainian government.
The timeline of the massacre with precision to minutes and locations of both the shooters
and the government snipers was established in this study with great certainty based on the
synchronization of the sound on the main Maidan stage, images, and other sources of evidence
that independently corroborate each other. The study uses content analysis of all publicly
available videos of the massacre, in particular, an unreported, time-stamped version of a
previously widely seen, long video of the massacre on Instytutska Street, videos of suspected
snipers and reports of snipers in live TV broadcasts and Internet video streams from the Maidan
(Independence Square), time-stamped and unedited radio intercepts of SBU Alfa snipers and
commanders, and radio intercepts of Internal Troops on the Maidan. The analysis also uses live
Internet broadcasts. Recordings of all live TV and Internet broadcasts of the massacre by
Espresso TV, Hromadske TV, Spilno TV, Radio Liberty, and Ukrstream TV, were either
removed from their websites immediately following the massacre or not made publicly available.
Theserecordings were mostly made by Maidan supporters, but they got very scant attention or
removedfrom public access.
Similarly, official results of ballistic, weapons, and medical examinations and other
evidence collected during the investigations concerning this massacre have not been made
public, while crucial evidence, including bullets and weapons disappearedunder the post-Yanukovych government. This investigation relies on such evidence reported by the mediaand
reliable information in the social media. Anon-site research on the site of the massacre on the
Maidan itself and on Instytutska Street was also conducted for this study by the author.
An Academic Investigation
A recently released time-stampedversionof an over 40-minute-long video, which was
filmed at a close distanceon Instytutska Street starting at 9:06am, covers, with some unexplained
omissions, the most intense parts of the killings. It confirms that the mass killing of Maidan
protesters on February 20 began on the adjacent Instytutska Street around that time. The Berkut
anti-riot police and Internal Troops units, which were besieging, storming, and blocking the
Maidan for almost three months, hastily abandoned their positions and fled by 9:00am, while
protesters then started to advance from their stronghold on the Maidan up Instytutska Street.
This and othervideos show members of the special elite unit of the Berkutanti-riot police
and “Omega” Internal Troops special unit, including two snipers, temporarily halting the
advance of protesters near Zhovtnevyi Palace starting at 9:05am, shooting with bothlive
ammunition from the Kalashnikov assault rifles (AKMS) and rubber bullets, and pointing sniper
riflesin the direction of the protesters and then retreating along with Berkut and Internal Troops
units, who were resting in Zhovtnevyi Palace. After retreatingto these barricadesunder fire,
respectively, at 9:20am and 9:28am, Berkut and Omega were doing the same from two
barricades on Instytutska Street and nearby buildings of the National Bank and the Club of the
Cabinet of Ministers. Directions of many bullet holes and their impact marksin the electric
poles, trees, and walls of Zhovtnevyi Palace and the Hotel Ukraina also indicate that the police
fired at the direction of the protesters and the protester-held buildings. SBU snipers were located
in the Cabinet of Ministers, the Presidential Administration, and neighboring buildings.
The new Ukrainian governmentand the head of the parliamentary commissionpublicly
stated that “snipers,” who massacred the unarmed protesters, were from these units. Specifically,
the Prosecutor General Office announced on September 12, 2014 that its investigation found a
Berkut commander and two members of his unit responsible for killing 39 Euromaidan
protesters, or the absolute majority of some 50 protesters killed or mortally wounded on
February 20, 2014. But this Berkut commanderwas then put under house arrest, and he
disappeared. In contrast, the government deliberately denies or ignoresevidence of shooters and
spotters in at least 12 buildings occupied by the Maidan side or located within the general
territory held by them during the massacre. This includes the Hotel Ukraina, Zhovtnevyi Palace,
buildings on both sides that were not previously identified as locations of snipers, and several
buildings on the Maidan (Independence Square), such as the Conservatory, the Trade Union
headquarters, and the Main Post Office. (See Map 1).
The Hotel Ukraina was controlled by the Maidan side since about 9:00am. During a
volley of fire by the government forces near Zhovtnevyi Palace at 9:10-9:11am, and within a few
minutes of calling for ambulances and medics, an announcer on the Maidan stage publicly
warnedthe protesters about two to three snipers on the pendulum (second from the top) floor of
the Hotel Ukraina on the opposite side of the street. The first wave of casualties among the
protesters included Bohdan Solchanyk, a history instructor at the Ukrainian Catholic University
Map 1. Map of the massacre on February 20, 2014
in Lviv. He was killedby a 7.62mm bullet in the area between the hotel and Zhovtnevyi at
9:12am or within a couple minutes earlier. Videos indicate that one of the two protesters shot
thereat 9:14am appears to had been wounded in his backside from a direction of the hotel.
A Radio Liberty videoshows at least one protester shot near the Maidan side of
Zhovtnevyi Palace at 9:10am and two other protesters on the ground near the middle section of
this building at 9:19am. The first location matches a reportedplace of killings of Vasyl Moisei
from the Volhynian company of the Maidan Self-Defense and an elderly protester, likely, Iosyp
Shilling. The government investigation, the media, and the Volhynian companycommanders
concluded that the Berkut shot dead these protesters during its counterattack. However, they
omitted bullet impact traces in trees, poles, and Zhovtnevyi Palace facade within meters of these
spots of the killings. Similarly, they omitted reports by the Maidan protesters witnesses
concerning shooters in the Hotel Ukraina within minutes of these killings. In addition to the
Maidan stage warning about “snipers” in the Hotel Ukraina at 9:11am, a videoshows protesters
taking cover under a pedestrian bridge on Instytutska Street between the hotel and Zhovtnevyi
Palace and pointing out at 9:23am live ammunition fire at them and other protesters from a top
floor of the hotel.
A BelSat videofrom the Hotel Ukraina depicts a bullet hitting a tree in front of a group of
protesters from the direction of the hotel at 9:38am. A BBC videoshows a sniper firing at the
BBC television crew and the Maidan protesters from an open window on the pendulum floor of
the hotel at 10:17am, and the BBC correspondent identifiesthe shooter as having a green helmet
worn by the Maidan protesters. Two protesters at 10:24am point out sniper fire from the
pendulum floor of the Hotel Ukraina in another videofilmed from amid a group of protesters
under the deadly fire on Instytutska Street. A first-hand accountby Ilya Varlamov, his photos, a
testimony by another eyewitness, and two nearby shots in the live broadcast, which was recorded
from this hotel starting at 8:49am, suggest that two other people were shot at 10:30-10:31am
from the Hotel Ukraina on the Maidan side.
Warnings from the Maidan stage about “three snipers” or “snipers” “shooting to kill” the
Maidan protesters from the same hotel, specifically on Instytutska Street, were made again as the
killings continued there, for example, at 10:36, 10:59, 11:07, and 11:09am in the live broadcast.
Eyewitnesses in another videoof the shooting around 4:00pm and the direction of the entry
wound indicate that a bystander was killed by a bullet from the Hotel Ukraina in front of
Zhovtnevyi Palace. In the late afternoon, a speaker on the Maidan stage threatened to burnthe
Hotel Ukraina, as they did the Trade Union building a day earlier, because of constant reports of
snipers in the hotel. But a previously unreported radio intercept of the Omega commander
(“Pegas”) and servicemen from his unit informedat 10:37am on February 21about gunshots
coming from the Hotel Ukraina.
Many eyewitnesses among the Maidan protesters reportedsnipers firing from the Hotel
Ukraina during the massacre of the protesters, specifically, about killing eightof them and at
least one memberof the Volhynian company of the Maidan Self-Defense on Instytutska Street.
Bullet holesin trees and electricity poles on the site of the massacre and on the walls of
Zhovtnevyi Palace indicate that shots came from the direction of the hotel.
When the Hotel Ukraina was controlled by the Maidan, “snipers”there were also
shooting at the police. A Berkut policeman was killedin front of Zhovtnevyi Palace by two shots
at 9:16am, minutes after the announcement about “snipers”in the hotel. There were bullet impact
traces in a trees and poles within meters of this spot from a Hotel Ukraina direction. A Berkut
commander statedthat snipers in the Hotel Ukraina were shooting at the policemen from
7.62mm caliber hunting guns. A videofrom the police side of the barricade depicts several
Berkut policemen with 7.62 caliber AKMs and many armed members of the Omega special
Internal Troops unit with different caliber AKS-74, including several snipers, taking cover from
live ammunition fire during the height of the massacre of the protesters starting from a few
minutes before 10:00am. It shows at the very end one Omega sniper targeting an open window
of the Hotel Ukraina and another sniper pointing his rifle in an upward direction, likely toward
Zhovtnevyi Palace. A Ukrainian TV journalist, who filmed this video, confirmedthat they came
under a fire and were looking for a sniper in the Hotel Ukraina. The video also shows two Berkut
servicemen pointing their Kalashnikov rifles or shooting from the top side of Kamaz trucks,
likely at the same direction or in the direction of Muzeinyi Lane buildings, where shooters could
be seen in live broadcasts around the same time. All these buildings and the protesters on
Instytutska Street were located downslope from this police barricade.
Mustafa Nayem, an initiator of the Euromaidan protests and a widely known journalist
from Ukrainska Pravda, an openly pro-Maidan online newspaper, twitted at 11:58am a photoof
snipers on the police side of this barricade located at the intersection of Instytutska and Bankova
streets. This photo was presented by the Ukrainian media as evidence that these were snipers
who massacred the protesters. However, these snipers and Berkut special company shooters
generally did not hide, and they allowed the media and bystanders to filmthemselves during the
Various sources of evidence indicate that Berkut and Omega used, respectively, their
AKMS, AKS, and sniper rifles and that they shot live ammunition at the general direction of
both the protesters and suspected Maidan “snipers.” These live ammunition rounds came around
the time of the killing and wounding of many protesters. Videos show that at least a large
proportion of the victims were shot at that time while taking coverbehind a wall, trees, and a
barricade, and thus being outside of a hitting zonefrom the direction of the police barricade and
the adjacent government buildings, as the Google street viewillustrates. But a possibility that
some of the protesters, specifically armed ones, including “snipers,” were wounded or killed by
the police fire cannot be ruled out.
The Omega commanderand an Internal Troops commanderin charge of such special
units stated that they received orders to target snipers at the Hotel Ukraina and other locations
and had permission to shoot at armed protesters. A former Berkut officer saidthat a sniper that
accompanied the Berkut special company had a task to look for a Right Sector sniper in the
Hotel Ukraina. Videosshow the sniper lying on the ground and then pointing his rifle into the
direction of the Hotel Ukraina at 9:23am exactly when one of the unarmed protesters is seen shot
dead in a close proximity near the barricade. This was used as evidence of a direct hit, but the
direction of the sniper rifle, sound of the gunshot, and a reportedentry wound in the right
shoulder and an apparent exit woundon a left front side of a torso, and an absence of a bullet
hole on the shield indicate that the gunshot came from a building located in the back or on the
right side. A BBC reportshows another unarmed protestor shot dead in the same spot apparently
from a similar directionwithin a minute before. An armed protestor in a Berkut-style uniform
was wounded in his armwhile he was running awayfrom the scene. Many of the commanders
and members of Omega, Alfa, and the special company of disbanded Berkut were deployed by
the post-Yanukovych government along with Maidan Self-Defense and the Right Sector
commanders and members in the civil warwith pro-Russian separatists in Donbas in Eastern
A Ruptly TV videoshows three armed Maidan protesters who were shooting from a top
floor of the Hotel Ukraina in the direction not of the Independence Square but of Instytutska
Street, judging by buildings that can be discerned. Volodymyr Ariev, an investigative journalist
and a member of the parliament from the Maidan coalition party, concludedthat “snipers”came
to the Hotel Ukraina from the Music Conservatory side and that they blocked the Ruptly TV
crew on the 14
floor of the hotel. A RT report, the abovementioned video, and other videos
indicate that they were armed Maidan protesters. But Ariev claimed without providing any
evidence that these “snipers”were working for the Russian government.
A previously unreported interceptof radio communications by the SBU Alfa
commanders, contains specific information by the head of this Security Service unit (“Suddia”)
and his deputy (“Indeiets”) that “shooters” or “snipers” were moving to the Hotel Ukraina and
that they were from the Maidan side. This is consistent with aninterviewof the former SBU
head, who said that one half of about 20 “snipers”with concealed AKMs in bags moved from the
neighboring Music Conservatory, which was held by the Maidan, to the Hotel Ukraina, while
another half moved in the direction of the Dnipro Hotel, located on the European Square near
Muzeinyi Lane. The most complete time-stamped version of the Alfa commanders’ radio
intercept synchronized with the local time indicates that their report of shooters moving to the
Hotel Ukraina was made at 9:23am. It is contained among the intercepted radio exchangesof
Alfa, Berkut, the Internal Troops, Omega, and other government agencies during the entire
Maidan protests.
The Alfa commanders’intercept demonstrates that snipers from this SBU unit were given
an order to deploy to the Presidential Administration soon after a full combat readiness was
reported by them at 7:24am. It also contains similar orders to get arms and deploy to these and
other government locations to other SBU units around the same time. In contrast to many fake
claims and evidence publicized by the Ukrainian government, the radio intercept is not a fake.
Their publicly available versions came from several different pro-Maidan sources. One version
with omitted parts was posted by a news website run by an advisor to the current Minister of
Internal Affairs of Ukraine, but it was also not acknowledged by the government.
An unedited and time-stamped interceptof a radio communication by this SBU sniper
team, led by “Miron,” demonstrates that they were tasked with and were monitoring theHotel
Ukraina, specifically its top floors, and other neighboring buildings for snipers and their spotters,
who helped to direct the fire, after the massacre was already underway. These snipersdetected
armed people, who shot from the tops of the buildings or were lying there, and then swiftly
moved away after their location was communicated via radio among the SBU snipers. The Alfa
snipers were based then the Cabinet of Ministers building (See Map 1). There are no sounds of
gunshots by these SBU Alfa snipers or other indications that they fired in the audio clips, which
span the most intense phase of the killings from 9:35am till 11:13am. Similarly, no evidence was
produced that the protesters were killed with German sniper rifles used by this group of snipers.
This is consistent with information provided by three SBU Alfa commanders during the
parliamentary investigationand in their statements toUkrainian TV networks.
However, an edited versionof this SBU sniper team’sradio communications intercept
was posted on YouTube on the day of the massacre with its content and added photos of the
massacre misrepresented to claim that these were the killers. It was swiftly used by Ukrainian
politicians, including the head of the parliamentary commission, and the media as key evidence
that these SBU snipers killed the protesters. “Miron” statedthat this highly publicized version
was also cut and did not include their reports of civilians carrying weapons in bags in the
European Square. The time-stamped version includes such cut-out parts in the beginning and the
end, but some key time periods during the massacre are missing there also.
Photo 1. Suspected shooters on a roof of Zhovtnevyi Palace during the massacre. Source:
Espresso TV broadcast
In their radio intercept, SBU snipers report hearing numerous gunshots and seeing
suspected snipers or their fire coordinators at several other buildings then held by the Maidan
side, such as on the roof of Kinopalats at 9:43am. The Maidan announcers reportedthree snipers
shooting to kill from the top of Zhovtnevyi Palace, which is connected to Kinopalats, at 9:46–
9:47am, and they repeated such specific warnings until at least 10:53am. A bullet strikes a tree
near a group of protesters from the direction of these buildings during one of the firs ways of
mass killing at 9:45am, when within a couple of minutes at least eight protesters were killed or
seriously wounded in a few meters radius from that tree. Bullet holes there indicate the same
direction (See Photo 2).These three suspected “snipers” on the roof of Zhovtnevyi Palace were
seen and identifiedas such during another wave of killing of protesters around 10:00am in a live
broadcast (Photo 1). One of them is recorded in the same spot on the top of this yellow building
in a BBC videoat 10:04am, but this was not previously noted. Two “snipers”there were shown
byICTV on February 20, 2014. An apparent human contour is noticeable on the roof of
Kinopalats in a phototaken by a French photographer from the midst of the massacre when at
least several protesters were killed or seriously wounded near himaround 10:20-10:25am. The
Maidan Self-Defense reportedlylater found more than 80 bullet casings on the roof of
Zhovtnevyi Palace. Eyewitnessesamong the Maidan protesters confirm presence of at least three
snipers on Zhovtnevyi Palace roof and itsupper floor.
Photo 2. Bullet impact marks from the direction of Zhovtnevyi Palace and Kinopalats on another
tree at the site of the massacre. (Source: Photo by the author)
There is similar evidence of shooters on the top of buildings on both sides of Instytutska
Street in the general area that was under Maidan control. A recording of live broadcast showed at
10:23am, 10:45am, and 12:15pma person lying on a roof of a Muzeinyi Lane building (see
Photo 3 and the linked videos). In the first two cases, a camera zoomed into these areas within
minuteswhen gunshots were heard and protesters were shot on Instytutska Street. This recording
appears to confirm previous media reports about a different video showing a “sniper” on a roof
shooting at Berkut and then protesters from AK and wearing a Berkut-style uniform. The video
was shown in the Ukrainian parliament to some of the Maidan leaders and other members of the
parliament, but it is still not released publicly. There is also a brief extractfrom an unknown
video showing a Maidan activist identifying a shooter, who was aiming his gun in the direction
of Instytutska Street, on a roof of an adjacent building on Muzeinyi Lane. An apparent human
figure might be noticed there at 10:23am. A bullet isseen striking a pole from the Muzeinyi Lane
direction and ricocheting at 9:54am.At least several protesters are killed and seriously wounded
at this spot or in a few meters radius within minutes of that time. Bullet holes in the trees on the
site of the massacre indicate the same direction of fire. A bullet impactpoint suggests that ABC
News occupied room in the Hotel Ukraina was fired from a direction of Muzeinyi Lane or
Kinopalats buildings.
Suspected shooters on the green Arkada Bank building are pointed out by fleeing
protesters after many shots fired at 9:44am. Reports by SBU snipers in their intercepted radio
communicationat 9:46am, by a female Maidan medic at 10:04am in the BBC video, and by
another protester in the Radio Libertyvideo corroborate this. A TVP journalist based in the Hotel
Ukraina during the massacre statedthat he saw one of the “snipers” on the roof of Arkada and
that their producer was shot from this building’s roof in his Hotel Ukraina room, judging by the
direction of a bullet strike. Ruslana, in one of her announcementson the Maidan stage in the
afternoon, relayed “reliable reports” from the Maidan Self-Defense members of “snipers” on the
roof of Arkada.
Likely shooters or spotters can also be identified in windows on the roofs of two other
buildings in the 45 minute-long videoof the massacre and in the SBU snipers’ intercept at about
the same time at 10:11–10:12am. One of the survivors of the massacre, who can be seen pointing
a handafter being wounded there during one of the early waves of the killing around 9:44-9:45am, statedthat shots that killed and woundedmost members of his group came from the
sides and from the back. Videosshow at least eight protesters killed and gravely wounded in this
spot during this short period of time and more than dozen other protesters gunned down in the
same area on the right side of Instytutska Street within the next 45 minutes. He also said that his
group of Svoboda-led Khmelnytskyi company of the Maidan Self-Defense received an order to
go there. A videoconfirms this. Likewise, bullet impact pointsin trees confirm the live
ammunition fire from this sidewise direction.
It is noteworthy that some crucial parts of this and other waves of the killings are missing
in this long videofilmed by an activist of Zelenyi Front, a Kharkiv organization. This
organization is associated with one of the former opposition leaders, who became the Minister of
Internal Affairs in the post-Yanukovych government. Another pro-Maidan activist is seen in
different videos filming and taking pictures during the massacre from within advancing
protesters, many of whom were then killed and wounded. His publicly released videosand
photosalso do not include many crucial parts of the massacre. He later served in the special
police battalion Azov, which was created under formal command of the Ministry of Internal
Affairs, and he gained notoriety for painting a star on the top of a Moscow high-rise building. In
videos of both these pro-Maidan amateur photographs, there were no signs of attempts to
identify Maidan sniper positions in surrounding buildings, in spite of their close proximity, or
reaction to loud warnings from the Maidan stage about snipers in these locations. Similarly,
“shooters” did not appear to target them to avoid possible identification, in contrast, to targeting
many professional foreign journalists, including the BBC correspondent in the same area, the
Associated Press, TVP, ABC News, and Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalists, and at
least twice reporters from both ARDand RT.
Photo 3. A suspected shooter on a roof of a Muzeinyi Lane building during the massacre. Source:
Espresso TV/Spilno TV broadcast
Another indication that the shooters were from the Maidan side is that the gunshots on
Instytutska Street significantly subsided or stopped by about 10:50–11:20am, but they continued
on the Maidan itself. This square, along with main buildings and surrounding areas, was under
control of the opposition. This corresponds in time to a reportby a senior opposition leader, who
became the head of the presidential administration after the violent overthrow of the previous
government, of receiving SMS request at 10:45am from the commander of a sniper group, likely
Alfa, Omega, or Sokil, to allow their snipers to search together with Maidan representatives for a
shooter from the Hotel Ukraina. He also said that there was a subsequent meeting between him
together with Andrii Parubii, the Maidan Self-Defense commander, with a group of government
snipers. The reported fact and the location of this meeting in the government-controlled area near
the same barricade with Berkut and Omega on Instytutska Street close to the Presidential
administration also indicate that these snipers were regarded at the time by the opposition leaders
as not the actual killers, in spite of public statements to the contrary. Similarly, there were two
members of Svoboda leadership near the Hotel Ukraina at the timeof the massacre. The
government snipers accompanied by the Maidan Self-Defense reportedly remained in the hotel
area till 1:00–1:30pm. Exact locations of the shooters could have been easily determined by open
windows in the Hotel Ukraina and eyewitnesses identifying them. There were also media reports
of a few captured “snipers” in this hotel.
But Maidan leaders denied that any shooters were there and claimed that several Maidan
Self-Defense and Right Sector searches at the Hotel Ukraina, specifically conducted there around
noon by Maidan protesters armedwith AKMS or AKS and rifles, in Zhovtnevyi Palace, and in
the Conservatory during the massacre and soon after it ended did not find any of the “shooters.”
For, example, Mustafa Nayem, who streamed live for Hromadske TV, statedat 3:00pm that a
Right Sector and Self-Defense search did not locate any snipers who were spotted on an upper
floor of the Hotel Ukraina. As noted the shootings from the hotel, specifically one of its top
floors, continued afterwards.
Similarly, several leaders of the opposition parties (Svoboda, the Radical Party, and the
Fatherland) were speaking on the Maidan stage and blaming the Yanukovych government and its
snipers during the very time or shortly after numerous gunshots fired from nearby buildings on
the Maidan. For example, a synchronization of a live broadcast recordingand a brief intercepted
radio communicationof the actual shooters show that they fired several rounds of altogether 10
shots in quick succession at 11:33–11:34am. The loud sound of these gunshots in a recording of
the live broadcast(1h 08-09 min) from the Kozatsky Hotel on the Maidan indicates that these
shots likely came from this or other nearby locations, such as the Trade Union building. A
minute afterwards, Oleksander Turchynov, a former head of the Security Service of Ukraine who
would become the head of the Ukrainian parliament and the acting president after the violent
overthrow of the Yanukovych government, started his speechwith the “Slava Ukraini” greeting,
which was used by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian
Insurgent Army (UPA) and copied by the Maidan. Sounds of other shots and sirens of moving
ambulances can be heard in the live broadcast during his speech. The manner of the
communication of these shooters in the single publicly available recording is very different from
those of SBU and Omega snipers and other government agencies in more than 30 gigabytes of
their intercepted, recorded, and released radio exchanges during the entire Maidan protests.
These intercepts, admissionsby the Maidan leaders that they had such intercepts, and a statement
by the Alfa commander all indicate that the shooters and their spotters had such radio intercepts
and were able to avoid tracking by the SBU snipers or move to different positions.
Similarly, a female medic was wounded, and another protester standing in front of her
was killedon the Maidan near the Kozatsky Hotel at 11:43am. This happened during a speech by
Oleh Liashko, a leader of the Radical Party, which openly cooperated after the overthrow of
Yanukovych with the neo-Nazi Social National Assembly, which was of the founders of the
Right Sector. A more distant sound of a shot than the abovementioned rounds is heard at 1hour
and 18 minutes in the live broadcast recording, which starts at 10:23am. Eyewitnessesand the
direction of the entry wound indicate that this shot was made from the Main Post Office
building, which was occupiedby the Right Sector. This shooting case attracted big attention
from the Ukrainian and Western media, but like all shootings of protesters, journalists, and the
police on the Independence Square, government snipers were blamed and no real investigation
was conducted.
Eyewitnessesamong the protesters, the TVP correspondent, and bullet trajectories also
point to shooters around the same time in the Trade Union building, the Kozatsky Hotel, the
Music Conservatory buildings, and some other buildings on the Maidan itself. At 11:43am, an
unidentified intruder broke into a radio communication of the Internal Troops units, which
retreated from the Maidan, and informedthem that there were people aiming a rocket propelled
grenade launcher into the Hotel Ukraina from the 6
floor of the Trade Union building. SBU
snipers notedpeople at the top of this building at 10:53 and 10:59am.
An RT correspondent reportedat 10:58am that a 7.62mm AKM bullet narrowly missed
him at a Hotel Ukraina window and that its trajectory pointed to the Conservatory building. An
Associated Press correspondent also reportedbeing fired at in his Hotel Ukraina room
overlooking the Maidan in the morning of February 20, and he found that bullet on his balcony.
An Australian ABC reporter’shotel room was also shot from the direction of the Maidan around
that time. A BBC occupied room was also fired upon.
Various sources show that Maidan shooters used these buildings to fire live ammunition
at journalists and at Berkut and Internal Troops at night or early morning on February 20. Two
Ukraina hotel rooms of German journalists were shot fromthe direction of the Main Post Office,
as a Ukrainian journalist working for the German TV reported on his Facebookpage, or from the
direction of Conservatory, located across the street from the new headquarters of the Maidan
Self-Defense and the Right Sector. The parliamentary commission stated based on medical
emergency services reports that shooting at Berkut and Internal Troops from the Maidan and
neighboring streets started on February 20 at 6:10am. A parliament member from the Maidan
opposition statedthat he received a phone call from a Berkut commander shorty after 7:00am
that 11 members of his police unit were wounded by shooters from the Music Conservatory
building. A Maidan Self-Defense search there found no shooters after this parliament member
informed Parubiii and other opposition leaders. But this Berkut commander again reported that
within a half an hour his unit casualties increased to 21 wounded and three killed.
Similarly, reports in the morning of February 20 by the Internal Affairs Ministry,
statements by the former heads of SBU and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, radio interceptsof
Internal Troops, videos, and eyewitness accounts by the protesters, including a Swedish neo-Nazi volunteer, independently confirm that the police units on the Maidan were shot with live
ammunition from the Conservatory and Trade Union buildings before 9:00am and that they
swiftly retreatedas a result of this fire and the many casualties that they suffered. For instance, in
their radio communications, the Internal Troops units, stationed on the Maidan near the Trade
Union building, made urgent requests for an ambulance at 8:08am, a life support vehicle at
8:21am, an ambulance at 8:29am, two ambulances at 8:39am, five ambulances at 8:46am, and
then issued retreat orders at 8:49 and 8:50am.
A senior Internal Troops officer stated that they had information that five “snipers” moved
to the Conservatory from the Trade Union building after it was burned by the protesters during
Alfa’s attempt to seize it after 11:00pm on February 18. He also confirmed the shooters killed
and wounded many policemen from the Trade Union building and Maidan tents before its
burning, when it was occupied and used as the headquarters of the Maidan Self-Defense and the
Right Sector. At least 17 of them were killed and 196 wounded from gunshotson February 18-20, including three killed and more than 20 wounded on February 20.
The radio intercepts of Internal Troops unitsand Alfa commanders and snipersconfirm
that their attempts to seize the Maidan and the Trade Union building on February 18 were
stopped by the burning of this building by its defenders and by use of live ammunition by the
Maidan Self-Defense and the Right Sector. These seizures of the Maidan and its headquarters
were authorized by the Yanukovych government as a part of the “Boomerang” and “Khvylia”
plans. These plans were put in force after an attempt by the opposition led by the Maidan Self-Defense and the Right Sector to storm the parliament and their burning of the Party of Regions
headquarters resulting in a death of an employee working there in the morning of the same day.
An Alfa officer, who led one of the SBU groups during storming of the Trade Union Building,
statedthat their task was to seize the 5th floor, which contained a lot of weapons. The Right
Sector occupied the entire floor which served as both its headquarters and a base of the Right
Sector company of the Maidan Self-Defense. A radio interceptof Alfa commanders contains
their report about deploying SBU snipers after two “snipers” or spotters from the Maidan side
were noticed on a Maidan-controlled building, their preparation to storm this building, and an
order from their superior to Alfa jointly with the Internal Troops to start this attack.
The current government and the parliamentary commission claimed without providing
any evidence that Alfa burned the Trade Union building and that undercover SBU agents burned
the Party of Regions headquarters. After these attacks, Berkut, the Internal Troops, and titushki
assembled by the Yanukovych government launched acounterassault, and at least five Maidan
protesters died as result of being beaten, driven over, or injured bystun grenades. At least six
Maidan protesters were killed on February 18 and 19 by gunshots, primarily from hunting
weapons and pellets, like was the case with three protesters killed in the end of January, 2014.
The Maidan opposition and the current government asserted without providing any evidence that
these protesters were gunned down by the Berkut and snipers, while similarities with the
“snipers’” massacre on the Maidan are not consideredand not investigated.
The Main Post Office at the time of the February 20th shootings was occupied by the
Right Sector, an alliance of radical nationalist and neo-Nazi organizations and football ultras
groups, which took active part in the violent attacks on the presidential administration on
December 1, 2013 and the parliament in the end of January and on February 18, 2014. The
Maidan company commander confirmedthat at that time his special combat company, which
included armed protesters with experience of fighting in armed conflicts, was based in the
Conservatory building. He stated that this company was formed with an agreement of the Right
Sector. In a new US documentaryinvestigating the Maidan massacre, Berkut members said that
they noticed protesters with the Right Sector insignia in the Music Conservatory building on
February 19, that armed protesters took positions there, and that they were shot and wounded,
while other Berkut officers killed by shooters from the second floor of the Conservatory in the
morning of February 20. Maidan eyewitnesses among the protesterssaidthat organized groups
from Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions in Western Ukraine arrived on the Maidan and moved to
the Music Conservatory at the night of the February 20
massacre, and that some of them were
armed with rifles.
The seeming absence of the Right Sector and this combat company during the snipers’
massacre of the protesters is the “dog that did not bark” evidence pointing to their likely
involvement. The leader of the Right Sector shortly after the midnight announcedthat his
organization did not accept a truce agreement with Yanukovych and would undertake decisive
actions against the government forces. A reportby the head of the parliamentary commission
concluded that “unknown civic organizations” could have been shooters of the police. But these
cases of the killing and wounding of the police were not investigated by the government,
specifically the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This ministry created, along with the Right Sector
and the Social National Assembly, special police battalions, which fought in Donbas. Similarly,
the National Guard was newly organized on the basis of the Internal Troops and the Maidan Self-Defense.
It was the same special combat company commander who calledfrom the Maidan stage
in the evening of February 21 to reject a signed agreement, which was mediated by foreign
ministers of France, Germany and Poland and a representative of the Russian president, and
issued a public ultimatum for President Yanukovych to resign by 10:00am of the next day. He
justified his ultimatum by blaming Yanukovych for the massacre, stated that his combat
company based in the Music Conservatory was responsible for the turning point of the
Euromaidan, and threated an armed assault if Yanukovych would not resign. Yanukovych fled
from Kyiv on the same day soon after this ultimatum was issued.
The types of guns and ammunition used and the direction and types of entry wounds
among both protesters and policemen also confirm that the shooters came from the Maidan side.
The parliamentary commission reportedthat 17 protesters were killed by buckshot (pellets), a
part were shot dead from AKMS (7.62х39mmcaliber), one from the Makarov handgun, while in
most cases the bullets went through the bodies. The Prosecutor General Office statedon April 2
that a SKS semi-automatic “sniper” carbine, which has the same caliber as AKMS, was use to
shoot protesters from the Hotel Ukraina, even though this outdated firearm was not used by
professional snipers and was available in Ukraine as a hunting weapon. But the Prosecutor
General Office then began to claim that they still were checking if any snipers were in the hotel.
The headof the medical service of the Euromaidan and other medics reportedthat both
protesters and the police were shot by similar ammunition, specifically 7.62mmcaliber bullets
and buckshot (pellets),and that they had similar types of wounds. This information was relayed
by the Estonian minister of foreign affairs in his intercepted telephone callto the EU Foreign
Affairs head. Various statements by medics, videos, photos, and media reports confirm that
dozens of protesters were shot precisely in necks, heads, thighs, and hearts, the most lethal
places, and that many entry wounds were from the top, side, or back.This is consistent with
locations of shooters on the roofs or top floors of all specified buildings. Precise and deadly
gunshots and the 7.62mm KalashnikovAKMS type assault rifles and various hunting weapons
and ammunition used also indicate that shooters were positioned within several dozen meters
from the places where both the police and the protesters were killed or wounded.
Photos, videos, eyewitness testimoniesand other sources demonstrate that some protesters
were shooting with or openly carrying hunting and sporting rifles, Kalashnikov assault rifles and
their hunting versions, Makarov, and other handguns during the mass shooting of the police and
the protesters. The parliamentary commission concluded that it was very likely that the
policemen on the Maidan were shot from firearms and ammunition that were seized by protesters
from the police, internal troops, and SBU offices and arsenals in Western Ukraine on February
18 and 19. These weapons specifically included1,008 Makarov handguns, 59 AKMS (folding
7.62 caliber Kalashnikov assault rifles, two SVD sniper rifles, and various other rifles and
shotguns. Their present whereabouts remain unknown.
The failure by the government to locate and identify the shooters of the protesters and
investigate the shooting of the police and the similar failure of the Maidan Self-Defense to stop
or detain them during the massacre in spite of their locations being known at that time and in
spite of calls to do so from the protesters and the government officials also indicate that the
shooters were from the Maidan side. Media reports, eyewitness accounts, the audio of the
shooters, and statements by the former SBU headand internal affairs ministersuggest that they
included armed protesters and hired people with appropriate experience from Ukraine and
foreign countries.
But the specific identities of the shooters and the politicians who directed them remain
unknown. There were various public allegations concerning purported involvement in the
massacre of specific politicians and political parties, but such allegations did not lead to any
investigations since these politicians or their parties occupied various positions in the new
government. The massacre master-minders and perpetrators are unlikely to be uncovered by the
current government, even though it has much more evidence available that has still not been
made public. This evidence includes reported videos of shooters from Muzeinyi Lane and the
Trade Union buildings, intercepted radio communications of Berkut, and ballistic and medical
expert reports.
Videosand photos of armed Berkut members shooting during their counterattack and then
from barricades were cited by the top Ukrainian government officials and by the headof the
special parliamentary commission and reported by the media as the undisputable proof that the
special police units massacred the protesters. The Reuters reported that the prosecution case
against three Berkut members relies on such videos and photos, and that some of key pieces of
such evidence were misrepresented or ignored. However, the analysis of the publicly available
evidence is inconclusive whether Berkut and Omega killed any of the protesters, specifically
unarmed ones, because there were other shooters killing the protesters at the same very time. The
head of the special parliamentary commission reportedthat ammunition expertise, contrary to an
earlier claim by the minister of interior, failed to link any of their weapons to the killed protesters
and that many of their Kalashnikov assault rifles, records of their use, and the bullet database
disappeared when the new government was in power.
Similarly, while the new government and the head of the parliamentary commission
publicly allegedthat an order to kill unarmed protesters was issued personally by Yanukovych
and that his entire government and law enforcement agencies and commanders of Berkut,
Internal Troops, and SBU’s Alfa, were involved in this “criminal organization” by implementing
this order and issuing similar orders, no evidence of such order was produced. Commanders of
Alfa and its sniper team, Internal Troops, and Omega all denied receiving such an order, and
their radio intercepts confirm this.
The “sniper massacre” fits a pattern of the politically motivated misrepresentations of the
mass killing and other cases of violence by the same Ukrainian political forces and the media
involved. Such cases include the Odesa massacre on May 2, 2014, killings of civilians in
Donbas, and the beating of Tetiana Chornovol last December and the abduction of Dmytro
Bulatov, two Maidan activists who became government ministers as a result of these highly
publicized cases. The new investigations named the same suspects arrested in December in the
Chornovol case and pursuedas the possibility a version in which Bulatov’s abduction was
staged. Contrary to the available evidence, the government claimed that more than 40 Odesa
protesters died as result of a fire caused by them and claimed that separatists killed more than
1,000 civilians in Donbas by shelling them in their own cities and town. Similar cases include
misrepresentations of the involvement of the OUN and the UPA in the mass killingsof Poles and
the Nazi-led mass murderof Jews and misrepresentations of more than 2,000 recently
uncovered, primarily Jewish victims of Nazi-led executions in the town of Volodymyr-Volynskyi as Poles killed by the Soviet NKVD. While the various available evidence indicates
that the Malaysian airliner in Donbas was likely shot down by separatists, such a track record
also raises questions in this case.
The analysis and the evidence presented in this academic investigation put the
Euromaidan and the conflict in Ukraine into a new perspective. The seemingly irrational mass
shooting and killing of the protesters and the police on February 20 appear to be rational from
self-interest based perspectives of rational choice and Weberian theories of instrumentally-rational action. This includes the following: the Maidan leaders gaining power as a result of the
massacre, President Yanukovych and his other top government officials fleeing on February 21,
2014 from Kyiv and then from Ukraine, and the retreat by the police. The same concerns Maidan
protesters being sent under deadly fire into positions of no important value and then being killed
wave by wave from unexpected directions. Similarly, snipers killing unarmed protesters and
targeting foreign journalists but not Maidan leaders, the Maidan Self-Defense and the Right
Sector headquarters, the Maidan stage, and pro-Maidan photographs become rational. While
such actions are rational from a rational choice or instrumentally-rational theoretical perspective,
the massacre not only ended many human lives but also undermined democracy, human rights,
and the rule of law in Ukraine.
The massacre of the protesters and the police represented a violent overthrow of the
government in Ukraine and a major human rights crime. This violent overthrow constituted an
undemocratic change of government. It gave start to a large-scale violent conflict that turned into
a civil war in Eastern Ukraine, to a Russian military intervention in support of separatists in
Crimea and Donbas, and to a de-facto break-up of Ukraine. It also escalated an international
conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. The evidence indicates that an alliance of
elements of the Maidan opposition and the far right was involved in the mass killing of both
protesters and the police, while the involvement of the special police units in killings of some of
the protesters cannot be entirely ruled out based on publicly available evidence. The new
government that came to power largely as a result of the massacre falsified itsinvestigation,
while the Ukrainian media helped to misrepresent the mass killing of the protesters and the
police. The evidence indicatesthat the far right played a key role in the violent overthrow of the
government in Ukraine. This academic investigation also brings new important questions that
need to be addressed.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know that you can create short urls with Shortest and receive money for every visit to your short links.