“The Snipers’ Massacre” on the Maidan in Ukraine”

An Interview with Telepolis Magazine (Germany) Concerning ““The Snipers’ Massacre” on the Maidan in Ukraine”
Study: Full-Text English-Language Version


SnipersMassacre. Observe bullet holes on trees. (Ivan Katchanovski)
SnipersMassacre. Observe bullet holes on trees. (Ivan Katchanovski)

(Published German-language version of the interview (December 17, 2014) and a related article by Stefan Korinth (December 14, 2014))

Why did You start your analysis of the massacre?

I started to research the Maidan massacre because my academic research specialization included violent conflicts in Ukraine and because it was the crucial event, which led to the violent overthrow of the government and gave a start to a civil war in Donbas. This massacre and the associated overthrow of the Yanukovych government also led to sharp escalation of a conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine, and prompted Russian support for separatists, including its direct military intervention.

My previous academic studies analyzed the politics of World War II in Ukraine, involvement of the OUN and the UPA in mass murder, the Soviet “Great Terror” in Ukraine, the misrepresentation of more than thousand primarily Jewish victims of Nazi-led mass executions in the town of Volodymyr-Volynskyi in the Volyn Region of Ukraine as Polish victims of the Soviet secret police, and other cases of mass killing. My doctoral dissertation, which was later published as a book in Germany, examined regional political divisions and conflicts in Post-Soviet Ukraine and Moldova.

I studied the Maidan from its very start, including all major episodes of violence prior to the massacre on February 20, 2014. This included a violent attack on the presidential administration on December 1, the Chornovol beating, the Bulatov “abduction,” violent attempts to storm the parliament in January and on February 18, and so on. I found that the media and even academic experts in the West almost always immediately and nearly universally embraced the opposition claims blaming the Yanukovych government or the government provocateurs for these violent incidents which followed beating of protesters by the special police forces on the Maidan on November 30. But the analysis of evidence, such as live broadcasts or videos, pointed towards the far right and other elements of the Maidan opposition in the attacks of the presidential administration and the parliament or towards using fake violence to mobilize the Maidan movement, such as in the case of the Bulatov’s “abduction” and “crucifixion.”

The subsequent developments showed that those “provocateurs” from the far right organizations joined special police battalions and paramilitary formations under the new Maidan government during the civil war in Donbas. The new government investigation recently concluded that the same suspects arrested under the Yanukovych government were responsible for beating of Tatiana Chornovol in December 2013. Investigation concerning the Dmytro Bulatov case reportedly found that his abduction was staged, and his fellow Automaidan leaders recently publicly admitted the same. These cases were directly relevant to the Maidan massacre because they showed that Maidan leaders were willing to misrepresent violence to advance their political goals. My analysis of the violent attacks of the presidential administration and the parliament and the Bulatov and Chornovol cases pointed to the need for similar research of the “snipers’ massacre” on the Maidan.

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The governments and the media in West immediately accepted that the “snipers’ massacre” was perpetrated by the government forces on Yanukovych order, while such claims were based on inconclusive evidence. This mass killing by the Yanukovych government appeared irrational and puzzling from a political science perspective. Yanukovych and his associates lost all their power and much of their wealth and fled from Ukraine, since the massacre of the protesters undermined his legitimacy even among many deputies of his Party of Regions, who joined the opposition and voted to remove him from the presidency. Similarly, repeated attempts of protesters to advance on the very small and relatively unimportant part of Instytutska Street seemed also irrational and hard to explain from a theoretical perspective, because they came there under constant fire, and were killed and wounded wave after wave.

In addition, I conducted my related research on the far right in Ukraine, in particular, for a chapter in a book on the Euromaidan. I was invited by David Marples, a noted Canadian historian of Belarus and Ukraine, to contribute this chapter to his edited volume published in Germany. But I had to withdraw my contribution after my research by the end of May found evidence of the involvement of the Right Sector in the killing of the police and the Maidan protesters. I then travelled to Ukraine and conducted my research on the site of the “snipers’ massacre.”

When did you start it and how long did it last?

I started researching the “snipers’ massacre” as soon as it unfolded. I watched the start of this massacre in the morning of February 20 over several live Internet and TV broadcasts from Ukraine. But recordings of these broadcasts either were not made public or disappeared the next day when I wanted to analyze all of them. I continue my research, and I’ll plan to present an updated and expanded study of the “snipers’ massacre” in the next few days. It would include my analysis of previously almost unknown recordings and videos concerning shooters in the Hotel Ukraina and other new sources. The new version of the study includes expanded analysis of similarly misrepresented cases of violence, such as the Bulatov case and the Odesa massacre. It also would add appendixes containing brief excerpts from relevant parts of videos cited in my paper. This study is a part of my academic book-length project on the politics of the Euromaidan and major political developments that followed since certain far right and oligarchic political forces turned largely peaceful mass protests into the violent overthrow of the government by means of the “snipers’ massacre” of the protesters and the police.

What kind of sources did You use?

I used all publicly available evidence. It 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, eyewitness reports by both Maidan protesters and government special unit commanders, public statements by both former and current government officials, bullets and weapons used, bullet impact marks indicating their general trajectories, types of wounds among both protesters and the police, and similar politically motivated misrepresentations by the Maidan politicians of other cases of violence during and after the Euromaidan and historical conflicts.

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My study was the first to analyze almost 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 February 20th massacre and during the entire Maidan protests. These files were posted by a pro-Maidan Ukrainian radio amateur on a radio scanners forum in March and mentioned on the social media, but they never were reported by the media or acknowledged by the Ukrainian government. I also conducted research on the site of the massacre and took photos of the remaining bullet impact signs.

What’s Your opinion about the investigations of the general prosecutor in Kyiv?

The evidence presented in my study shows that the investigation of the “snipers’ massacre” by the Prosecutor General Office in Ukraine and by other government agencies is deliberately falsified. The Prosecutor General Office on November 19, 2014 claimed during their press- conference, which was devoted to this issue, that their extensive investigation produced no evidence of “snipers” in the Hotel Ukraina and other locations controlled by the Maidan. They state that commanders and members of a special Berkut company killed almost all of the protesters on February 20th with AKM rifles and hunting ammunition. But no evidence has been made public in support of such findings, with the exception of videos that show them shooting with AKMs. A Reuters investigation recently uncovered that the prosecution case against three Berkut members charged with the killings relies on such videos and photos, and that some of key pieces of such evidence were misrepresented or ignored.

My research found that in most cases of killings of protesters evidence points towards “shooters” from the Maidan side. The analysis is inconclusive in the remaining cases, because either specific evidence is not made publicly available or because there were other shooters targeting both the police and the protesters and killing the protesters at the same very time and place that the Berkut is seen firing their live ammunition.

Numerous sources of evidence, including videos, which point to “shooters” of the protesters and the police from the Hotel Ukraina and at least 11 other Maidan-controlled locations, are denied or ignored by the Ukrainian government. The Western governments, the mainstream media, and academics, with a few exceptions, have shown no reaction to the Ukrainian government falsification of this investigation.

Who killed the protestors and the policemen on February 20th 2014?

The evidence suggests that elements of the Maidan opposition, specifically from far right and oligarchic parties, were involved in the killing of the protesters and the police in one capacity or another. This is indicated by the various evidence including the following: radio intercepts of Security Service of Ukraine Alfa commanders and snipers, Internal Troops, and one group of shooters, the location of shooters in the Maidan-controlled areas, trajectories of bullets estimated from their impact points seen in videos, reported by eyewitnesses, or preserved on trees and polls, use of AKM and hunting rifles in the killings, similar types of wounds suffered by both protesters and police, and the failure of the Maidan Self-Defence, the Right Sector, and the Maidan government investigation to find the shooters in these locations. However, specific character of such an involvement and identities of the killers still remain uncertain. The involvement of Berkut members in killings of some of the protesters, specifically, armed ones including the shooters, cannot be entirely ruled out based on publicly available evidence that I examine.

 

Have Your results been published in any bigger western media? If yes, were there any political reactions to it?

The politics of the Western media coverage of post-communist countries is one of the areas of my research. Its coverage of recent events in Ukraine, including the “snipers’ massacre,” confirms previous studies that the mainstream media in Western countries often presents a politically biased reporting of foreign countries and foreign crises and conflicts involving their own countries by that largely following their government line. The Western mainstream media so far, with few exceptions, presented the standard narrative of the massacre and was reluctant to report any findings and evidence that challenge this politically-driven narrative.

Several leading American, British, and Canadian media outlets, which reported my interviews or published my research concerning the political developments before, during, and after the Euromaidan, were unwilling to do so in the case of the “snipers’ massacre” study. A documentary film, which was supposed to contain my lengthy interview on the issue and to be broadcast by the main TV channel in Canada, has not yet been shown. The British-based OpenDemocracy accepted a popular version of my paper for publication, but it did not publish it without offering any reason.

But a top American newspaper expressed interest in my “snipers’ massacre” study, and I plan to submit an updated version of my paper for their consideration. Several leading media outlets in Denmark, Poland, and the Czech Republic reported findings of my study or published my interviews on this issue. My original paper still remains unpublished, but its electronic version posted on my academic website was already translated into French, Polish, and Russian, and its summaries were published in other languages, including Italian and Spanish. I do not know whether the paper was translated or summarized in German before, but an earlier investigative television report by the German ARD also pointed to shooters in the Maidan- controlled Hotel Ukraina and to falsification of the government investigation of the “snipers’ massacre.”

It is noteworthy that political reaction so far has been directed not at the elements of the political forces and the Ukrainian government, that are implicated in the involvement in the massacre or falsification of its investigation, but at the author of the single academic study of this crucial case of mass killing. I was predictably and falsely accused of being anti-Maidan, pro- Russian, or being on somebody’s pay in order to discredit findings of my study. Some researchers of Ukraine, who previously invited me to contribute my research on the Euromaidan or published a generally favorable review of my book on the Ukrainian politics, even stated that my “snipers’ massacre” study cannot be called academic. The head of the government Institute of National Memory of Ukraine basically accused me of doctoring on someone’s order my research findings on the “snipers massacre” and on the involvement of the OUN and the UPA in mass murder of Jews and Poles immediately after Ukrainian and Russian- language summaries of my Maidan massacre study appeared, even though he does not know English and the full-text of the study was not translated into Ukrainian, and at that time, into other languages. One of my interviews concerning the “snipers’ massacre” study was removed by a popular online publication in Poland following a request by the Ukrainian government representatives.

 

There was apparently another political reaction to my recent research, in particular, the “snipers massacre” study. A few days ago, a judge in Western Ukraine reversed her own February decision, which recognized me as the owner of my house, in which I grew up, inherited and stayed during nearly 50 research and personal visits to Ukraine in the last twenty years. A different judge in the Lutsk court reversed in November, a February decision of a higher court in another case and annulled my private ownership of a land plot, on which the house is located.

In order to hear and swiftly decide the case analogous to the one which confirmed my ownership of the land, the judge illegally omitted my name in her initial ruling, did not inform me or my lawyer about the case opening, and did not conduct any hearings. Information that I have indicates that these and other recent court decisions, which sanctioned first de facto and now de jure seizures of my house, land, and personal items in Ukraine, were issued on orders from the higher ups and with a direct involvement of a lawyer connected to the oligarchic elements of the current government and to the Right Sector. [P.S. On December 17, 2014, the appellate court of the Volyn Region, issued without much deliberation a directly opposite decision, compared to its two decisions issued in February of this year and in August of the last year, and it rubber stamped the lower court decision annulling my private property of a land plot, on which the house is located and which I inherited from my mother]. This means that I won’t be able to continue my research in Ukraine on the mass killings in the Maidan, on the mass murder by the OUN, the UPA, the Soviet “Great Terror,” the conflict in Donbas, elections, and other political issues that I study.

About Your person: What is Your nationality? Which languages do You speak? Have You been in Kyiv on February 20th 2014?

I am a Canadian of Ukrainian origin. I was born in Western Ukraine, but I moved to the US for my graduate studies at the beginning of the 1990s, and then to Canada. Before I moved to the University of Ottawa, I held research and teaching positions at Harvard University, the State University of Potsdam, the University of Toronto, and the Kluge Center for Scholars at the Library of Congress. My native language is Ukrainian, and I am fluent in English and Russian. I also understand Polish, and I learn French. There is a very small number of political scientists in the Western academia who specialize in researching contemporary Ukrainian politics and are fluent in the two main languages used in Ukraine. Numerous videos, radio intercepts, and publications concerning the “snipers massacre” are primarily in Ukrainian and Russian.

I was not in Kyiv on February 20, 2014, but I followed the events there over several live Internet video broadcasts. I am know very well the Maidan and surrounding areas, because I visited them numerous times, I stayed in the Hotel Ukraina on many occasions in recent years, and I lived in Kyiv. I specifically visited the site of the Maidan massacre to conduct my research there the last summer. In the wake of the “snipers’ massacre” study and because such political reaction to this and other my research indicates a possibility of much more serious retaliation, I am now not sure when I would be able to visit Ukraine again to continue my research.

How old are You?

I am 47 years old.

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From which Ukrainian town/region do you come?

Lutsk in the Volyn Region.

Could You take a look on this video from Hotel Ukraina in the morning of February 20th (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9tXYY23A_ZI#t=539) – can You confirm, that the leader of this group of armed fighters, who stands with his back to the camera at 9:08 and pushes the elevator-buttons after it, is Volodymyr Parasjuk, leader of the combat-experienced unit based in the conservatory? He always wears the same British army jacket and the height is similar to the man in the video. It’s also the first video I saw, where somebody covers the camera, because the situation shouldn’t be filmed (9:27). If it is Parasjuk, this would be a proof that he and his armed fighters were in the hotel before the shooting on Institutska started.

I have been researching the same videos. That masked protester looks like Parasiuk. But I am not sure whether he and his group were filmed by the French TV Itele in the Hotel Ukraina at either about 10:15am or around 12:00pm. They are shown in one of the versions of the French video entering the hotel after a wounded protester, named Mykhailko, was brought there around 10:15am. This was shortly before two groups of armed Maidan shooters appeared on the 11th floor and two “snipers” were covertly “carried away” by the Maidan Self-Defence from the 10th floor. But, the time on the watches of another wounded protester in another version of the same video appears to be pointing to around 12:00pm shortly after Maidan “shooters” were firing with live ammunition at the protesters and the police from the 14th floor and from the roof of the Hotel Ukraina: http://www.itele.fr/monde/video/lhotel-ukraine-transforme-en-hopital-de-fortune-73141 http://www.itele.fr/monde/video/ce-sont-des-balles-qui-les-ont-tues-73150

I’ll soon present little known recordings of live Internet broadcasts from the Hotel Ukraina during almost the entire massacre. They contain information that the same French crew filmed and interviewed one of the shooters in the Hotel Ukraina during the massacre. But the video was never broadcast as far as know. The recordings also show that different groups of armed protesters were on the top floors of the Hotel Ukraina during the massacre and that they were shooting with AKMs and hunting rifles at the time when the protesters were killed on Instytutska. I can provide the name of the French TV correspondent who was there and would be able to provide more detailed information about the time this episode was filmed and about whereabouts of the video of the shooter.

So there are evidence that the police was also shooting with live ammunition that day, but there are absolutely no evidence that they killed protestors by gunfire?

The analysis of publicly available videos, radio intercepts, eyewitness testimonies, ballistic trajectories, ammunition and weapons types, and other evidence presented in my study could not exclude that the police killed some of the protesters, specifically armed ones. In some cases of the killings of the protesters, both the police and the shooters fired live ammunition at the direction of the protesters around the same time and place, while in several other cases there is no publicly available information about exact locations and circumstances of the killings of the protesters. The government investigation claims that Berkut members killed the absolute majority of the protesters. But the Ukrainian government has not made public all specific evidence in support of their conclusion, and the proofs that they cited, such as videos and photos of the Berkut members shooting, were either misrepresented or inconclusive.

Who do You mean concretely by “oligarch parties”, that are involved in the massacre? Do You think Poroshenko is the responsible and the culprit of the massacre?

There is evidence that in addition to the far right, elements of the leadership of the Fatherland party were involved in the massacre, but it is not clear in what specific ways. The Maidan Self-Defense, which included several small armed units of the protesters, was headed by a Fatherland activist. My study did not examine the involvement of specific politicians and oligarchs, and the new government did not investigate such an involvement.

Which evidence do You have that the general prosecutor and the new government falsified the investigations?

The Prosecutor General Office officially denied that there were “snipers” in at least 12 locations controlled by the Maidan side in spite of various evidence to the contrary. In addition to various evidence in my paper itself, new video appendixes provide visual proof of this. Theses video appendixes would be soon included in an updated and expanded version of my “snipers massacre” paper. A raw version of the first video part is already available at this link on YouTube.

I’ve recently found important video recordings of a live Internet broadcast from the Hotel Ukraina. These previously unreported and little known videos contain direct evidence that the members of the Maidan opposition not only controlled the Hotel Ukraina during the massacre, but that they were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles of a 7.62mm caliber type and with hunting and other rifles, and that they shot with live ammunition from the Hotel Ukraina during the massacre. This is consistent with the type and the caliber of the ammunition used against both the unarmed protesters and the police, with directions of many bullet impacts in bodies of the protesters and in trees and poles in the massacre areas near the hotel, and with eyewitness reports by both the protesters and the police concerning the shooters from this hotel targeting them with live ammunition. These recordings also corroborate a report of SBU Alfa commanders that shooters moved to the hotel from the Maidan side.

Specifically, one of these recordings contains information about two groups of armed Maidan protesters looking for shooting positions on the same 11th floor, from which a few minutes afterwards the protesters and the BBC crew came under live ammunition fire from a shooter wearing a Maidan-style green helmet. This recording is located at: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/44026041.

My study and a Reuters investigation found that the government misrepresented some of the key evidence that the Berkut members were the killers. The Ukrainian government also failed to investigate the killing and wounding of policemen on February 20 and on two previous days.




 

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One thought on ““The Snipers’ Massacre” on the Maidan in Ukraine”

  1. Rick Sklader 12 January 14:14
    There was an investigated done by a French TV crew that analyzed the ballistics using world renown and well respected forensic specialists. They scientifically proved that the shooters were on the 11th floor of the large hotel overlooking the maidan that was 100% under the control of 2 organizations: 1)Svoboda & 2) Right Sector both fascist groups.

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