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The "Snipers' Massacre" on the Maidan in Ukraine

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The massacre of almost 50 Maidan protesters on February 20, 2014 was a turning point in Ukrainian politics and a tipping point in the conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. This mass killing of the protesters and the mass shooting of the police that preceded it led to the overthrow of the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych and gave a start to a civil war in Donbas in Eastern Ukraine, Russian military intervention in Crimea and Donbas, and an international conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. A conclusion promoted by the post-Yanukovych governments and the media in Ukraine that the massacre was perpetrated by government snipers and special police units on a Yanukovych order has been nearly universally accepted by the Western governments, the media, and many scholars. The Ukrainian government investigation identified members of the special company of Berkut as responsible for killings of the absolute majority of the protesters, but did not release any evidence in support, with the exception of videos of the massacre. The question is which side organized the “snipers’ massacre.” This paper is the first academic study of this crucial case of the mass killing. It uses a theory of rational choice and a Weberian theory of instrumental rationality to examine actions of major actors both from the Yanukovych government, specifically various police and security forces, and the Maidan opposition, specifically its far right and oligarchic elements, during the massacre. The paper analyzes a large amount of evidence from different publicly available sources concerning this massacre and killings of specifics protestors. Qualitative content analysis includes the following data: about 1,500 videos and recordings of live internet and TV broadcasts from mass media and social media in different countries (some 150 Gigabytes) , news reports and social media posts by more than 100 journalists covering the massacre from Kyiv, some 5,000 photos, and nearly 30 gigabytes of publicly available radio intercepts of snipers and commanders from the special Alfa unit of the Security Service of Ukraine and Internal Troops, and Maidan massacre trial recordings. This study also employs field research on site of the massacre, eyewitness reports by both Maidan protesters and government special units commanders, statements by both former and current government officials, estimates of approximate ballistic trajectories, bullets and weapons used, and types of wounds among both protesters and the police. This study establishes a precise timeline for various events of the massacre, the locations of both the shooters and the government snipers, and the specific timeline and locations of nearly 50 protesters’ deaths. It also briefly analyzes other major cases of violence during and after the “Euromaidan.” This study includes two video appendixes. This academic investigation concludes that the massacre was a false flag operation, which was rationally planned and carried out with a goal of the overthrow of the government and seizure of power. It found various evidence of the involvement of an alliance of the far right organizations, specifically the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland. Concealed shooters and spotters were located in at least 20 Maidan-controlled buildings or areas. The various evidence that the protesters were killed from these locations include some 70 testimonies, primarily by Maidan protesters, several videos of “snipers” targeting protesters from these buildings, comparisons of positions of the specific protesters at the time of their killing and their entry wounds, and bullet impact signs. The study uncovered various videos and photos of armed Maidan “snipers” and spotters in many of these buildings. The paper presents implications of these findings for understanding the nature of the change of the government in Ukraine, the civil war in Donbas, Russian military intervention in Crimea and Donbas, and an international conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine.
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... A quantitative research of mass protest actions found that Svoboda party was the most active organization in pro-Maidan protests, while the Right Sector was the most active organization in violent events in Ukraine during the "Euromaidan" (Ishchenko, 2016). Other studies concluded that the far right played a key role in the attacks of the parliament in January and on February 18, 2014 and in seizures of regional administrations in Western and Central Ukraine during the "Euromaidan" (Katchanovski, 2015c, Kudelia, 2016. A comprehensive study found that the far right organizations, such as the Right Sector and Svoboda, were involved in the Maidan massacre of the protesters and the police and that this was a successful false flag operation conducted covertly by along with oligarchic elements of the Maidan opposition in order to overthrow the Yanukovych government and seize power in an asymmetric armed conflict (Katchanovski, 2015c(Katchanovski, , 2016b. ...
... Other studies concluded that the far right played a key role in the attacks of the parliament in January and on February 18, 2014 and in seizures of regional administrations in Western and Central Ukraine during the "Euromaidan" (Katchanovski, 2015c, Kudelia, 2016. A comprehensive study found that the far right organizations, such as the Right Sector and Svoboda, were involved in the Maidan massacre of the protesters and the police and that this was a successful false flag operation conducted covertly by along with oligarchic elements of the Maidan opposition in order to overthrow the Yanukovych government and seize power in an asymmetric armed conflict (Katchanovski, 2015c(Katchanovski, , 2016b. Katchanovski (2016a) concluded that the far right played a key role in the start of the civil war in Donbas. ...
... Such seemingly irrational behavior become rational from a rational choice or an instrumental rationality perspectives, if Svoboda deputies were at least aware that these snipers in the Hotel Ukraina were from the Maidan side. (Katchanovski, 2015c). For example, a French TV video shows a Maidan protester shouting to the head of Svoboda in Khmelnytsky Oblast and journalists near the main entrance to the Hotel Ukraina about snipers at the top of the hotel soon after the massacre of the protesters, including protesters from Svoboda company from Khmelnytsky Region, started near the hotel. ...
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This paper analyzes the role of far right in the Ukrainian politics during the “Euromaidan” and the war in Donbas. The issue of the involvement of Ukrainian far right organizations in the “Euromaidan” and the war in Donbas have been politicized and polarized. Russian and separatist politicians and the media often presented the “Euromaidan” as a “fascist coup” and the Maidan government as a “fascist junta.” In contrast, the governments and the mainstream media in Western countries tended to present the role of the far right in the “Euromaidan” and in post-Maidan Ukraine, specifically in the conflict in Donbas, as marginal. Previous academic studies generally reached similar conclusions. They focused on numerical strength and electoral support for the far right parties and ignored other aspects of influence of the radical nationalist and neo-Nazi parties, specifically their role in the political violence, such as the Maidan and Odesa massacres and the war in Donbas. However, the number of academic studies of the contemporary far right in Ukraine is generally limited. The research question is as follows: What is the role of the far right in the Ukrainian politics during and after the “Euromaidan”? This study analyzes the involvement of specific Ukrainian radical nationalist and neo-Nazi organizations in the “Euromaidan,” the Odesa massacre, and the war in Donbas, their performance in the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 and the 2015 local elections in Ukraine. The analysis focuses on major Ukrainian far right organizations, such as Svoboda (Freedom), the Right Sector, the Social-National Assembly, the White Hammer, the UNA-UNSO, Bratstvo, and C14, and paramilitary formations or special police and National Guard units organized and controlled to various extent by them, such as the Azov regiment, Dnipro, Donbas, Aidar, Sich, and St. Mary’s battalions, and the Volunteer Ukrainian Corps. It uses various sources of data, such as online recordings of live broadcasts and videos of the Maidan and Odesa massacres and the war in Donbas, official database of court decisions in Ukraine concerning investigations of the involvement of the far right in major cases of political violence, video recordings of the Maidan massacre trial, information posted on websites and social media groups of far right organizations, and media reports in Ukrainian, Russian, and English languages. The study shows that the far right organizations had significant but minority representation among the Maidan leadership and protesters, the post-Maidan governments, and in the presidential, parliamentary, and local elections. However, the analysis also shows that the far right organizations and football ultras played a key role during violent attacks, such as attempts to storm the presidential administration on December 1, 2013 and the parliament of Ukraine in January and on February 18, 2014. There is also various evidence of the Right Sector involvement in a violent attack of the Berkut police during its highly publicized dispersal of protesters on November 30, 2013. The Right Sector and Svoboda and smaller organizations had a crucial role in the violent overthrow of the Viktor Yanukovych government, in particular, in the Maidan massacre of the protesters and the police on February 18-20, 2014. The study demonstrates that the Right Sector, the Social-National Assembly/ Patriot of Ukraine, and groups of football ultras were involved in the Odesa massacre on May 2, 2014. This paper also shows that the far right organizations and their volunteer battalions and paramilitary units had a significant role in the civil war in Donbas but a comparably minor role in fighting with several regular Russian military units during direct military interventions by Russia in August 2014 and February 2015. Major implications of this study for the Ukrainian politics and the conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine are discussed in the conclusion. This paper implies that the far right has significant but not dominant role in the Ukrainian politics during and after the “Euromaidan.” But far right organizations and their armed units had a key role in major cases of political violence during and after the “Euromaidan,” and they attained ability to overthrow by force the government of the one of the largest European countries.
... e the Maidan and the Maidan Self-Defence and Right Sector headquarters at the occupied Trade Union building in Kyiv City were stopped by use of live ammunition from elements of the Maidan opposition, including the Right Sector, and by their burning down of that building, Yanukovych agreed to negotiations with opposition leaders on February 19, 2014. (Katchanovski, 2015b). A truce deal was negotiated between Yanukovych and the opposition leaders. However, shortly after midnight on February 20, the leader of the Right Sector stated that his organization did not accept this truce, and threatened to use force to oust the government. A study of the publicly available evidence suggests that the government of ...
... (Katchanovski, 2015bKatchanovski, , 2016). If Yanukovych had implemented initial plans to use force, including live ammunition and military units to suppress the " Euromaidan, " this would likely have resulted in a large number of casualties among the protesters, and a full-fledged uprising in the opposition stronghold in Western Ukraine, and likely civil war. ...
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Ukraine previously experienced significant regional political divisions, including separatism in Crimea and Donbas. However, in contrast to post-communist countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and former Yugoslavia, prior to 2014 Ukraine was able to avoid a war and a break-up. This study examines the role of separatists, the Yanukovych government, the Maidan opposition and the Maidan government, far right organizations, Russia, the US, and the EU in this conflict. It uses a specially commissioned survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in 2014 to analyse public support for separatism in Donbas, compared to other regions of Ukraine, and the major factors which affect such support. It concludes that all these actors contributed in various ways to the conflict in Donbas, which involved both a civil war and a direct Russian military intervention since August 2014. The study links this conflict to the "Euromaidan," specifically, the government overthrow by means of the Maidan massacre, and the secession and Russia's annexation of Crimea. The KIIS survey shows that support for separatism is much stronger in Donbas compared to other regions, with the exception of Crimea, and that the break-up of Ukraine is unlikely to extend to its other parts.
... Studies at Uppsala University in 2018 (Katchanovski, 2018a(Katchanovski, , 2018b. It also supplements previous studies of the Maidan massacre by the author (Katchanovski, 2015(Katchanovski, , 2016(Katchanovski, , 2017. ...
Data
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This 59-minute long online video appendix with English-language subtitles includes testimonies at the Maidan massacre trial and/or investigation about snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings and areas by 47 Maidan protesters, who were wounded during the Maidan massacre in Ukraine on February 20, 2014. This is the absolute majority of 72 wounded Maidan protesters, with whose shooting Berkut policemen are charged and whose testimonies were revealed at the trial. At least 28 wounded protesters testified at the trial and/or the investigation that they were wounded from Maidan-controlled buildings or areas. At least 30 protesters testified that they witnessed snipers there and/or were told about snipers in these locations by other protesters. The official investigation denied existence of such snipers in these Maidan-controlled buildings and areas.
... This is a video appendix of papers presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in Boston and the "Regimes and Societies in Conflict: Eastern Europe and Russia since 1956" conference by the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University and the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies in Uppsala in 2018 (Katchanovski, 2018a(Katchanovski, , 2018b. It also supplements previous studies of the Maidan massacre by the author, including previous video appendixes (see Katchanovski, 2015Katchanovski, , 2016Katchanovski, , 2017. ...
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This 27-minute-long online video appendix shows how Maidan protesters were shot from Maidan-controlled buildings and areas during the Maidan massacre in Kyiv in Ukraine on February 20, 2014. The manifest and latent content analysis in this video compilation along with on-site investigative experiments by government ballistic experts, results of forensic medical examinations conducted for the prosecution, and testimonies of wounded Maidan protesters and eyewitnesses visually demonstrates how six Maidan protesters were shot by snipers from Maidan-controlled buildings or areas. It also shows that the Berkut policemen, who are charged with their shooting, could not physically shoot them. These Berkut policemen were filmed not shooting at that time and/or bullet holes locations and wound directions show that protesters were shot not from the front and ground directions of the Berkut barricade positions in front of them but from steep directions from sides or the back that match Maidan-controlled buildings or buildings in Maidan-controlled areas. The video appendix examines the shooting of Ihor Dmytriv, Andrii Dyhdalovych, Mykola Dziavulsky, Serhii Kemsky, Sviatoslav Kolesnikov, and Roman Kotsiubynsky. These cases are selected because the government investigation in Ukraine, the SITU Research 3D model by a New York architectural company, and the major Western media, such as the BBC, the CNN, the Independent, and the New York Times, misrepresented the shooting of these protesters and presented them as definite evidence of the massacre of all protesters by the Berkut police or the government forces. The cases are also selected because they include videos of the shooting and positions of the policemen, testimonies of wounded protesters or eyewitnesses and because ballistic examinations of bullets determined that many other protesters were killed and wounded from the same firearms. The videos are synchronized based on their timestamps, announcements from the Maidan stage, and timestamps in the SITU model and synchronized video compilations presented at the Maidan massacre trial by the prosecution. The video compilation shows manifest and latent content analysis of videos of the massacre of these six protesters that are synchronized with videos of shooting from the Maidan-controlled Hotel Ukraina and videos of the Berkut. It also presents results of on-site investigative experiments by government ballistic experts, findings of forensic medical examinations made public at the Maidan massacre trial, and trial and investigation testimonies of the wounded Maidan protesters or Maidan eyewitnesses, who were located near the killed protesters at the time of the massacre. All this evidence points to shooting of these six protesters by snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings or buildings in Maidan-controlled areas and not by the Berkut police from their barricades. This is a video appendix of papers presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in Boston and the “Regimes and Societies in Conflict: Eastern Europe and Russia since 1956” conference by the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University and the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies in Uppsala in 2018. It also supplements previous studies of the Maidan massacre by the author.
... These Georgians revealed in the media their names, passport numbers & border stamps, copies of plane tickets, videos and photos in Ukraine or Georgian military, and other evidence in support of their testimonies Identities, presence in Ukraine, and Georgian military service of some of them corroborated by evidence & other sources Maidan massacre trial decision authorised two of them testify at the trial via video link from Armenia The Prosecutor General Office investigation revealed in October 2016 that one of the leaders of far right Svoboda and its member of the parliament occupied a Hotel Ukraina room from which a sniper in reported Maidan style green helmet was filmed shooting by BBC and ICTV in the direction of the Maidan protesters and the BBC journalists. (See Video Appendix A)Three Maidan snipers admitted in BBC and Ukrainian media interviews that the massacre on February 20 started with them and other Maidan snipers shooting at the police from the Music Conservatory and forcing the police units to flee the Maidan square which they besieged (see BBC report andKatchanovski, 2015b) ...
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The massacre of the protesters and the police in Ukraine during the “Euromaidan” mass protests on February 18-20, 2014 contributed to the overthrow of the Ukrainian government and ultimately to a start of the civil war in Donbas, Russian military interventions in Crimea and Donbas, the Russian annexation of Crimea and an international conflict between the West and Russia. However, in spite of its importance to the politics of Ukraine and other counties involved in these conflicts this mass killing was a central research subject of only a few academic studies. These political science studies concluded that the Maidan massacre of the protesters was a false flag operation. The dominant narrative by the governments and the media in Ukraine and the West attributed the Maidan massacre of the protesters to the government forces. The research question is as follows: What does evidence made public by the Maidan massacre trials and Ukrainian government investigations reveal about which of the parties of the conflict was involved in this mass killing? This paper analyzes several hundred hours of video recordings of the Maidan massacre trials and information concerning investigations of this massacre in over 2,000 court decisions from the official court decisions database in Ukraine, media interviews of prosecutors, Maidan victims lawyers, and Berkut lawyers, and media reports about these trials and investigations. It examines trial testimonies of more than 100 wounded protesters and relatives of the killed protesters, top officials of the Yanukovych government, results of forensic ballistic and medical examinations and investigative experiments, and videos and photos of the Maidan massacre shown during the trials. An online video appendix matches testimonies of wounded protesters, eyewitnesses, and results of forensic examinations with shooting of specific protesters and other major massacre events in synchronized segments of American, Belgian, Belarusian, British, Finish, French, Dutch, German, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian TV videos, recordings of live Internet broadcasts, and social media videos of the massacre. The paper discusses implications of this study for understanding the Maidan massacre, the “Euromaidan,” and the origins of the violent conflict in Ukraine and the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and between Russia and the West.
... This summary presents key elements of analysis, evidence, and conclusions of the first academic study of the massacre of more than 50 "Euromaidan" protesters and policemen in the Maidan area of Kyiv in Ukraine on February 20, 2014 (Katchanovski, 2015). This mass killing was a turning point in Ukrainian politics and a tipping point in the escalating conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. ...
Chapter
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This chapter presents a summary of analysis, evidence, and findings of a study of the “snipers’ massacre” of “Euromaidan” protesters and policemen on the Maidan in Ukraine on February 20, 2014. This mass killing was a turning point in the Ukrainian politics and a tipping point in a conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. This massacre led to an overthrow of the government of Viktor Yanukovych and a Russian annexation in Crimea, a civil war in Donbas in Eastern Ukraine, and Russian military intervention in support of separatists in these regions. The question is which side was involved in the “snipers’ massacre.” This study relies on rational choice and Weberian theories of rational action. It employs interpretative and content analyses of a large number of different sources. The analysis shows that armed groups of concealed Maidan shooters first killed and wounded policemen on the Maidan and then protesters. Armed groups of “snipers” and parts of leadership of the far right organizations, such as the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland, were involved in various capacities in the massacre. This mass killing was misrepresented by the media and the governments in Ukraine and the West.
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This 53-minute long online video appendix with English-language subtitles contains dozens of prosecution witness testimonies for the Maidan massacre trial and the investigation in Ukraine about snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings and areas during the Maidan massacre on February 20, 2014. It includes such testimonies by witnesses among Maidan protesters, relatives of killed Maidan protesters, Ukrainian journalists, and government units' snipers and commanders. The official investigation denied existence of such snipers in the Maidan-controlled buildings and areas.
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The empirical findings in this article have shown that the Euromaidan was Coup D‟état and not a democratic revolution, and the post-Maidan outcomes reflect a geopolitical struggle between the Russian Federation and the U.S. The real impact of the European Union on this revolution is questionable given the leaked phone call from U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland. However, the situation in Ukraine remains complicated and in order to gain a better understanding, it may be necessary to reconsider the political bestseller "The Grand Chessboard", written by Zbigniew Brzezinski.
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Ukraine has experienced significant regional divisions concerning such issues as support for leading presidential candidates and political parties, foreign orientation, and attitudes towards major historical events since it became independent in 1991. Separatism in various forms manifested itself in Crimea in the first half of the 1990s and in Donbas and neighboring regions during the “Orange Revolution” in 2004. However, Ukraine was able until 2014 to avoid a violent break-up, in contrast to such post-communist countries as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and former Yugoslavia. In 2014, Crimea seceded with help of Russian military intervention, and it was annexed by Russia. Pro-Russian separatists with direct involvement of large groups of armed Russians with indirect Russian government support seized power in most of Donbas and engaged in a violent conflict with pro-government forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions (Donbas). The research question is as to why Ukraine has suffered a violent separatist conflict in Donbas. This study analyses the role of different actors and factors in the violent conflict in Donbas. This paper uses a brief survey, which was commissioned by the author and conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in the end of April and the beginning of May 2014, to analyze support for separatism in Donbas, compared to other regions of Ukraine, and major factors which affect such support. It compares the role of the Yanukovych and post-Yanukovych governments in Ukraine, the Russian and Western governments, political leaders of these countries, and Russian and Ukrainian paramilitary formations. This paper also compares the violent separatist conflict in the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions to other similar violent conflicts and to secessions of Transdniestria in Moldova, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan, Krajina in Croatia, Republika Srpska in Bosnia, and Kosovo in Serbia.
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Ukraine previously experienced significant regional political divisions, including separatism in Crimea and Donbas. However, in contrast to post-communist countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and former Yugoslavia, prior to 2014 Ukraine was able to avoid a war and a break-up. This study examines the role of separatists, the Yanukovych government, the Maidan opposition and the Maidan government, far-right organizations, Russia, the US, and the EU in the conflict in Donbas. It uses a specially commissioned survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in 2014 to analyse public support for separatism in Donbas, compared to other regions of Ukraine, and the major factors which affect such support. It concludes that all these actors contributed in various ways to the conflict in Donbas, which involved both a civil war and a direct Russian military intervention since August 2014. The study links this conflict to the 'Euromaidan', specifically, the government overthrow by means of the Maidan massacre, and the secession and Russia's annexation of Crimea. The KIIS survey shows that support for separatism is much stronger in Donbas compared to other regions, with the exception of Crimea, and that the break-up of Ukraine is unlikely to extend to its other parts.
Chapter
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This chapter presents a summary of analysis, evidence, and findings of a study of the “snipers’ massacre” of “Euromaidan” protesters and policemen on the Maidan in Ukraine on February 20, 2014. This mass killing was a turning point in the Ukrainian politics and a tipping point in a conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. This massacre led to an overthrow of the government of Viktor Yanukovych and a Russian annexation in Crimea, a civil war in Donbas in Eastern Ukraine, and Russian military intervention in support of separatists in these regions. The question is which side was involved in the “snipers’ massacre.” This study relies on rational choice and Weberian theories of rational action. It employs interpretative and content analyses of a large number of different sources. The analysis shows that armed groups of concealed Maidan shooters first killed and wounded policemen on the Maidan and then protesters. Armed groups of “snipers” and parts of leadership of the far right organizations, such as the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland, were involved in various capacities in the massacre. This mass killing was misrepresented by the media and the governments in Ukraine and the West.
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