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The “Snipers’ Massacre” on the Maidan in Ukraine
Ivan Katchanovski, Ph.D.
School of Political Studies
University of Ottawa
K1N 6N5, Canada
Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in San
Francisco, September 5, 2015. The corresponding paper available at the conference
“Il est défendu de tuer; tout meurtrier est puni, à moins qu’il n’ait tué en grande
compagnie, et au son des trompettes; c’est la règle.”[It is forbidden to kill; therefore all
murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets; it
is the rule]. (Voltaire).
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 (150 Gigabytes) of videos and recordings of live internet and TV
broadcasts by mass media and social media in different countries, 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 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.
Map 1. The Maidan Massacre on February 20, 2014
Killed protestors (in orange) and the time of their killing:
1. Georgii Arutunian 8:59am, 2. Bohdan Vaida 9:00am, 3. Ihor Pekhenko circa 9:04am; 4. Maksym Shymko
9:07am, 5. Bohdan Solchanyk 9:08am, 6. Andrii Saienko 9:08am, 7. Vitalii Kotsuba 9:10am, 8. Oleksii Bratushko
9:10am 9. Bohdan Ilkiv 9:11am, 10. Vasyl Mojsei 9:17am, 11. Vasyl Aksenyn 9:17/9:18am, 12. Ivan Tarasiuk
9:18/9:19am, 13. Ihor Dmytiv 9:21am, 14. Andrii Dyhdalovych 9:22am, 15. Serhii Baidovsky 9:24am, 16. Nazar
Voitovych 9:26am, 17. Andrii Movchan 9:26am, 18. Serhii Kemsky 9:28am, 19. Mykola Dziavulsky 9:28am, 20.
Valerii Opanasiuk 9:28am, 21. Anatolii Korneev 9:29am, 22. Ihor Kostenko 9:29am, 23. Serhii Bondarchuk
9:29am, 24. Oleksander Shcherbaniuk 9:29am, 25. Ivan Bliock 9:24-9:29am, 26. Eduard Hrynevych 9:41am, 27.
Oleh Ushnevych 9:43am, 28. Anatolii Zhalovaha 9:43am, 29. Volodymyr Zherebnyi 9:44am, 30. Roman
Varenytsia 9:46am, 31. Roman Tochyn 9:47am, 32. Yuri Parashchuk 9:48am, 33. Ihor Tkachuk at 9:49am, 34.
Vladyslav Zubenko 9:49am, 35. Ustym Holodniuk 9:54am, 36. Ivan Panteleev 9:54am, 37. Roman Huryk
9:56am, 38. Evhen Kotliar 9:56am, 39. Mykola-Oleh Pankiv 10:07am, 40. Oleksander Tsariok 10:21am, 41.
Volodymyr Chaplynsky 10:26am, 42. Viktor Chmilenko 10:28am, 43. Iosyp Shyling 10:28am, 44. Leonid
Poliansky 10:31am, 45. Oleksander Khrapachenko 11:27am, 46. Viktor Smolensky, 47. Volodymyr
Melnychuk 4:57pm, 48. Davyd Kipiani, 49. Oleksander Baliuk uknown.
Note: Protesters whose killings the prosecution did not ascribe to the Berkut special company members highlighted
Z. Wounding of Olesia Zhukovska, a female Maidan medic, and another protestor 11:43am.
Killed police officers (in yellow) and the time of their killing:
1-3, Volodymyr Zubok, Serhii Spychak, Serhii Mykhailovych (all circa 8:00-8.50am), 4. Mykola Symysiuk
Photo 1. A Maidan shooter armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle inside the Music
Conservatory shortly after 8:00am around the time of mass shooting of the Berkut from
this building. Source: Gabriel Gatehouse, “The untold story of the Maidan massacre,”
BBC News, February 11, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31359021).
Photo 2. A reported shooter in the Music Conservatory around 8:00am during the mass
shooting of the police by Maidan “snipers” from this building. (Source: “Хронологія
бойового ранку: хто порушив перемир'я - Вікна-новини - 20.02.2014,” STB, February
20, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdbae8rZ-qw).
Photo 3. Volodymyr Parasiuk, commander of the special Maidan company in black
balaklava (on the left) and his special Maidan company members, one of whom carries a
Kalashnikov assault rifle or its hunting version (on the right), walk past the Maidan stage
during the massacre at 9:10am from the Trade Union building direction shortly after the
Internal Troops were targeted by “snipers: from this building Source: Майдан.20.02.14,”
Igor Teslenko, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCrl2lAvmlw).
Photo 4. Oleh Ushnevych (last from the top), Volodymyr Zherebnyi (bottom right corner)
on the ground at 9:44am shortly after they were killed, Roman Varenytsia (the last from
the right) shortly before he would be killed there, and Serhii Trapezun (top left corner)
shortly after he was wounded by snipers shooting at the protesters from the Hotel Ukraina
and other Maidan-controlled locations. (Source: Het journaal 1 - 20/02/14,” VRT Nieuws,
February 20, 2014,
Photo 5. Gunshot impact marks from the directions of the Maidan-controlled Hotel
Ukraina, Zhovtnevyi Palace/Kinopalats and Muzeinyi Lane on a tree at the site of the
massacre. (Source: Photo by the author).
Photo 7. A group of Maidan protesters lying at 10:23am in plain view of the Hotel
Ukraina and Bank Arkada snipers on the Zhovtnevyi Palace roof near a roof window,
which Maidan witnesses identified as being used by the snipers who killed the protestors
(Source: “2014 02 20 Ukraina Maślankiewicz relacja 2,” Telewizja Republika, February
20, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnleuYDK87E).
Photo 8. The leader of the Khmelnytskyi regional organization of Svoboda party and
Maidan protesters guard the entrance to the stairways and the elevators in the Hotel
Ukraine during the massacre of the protesters by shooters from this hotel circa 9:51am
(Source: “Бои в Киеве: снайперы, раненые и автоматные гильзы,” BBC Russian,
February 20, 2014,
Photo 9. Volodymyr Parasiuk, the commander of the special Maidan company, guides by
hand a group of arriving protesters armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and hunting
rifles in the Hotel Ukraina during the massacre at 10:19am (Source: “Ukraine : Un hôtel
transformé en hôpital de fortune,” Itele, February 20, 2014,
Photo 10. At least two members of the Parasiuk’s group were filmed at 10:20-10:22am
when one of them was shooting from an IZh-56 hunting rifle towards protesters from the
14th floor of the Hotel Ukraina. (Source: “Ukraine: Snipers target police in
Independence Square, Ruptly TV, February 20, 2014,
Photo 11. Ruslan Koshulynsky, deputy-speaker of the Ukrainian parliament from
Svoboda, with Parasiuk-led group of shooters on the 14 floor of the Hotel Ukraina circa
10:22am during the massacre. (Source: Startseite - ZDF Mediathek, 2014, ZDF,