Ukraine’s officials: 12 Berkut soldiers arrested for alleged shooting demonstrators, Russia’s FSB involved in crackdown


Twelve former employees of the Berkut special police force have been detained on suspicion of being involved in the killing of protesters in the centre of Kyiv on February 20, Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office spokesman Vasyl Zoria says.

Most of the demonstrators were killed on Instytutska street near the main protest camp on Independence Square, widely known as the Maidan.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov gave details of one particular episode where he said the inquiry had established that eight of those killed were hit by bullets from the same machine-gun.

He identified Maj Dmytro Sadovnyk as commander of a unit suspected of shooting dead at least 17 protesters.

‘From the side of the the Zhovtnevy Palace, a special squad from the riot Berkut police, wearing yellow armbands, opened fire at the protesters. Much of this fire was targeted. We are carrying out ballistics tests on the weapons,’ Mr Avakov said.

{movie}Victims.|right|15672{/movie}

The killing of anti-government protesters in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in February took place ‘under the direct leadership’ of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, security chiefs said on Thursday. An anti-terrorist operation announced by the former leadership of the country in February 2014 was in fact the organization of mass killings of people during protests in central Kyiv, and that SBU places all the blame for what was happening onto then President Viktor Yanukovych.

Meanwhile, in yesterday’s interview to Associated Press Mr Yanukovych denied that he gave the orders to shoot demonstrators in downtown Kiev in February. ‘I personally never gave any orders to shoot,’ he said. ‘My principles which I always follow are that no authority, no power is worth a drop of blood,‘ he added.

The ousted president also said gunfire came from the opposition camp, not from riot police, and that responsibility for the high number of deaths lay with the opposition.

There is every reason to believe that a group of employees of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) participated in planning and implementing measures on the so-called anti-terrorist operation in Kyiv during mass protests in February 2014. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), stressed. According to him, unidentified Russians were at the headquarters of Ukraine’s security service during the protests, which lasted three months.

On February 20, planes loaded with 5,100 kilograms of Russia-made explosives and other materials landed at an aerodrome near Kiev from the Russian city of Chkalovsk, he added.

{movie}Armed Berkut soldiers.|right|15673{/movie}

More than 100 people, a Belarusian-born man among them, were killed in street protests in Kiev in January and February. Mikhail ‘Loki’ Zhyzneuski, who would have had his 26th birthday on January 26, left Belarus in 2005 and lived in the city of Bila Tserkva near Kyiv. He was shot dead on the morning of January 22 in Hrushevskoho Street. Mr Zhyzneuski was an activist of Ukrainian organisation UNA-UNSO (The Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense). He was buried near the village of Znamya Pracy (Flag of Labour), Homel region. Ukraine’s authorities promised to recognise him as Hero of Maidan.

www.belsat.eu/en, via bbc.co.uk, reuters.com

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