Day 41: Russian-Trained Snipers Killed Maidan Protesters

March 30, 2014
Photo by The Daily Beast

Exclusive photos and videos obtained by the Daily Beast expose the Russian-trained state killers behind the sniper deaths on Maidan. Vitali Klitschko has announced he will not run for President as Ukraine continues to plan for increased Russian military intervention.

Yesterday’s liveblog can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

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Below, we will be making sporadic updates. We will return to our full service on Monday.

2241 GMT: Many reports by Ukrainian journalists as well as Maidan supporters of the pro-Kiev march in Odessa today showed them as large and peaceful:

One journalist for Channel 5 news explained that Russian provocateurs seemed to be creating trouble:

Yahoo News posted a report from Storyful that pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian marchers clashed in “the sharpest escalation of tensions yet, with the two sides almost coming to blows on Odessa’s famous Potemkin Steps.”

2155 GMT: After four hours of talks, US and Russia remain deadlocked on Ukraine, says BBC.

2153 GMT: Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Mariya Alyokhina are in Ukraine this week, and tweeted about 40-day memorials for Maidan victims.

Translation: Today is 40 days.

Translation: In memory of the Maidan Heros – for 40 days.

2152 GMT: Following up on our earlier report from about withdrawal of Russian forces from the Ukrainian border, here is a translation from the source of the story, Dmitry Tymchuk of the Kiev-based Center for Military Political Research who is also head of the Internet group Information Resistance, published on his Facebook page on 29 March:

“For the first time since the beginning of the invasion, we have breathed a little bit easier. Moscow not only fervently claims that it does not intend to invade Ukraine. But it has really withdrawn some of the units from the border.

Was this a result of the famous [telephone] conversation between Putin and Obama? I don’t know.

But today we can state that at our very border, 10,000 Russian troops have remained. That is absolutely not a reason to relax: little efforts are required by the enemy within a matter of hours to enter Ukrainian territory from the depths of Russian Federation territory. Moreover, the ‘withdrawal of troops’ can be seen as constant maneuvers. Units and sub-units are both moving along the border, sometimes approaching it, and then withdrawing. That is, if this evening, at the very borders, there are not so many Russian soldiers, then tomorrow morning, there could be more than there was last month.

Even so, today we record the lowest indicator of the concentration of forces. And that’s already something.”

The screenshot of tanks in Klimovo in the Bryansk Region used to illustrate this report was evidently taken from an earlier video, similar to these videos from Klimovo posted 27 March by blogger Kirill Karpov.

1944 GMT: An independent Russian news site, recently blocked on orders of the Russian state censor by some Internet providers, reports that troops may be withdrawing from the Russian border:

Translation: Russia has sharply reduced the number of troops on the border with Ukraine.

1913 GMT: The Interpreter’s editor-in-chief Michael Weiss heard veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Cemilev (Dzhemilev), a member of the Ukrainian parliament, speak this morning at the Ukrainian Museum in Manhattan. Cemilev, who has reportedly been declared “persona non grata” in his homeland, is in New York this week where he is expected to speak at the UN Monday, and then travel to Washington on Wednesday to continue to make the case for autonomy for his people.

Cemilev served 18 years in the GULAG in the Soviet period and struggled for decades for the return of his people to their ancestral homeland on the Crimean peninsula after a brutal deportation under Stalin cost them half of their population. The Crimean Tatars, who now number 300,000 in the Crimea, have had some success in returning to their land, but face property and civil rights battles and lack of representation in government. As journalists confirmed, they largely boycotted the referendum as unfair.

For more on the plight of the Crimean Tatar, see Weiss’ Crimean Tatars: Running Out of Time and Options.

1900 GMT: The Daily Beast has obtained exclusive photos indicating that Russian-trained killers were responsible for the more than 100 deaths and 900 injuries by sniper fire on Maidan. Investigative journalist Jamie Dettmer has the story:

“Most of the photographs accompanying this article were taken on February 20, and they appear to reveal the truth about who carried out the shootings in Independence Square on that day—a fateful one for both Ukraine and for Europe, which suddenly witnessed the continent’s worst political violence of the 21st century. The pictures shared exclusively with The Daily Beast show members of a crack anti-terrorist unit known as the Alfa Team in the courtyard of the headquarters of Ukraine’s feared state security service, the SBU, preparing themselves for battle. The agency’s seven-story headquarters occupies an entire city block and is just three streets from the Maidan.


The unique photographs and 90 gigabytes of video material shared with The Daily Beast provide strong evidence that the massacre in the Maidan was in fact a vicious and clinical assault ordered by the pro-Russian Yanukovych regime and executed by its arch loyalists. But that has not prevented the Kremlin from attempting to orchestrate its own narrative of events.”

The compelling report does a great deal to dispel a persistent claim made by both the Kremlin and deposed former president Viktor Yanukovych that the snipers in Kiev were supposedly from the opposition — or even from Americans — and shot demonstrators from their own side.

Earlier this month as we reported, a leaked video surfaced, likely through Russian intelligence, of a conversation between Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and the EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton along with Olga Bogomolets, a Ukrainian physician who had treated the wounded on Maidan. Although the Kremlin tried to spin the story to make it appear as if the Western officials were conceding that the opposition had somehow shot its own people, Bogomolets explained that she had not made such a claim, nor had she examined the bodies of policemen also shot. The Estonian Foreign Ministry also countered that the conversation had been taken out of context.

Bogomolets has nevertheless called for a credible, independent examination of the sniper deaths because she does not believe the authorities can examine themselves adequately. On 19 March, as we reported, the Ukrainian prosecutor announced that the snipers had been identified and the involvement of unspecified foreigners was being investigated.