On February 25th, Off the Hour presented a special report following up on the February 20th Kyiv Massacre in Ukraine, that cost almost 100 people their lives, referred to as black Thursday by those who lived through it. CKUT’s own Tamara Filyavich spoke with Valerii Dorotenko, an independent media activist from Kiev. Dorotenko has been involved with the current protests for almost a year and has been running a live tv internet stream at spilno.tv. The testimony sheds some light on what happened and gives an update on the current situation.
Tamara Filyavich: So there’s so much to talk about, a lot of people here have very skewed news about what’s going on in Kyiv and Ukraine right now. Can we start by talking about the massacre last week where almost 100 people died and the death toll is still counting. What led to it and what happened?
Valerii Dorotenko: To tell exactly what has happened and what has led to it we need the investigation to be completed first. There are signs that those people who actually committed the greatest massacre, the ones who on Thursday killed about 100 people, were using sniper guns and sitting on rooftops and were actually killing people like they were duck hunting. These sniper shootings on Bloody Thursday has been proceeded by two nights of consecutive attempts two storm the Maidan where the special riot police have been deployed, they have extensively already used some guns but not with live munition but with rubber bullets. They have also used light and sound grenades but those grenades were pretty hurtful as well. From time to time they used to load their rubber bullet guns with metal bullets that have been purchased previously by the Interior Minister for forcible stopping of vehicles. But, that should be considered equal to the live munition.
TF: How many people were there in the Maidan when they were shooting and when you saw snipers there?
VD: Well, during the first assault on Maidan in the evening of the 18th of February when the riot police was yet used, there was about 3000 people on both sides. So, 3000 trained riot police were not able to squeeze out the equal number of not trained volunteers from the Maidan. And that’s what prompted the government to resort to using snipers. As for the personnel used as snipers, these are most presumably criminals judging by how professionals analyzed videos afterwards. They admitted that this is not the way professional snipers or special forces do move or take position and so on. This was presumably ordered by son of Yanukovych and most likely, judging by the way they moved, these were criminals used. They had to even deploy specialists from the Russian side, but I don’t think we should even talk about Russian intervention in to that but rather just hiring professionals of Russian nationality who was able to manage such an operation. Actually the Ukrainian government is a criminal one, they have squeezed out all the professionals from both the security services from the ministry of interior. This is a bloody job that nobody would want so they use not professional killers managed by and supervised by professionals of Russian nationality. That’s what I can tell you, presumably this is a preliminary statement that needs to be proven during the investigation. So, for now nobody knows exactly what has happened, who is the orderer and who are the executives. I wouldn’t be astonished much if they are still in Kyiv or Ukraine because they were not uncovered; they were acting in masks, they were easily let to retreat after the job was done so no one has been captured. Because, the police was acting on the side of the government and let them retreat. I don’t know what actually stopped this slaughter, probably they Americans and EU kept on calling Yanukovych to stop this because he actually doesn’t realize what he does. That was not wise, he was just acting in a desperate move that he had because he felt like everything was shaking around him and he’s losing the ground beneath himself. And he’s hiding somewhere judging from the most recent, unofficial information that we have. He’s currently kept on one of the Russian military vessels in Sevastopol. They don’t know what to do with him next, because if they officially give him a shelter that would be damaging for the Russian official image.
TF: What is in the place of the official government in the Ukraine right now? Since Yanukovych has been voted out.
VD: Well after the end of the slaughter on Thursday night the extraordinary seeking of Ukrainian parliament has been summoned. Constitutional court in 2010 has given Yanukovych almost dictatorial authority and afterwards the parliament has been losing the ground actually, most of the deputies are threatened – everyone can be arrested or threatened in Ukraine. We’ve got the same system that we inherited from the soviet union. Where if you have a man, we will find an article for him in the criminal code. Every member of Parliament was either threatened by this opportunity or somehow bribed for voting the way that Yanukovych required him. So the Parliament was not really operational since Yanukovych entered in to his presidency and its only in the evening of Thursday the 20th so far that it really became operational again. So really Yanukovych has been a major oppressor and intimidator for at least his government and party. So they took courage and they began to vote more or less independently. They have promulgated the law on removing Yanukovych from his post, that was impeachment. They have suspended the Minister of Interior, the head of security services. This is the Parliament that has been elected in 2012 in accordance with the electoral legislation that was favouring the existing MPs and existing political parties. So, despite a huge demand from the side of the society for the complete political relay, we have received the same faces, the same parties. To go to the political show costs a minimum of 20 000 dollars and maximum 100 000 dollars per venue. That is one of the major drawbacks of Ukrainian politics. They began to use technologies from the west but largely, these politicians are so far away from the people so they believe those political technologies that consider Ukrainians the same as Russians and that’s why they actually continue to lose ground and they have to invest even more in forging their elections and frauding votes to receive more or less plausible votes from their point of view.
TF: So you don’t have very high hope for the May elections that are being called?
VD: No, we have hopes providing that they change the law on elections. They should definitely lower the threshold for entering the Parliament because currently the threshold is 7 percent, which is too high for an immature country such as Ukraine. So definitely we need to lower the threshold, we need to lower the collateral that has to be pledged by a new candidate for a party. Ukraine’s got a mixed election system.