Ukraine, what lies beneath

Ukraine, what lies beneath

Who was the responsible for the massacre of more than 80 policemen and demonstrators in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the independence square of Kiev, heart and symbol – until that February 20th 2014 – of the demonstrations in favor of the agreement of association to the European Union? The anti-Russian opposition, become government after the  fall of the filo-Russian Viktor Yanukovych, has always been accusing the special forces of the deposed president of sending a snipers squad to shoot on the demonstrators and repress the protest with a bloodbath. Yet, even at that time, many were dubious and perplexed.

The first one questioning that version was the Foreign Minister Urmas Paet. Returned from a journey to Kiev made only 5 days after the massacre he referred, during a phone call with the EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, the revelations provided by a Ukraine doctor who examined the corps of Maidan Square. The call, intercepted and spread by the Russian media, was disconcerting.

“The creepiest thing – explains Paet – is that all the evidences show that the people killed by the snipers – both policemen and demonstrators – were killed by the same snipers…”. The minister answered to a dubious and embarrassed Catherine Ashton with the witnessing of the Ukraine doctor. “She speaks as a doctor, and she is saying that she found the same kind of bullets in the corps. The most terrible thing is that now the new coalition – Paet points out – refuses to investigate on what really happened. Many are persuaded that behind the snipers there were…there wasn’t Yanukovich, but someone of the new coalition…”.

Four years have passed since the demonstration of Maidan, and now we can describe another truth, completely different from the official one. Our story began in the end of summer 2017, in Skopye, the Macedonian capital. There, after long and complex preliminaries, we finally met Koba Nergadze and Kvarateskelia Zalogy, two Georgian protagonists and witnesses of that tragic massacre.

Both Nergadze and Zalogy are linked to the former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, protagonist, during August 2008, of a short but bloody war against Russia and Vladimir Putin. Nergadze, as his badge shows, was a member of the security agency under President’s control. Zalogy is a former activist of the Saakashvili party. “I decided to come in Skopije to tell you everything we know about what happened…me and my friend decided it together, it is necessary to shed some light on those facts” -Nergadze repeated.

Some months later these words were repeated by Alexander Revazishvilli, a former sniper of the Georgian army, protagonist of the Maidan gunfire, met in another East-European country. All of our three witnesses told they were recruited at the end of 2013 by Mamuka Mamulashvili, a military councilor of Saakashvili who, after the facts of Maidan, moved to Donbass to lead the so-called Georgian Legion in the conflict against the filo-Russian insurgents. “The first meeting was with Mamulashvili in the National Movement office – Zalogy told – the Ukraine uprising of 2013 was similar to the ‘pink revolutuion’ happened in Georgia years before. We must lead it by using the same scheme we used in that occasion.

Alexander’s version was not different. “Firstly Mamuka asked me if I really was a sniper, then he said that he needed me in Kiev to choose some emplacements”. Our protagonists, aggregated to different volunteer groups between November 2013 and January 2014, received false passports and an advanced payment. “We left on January 25th and on the plane – Zalogy remembered – I received my passport and another one with a picture of mine, but with different name and surname. Then they gave to each of us $1000, promising to give us another $5000 later.

Once in Kiev our three protagonists began understanding the reason why they had been recruited. “Our task – Alexander explained – was to organize the provocations in order to push the police to attack the crowd. until mid-February however, there weren’t a lot of weapons around. They used only molotovs, batons and shields”. From the second half of February tough, conflicts around Maidan became more intense. “Around February 15th and 16th – Nergadze remembered – the situation started becoming more and more serious. It was out of control anymore. In the meanwhile we heard the first shots”. And with tension running high new protagonists apeared.

“On day, around February 15th – Alexander remembered – Mamulashvili came in person to visit our tend. Another man in uniform was with him. He introduced that man saying that he was an instructor, an American soldier“. The American soldier is Brian Christopher Boyenger and he is  a former official and sniper of the USA 101st airborne division. After Maidan he moved to Donbass, where he fought for the Georgian Legion with Mamulashvili.

“We were always in contact with this Bryan – Nergadze explained – who was a man of Mamulashvili. He gave us the orders and I had to follow all of his instructions.

]The first suspicions about the presence of guns among the demonstrators involve Serghey  Pashinsky, a leader of Maidan Square, become, after Yanukovych’s fall, president of the Parliament of Kiev. On February 18th – as shown by a video recorded that day – from the boot of a car stopped by the protesters a machine-gun came out. Few seconds later Pashinsky come closer and ordered to let the car go. The next day some bags full of weapons were distributed to the Georgian and Lithuanian militant groups in the Ucraina Hotel, right in the square, used as headquarter by the opposition.

“In those days Pashinsky and other three people, including also Parasyuk, brought the bags of weapons to the hotel. They brought them in my room” – Nergadze told. Volodymyr Parasyuk is one of the leaders of Maidan Square protest. After the massacre he became known for an ultimatum in which he threatened to use weapons to depose President Viktor Yanukovych.

“On February 18th – Zalogy remembered – someone brought the weapons also in my room. I shared the room with two Lithuanians and they took the weapons.”. “In each bag – Nergadze told – there were Makarov pistols, Akm machine-guns, carbines. And there were also cartridges packs. At first I didn’t understand when I saw them …when Mamulashvili arrived I asked him ‘What is going on here? What are these guns for? Is everything OK?’ ‘Koba things are getting complicated here, we must start shooting – he replied – we cannot have early presidential elections…’ ‘But whom are we supposed to shoot? Where?’ I asked. He answered that it did not matter where, we just had to shoot…just to create some chaos”.

While Nergadze and Zalogy assisted to the distribution of the weapons in the Ucraina Hotel, Alexander Revazishvilli and otehr volunteers reached the Conservatory, another building right next to the square. “I think it was February 16th…Pashinsky ordered us to collect our stuff and brought us inside…then other people arrived, most of whom were masked. When I saw the bags I understood…they brought weapons…They took the guns out and distributed them to the different groups. Pashinsky was the only one talking…He gave the orders. I was asked in which direction were we supposed to shoot”. “In the meantime also at the Ucraina Hotel – Nergadze explained – the leaders of the protest insisted on the possibility to use guns. They explained us that we had to shoot to generate chaos and confusion.

“We must not stop. It did not matter whether we shot a tree, a barricade or someone throwing molotovs. Our only aim was to create chaos”. On the morning of February 20th weapons took action. “It must be down – Zalogy remembered – when I heard the shots…they were not series but single gunshots… they came from the room next to mine. In that same moment the Lithuanians opened the window. One of them shot and then the other closed the window. They shot three or four time in total”. Alexander, even if he admitted he was involved in the shooting from the Conservatory building, claimed that he did not understood completely what was going on. “Everybody started shooting two or three shots at a time. We had no choice. We had been ordered to shoot the Berkuts, the policemen and also the demonstrators without differentiating. I was so astounded. It lasted fifteen minutes…maybe twenty. I was shocked, shaken, stressed. I did not understand. Suddenly, after 15-20 minutes, the gunshots stopped and everyone put down the weapons”. While injured people and corps were brought to the hall of the Ucraina Hotel , the snipers ran away from the rooms. And so the victims found themselves next to their executioners. “Inside – Nergadze remembered – was the chaos, you cannot understand who was who. People ran back and forth. Someone was injured…someone was armed. Outside it was even worse. There were a lot of wounded people in the streets, and corps all around”. Alexander said he ran away quickly. “Some people were shouting that there were snipers, and I perfectly knew what they were talking about – he explainsed – my only thought was to disappear before they can notice me. Otherwise they would have killed me. I did not realized in that moment, but later I understood. We had been used. Used and framed”.