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Ukrainian Security Service chief says Alfa special unit crushed Kiev protests

April 03, 2014, 23:13 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, April 03, /ITAR-TASS/. The head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), Valentin Nalivaychenko, said Thursday the Alfa special unit, part of the SBU, took part in the crushing of protests in Kiev on February 18.

Speaking at a briefing, Nalivaychenko said Alfa officers were on the roof of Ukraine’s trade unions house building with combat weapons. He said shots were being made from that direction.

The SBU chief also said there were SBU units on the roofs of two other buildings, one of which is on Kreshchatik Street and the other on Kostelnaya Street in the center of the capital Kiev, adding that some Alfa officers are currently cooperating with investigators.

Nalivaychenko accused ex-Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko of coordinating actions against protesters. He said Zakharchenko maintained contact with a certain Zubritsky, the head of a media holding company.

Earlier, ex-SBU head Alexander Yakimenko said the Right Sector radical far-right Ukrainian movement asked the SBU to use the Alfa unit to clear the building of snipers. But Yakimenko said he was unable to give such an order because the so-called Maidan commandant Andrey Paruby [currently secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council] did not give his consent to that.

Right Sector activists were reportedly involved in deadly clashes with police in Ukraine’s riots. On March 5, Russia’s Investigative Committee charged Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh with using media to make public calls for terrorist and extremist activity. Moscow’s Basmanny Court sanctioned his arrest in absentia.

Yakimenko said people who were shooting at Berkut riot police officers and protesters on February 20 were inside the Philharmonic Hall. “Maidan commandant Paruby was responsible for that building,” he said. “No one was able to enter a building controlled by this or that force without permission from someone from the authorities.”

Maidan is the name for downtown Kiev's Independence Square, which is the symbol of Ukrainian protests. The word “Maidan” is also used as a collective name for anti-government protests in Ukraine.

“Snipers and others were shooting from automatic weapons from the Philharmonic Hall building’s roof. They supported a military attack on Interior Ministry officers,” he said.

“Many eyewitnesses saw some 20 people leave that building,” Yakimenko said, adding that the people were clad in special uniforms and had bags used to carry arms, including sniper rifles, as well as modernized Kalashnikov assault rifles with optic sights. Not only law enforcers but “representatives of Maidan, Right Sector, Svoboda [nationalist party], Batkivshchina, Udar [parties] saw that”, he said.

A recently intercepted phone conversation between Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton gave grounds to assume snipers who had shot at protesters and police in Kiev during recent riots in February could have been hired by radical Ukrainian protest leaders.

In an interview with the Russian television channel NTV and the US news agency The Associated Press on April 2, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said he “never gave any orders to shoot”. In his words, people inside buildings controlled then by the opposition opened fire on Maidan in February.

Ukraine is in political turmoil. Violent anti-government protests, which started in November 2013 when the country suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia, resulted in a coup in February 2014.

President Yanukovich had to leave Ukraine citing security concerns in February. New people were then brought to power amid riots that involved radicals in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian crisis deepened when the Republic of Crimea, where most residents are Russians, signed agreements to reunify with Russia on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

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