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Yanukovich says Maidan shooting is part of operation to topple Ukraine’s authorities

Ukraine's former president Viktor Yanukovich is giving testimony over Maidan events
Opposition protesters and Ukrainian police in central Kiev, February, 2014 Mikhail Pochuyev/ITAR-TASS
Opposition protesters and Ukrainian police in central Kiev, February, 2014
© Mikhail Pochuyev/ITAR-TASS

ROSTOV-ON-DON, November 28. /TASS/. Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovich said on Monday the February 2014 shooting in Kiev’s central Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, was a planned operation geared to topple the country’s legitimate authorities.

"The maidan violence was a pseudo-operation to change the power," he said at Rostov’s district court asking questions about the 2014 maidan events from Kiev’s Svyatoshinsky district court in the videoconference regime. "Spotters were placed in 20 buildings around the maidan. Evidence that protesters were killed from these buildings proves what maidan participants said and what is shown in video records."

He said that according to a survey he had conducted based on various evidence, the Right Sector (outlawed in Russia) and Svoboda (Freedom) organizations had been involved in ‘maidan self-defense" and their activists had "initiated active radical actions."

He said the special operation to topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government had involved ultra-right and oligarchic parties.

Yanukovich stated under oath that he did not give any orders to use force to disperse protesters during the Maidan events.

"From the very beginning till the very end, I stood against bloodshed. I am not capable of giving such orders," Yanukovich said when answering the court's questions.

He pointed out that it was his "position of principle" that he had reiterated many times. Yanukovich also dismissed claims he had been making preparations for and coordinated an anti-terrorist operation in the center of Kiev on February 18, 2014.

"I do know about the anti-terrorist operation from the mass media. I have never heard about it personally," Yanukovich said.

Berkut riot police involvement 

Former Ukrainian president said the Maidan events were a planned provocation and the attempt of Berkut riot police to disperse the participants went beyond the verge of its powers.

"This was a planned provocation as there were almost no students by that time (on Maidan), there were very few of them. The radicals simply came who did not like what happened and they started provoking Berkut. In my opinion, Berkut exceeded its powers, but this is my point of view," Yanukovich stated firmly. 

Yanukovich also said he was told that former chief of Ukrainian presidential administration Sergey Levochkin was involved in those events. "I said that yes, he was probably complicit, but I did not have any evidence and the investigation did not confirm this."

"If this was indeed so, let the current authorities prove this, if they fail to do so, let this be on Levochkin’s conscience, and if he is not guilty then he should prove this," the former president stressed.

Dispersal of Maidan protesters

On November 21, 2013, a week before the planned signing of Ukraine’s association deal with the European Union, the Ukrainian government announced that it suspended the "preparation process" in order to examine the agreement more thoroughly.

The opposition in the parliament blocked the Verkhovna Rada’s work and protesters started coming to the Independence Square (Maidan). On November 30, Berkut police dispersed a large group of protesters in downtown Kiev and some 40 of them were detained. The opposition accused the authorities of using excessive power against peaceful participants of the rally, and the Interior Ministry promised to punish those guilty.

Later radicals seized administrative buildings in downtown Kiev and set up the so-called ‘self-defense forces,’ which plunged into open fighting with law enforcers. On February 18 - 20, 2014, more than 80 people were killed in Kiev and hundreds were wounded. Twenty died later in hospital.