Today senior Ukrainian government officials shared preliminary findings of the new government’s investigation into February’s events that resulted in the killing of protesters, and ultimately the ouster of Ukraine’s then-president Viktor Yanukovich.
The clashes that took place from February 18 to 20 were the bloodiest in Ukraine's post-Soviet era: More than 70 people – both protesters and law enforcement – were killed in gunfire, including by sniper shootings. Responsibility for the sniper killings on Maidan have been hotly debated both in Ukraine and internationally.
The interior minister today said investigators had photo and video evidence confirming the involvement of Ukraine’s riot police, Berkut, in a sniper attack on February 20. The shooting resulted in the deaths of 17 protesters (one machine gun was used to gun down 8 people). Several police officers have been detained as suspects. The interior minister accused the former interior minister, along with Ukraine's security services – the SBU – of direct involvement in giving orders for this and other attacks, and alleged that former officials from the Interior Ministry, the SBU, and the prosecutor general's office destroyed documentary and other evidence, forcing the investigators to start from scratch.
At the same news conference, the new SBU head accused Russia's security services of involvement in killings of protesters, alleging that explosives and weapons to be used against protesters were delivered to Ukraine from Russia in January.
All in all, this is a very different picture from that painted by Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently said that Russian authorities had evidence that Ukraine's far-right groups could be behind the sniper attacks at Maidan.If true, this evidence should be shared with investigators.
Such discrepancies can be expected in thepolitically charged situation that Ukraine is currently facing. They also underscore the importance of an impartial and thorough investigation, including with the help of such intergovernmental organizations as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations, to make sure that vested political interests play no role in establishing the truth.