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Ukraine: Yanukovych ordered snipers to shoot

Ukraine: Yanukovych ordered snipers to shoot
April 04
05:29 2014
In this file photo taken on Thursday, Feb.  20, 2014, Olesya Zhukovska, left, is helped after being shot in her neck by a sniper bullet, in Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Kiev, Ukraine.  "I am dying", Olesya Zhukovska, a 21-year-old volunteer medic, wrote on Twitter, minutes after she got shot in the neck by a sniper's bullet as deadly clashes broke out in the center of the Ukrainian capital between protesters and police. The tweet, accompanied by a photo of her clutching her bleeding neck and being led away under fire, went viral, as social media users around the world presumed she had died and shared their grief and anger. Authorities in Ukraine said on Thursday that they have detained several members of an elite riot police unit on suspicion of shooting protesters during bloody anti-government clashes in February that left more than 100 dead. (AP Photo/Alexander Sherbakov)

In this file photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, Olesya Zhukovska, left, is helped after being shot in her neck by a sniper bullet, in Independence Square, the epicenter of the country’s current unrest, Kiev, Ukraine. “I am dying”, Olesya Zhukovska, a 21-year-old volunteer medic, wrote on Twitter, minutes after she got shot in the neck by a sniper’s bullet as deadly clashes broke out in the center of the Ukrainian capital between protesters and police. The tweet, accompanied by a photo of her clutching her bleeding neck and being led away under fire, went viral, as social media users around the world presumed she had died and shared their grief and anger. Authorities in Ukraine said on Thursday that they have detained several members of an elite riot police unit on suspicion of shooting protesters during bloody anti-government clashes in February that left more than 100 dead. (AP Photo/Alexander Sherbakov)

By Maria Danilova
Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s interim authorities on Thursday accused fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych of ordering snipers to open fire on protesters and getting help from Russian security agents to battle his own people, but they provided no evidence directly linking him to the bloodbath in Kiev that left more than 100 people dead.

Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov also accused his predecessor, who was in charge of police, of recruiting gangs of killers, kidnappers and thugs to terrorize and undermine the opposition during the months long protests.

The inquiry revealed by Kiev’s new leadership examined the months of anti-government protests that culminated in the bloodshed that peaked on Feb. 20, just days before Yanukovych fled to Russia.

Speaking at a televised news conference, Avakov said police snipers shot at demonstrators near Kiev’s Independence Square, also known as the Maidan, as they walked toward the government district. He said 17 people were killed by snipers positioned at the October Palace cultural center and that one sniper alone killed as many as eight people.

Security officials then moved to cover up and destroy evidence “to ensure that any investigations would be impossible,” Avakov said. “Clothes were burned, weapons discarded and documents destroyed.”
Ukrainian Security Service chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko charged that Yanukovych himself ordered the killings.

“What was planned under the guise of an anti-terrorist operation, and which was in fact an operation of mass killing of people, took place under the immediate and direct leadership of former president Yanukovych,” Nalyvaichenko said. He did not elaborate on where he got his information.

In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, Yanukovych firmly denied that he gave orders to shoot demonstrators, saying that members of his inner circle even criticized him for his reluctance to use force during the monthslong protests.

Nalyvaichenko also said there was evidence that Russia’s FSB security service, the successor agency to the KGB, assisted in attempts to suppress the anti-government protests. He said FSB members were deployed at a Ukrainian security facility — 26 in December and six in January — and that they took part in planning and implementing anti-protest measures. He said the Russians even interrogated the Ukrainian security chief.

Nalyvaichenko contended that in late January, when peaceful protests turned into bloody street clashes with police, Russia sent planes to Kiev carrying explosives, arms and crowd control devices “to organize executions and the extermination of our protesters on the Maidan.”

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